If you own a pool and want to extend the period during which you can use it, a pool heater is the ideal solution.
There are several different types available each having its own advantages and disadvantages but in terms of running costs using propane gas is the most expensive and an electric heat pump the cheapest (apart of course from a solar pool heater which is free to run).
Electric Pool Heaters – These heat the water directly and are therefore expensive to run. You can buy powerful electric heaters but for residential purposes they should only be considered for small above ground pools when easy installation is a key advantage.
Natural Gas Pool Heaters – These are a popular option as they are reasonably cost effective and powerful (so can heat a pool quickly). They are available with electronic or millivolt ignition. The former has a number of advantages but requires a mains electricity supply, a millivolt heater has a pilot light and does not require an electrical connection. In some areas gas heaters must be low NOx (many models are not).
Propane Gas Pool Heaters – In terms of features and functionality these are the same as natural gas heaters.
Universal H-Series Low NOx Forced Draft 400,000 BTU Propane Pool Heater: 2″ x 2-1/2″ CPVC Unions. The energy efficiency of the Universal H-Series gas heater combines with environmentally friendly low NOx emissions, a standard cupro nickel heat exchanger and ultimate installation flexibility on new or existing equipment pads to responsibly heat a pool or spa today and for years to come. Technical Specifications. Installation Manual. (Heaters must be installed by a pool professional in order to keep warranty valid.)
Price: 2312.95 USD
Sold by: 1800Pools
Category: Swimming Pool Supplies > Pool Heaters & Solar Products > Propane & Natural Gas Pool Heaters
The difference is that they cost substantially more to run and are probably only worth considering when propane is already stored for other purposes.
Pool Heat Pumps – These are electrically powered air source heat pumps which transfer heat to the pool water from the air. As they do not actually generate heat they are very efficient users of energy and therefore cheap to run. Some models can be reversed to cool the pool during the summer. This type of heat pump does not work well at low temperatures but is ideal for simply extending the season. Also they are not as powerful as gas heaters so work best when maintaining the pool temperature for long periods.
Solar Pool Heaters – These can be effective but a good location for the solar panels is critical. They must be pointing in the right direction at the right angle and there must be no shading. Although free to run setting up solar heating for any significant size of pool will not much less than buying a gas heater.
To reduce running costs, whichever type you settle on, it is important to cover the pool when it is not in use. A pool cover helps reduce evaporation significantly and hence heat loss. For the same reason you should shelter your pool from the wind as much as possible.