Swimming Pool Heaters Explained
The 4 Basic Types are Electric, Solar-Powered, Gas-Fired, and Heat Pump
© 2010 by Kelly Smith all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without authors written permission.
A pool and backyard deck are a superb investments. They provide an opportunity for family fun, grilling, and entertaining friends. But left unheated, the time it can be enjoyed can be cut short, depending on the severity of your local fall and winter temperatures.
What are Your Options when Heating a Pool?
There are several options to consider, some more economical depending on where you live.
- Heat Pumps – Heat pumps a natural choice when it comes to heating water, just like using them for central heating inside the home. In a nutshell it works like this; your colder water gets pumped from your swimming pool and passes first through a filter and next through your heater.
The heat? Its generated by moving external air over an evaporator coil. There is a liquid refrigerant inside the coil which utilizes the temperature of the external air to change it into to a gaseous state.
Next it moves through your compressor. This step heats the gas further (simple thermodynamics at your service). Finally it passes through the evaporator, transferring the heat to your pool water which is then returned to your pool.
- Electric Pool Heaters – These operate in a manner similar to a hot water heater. The electricity simply heats a coil, which in turn heats the circulating water.
This method is likely to be expensive. In areas where natural gas is readily available and electrical generation plants are fueled with gas, gas may be a better choice since it eliminates the conversion process.
- Solar Heating Models – Solar is getting more popular because the suns radiant heat is a renewable green resource so logic dictates that its economical to operate. However it may not be practical in all situations.
This is because your solar collectors should be southward pointing south and must not be in the shade. Theyre usually secured to your houses roof but they may be installed free-standing if space is not an issue. Now, what size should your solar collectors be?
Ideally, 50% - 100% of your pools surface area. Using a pool cover will keep a lot of heat in and thus allow a smaller size collector. Your pump must be correctly proportioned. Why? The bigger it is, the more expensive it will be to run.
- Gas-Fired Pool Heaters – Propane and natural gas-fired models seem to be the most popular versions. The basic idea is elementary. First, cool water is circulated from your pool. Next it passes through a filter. A combustion chamber next heats your water.
Finally its circulated back to your swimming pool. As a bonus, gas models heat your water more quickly than electric so they lower utility bills.
What Temperature Should Pool Water be Kept at?
Its safe to go with the American Red Cross on this one. Their suggestion is that pool temperature should be kept at 78° F for competitive lap swimming which is 25.5° C. The recommendation for recreational swimming for the elderly and children should be maintained at 80° F (26.6° C) or higher.
The take-away from all this is that for every degree hotter your pool water is, the result is 10% - 30% higher in energy consumption and your eventual cost. Because of this, the recommendation is to put a thermal pool cover in place when your pool isnt being used and to crank the heat up to your desired temperature just before using it. Need a handyman? Find local unbiased reviews on the best handymen. Try Angies List.
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