by Rob Cox March 11, 2015
Everybody likes warm pool water. I'm no exception, anything below 82° is too cold for me! But heating pool water seems extravagant and expensive! However, I suppose that depends on your threshold for financial pain. After the cost to buy a pool heater, there is the cost to install a pool heater, and then the cost to run a pool heater.
Solar heat is Free, but not so reliable. Pool heat pumps cost less to operate than gas heaters in most states, although the price of Natural Gas has come down as the US is now the world's largest producer of Natural Gas.
On average, pool heaters cost $100-$300 per month to operate, depending on many factors:
It depends on how large your pool is, or how much surface area. Multiply your pool length x width to calculate surface area, and install a number of panels to equal 70-90% of the pool surface area. Use more if sun exposure is partially blocked during parts of the day, or you don't have a direct southern exposure for the solar panels. Inground poo solar heaters should also use a Solar Controller, to optimize and automate heating cycles.
The cost for an inground solar pool heater system is $1500-$2000.
Installing a solar pool heater can be done in one day by two people. Steps involve mounting the panels on a roof or rack, connecting plumbing from the pool equipment pad to the roof and back, mounting the Solar Controller and installing the sensors. PVC plumbing and fittings, and pipe connectors will need to be purchased separately.
The cost to install a solar pool heater system is $500-$1000.
Well now, solar heat is free! No cost to run a solar heater. Very little maintenance also, since there are so few moving parts - you may never need repair. Most pool solar systems will last about 10-20 years, depending on the material they are made from, before needing heavy repairs or replacement.
The cost to run a solar pool heater is $0.
Heat pumps are not cheap to buy, especially as the units become bigger. The technology inside is the same as a large A/C unit for a home with central air, with the exception that a pool heat pump has water running through it. Heat pumps range in size from 50K Btu's up to 150K Btus's. For an average inground pool, 100 Btus's may be a good size, with larger units for shady pools, large pools, or high wind areas.
The cost to buy an inground pool heat pump is $2500-$3500.
Installing a pool heat pump involves placing the unit on a heavy pad or slab, and plumbing the pool return pipe in and out of the unit. We recommend that a qualified electrician bring the power to the unit, as it needs a dedicated 40-50 amp breaker, and needs to be bonded, or connected to the pool bonding wire.
The cost to install a pool heat pump is $500-$1000.
It depends on many factors, such as how much you are raising the temperature, outside air temperature, wind speed and whether you cover the pool or not. The largest factor may be the cost of electricity in your area. Some parts of the country have relatively inexpensive electricity, while in other energy poor states (like California, Hawaii and many New England states), the cost of electricity can be twice as much. The cost of electricity, or national average has almost doubled since 2000.
The cost to run a pool heat pump is $100-$200 per month.
Propane or Natural, same price. Gas pool heaters are sized according to the size of the pool, or if you have an attached spa that you want to heat to over 100 degrees. Most inground pools will install at least a 250K Btu gas heater, up to a 400K size. Cupro Nickel heat exchangers are recommended for salt water pools, and some states require that pool heaters be LoNox, or low emissions.
The cost of a Gas Pool Heater is $1500-$2500
After placement and plumbing of a gas pool heater, there is still electricity and gas hook-up. Electricity is usually tapped off of the timeclock or outlet, no separate breaker is needed. Gas hook-up should be done by a licensed gas contractor, and the gas meter (NG) may need to be upsized - call your gas supplier with pool heater BTU input, and they can install a larger meter if needed.
The cost to install a gas pool heater is $500-$1500
Like heat pumps, the cost to heat a pool with gas will vary, by pool size and temperature rise, and also by month. June-August will typically be the cheapest months to use gas heat, while earlier and later months with cooler temperatures will take drastically more gas to heat the pool. With lower costs for Natural Gas in recent years, the cost for propane is now 2-3x higher than NG.
The cost to run a gas pool heater is $200-$400 per month.
In Summation - for most inground pool owners, installing a New pool heater (not a replacement, which has a cheaper installation cost), new pool heaters cost between $1500-$3500, depending on type and size.
The cost to run a pool heater, with some conservation practices, runs from $0 (solar heater) to over $300 per month. In actuality, monthly spend will vary, according to outside temperatures. In the hotter months of your swim season, you'll use much less gas or electricity as you would during the colder months, early and late in the swim season.
Most inground pool owners spend about $200 per month to heat a pool, on average. Using a cover, either automatic cover, solar cover or liquid solar blanket can reduce heat loss and evaporation by 75%, dramatically reducing energy expense. Lowering the thermostat during periods of non-use also reduces the cost to run a pool heater.