Last Updated on January 29, 2024

warm swimming pool

Many pool owners are happy during the summer when a swim will help you beat the heat. However, owning a pool in winter can be a hassle without a heater. If you are undecided on what sort of heating system to use or how to heat your pool in the winter, here is a comparison of the different types of pool heaters.

The Different Types of Pool Heaters

One of the most effective ways to keep your pool warm in the winter is to install a pool heater. It is a device that uses gas, propane, or electricity to warm the water in your swimming pool. By installing a heater, you can keep your pool at the desired temperature, no matter how cold it is outside. Furthermore, pool heater installation and operation are easy, and they are available in different sizes and types to suit your budget and requirements.

Use a Solar Cover

Another way to keep your pool warm in the winter is by using a solar cover. A solar cover is a blanket that is placed on top of the water in your pool. It helps to trap the heat from the sun and retain it in the water. As a result, your pool water remains warm, and you don’t have to spend a lot of money on heating your pool. Solar covers are affordable, easy to use, and they come in different sizes and thicknesses.

Install a Heat Pump

A heat pump is another excellent option for keeping your pool warm in the winter. It is a type of pool heater that extracts heat from the air and transfers it to the water in your pool. Thus, it is an eco-friendly and energy-efficient way of warming up your pool. Furthermore, a heat pump is easy to install and operate, and it can work effectively in temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Insulate Your Pool

If you want to keep your pool warm in the winter and save money on heating costs, consider insulating your pool. Insulation helps to trap the heat in your pool and prevent it from escaping. You can insulate your pool by using foam boards, insulating paint, or bubble wrap. Insulation is a one-time investment that can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Get a Pool Enclosure

A pool enclosure is a structure that surrounds your pool and protects it from the elements. It can help to keep your pool warm in the winter by trapping the heat inside and preventing it from escaping. Furthermore, a pool enclosure can keep your pool clean and free from debris, which saves you time and money on maintenance.

Solar Heaters

Solar pool heaters utilize the sun’s energy to warm your pool without using any gas or electricity. The system works by circulating water through a series of solar panels, where it is heated and returned to the pool. The process is simple, effective, and pays for itself in reduced utility bills over time.

How Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

Solar pool heaters are made up of several components, including the solar collector, filter, pump, and flow control valve. The solar collector is the heart of the system and is responsible for collecting the sun’s energy to heat the pool water. The solar panels are typically installed on a roof or mounted on a frame in an area that receives maximum sunlight. Water from your pool is pumped through the filter, then redirected to the solar collector. As the water flows through the solar panels, it is heated by the sun’s energy, and then returned back to the pool, through a flow control valve.

The Benefits of Solar Pool Heaters

Aside from being cost-effective, there are several benefits of using solar heaters for swimming pools. For starters, they are incredibly easy to maintain as they come equipped with automated controls that ensure the water is always at the desired temperature. Solar pool heaters are also environmentally-friendly, as they do not produce any carbon emissions. Lastly, because they are not reliant on outside power sources, they are ideal for remote areas or areas where electricity is expensive.

Installation Process for Solar Pool Heaters

The process of installing solar pool heaters is simple and can be done by a professional or DIY enthusiast. The installation generally takes a day or two, depending on the size and complexity of the system. To begin, the solar panels are mounted on the roof or ground-mounted frame, the pump and filters are installed, and the pool’s plumbing is adjusted to accommodate the system.


Solar kit: $1,000 – $4,800
Installation: $500 – $2,500
Annual costs: $30 – $75


+ Inexpensive
+ Environmentally friendly
+ May qualify you for a tax credit


– Require some solar energy know-how and regular adjustment
– Unreliable in areas with little sun
– Will not get pools as warm as other heating options

Heat Pumps

Heat pumps maintain constant pool temperatures between 80 and 90 degrees. If solar heating is out of the question, but you want a heated pool most of the day, use a heat pump.

A heat pump is a device that extracts heat from the air or ground and transfers it inside your home or swimming pool to warm it up. Heat pumps work on the principle of refrigeration. They contain a compressor, refrigerant, evaporator, and condenser. The compressor creates a high-pressure gas that travels through the refrigerant to the evaporator.

How do heat pumps work?

Heat pumps use a refrigerant to extract heat from the outside air or ground. The refrigerant then passes through the evaporator coil and absorbs the heat from the water that is flowing through it. The refrigerant then travels through the compressor, which compresses it and raises its temperature.

Next, the refrigerant passes through the condenser coil, which transfers the heat it contains to the water flowing through it. As a result, the water temperature rises by a few degrees, and it is then funneled back into your swimming pool. This heating process is repeated until your swimming pool reaches the desired temperature.

The benefits of heat pumps

One of the significant advantages of using a heat pump to heat your pool is its energy efficiency. Heat pumps use electricity to run the compressor and fans, which make them up to 60% more energy-efficient than traditional pool heaters. Additionally, heat pumps are known to provide consistent heating as they are not affected by severe weather changes. Even when it’s cold outside, heat pumps can extract heat from the air or ground and use it to heat the pool.

Another benefit of using heat pumps for your swimming pools is its environmental-friendliness. Heat pumps use heat from the air or ground, which is a renewable energy source, making them a more sustainable option for swimming pool heating. Additionally, heat pumps do not emit harmful pollutants into the environment, making them an eco-friendly choice for all pool owners to consider.


Heat pump: $2,400 – $4,600
Installation: $350 – $950
Ongoing costs: $250 – $500


+ Very safe and easy to use
+ Can function throughout the year in any climate


– Can be noisy
– May freeze if unit temperature drops below 45 degrees

Gas heaters

A gas heater quickly warms a pool to 90 degrees or higher. This is idea for a pool that is used once or twice a day, or only when guests come over.

How Gas Heaters Work?

The heater pulls water through a pump, passes it through a heating chamber, and then returns the warmer water to the pool. The heating chamber contains a heat exchanger which transfers heat from the combustion of gas to the water in the chamber. The heat exchanger can be made of either a cupro-nickel or titanium alloy.

Types of gas heaters

There are two types of gas heaters available: natural draft and power vent. Natural draft heaters, as the name implies, rely on natural convective currents to remove exhaust gas and bring in combustion air. They are a good option for pools situated in areas with good ventilation since they don’t require as much installation hardware as power-vented heaters. Power vent heaters use a blower to force exhaust gas out and bring in combustion air, and are often installed in indoor pools or outdoor enclosures.

Efficiency and cost

When it comes to gas heaters, efficiency is crucial, as it can help reduce your long-term operating costs. Most gas heaters have an efficiency rating of between 80% to 95%, indicating how much of the fuel used is converted into heat. In comparison, electric heaters are 100% efficient, but they also tend to be much less powerful and more expensive over the long run. Gas heaters can cost between $500 to $3000, but their lifespan can range from 5-10 years with proper maintenance and use.

Sizing and compatibility

When choosing a gas heater for your pool, size really does matter. A heater that is too small for your pool won’t be able to raise the temperature effectively, while an oversized heater can lead to expensive utility bills. The size of your pool will dictate the appropriate BTU (British Thermal Units) for your heater. It’s also important to consider how compatible the heater is with your pool, whether it’s above-ground or in-ground. Furthermore, if you use a different filtration system, such as a salt chlorine generator, be sure to find a heater that is compatible with it.

Maintenance and safety

To ensure your gas heater lasts as long as possible, it’s important to maintain your heater properly. This includes regular cleaning of the heat exchanger, checking for damage to the burners or gas line, as well as monitoring the air quality near the heater. Most heaters come with built-in safety mechanisms, such as temperature limit switches and flame sensors, which will shut the heater off automatically in case of an issue.


Gas heater: $875 – $5400
Installation: $350 – $850
Annual cost: $1,000 – $1,500 for propane (about half with natural gas)


+ Easy to use and maintain in any climate
+ Quick heating at higher levels than other heating options


– Extremely expensive if used continuously
– Can be unsafe for children to operate


Whichever heating option you choose, you should have a pool cover. A cover will keep out falling debris and will let people know if the pool is available for use or not. Choose the heating option that is right for you based on budget, safety issues and climate. Guardian Fence can help you set up your pool heating system and answer questions about pool maintenance as well.

Keep your swimming pool secure with a Guardian Pool Fence