by Rob Cox, October 14, 2011
Swimming Pool Heat Pumps: Florida loved, Michigan tested.
Swimming pool heat pumps have been the dominant pool heater in the Florida pool market for years. Most of the pool heat pump manufacturers are also located in the Sunshine State. And for good reason - with moderate to warm temps all year around, heat pumps can easily heat pools year 'round - at a very low rate. So low in fact, that pool heat pumps are endorsed many organizations in Florida that appreciate it's economical and eco-friendly form of pool heating.
Pool heat pumps can have efficiency rated at over 500%, which can equate to a savings of over 80% of the cost of operating a gas pool heater. There is a downside however, heat pumps typically cost almost twice as much to purchase as a gas pool heater, but the payback can occur in a little as 1-2 years of pool heating.
Heat pumps use a technology similar to your household air conditioner, just in reverse order. Pool heat pumps use a compressor and refridgerant to absorb the ambient heat from the surrounding air, and transfer the absorbed heat to a super-cooled metal coil, which in turns transfers it's heat into the pool water running through the heat pump.
Installing a new swimming pool heat pump can be the easiest type of pool heater to install. After unboxing your shiny new heat pump, place it on a sturdy and level bit of concrete or a plastic platform. With a hacksaw, cut your pvc pipe after it exits the pool filter, and with bits of pipe and pvc fittings, connect the piping in and out of the heat pump. Easy to use compression unions are used on the heat pump.
With heat pumps, there is no gas line to connect, but they do need to be powered with their own dedicated electric circuit. Most pool heat pumps require a dedicated circuit breaker, of at least 30 amp. If you have a sub-panel (breaker box) at your pool equipment pad, you should be able to add another 30 amps, as most sub-panels will accept 100 amp service. If you do not have a sub panel by your equipment line, you may need to run power from the main house breaker box to the location of your heat pump. Make sure to use a qualified electrician to make any upgrades to your electical service.
Pool heat pumps will heat your pool as hot as you want, even to 100 degrees on warm days - but their effectiveness wanes when average outside temps fall below 50 degrees, and below 40 degrees will struggle with putting out any heat at all. During the swim season however, and during the shoulder months of March/April and October/November - pool heat pumps will heat your pool without a problem.
Heat pumps are slow and steady. You'll not find them as fast as a gas pool heater, which can add as much as 3 degrees per hour, but a properly sized heat pump can usually add 1 degree per hour, during average summer temps.
Compared to gas heaters, pool heat pumps are virtually maintenance free. They literally require no maintenance, you only need to keep leaves and mulch raked up around the unit. Extremely durable, in the last 10 years, none of our pool heat pumps on our pool service routes have required any maintenance. $0.00 in repair costs, easy start ups every spring. Sure, they don't last forever, but compared to gas pool heaters, pool heat pumps are very low maintenance.
Heat pumps for pools have added a list of features in recent years:
- Corrosion Free Titanium heat exchangers.
- Digital solid-state controls with controller compatibility.
- Heat / Cool selector. Heat pumps can heat -or- cool the water.
- Defrost mode - to remove frost from the coil in cold weather.
- Super quiet operation, corrosion free outer cabines.
- Keypad lockout to keep renters or teenagers from changing settings.
If you are looking for a way to heat your swimming pool that is eco-nomical and eco-friendly, and have no place to install racks of solar pool heater panels, look at our selection of pool heat pumps from 10 manufacturers.
Dominant in Florida as the number one pool heating option, pool heat pumps operate effectively in all 50 states, install easily and run at very low cost. Covering your pool with a solar blanket or automatic cover or using Liquid Heat can further reduce your heating cost by preventing heat loss.
Enjoy your pool longer each year, consider replacing your inefficient, polluting and fossil fuel hungry gas pool heater with a sleek, quiet and safe swimming pool heat pump.