A Guide to Purchasing Above Ground Pool Heaters to Keep Your Water Nice and Warm

Does your above ground pool need a heater? Pool heaters for above ground pools are a great idea. Here’s a quick guide to purchasing above ground pool heaters. Read more here.

The cold seasons may come, but that doesn’t mean it will stop the joy of taking a dip in your above ground pool. But when the weather gets colder, you may notice your pool temperature drop, making swimming uncomfortable.

If this sounds like a frustration you know too well, then an above ground pool heater might be what you need to make the water nice and warm again.

But before you pick the best above ground pool heater, there are a few things you need to know. Scroll down to learn what you need to look for in an above ground pool heater, plus which are the best types of heaters on today’s market.

Swimming Pool Clear Water

What Is an Above Ground Pool?

An above ground pool is any swimming pool that is not an in ground version. This means it can be either located on top of a hard surface or placed in the yard. Another way to think of an above ground pool is an out of water pool.

Aboveground pools are also called in-ground pools because their design is similar to those of above-ground wells or cisterns.

When choosing an above ground pool heater, the size of the heater will likely be your primary concern. The larger the pool you have, the more heaters you will need, which means more electricity being used in the process.

But if your pool is along a busy street or near large buildings with lots of windows, you might want to consider a more portable pool heater model with smaller BTUs.

There’s also another reason to pick an above ground pool heater based on whether or not it’s easy for you to get up and down. If you cannot get into the pool, you’ll want a smaller, portable model that doesn’t require much plumbing. Some of these models hang from the ceiling, and others are anchored to the pool deck.

How Do Pool Heaters Work?

Filter Pump Cleaning Swimming Pool

Electric pool heaters are placed inside an above ground pool. The unit works by pumping gallons of water through its internal heating element. After the pool water is heated up, it’s passed through a heat exchanger, where it’s returned to the swimming area.

This is why you’ll need at least some basic knowledge of how pump systems work before putting any heater of your choice in place.

You’ll also want to know the specs of the heater you’re buying. The most important of these is its BTUs. BTUs measure the power of your heater in British Thermal Units (BTU), which is how much energy it needs to heat 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit. Again, there are different specs, so make sure you check them out before making your final decision.

If this info seems overwhelming, don’t stress! You can always search the internet and find a pool heater buying guide that includes all this information for you.

Don’t forget to include the size of your pool in your search for this information, or else you may find that there’s more than one type of heater that will fit its specifications.

Types of Above Ground Pool Heaters

There are many types of pool heaters, and they vary in size, BTUs, and how they’re placed in the pool. The major difference between these pool heaters is how they generate heat. The three common types of pool heaters for pool owners are:

Solar Heaters

Solar heaters are attached to your pool deck. The best of these are the floating solar panels that use an electrical cord to connect to your power source. These solar panels are usually anchored with ballast anchors to withstand the pressure caused by people walking on them and can be installed in any place where there is space.

Solar pool heaters for above ground pools are typically low on BTUs and don’t usually heat up very quickly. Because it’s not directly attached to the water, it requires plumbing for placement underneath the pool deck, which can be an issue if you don’t want it visible.

Gas Heaters

Gas heaters are the most common type of pool heater for above ground pools. The key to picking a gas heater is to choose a model that matches your energy needs. The more BTUs you need, the more energy it will require. Gas heaters generally directly connect to an existing gas line in your home, which makes them easy to install and use.

The downside of this type is that you’ll need some ventilation system if you want your gas heater placed indoors. In addition, it requires a lot more maintenance than other types of pool heaters because it can rust and leak when not properly cleaned and maintained.

Pro tip: "You want to avoid leaving your pool heater on unless it is absolutely necessary. You will squander propane, natural gas, and pool-water-heaters. Instead, schedule turning it on for a few hours before you use it.” - swimmingpool.com

Wood Heaters

Wood heaters are very rare, but some people still use them. They work similar to gas heaters, except that they connect to your home’s natural gas and propane supply and need wood chips or pellets to operate.

The wood that you burn in this pool heater will produce a lot of smoke, especially if it’s placed indoors, so be sure to have a good ventilation system installed before buying one of these units.

Things to Consider for a Good Above Ground Pool Heater Purchase

Above Ground Pool and Ladder

When purchasing a pool heater for your above ground pool, there are some things you will need to consider. There are many types of heaters, so choosing the right one might seem overwhelming.

But fear not! We help you understand things to look for when shopping around so that you can find the perfect swimming solution for your needs.

Pool Size and Available Space

The first thing you will need to consider is the size of your above ground pool. If you have a large pool with lots of room for growth, or if it’s located near a home with a large backyard, you might want to consider one of the larger models on the market.

If your pool is small and doesn’t need too much heat, then purchasing a smaller model that provides fewer BTUs will be fine for your needs. You’ll still get an adequate level of heat without needing too many BTUs, which can dramatically reduce your electric bill and reduce indoor air pollution levels.

Heating Capacity

The amount of heat you’ll need will depend on the following;

  • How cold is outside
  • The size of the pool 
  • And whether it’s heated with a system other than gas. 

If you buy a gas heater, make sure you select one that’s large enough to cover the most amount of space. For example, if your pool is outdoors, you’ll most likely require more BTUs than an indoor unit. You’ll also want to consider the period of time it takes for the unit to heat up your pool. 

While you can’t really know how long it takes because of different conditions, you can judge by its BTU count listed on each model. So when researching each one of these models, find out its BTU count and compare them to the size of your pool.

Some models don’t list their BTU count, so you will need to contact the manufacturer directly. If this is the case, make sure you know what size pool you have so that they can tell you exactly how much heat it will provide. The more information they have about your pool, the better it will be for both of you when they create a quote for this purchase.

Placement Options

If your pool is located indoors or outdoors, then this will affect your purchase. Pool heaters used indoors will require a venting system to prevent air pollution and harmful gases.

Outdoor models can be connected directly to existing gas lines, but they must still be placed in areas where they aren’t easily visible or can catch on fire during the summer months.

Installation and Maintenance Costs

 It’s best to go with a heater that doesn’t take too much space and has an easy installation process. If you plan to operate one of these heaters indoors, you’ll need to install outdoor venting systems. If this is the case, then these vents should be installed around the perimeter of your house so that they can take care of any unwanted gases.

Maintenance costs are another consideration when buying a pool heater for your above ground pool. Getting a yearly cleaning from a professional service provider can help you ensure your heater is running at optimum levels and will help you save yourself a lot of money in the long run.

In addition, the more often you have your heater cleaned, the longer it will last. It would also be great for you to investigate the warranty before making a purchase. Most manufacturers offer a standard warranty that lasts up to 5 years or so.

If possible, find out if the model you’re purchasing comes with an extended warranty for an extra cost. This type of warranty can increase the expenses because many services have been known to charge an extra fee after the initial period has passed by.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long does it take to heat an average size above ground pool?

A: Most models come with a comfortable pool water temperature setting that could heat your pool within 24 hours or less. If you want the heater to heat the water faster, you can opt for a model with more BTUs.

Q: How often should my pool heater be cleaned?

A: The best time to clean your pool heater is before winter. If you don’t, bacteria and algae can grow inside your unit and cause it to break down and fail prematurely. It’s best to clean it at least three times a year, but if you live in cold climates and use your heater during the winter months, then you may need to clean it every quarter.

Q: How much does this cost?

A: The cost of any pool heater is going to vary depending on its size and BTU count. If you want to get one that has an extended warranty, then the price may be more than the standard pool models.

Consider purchasing one with fewer BTUs to keep costs down because these models can save money on energy costs while still maintaining your pool warm enough for swimming.

Q: Are there warranties for a pool heater?

A: Most pool heaters come with a standard warranty that lasts around 5 years. If your heater explodes, leaks gas, or develops a serious defect, your manufacturer will fix it at no charge as long as you haven’t abused the unit. You can also purchase an extended warranty that covers additional parts and labor for an additional installation cost.

Bottom Line

While fall is a beautiful time of year, it can be a bit of a bummer if you have a cold swimming pool on your property. After all, who wants to swim in a pool with a water temperature of 70 degrees?

If you can’t control the temperature of the air around your pool, you can control the temperature of the pool itself. Adding a heater to your above ground pool can help you to maintain a comfortable swimming temperature all year.

Below are some swimming pool articles that you will definitely find useful. Check them out! To explore our pool guides, click here.

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