Swimming Pool Heaters - Which Type Should You Select?

by Pool Builders on 04-26-2009 in Articles

There are several different types of swimming pool heater, all using different power sources and different means of generating and transmitting heat energy.

The main swimming pool heater types are gas and propane burning heaters, heat exchangers, oil fired stoves, electric heaters, solar systems, condensing heaters and heat pumps.

All of these alternatives have different advantages and disadvantages that include suitability based upon pool size, local climate and emission levels.

Certain heater types like those powered by solar energy, those using exchanger technology and those based around a heat pump can be very cost effective. However, they are limited by the volume and strength of heated water that they can generate (i.e. hot water production).

Other methods of generating heated swimming pool water use a boiler, stove or condensing system and they offer more power, i.e. a higher flow rate along with greater heating levels, but at a higher cost and energy consumption.

This creates a dilemma in that, it is possible to generate some heat at a very low cost (indeed free with solar energy), but that high flow rates and hotter water increase the energy usage and the initial outlay costs of the heating system.

This means that choosing the right heating system for any pool requires careful consideration of the pool's size (i.e. volume of water to be heated), the desired "ideal" swimming temperature, the intended swimming season, the variation of outdoor temperatures across the seasons, and the available budget for heater system purchase and installation and ongoing running costs.

As a guide, heating systems that use solar energy and exchanger technology are great for raising water temperatures by a few degrees. They are also cheap to buy and easy to install. This makes them ideal in warm climates, or for summer use. They do however have limitations when it comes to providing a swimming pool for year-round use in varying ambient temperatures, or for heating large pools.

Boilers and condensers that burn gas, propane, oil, or solid fuel offer more versatility. They can heat a cold pool to a high temperature very quickly and they have high flow rates and accurate temperature control. This does of course come at a cost, even so it is only with these types of heaters that a medium to large pool can genuinely provide year round swimming conditions.

One way of reducing ongoing pool heating fuel bills is to combine two different water heating approaches. E.g. Solar heating can be used to initially raise (or maintain) a pool at a moderate temperature, with a boiler, condenser or heat exchanger used to supplement the heat during cool seasons or when warmer water is required.

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