Gas Heater vs. Heat Pump for Swimming Pool
Are you considering replacing or installing a heater for your pool? If so, these questions come up –
- “Which is the better choice – a gas-fired heater or a heat pump?
- Which is more efficient?
- Which is a better deal for my wallet? Is one more effective than the other?
- Why should I care?”
Well, if you are planning on making a purchase that will affect the length and quality of your swimming season as well as a chunk of your finances, you should care.
First let’s talk about some of the differences between the two. Both are designed to heat your pool but in very different ways. A gas heater uses either propane from a large tank in the yard, or natural gas which is piped in from the street. If you do not already have it piped in to your home, propane will be the way to go. Heat pumps use electricity alone and function like an air conditioner run in reverse. Further a good quality heat pump has an almost 100% efficiency rating, meaning ALL of the energy used is converted to heat and there is little or no energy loss. Compare this to a gas heater which is markedly different. Gas heaters, by their nature, produce heat very quickly but in the process lose a good portion of the energy and are much less efficient. It is for this reason that pool owners who have a gas heater only run the heater as needed, turning on a day or so before using the pool. Heat pumps on the other hand, are much slower to heat up a pool and because of this people will leave them on continuously to maintain desired pool temperature. To use an analogy, heat pumps are long distance runners, and gas heaters are sprinters.
Installation costs need to be considered on both types. Swapping out like for like is relatively low cost. However, it is on the new setups that installation costs need to be weighed out. With gas fired heaters (natural or propane) you will need gas piped in as well as electrical run to the heater, usually 110V. The electricity is for any electronic controls as well as a spark igniter (older units used a pilot light which wasted energy and risked going out). Heat pumps only need to have an electrical line, usually 220V. For this reason, the cost of installation on a heat pump is normally substantially less than a gas heater.
Because of the difference in the way these units operate, most people will benefit more from a heat pump long term than from a heater. The initial cost of a heat pump is anywhere from $800 to $1500 or more than the cost of a gas-fired heater. People who are scared away by the price tag need to consider that they should save the same amount in operating costs in the first season and continue saving cash as time goes on. Essentially the difference in price pays for itself in a very short amount of time.
If you do choose a heat pump, look carefully at the operating temperature range it is designed for and what part of the country you live in. Many heat pumps that stop working below 55°F may be fine for Florida but not much use in the northern parts of the US. At E-Z Test Pool Supplies, we carry the Aqua Comfort line because it will operate down to 40°F, making heat for the pool even on the chilly nights late or early in the season when you need it most! It is the only heat pump specifically designed for the northern pool seasons.
Let’s turn on the heat and keep swimming!