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Pool Heating: Gas Pool Heater vs Heat Pump vs Solar


When it comes to heating your pool, you might have questions about which route is best. Pool heat pumps vs. gas heaters vs. solar energy can be difficult to navigate. After all, you want to find an option that is both cost-efficient and suitable for your specific pool. As you can assume, pool heating is not a one-size-fits-all solution and there isn’t a right or a wrong choice.

You’ll want to factor in many variables such as the size of your pool, where in the country you live, and what your personal heating budget is. Let’s delve into the different options before you continue with the process of installing a pool heater.

pool heat pump vs heater

Why Heat Your Pool?

For those who have pools in the northern half of the United States, pool heating is a necessary evil that allows them to enjoy their pool during the summer months. Since you’ve spent so much money putting in a pool, why not heat it to maximize your enjoyment? Unless you’re located in a warmer part of the U.S., it’s simply too cold to have a pool without heating it.

Regardless of where you live, heating a pool can extend your swim season by as much as a couple of months. This means you’ll be able to enjoy your pool for an extra month both in the spring and fall seasons.

Gas Pool Heaters

Gas pool heating is a commonly used approach to heating your pool that has been around for nearly as long as in-ground swimming pools. They are the most commonly used option to heat pools as they have a low initial cost and have been around for decades. However, gas pool heaters are starting to decline in popularity due to the emergence of more energy-efficient options such as solar pool heaters or heat pumps.

How Do They Work?

Although they may sound complicated, gas pool heaters operate in a simple manner. Gas pool heaters use natural gas or propane and burn them inside a combustion chamber. There are copper coils inside the chamber that water passes through, allowing the water to heat up before it is sent back into the swimming pool. Let’s take a closer look at some pros of gas heaters below. 


  • The upfront costs may be 35-50% cheaper compared to solar pool heating systems or pool heat pumps.
  • They’ve very fast at warming up the water.
  • Gas pool heaters are suitable to wear even on the coldest winter day.
  • More and more energy-efficient models are emerging on the market.
  • The cost of installation is low.


There are some disadvantages of gas pool heaters that you should keep in mind: 

  • They cause pollution (although there are newer models that generate less pollution).
  • When comparing a gas pool heater vs. electric heat pumps, gas heat pumps have a shorter life expectancy.
  • As the prices of natural gas continue to rise, it can increase the operation of your pool.

Pool Heat Pumps

pool heating

There may be some confusion around the topic of heat pool pumps and how they’re categorized. Did you know that pool heat pumps technically fall under the category of electric pool heaters? This is because they use electricity to heat the pool. 

Electric Resistance Pool Heaters

High Voltage Electric team knows heating a pool can also be accomplished with electric resistance pool heaters, the simplest type of electric pool heater on the market. Think of this pool heating method in the same way that you would an electric kettle; as the heating coils heat up, they directly heat the water in the above chamber. Although it is inefficient, the process is fast.

The process remains the same for electric resistance pool heaters. The main point of difference is that electric resistance pool heaters don’t create any sort of local pollution. However, there’s some pollution that stems from the energy production source unless that source comes from a renewable source.

Energy Efficient Pool Heat Pumps

When comparing pool heat pumps vs. heaters, know that heat pumps are not responsible for generating heat from the electricity that they consume. What this means is that pool heat pumps draw in heat from the air and transfer the heat to a refrigerant. Here, the heat is compressed into a hot gas that heats the water. This process is incredibly efficient and is capable of producing as much as 5-10 times more heat when compared with other types of pool heaters.


Installing a pool heater such as an energy-efficient heat pump comes with many advantages:

  • Up to 5-10x more energy efficient when compared with gas or electric pool heaters.
  • Very safe as there isn’t any combustion involved.
  • Minimal environmental impact due to how efficient it is.
  • Low maintenance.
  • Long life expectancy (even longer than solar pool heaters).
  • Ideal for constant pool heating.


On the flip side, there are some cons associated with pool heat pumps:

  • High up-front costs.
  • It can take a decent amount of time to heat the entire pool.
  • During the colder months, performance drops significantly although this is still a more efficient option compared with gas heaters.

Solar Pool Heaters

installing a pool heater

Solar pool heating is another option for how to heat your pool. Just as solar panels continue to grow in popularity, the same can be said for solar pool heaters. This is likely due to the fact that they don’t cost anything to operate and there are no moving parts. This means you won’t ever have to fix or replace this type of pool heater. Once installed, solar pool heaters transfer the heat from the sun directly to the water, warm it up, and release it back to the pool.

How Do They Work?

The main component of solar pool heaters is the solar collector. These solar collectors are often installed on the roof of your house to ensure that they’re exposed to direct sunlight as often as possible. There is an input side of the solar collector that’s attached to the pumping system. There is also an output side of the solar collector that flows to the pool or another conventional heater. That is it! There aren’t any moving parts, things to break, or parts to fix. Although the upfront installation might require some coordination, once your panels are in place, there’s nothing else you need to do. 


If you’re considering a solar pool heater, here are some of the pros:

  • Virtually zero running costs or maintenance.
  • Eco-friendly.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Can also keep the pool cool during peak summer temperatures.
  • Can keep the spa or pool warm throughout the season so there aren’t any startup times.
  • Although warranties vary based on the vendor, they are usually anywhere from 10-15 years.


There are, however, some cons to opting for a solar pool heater:

  • The up-front cost can be expensive.
  • During the winter months, they struggle to produce heat or may not work at all if the ambient temperature is too low.
  • They only work during the day.

May I Use Different Types of Pool Heaters at Once?

heat pump vs gas pool heater

Now that you know more about heat pump pool heater vs. gas vs. solar pool heaters, you can see that there are different choices with pros and cons. But what about the possibility of combining different heater types? This is an excellent approach to taking care of the disadvantages while simultaneously reaping the benefits of the types of heaters you use. 

  • Solar pool heaters combined with gas pool heaters result in a fast startup as the solar heater helps maintain the pool’s temperature.
  • Solar pool heaters combined with electric pool heaters help to accelerate heating times as there are multiple sources of heat.
  • Gas pool heaters combined with electric pool heaters result in a fast start-up time and the pool can maintain its temperature.

Our Team Can Help!

Installing a pool heater is an ideal way to get more use out of your pool and enables you to use it significantly more than you’d imagine. If you’re looking for pool heating experts in the Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale areas, you’ve come to the right place! At High Voltage Electric, we have extensive experience with pool heater installations and can help talk you through your options. Whether you’re just installing a pool for the first time or you simply want to upgrade your current setup, we’re happy to help! Summer is here, please contact us to learn more about pool heating today.

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