A Pool Owner’s Guide on Pool Heaters: Cost, Types, Benefits & Problems

Want to know about the best pool heaters you can buy to save money on pool heating costs? Learn about the different types of pool heaters, what are their benefits, and what are the common problems with them. Read more here.

The pool heater is used to heat the water in a swimming pool when it gets too chilly. The three common swimming pool heaters for pool owners are solar, gas, and heat-powered pumps. 

The cost to install a solar-powered heating system varies from 2500USD to 9000USD. A gas-powered system will cost anywhere from around 1500USD to install with an annual cost of 1600USD to 2600USD for gas, also running you somewhere around about the same as the solar-powered heating system.

Electric heat pumps cost about 2000USD to 7200USD to install, but its monthly operating costs are way lower than any other pool heaters.

This range is, of course, a general estimate, and your actual expenses may vary significantly depending on your location, utility prices, and how frequently you operate the pump.

The pros for these systems are that they each have their advantages depending on your situation or personal preferences. However, deciding which type of pool heater to buy can go a long way in terms of price, longevity, pool dimensions, and more.

In this article, we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of the three common types of heaters for pool owners: gas heater, heat pump, and solar heater. 

Solar Pool Heaters

Solar Pool Heater

Solar power has been used to heat pools for a long time because it is the most economical way and environmentally friendly to heat a pool. In fact, solar heaters are becoming even more popular as the costs keep going down. 

These swimming pool heaters use solar panels that reflect the sun’s energy onto copper tubes filled with water. The tubes absorb this energy and convert it into heat. The water temperature in a solar heater will vary based on how much sunlight your area gets because these systems don’t work well at night or when clouds are present.

What Are the Space Requirements of a Solar Pool Heater?

Your roof can generally address the space requirement of installing solar heater panels. 

Bear this in mind if you choose to install a solar pool heater but are still deciding on your pool’s style, size, and material of your desires. Pool solar heating systems usually take half the size of your pool surface area. For example, a 30′ by 40′ in-ground pool may need solar heating panels covering at least 15′ by 40′ of space on the roof or the ground. 

Solar Pool Heater Pros and Cons

Now that you know what solar pool heaters are about, let’s take a quick look at the pros and drawbacks of solar pool heaters. 

Pros of Solar Swimming Pool Heaters:

  • The cost of installing a solar heating system is almost nothing compared to the energy you can save in the long run. 
  • Solar energy is free and environmentally friendly: There is no need to worry about your electricity bills going up just by enjoying a swim. 
  • Solar heaters can help with the conservation of energy. They are highly efficient in that they only need to produce heat, not electricity. Larger solar pool heating panels installed for your pool will also offset your overall energy consumption when you are not using your pool. 
  • These systems are environmentally friendly and should last for years before any major repairs should be needed, thus eliminating major concerns over spending money on repairs or replacement parts. This heater also reduces overall energy consumption drastically.

Cons of Solar Pool Heaters:

  • Solar heaters are not good during the end of the swimming season or winter because the panels operate on direct sunlight. In addition, they are not very efficient in handling temperatures below freezing points. 
  • You must remember to keep an eye on your solar panels for any signs of deterioration or weather damage so that they stay in good shape. Homeowners have to remember to check their solar pool heating system once a month for water levels and to make sure the panels are correctly draining. 
  • Solar pool heaters can be expensive to install because of the need for many solar panels, but they are not too costly to repair should something go wrong. 
  • If you live in a cloudy area, solar panels will not be a viable option for you as their efficiency depends on the sunlight that infuses them into energy.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas Heater Closeup

Gas pool heaters are the most popular swimming pool heaters since they are easy to install and come at various prices. These heaters use propane and natural gas and can be installed outdoors or indoors. 

They work by heating water in a sealed tank and then blowing the hot water around your pool through a pump. You will need to keep your propane tank full at all times, which is usually quite easy if they are installed outdoors. 

For safety reasons, always remember to call for professional assistance when installing gas-powered systems near your swimming pool, as most people may not be qualified to do so without proper training or knowledge of installation procedures.

Pros of Gas Heaters

  • Gas heaters cost very little to operate and require little maintenance and upkeep costs. 
  • The heaters provide immediate, steady heat throughout the pool, which is more than satisfying if you’re just wanting to enjoy your summer pool without having to worry about how cold it will get at night or during cloudy days with low sunlight. 
  • Unlike solar, gas heaters work even on cloudy days and at night times. 

Cons of Gas Heaters:

  • You may need to install an exhaust line to get the fumes outside. It’s also advisable to place the heater in a location away from your gas tank. 
  • Gas heaters are highly flammable, so make sure you buy ones that come with safety features and have a water-drain valve in case of emergencies. 
  • Gas heaters can be loud, which means they are not ideal for indoor use. 
  • Although gas heaters are inexpensive to install, the gas for pool heaters can range from 1,500USD to 6,000USD on an average estimate, with larger pools requiring more robust and powerful heaters.

Electric Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Outdoor with Flower

Heat pumps operate in a completely different way than gas heaters. A heat pump pool heater is essentially the same as an air conditioner but works in reverse. At the rear of the coils of a pump, the heat from the air transfers to the pool water.

One advantage of a swimming pool heat pump is that it is extremely energy efficient, making it far less expensive to operate than a gas heater.

We like a heat pump because you set it and forget it, which means you turn it up to whatever temperature you wish and leave it at that setting.

Remember that a heat pump will take longer to heat your pool to the temperature you wish than a gas heater since it uses heat from the air instead of direct fire, but it will heat your pool better and for less money.

“These are the heaters that commercial pools typically use because of their low operating costs; they are around 85 percent less expensive than gas or solar heaters, making them an excellent choice for year-round pools.”

Jehn Kubiak, Pool Enthusiast

Keep reading. Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of electric pool heat pumps.

Pros of Pool Heat Pump:

  • As we mentioned, heat pumps are more energy-efficient than either gas or solar heaters, meaning they use less electricity and make a cool pool a heated swimming pool cheaply in a day.
  • Heat pumps are very reliable, and if installed correctly, can be expected to last years longer than other types of pool heaters. 
  • Heat pumps are very easy to install. You can do it yourself if you feel comfortable working on electronic devices. 
  • Heat pumps are not costly to fix or replace compared to either solar or gas heaters, which means they are a smart investment for your pool heating needs.
  • Heat pumps are straightforward to maintain since you set them and forget them. There is no need for regular monitoring of the temperature in your pool or checking your heater tank’s gas levels. 

Cons of Pool Heat Pump:

  • Like electric air conditioners, some could be loud, so they are not ideal for indoor use like with gas heaters. 
  • Like electric fans that blow hot air during the summer months, heat pumps also blow warm air into your pool during the wintertime, and it may be quite uncomfortable if you’re too close to the heater itself. 
  • Electric heat pumps can be a bit more expensive to install than gas heaters, but the electricity cost is much less than gas heaters or even solar heaters. 
  • Make sure you have a backup heater in case your heat pump malfunctions since they cannot provide instantaneous heating like other types of pool heaters can. 


The fun in swimming doesn’t have to end with summer. When winter comes, a pool heating system can keep the fun alive so that you can enjoy your pool in whatever season. Deciding on the right pool heating system solely depends, of course, on your personal preference and the needs of your pool.

I hope that this pool owner’s guide to pool heaters has been helpful in your selection of a pool heater in the chilly months ahead! In the following guides, we provide some helpful information that will help you maintain your pool. Have fun swimming!

Photo of author

About the author

Brian Anderson

The rather dry pool world out there is in need of some passion to make it shine. With the help of my son Ruben and his wife Maria our mission is to help you create the favorite spot of your house - your pool.

Related Articles...

Leave a Comment