Solar Pool Heater Installation
You can expect to pay between $2,500 and $9,000, and sometimes a fair bit more, to install your solar pool heater. This is particularly true when working with professional installers — which we recommend as a general rule, since most pool heaters tend to require electric and plumbing skills to set up properly.
The labor costs to install your pool heater might add a fair bit to your upfront bill, but we think it’s worth it when you consider how much a well-done installation can save in terms of long-term maintenance, repairs or replacements, and any wasted electricity or fuel you might end up with from incomplete or leaky connections at any point between the outlet and your pool.
Remember, your solar heater’s panels will need at least half the surface area of your pool, so its not going to be the cheapest option upfront.
Keep in mind: solar panels typically require permits and inspections before they can be installed and used. The actual installation process for most solar pool heater panels, and their associated pumps and plumbing connections, typically takes between one to three days, though they can take longer for a variety of reasons, which mostly involve:
- Mounting your solar panels on the ground instead of a roof
- Repairing or reinforcing your roof to hold solar panels
Operation Costs For Each Heater Type
Solar Heaters: Whatever it is costing you to run the pool pump, which has to be on to push water through the solar panels. The heat itself, of course, is free from the sun.
Heat Pumps: Depends on your desired pool temperature and how long you need to run your pump and filter in order to maintain the desired temperature. The amount you pay per kilowatt hour for your electrical will also vary depending on your location.
Gas Heaters: depends on desired temperature of pool water and starting water temperature. The time of running pool pump and gas heater will help determine total cost. A rule of thumb is that Gas Heaters consume 1 therm of Gas per 1 hour per 100,000 BTUs and LP heaters consume 1 gallon of LPG per hour, per 100,000 BTUs of heater size.
Pool Heater Replacement Cost
Pool heater replacement cost is not much different than the cost for initial installation. In some cases, you may save about $100 to $300 for having preexisting gas, electrical, and plumbing systems already in place. There could also be a charge for removing the old heater. A professional can usually help you decide when it is time to replace the pool heater. There will come a point when the price of a repair will not be worth the amount of life the heater has left.
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Con: Use More Energy To Operate
Unfortunately, if youre looking for the greenest option in pool heaters, gas heaters are not it. They use finite natural resources to operate, so they are not the most environmentally friendly option when compared to other types of pool heaters. They also cost more to operate overall, which youll see on your energy bills. In general, gas pumps can cost between $300-$500 per month to operate, but you can save money by turning it off when not in use since it works quickly after being turned on.
Solar Swimming Pool Heaters
An example of a solar pool heater.
You can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs by installing a solar pool heater. They’re cost competitive with both gas and heat pump pool heaters, and they have very low annual operating costs. Actually, solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar energy in many climates.
How They Work
Most solar pool heating systems include the following:
- A solar collector — the device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
- A filter — removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
- A pump — circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
- A flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.
Pool water is pumped through the filter and then through the solar collector, where it is heated before it is returned to the pool. In hot climates, the collector can also be used to cool the pool during peak summer months by circulating the water through the collector at night.
Some systems include sensors and an automatic or manual valve to divert water through the collector when the collector temperature is sufficiently greater than the pool temperature. When the collector temperature is similar to the pool temperature, filtered water simply bypasses the collector and is returned to the pool.
Example of how a solar collector works.
Selecting a Solar Pool Heater
Evaluating Your Site’s Solar Resource
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Other Considerations And Costs
- Keep in mind the differences between the traditional swimming pool heaters and the solar-powered heaters that are for above ground pools. Choose the one that makes the most sense for you.
- Consider the type of pool that you have, as well as the size to ensure that you have the right size heater
- Will you need to add hookups for a swimming pool heater, or do you have preexisting hookups?
Check out our guide if you need a loan for your home improvement project.
Choosing The Right Heater
You will additionally require to estimate the size of your swimming pool and its location before you arrive at your concluding decision.Big pools in shaded sections are more costly to connect and operate. More modest swimming pools and ones in sunny regions are commonly considerably less costly to run. Other circumstances to consider include employing a pool cover to retain heat in as well as the weather in your region.
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How Hot Does My Pool Water Need To Be
This answer depends on your preferences, and on how you plan to use your pool.
Generally, we recommend pool water be kept around a minimum of 75 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered “comfortable” by most people.
However, young children and older adults may want water that’s at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit to swim comfortably.
The National Swimming Pool Foundation’s official recommendations are for pool water temperatures of 82 degrees Fahrenheit for recreational swimming, and for 90 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit for children ages four and younger.
Cost Of Electric Pool Heating In Orlando
Electric heat pump heaters operate on electricity and can function in sunny or shaded environments. These will cost you between $1,500 and $3,000. An electric resistance pool heater uses electricity via resistors to heat the water and doesnât release any air pollution, but they may consume a significant amount of electricity during cooler months. These cost between $1,700 and $4,000.
Although these may be pricey upfront, on average these heat pumps should only cost about $100 a month in electricity to operate.
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Are Pool Heaters Worth It
Short answer, it depends on where you live and how long you want your pool to be in use during a calendar year.
Quality swimming pool heaters have the potential to be an incredibly worthwhile investment if a family wants to utilize its new pool year-round, or even just well into the school year starting in the fall. However, if your family only plans to use your pool in the hot days of summer, or if you live somewhere where the temperature is warm the vast majority of the year, a pool heating system is not as necessary.
Labor Cost To Install A Swimming Pool Heater
It is a good idea to hire a professional to install a swimming pool heater. Improper installation is one of the biggest reasons that a heater will fail prematurely. Plus, many warranties will become void if a heater is installed improperly. Installation will involve placing a gas line, routing electricity or installing solar panels, venting, and plumbing work. The process can take only one day or several days depending on the particular situation. Depending on the complexity of the system and the location of the pool, installation should cost between $500 and $2,000. Most professionals charge by the project. If additional supplies for plumbing and wiring are needed, expect to add between $50 and $100 to the installation total.
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Combined Benefits Gas Pool Heater And Heat Pump
A gas heater and heat pump combination will deliver energy savings utilizing the heat pump a majority of the time, and switching to a gas pool heater when the temperature drops. Other benefits include:
- Most energy efficient way to heat or cool your pool and/or spa in any climate
- Heat pump efficiently maintains ideal pool temperature while gas heater rapidly raises spa temperature on demand
- The ability to choose between heat pump or gas heat on cooler days and in colder climate.
Electric Pool Heater Installation Cost
An electric resistance pool heater is a good choice when the temperature is over 55 degrees or if the pool is small. This heater will need its own electrical circuit to provide enough power for the heating element to heat the water as it is pumped through the system and returned to the pool. It will take several hours to heat the pool, only raising the temperature by a few degrees each hour. The unit should last between five and ten years with proper maintenance. These heaters are inexpensive, do not pollute the air, and are not dependent on the outside temperature. However, the electric bill can get high because it uses a lot of electricity. Expect to pay between $800 and $4,500 for an electric resistance pool heater and between $450 and $1,000 for installation, making the total between $1,250 and $5,500.
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Determining Efficiency Of A Gas Pool Heater
Gas pool heaters have a standard test to determine their energy efficiency based on their Btu output.
Heater efficiency is the ratio of usable output to energy input. For example, an 80%-efficient heater uses $80 worth of useful heat for every $100 worth of fuel. Therefore, it wastes 20% of the fuel.
Most gas pool heaters feature their efficiency percentage on their nameplates. A pool heater’s manufacturer can also provide its efficiency percentage.
Today, you’ll find some gas pool heaters with 89%95% efficiency. Table 1 shows how much you can save for every $1,000 in annual pool heating costs relative to a 55% efficient gas pool heater by installing a 95% efficiency gas pool heater.
Table 1. Annual Savings by Gas Pool Heater Efficiency*
*Figures based on a 1,000 square-foot, outdoor pool heated with an 80% efficient natural gas heater at $1.09 per therm and uncovered for 8 hours per day.
If you’re replacing a gas pool heater, you can use the following formula to determine your annual cost savings with a higher efficiency gas pool heater model:
Current Annual Cost x
Types Of Swimming Pool Heaters
There are three main types of powered swimming pool heaters:
- Natural gas or propane pool heater
Each type of heater has a somewhat different mechanism of operation, which means each type has its own set of pros and cons.
Let’s dig deeper into the way each type of swimming pool heater type, how much you might spend to buy a typical heater of each type, and how much each type typically costs to run over the course of a swim season or calendar year.
Note: There are other types of pool heating systems, like wood burning stoves and electric resistance heaters. These are rarely used to heat residential inground pools, which is why we tend not to cover them. Let’s stick to a detailed explanation of solar, heat pump, and gas heaters.
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Natural Gas Pool Heaters
You can figure about 1 therm per hour per 100,000 BTUs for Natural Gas. For a typical 400,000 BTU pool heater, thats 4 therms per hour. Currently Natural Gas runs about $1.00 per therm, natural gas prices do fluctuate so keep an eye on this site showing the Cost of Natural Gas Per State. In our example, 1 hour on Natural Gas will cost $4.00.
Solar Pool Heater Installation Cost
Although the units themselves cost a little more, solar pool heaters are the most cost efficient since there is little to no cost to run them. However, they can only be used in areas with plenty of direct sun. These units can last as many as 15 to 20 years, but the rate at which the water is heated is slow. Solar panels can also be unattractive and the solar pool heater installation cost is high. Solar pool heaters require little maintenance and are easy on the environment. The larger the pool, the more solar panels needed. Panels generally come in 4×10 sizes or 4×20 sizes. Expect to pay between $2,500 and $9,000 for a solar heating system and installation will cost between $600 and $2,000. This makes the total for the system and installation cost between $3,100 and $11,000.
|Number of 4×10 Solar Panels
|Pool Surface Area
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Hiring A Professional For Pool Heater Installation
Although many are now looking into installing their Pool Heaters on their own, it is always safe to have a professional install your pool heater for you. When you are using a gas or electrical heater, a professional would be able to assist you in the wiring and plumbing system. Usually, the labor cost of hiring a professional will range around $400 to $500. It is a per project basis and is very minimal for long term use.
Maintaining Your Pool Heater
Its important that you maintain your pool heater to extend how long it lasts. Make a point to keep the area around the pool heater free of twigs and leaves, and clean around keep the grass neatly cleared or trimmed. You should also keep an eye out for rodents and check your manual for any other tips. You want to keep your pool chemistry balanced and maintained so that the heater performs at top levels. Winterize it properly when you switch it off for the season.
Each spring, have a professional come out and inspect the heater to ensure its in good shape. This can help make your heater last longer, and this makes it easier to justify your pool heater cost. During the inspection, theyll tell you about any repairs you need to have done or when its time to replace it. An inspection will add around $150 to your pool heater cost.
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Sizing A Gas Pool Heater
You should have a trained pool professional perform a proper sizing analysis for your specific pool to determine pool heater size.
Sizing a gas pool heater involves many factors. Basically, a heater is sized according to the surface area of the pool and the difference between the pool and the average air temperatures. Other factors also affect the heating load for outdoor pools, such as wind exposure, humidity levels, and cool night temperatures. Therefore, pools located in areas with higher average wind speeds at the pool surface, lower humidity, and cool nights will require a larger heater.
Gas pool heaters are rated by Btu output. Outputs range from 75,000 Btu to 450,000 Btu.
To calculate an approximate heater size for an outdoor pool, follow these steps:
Pool Area x Temperature Rise x 12
This formula is based on 1º to 1-1/4ºF temperature rise per hour and a 3-1/2 mile per hour average wind at the pool surface. For a 1-1/2ºF rise multiply by 1.5. For a 2ºF rise multiply by 2.0.
Cost To Run Solar Pool Heater
It costs nothing to run a solar pool heater. Just keep in mind that the heater needs the sun to run. For this reason, many pool owners consider using a solar pool heater in combination with another heating system, such as a . It is a bigger investment up front for a solar pool heater, but requires no monthly operating cost.
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Electric And Gas Pool Heaters
Also known as heat pumps, electric pool heaters capture heat from the outdoor air and circulate it through the pool’s water. A heat pump can last ten years or more when properly maintained.
Gas pool heaters run on either natural gas or propane. They generally have a shorter lifespan than electric heaters due to their high operating temperature.
If your electric or gas heat pump isn’t working correctly, there are a few basic problems that most homeowners can address. By all means, however, don’t do any work that you aren’t comfortable with, as injury and/or worsening of the problem could occur. Bearing that in mind, here are some issues to check when your heat pump is malfunctioning:
- The heater is plugged in
- The thermostat is set to the desired temperature
- The external and internal valves are open
- The pilot is lit
- Check electrical connections
- Clean terminals and leads of corrosion
- Clean or change the filter
- Clean the pump basket
- Look for signs of rodent infestation
- Check that the timer is correctly set
Many things can go wrong with a pool heaterfar too many to list here. For additional troubleshooting resources, check out the pages below. And don’t forget that the best resource is an experienced pool heater technician.