It’s December, and the winter air has arrived. If you’re someone who owns a pool, then you probably appreciate the fact that you don’t have to close it up for the Florida winter. But that doesn’t mean it’s always warm enough to want to swim in it — at least until the heat returns.
But since we’re in Florida, a pool heater can frequently give us year-round swimming. And if you know what to shop for, it doesn’t even have to be all that expensive. We’ll give you the rundown on the popular options.
The most common kind of pool heater is the gas heater. Gas heaters use either gasoline or propane to heat the pool water flowing through the system. While gasoline can be supplied plentifully through a utility line, it can be more expensive than propane.
Gas pool heaters are great for quickly heating up your pool, any time of the year. However, as you might imagine, they aren’t very efficient when used frequently or often — costing between $3 and $9 per hour. Their advantages tend to come in how quickly they can raise a pool to temperature and that the heaters, themselves, tend to be cheaper to purchase and install.
If what you’re looking for is the ability to “turn on the pool” just for a few random days, this might be the option for you.
Heat pumps are heat transfer devices that take outside air from and transfer the heat to the pool water. To transfer heat, the pump compresses a refrigerant into a hot gas. Compressing the gas can be done by two different compressors. A reciprocating compressor is a compressor that delivers the gas via a crankshaft-driven piston. A scroll compressor uses to spirals to trap and compress the liquid, which tends to make it the more efficient of the two.
A heat pump only uses electricity and could cost you as little as $0.60 per hour to run, but the efficiency of this system greatly depends on the outside temperature. The colder it is, the more electricity it has to use, and the slower it will work. If temperatures drop below 50 degrees, the heat pump will not be able to heat the pool.
Solar Pool Heater
Solar pool heaters have long been a favorite of pool owners in warm, sunny climates. These devices work by bringing pool water to a solar collector, which exposes it to sunlight and the heat gathered from it throughout the day.
These devices are great for when the sun is out and they have access to direct or diffused sunlight, and are very inexpensive to keep running year round. In a climate like Florida’s, the energy savings can pay for the cost of installation in as little as two years.
Picking the Right Size
Just as you want to match the type of heater you choose to your climate and swimming habits, you’ll also need to size it appropriately for your pool. Since there’s no standard pool size, nor is the weather ever consistent across several locations, you’ll want to make sure that you work with an installer that will take a proper assessment of your pool’s needs. Even factors like cool night temperatures, or wind speed over the pool surface can demand a bigger pool heater for your pool.
Solar pool heaters require one additional consideration: the surface area of the photovoltaic panels. A general rule is that your solar collectors should have a surface area equal to at least 50% to 70% of your pool’s surface area. Again, make sure you are working with a solar installer who is taking each of these elements into account to provide you with the best solution for year-round swimming.