Pool Heaters - Do You Need Them?

by Pool Builders on 01-13-2008 in Articles

Pool heaters have become a standard feature on a lot of pools in colder areas of the country. Pool heaters and solar pool covers that are well-matched to the pool extend swimming time by two months in both directions.

There are three main types of heater, classified by fuel type:

* Solar - Solar technology is getting better and better and converts the sun's rays into energy to heat the water. In combination with a solar blanket, you will have an energy efficient and warm water.

* Electric - Great for keeping the temperature inside between 80 and 90 degrees. In fact, even if it is 45 degrees outside , electric heaters heat enough to allow you to have a comfortable, relaxing swim. But it's going to cost you on your utilities bill...

* Gas - These are best for use over a short period of time because it costs quite a bit of money to constantly refill the fuel (propane, natural gas).

Consider these facts about heating a pool:

* BTU stands for British Thermal Unit and measures the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 lb. of water 1 degree F.

* 1 Therm of Natural Gas = 100,000 BTUs.

* 1 Gallon of Propane = 91,000 BTUs.

* 1 Gallon of Water Weighs 8.33 lbs.

* To convert 1 gallon of LP (propane gas) to therms multiply cost-per-gallon X 1.0989

More elements about pool heaters:

* Larger -a heater that is a little too big is better than one a little too small. Most manufacturers' rule of thumb is to purchase a heater one size larger than the basic requirement.

* Pool size - to find out the area of the surface of a pool, multiply the length by the width.

* Desired temperature - water temperature is a personal preference. But generally the water is kept between 78 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Choose a temperature also based on what the outside temperature is.

* Outside temperature - figure out the average temperature of the coldest month of pool use (and keep in mind that heat will be better retained if a solar blanket or pool cover is used). To find out how much of a temperature rise you need, subtract this temperature from the desired pool temperature.

* Heater size - the size/strength of the heater is measured in BTUs. To find out the approximate BTU necessary for your pool (and to find out whether or not you can get by with smaller heaters), multiply the surface area (in square feet) by the temperature rise by 12 (Pool Area x Temperature Rise x 12). This equation works, assuming about a 1 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature per hour.

To find out for certain whether or not pool heaters are best for you and your pool, contact a specialist or your builder.

Keep in mind that solar heaters are a cost-effective option -they cost more money upfront, but they will save a ton of money in the long run. Most pool heaters are energy-guzzlers (and run up the utility bill - big time). Solar heaters cost nothing to run after 3-5 years or so.

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