A swimming pool makes a great addition to your outdoor space. It looks good and offers a place for exercise, relaxation, and play. Installing a swimming pool heater is one way to make sure you are able to utilize your pool for as long as possible throughout the year. Because there are multiple kinds of heaters, the cost to install a swimming pool heater can vary greatly and depend on the type of heater you choose.
On average, most homeowners spend between $1,485 and $3,521 when installing a swimming pool heater. Running the heater can cost an additional $100 to $600 per month, but again, that depends on many factors. The type of heater you install, the amount of energy it takes to run, and its location will all influence your total cost. Your first step should be to contact a professional who can help you determine what kind of heater will work best for your pool and for your local climate.
Types of Heaters
Electric Resistance Heaters
An electric resistance heater uses electricity to create heat. As water washes over the resistor unit, it heats the pool. These types of heaters are inefficient for large swimming pools, but are often a good option for smaller spas or therapy pools.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Electric Resistance Heaters
Don't emit air pollution
Inexpensive to purchase
Don't rely on outside air temperature
Require very large amounts of electricity
Expensive to operate
Expensive to install
Not energy efficient
The most common type of pool heater, the gas heater uses either natural gas or propane to heat the water. If you have a natural gas line, the heater can hook up to the existing line; if not, you can opt to use a propane tank that is mounted above or below the ground. Installation involves PVC plumbing, electrical wiring, and venting.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Gas Heaters
Low installation cost
A thermostat gives you complete control over temperature
Easy to forget to turn these heaters off
Expensive monthly cost
A heat pump extracts heat from the air, which means it uses less energy than an electric or gas heater. It does require a dedicated breaker to supply power to the unit, which may mean a higher upfront cost because this element needs to be professionally installed. Heat pumps may also be able to add a couple weeks to either end of your pool season when temperatures are chillier, and despite the large circuits that run them, they are quite efficient. The cost to install a pool heat pump is comparable to a gas model, so what you end up paying generally depends on which type you prefer.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Heat Pumps
Cheaper to maintain than gas heaters
Cost less per month to run
Slower to heat pools than gas models
A solar heater is considered the most cost-effective method for heating a swimming pool.
However, it is the least dependable. This heater uses solar panels to warm the water in your pool, and the water then circulates using your existing pool pump. In order for this type of heater to be effective, it is recommended that you have enough solar panels to equal at least half of your pool's square footage. Solar panels are efficient options, but they will only heat your pool when the outside temperature is warmer than the pool water. Many pool owners choose to use them in conjunction with a backup heating system.
When you use a heater, it is important to conserve as much of your pool's warmth as possible to keep heating costs down. A pool cover, or solar blanket, is a low-cost way to ensure that your heater works efficiently. The cover is made of air-filled bubbles that attract sunlight to heat the pool. Keeping the pool covered at night or during days when it isn't in use helps the water stay warm. Using one of these covers requires no operating cost and can increase the pool's temperature by 10 degrees. Using a solar reel is an easy way to take the blanket off and put it back on when desired.
The type of heater you choose can greatly influence your cost, both up front and over time. Average purchase costs may fall within the following ranges:
Electric resistance heater: under $2,000
Gas heater: $1,500 to $2,500
Heat pump: $2,500 to $3,500
Solar panels: $1,500 to $2,000
There is also a variety of outside factors that influence the cost of your heater, including:
Above-ground or in-ground pool
Size of your pool
Size of the heater you need
After you purchase your unit, you need to decide whether you want to install it yourself or have it professionally installed. In most cases, it is a good idea to have a professional do this job for you. Expect the following installation costs:
Gas heater: $500 to $1,500
Heat pump: $500 to $1,000
Solar panels: $500 to $1,000
If you are switching out an old or broken unit and already have the necessary hookups for a heater, your installation cost may be less.
Because each pool heater works differently, the cost to run per month varies. Expect these costs with the following heaters:
Type of Heater
Cost Per Month
$500 to $600
$200 to $400
$100 to $200
These additional factors can also influence your monthly cost:
The size of your pool and your heater
Current cost of gas or electricity
Average daily temperatures in your area
Your desired water temperature
Extreme weather, like heavy rains or high winds
Whether your pool is covered or uncovered
Your choice of pool heater may also depend on your climate. If you live in a cooler climate, investing in a reliable pool heater can be worth it, as it can allow you to get as much use out of your pool as possible. Those in warm, sunny climates may find that solar panels provide the right amount of heat needed without the burden of high monthly costs.