Comparing Costs: Heat Pump Vs Gas Pool Heater

Comparing Costs: Heat Pump Vs Gas Pool Heater

Heat pumps and gas pool heaters are both commonly touted as the economical solution to keeping a pool warm and comfortable. But which is better in terms of cost?

In a warmer climate, heat pumps might seem to have the advantage because of their efficiency - but in cold temperatures, it’s easy to imagine that a simple gas-powered heater would have the upper hand. So what do the costs of heat pumps and gas pool heaters amount to? Let’s take a look at the cost difference between heat pumps vs gas pool heaters.

Heat Pump vs Gas Pool Heater: What's the Difference?

To compare the costs of heat pumps and gas pool heaters, it’s vital to look at how the machines operate. Heat pumps pull warm air into the unit so that its heat can transfer to a liquid refrigerant and turn it into gas.

Once the refrigerant evaporates, it rises from the compressor into a set of evaporator coils. At the same time, cold pool water is pulled through a tube just beside the evaporator coils. The warmth from the refrigerant jumps over to the water and warms it up as it flows back into the pool.

As the refrigerant loses its heat, it turns into a liquid and returns to the compressor. The cycle repeats as long as the air outside is warmer than the water, but it’s particularly efficient when the air is significantly hotter. If the unit has an inverter and variable-speed technology, its efficiency increases two-fold.

Gas pool heaters ignite gasoline or propane inside a controlled combustion chamber. Simultaneously, water is drawn up from the pool and through tubes inside the pool heater with a powerful pump. As the water passes through the pool heater, it absorbs the heat produced by the burning gas.

Gas pool heaters and heat pumps both have their advantages. Pool heat pumps are better than gas pool heaters in terms of efficiency and long-term costs. They can keep a pool warm across seasons for little to no cost and continue to do so for up to a decade with the proper maintenance.

Gas pool heaters are better than heat pumps in terms of speed and short-term costs. They require a much smaller up-front investment to purchase and can be used to warm up a pool within just a few hours. Over time, the costs associated with frequently running and maintaining a gas pool heater often turn out to be more expensive.

Cost Comparison: Heat Pump vs Gas Pool Heater

You should consider a few factors when comparing the costs of heat pumps and gas pool heaters. The upfront costs of purchasing and installing the unit are significant, as are the costs of operating the heater. You should also account for maintenance and repair costs to select a pool heater that will be affordable over the long term.

You should expect the upfront costs of installing a pool heater to range between $2000 and $5000. This estimate includes the cost of sourcing the pool heater and hiring a professional to install it. You can expect the price to be lower if you only need a small unit, and the utility hookups in your area are inexpensive.

The upfront costs of installing a swimming pool heat pump are similar, with estimates typically ranging between $2500 and $6000. Heat pumps are generally more efficient than gas pool heaters but are also more expensive. When making any cost estimates, you will need to factor in the costs of hiring a professional to install the unit and connect it to electricity.

In terms of operating costs, heat pumps are generally much more energy efficient and inexpensive than gas pool heaters. The cost of running a gas pool heater varies depending on factors like climate and fuel costs, but many estimates suggest that it can cost $5 or more per active hour. 

Heat pumps can cost under $1 per active hour if run in ideal circumstances -- i.e. if the air temperature is much higher than the water temperature and the unit is clean and well-maintained. It can also help reduce costs if the heat pump has an inverter and variable-speed technology.

The maintenance and repair costs of heat pumps and gas pool heaters are typically in a similar range, but it will depend on the specific unit you purchased. If you want to minimize maintenance and repair costs, research the manufacturer of your pool heater in advance and select one who makes repair parts available for reasonable prices.

Routine maintenance for gas pool heaters and heat pumps typically costs several hundred dollars if performed by a professional. You can save money by performing simple maintenance, like cleaning the unit regularly. Repairs can range from as little as $200 to as much as $2000, depending on the issue's complexity and the cost of replacement parts.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Pool

As you search for the best heating option for your pool, there are a few factors you should take into account. Your pool size and your area's climate are essential because they influence how powerful a heater you’ll need. Usage frequency and budget are also necessary to keep in mind as you consider costs.

You should start by determining how large your pool is so that you can figure out how much power will be sufficient to heat it. Heat pumps and gas pool heaters are typically measured in terms of BTUs. A heater with more BTUs will be capable of heating a pool more quickly than a heater with lower BTUs.

The climate of your area will also need to be considered before you can calculate how many BTUs you will need. You can calculate this by searching for the average temperature of the area you live in during the coldest month you want to use your pool. For example, a pool used year-round in Calgary must be heated from temperatures as low as -12°C.

The U.S. Department of Energy recommends that you use the following equation to figure out how many BTUs your heater will need when the area of your pool, your desired temperature, and the average temperature of your surrounding climate are considered.

Temperature Rise = Intended Pool Temperature - Average Air Temperature

Pool Area (in square feet) x Temperature Rise x 12 = BTUs

After you’ve figured out how many BTUs your heater will need, you should consider how often you intend to use the heating unit and what your budget is. Your budget must account for the initial costs of purchasing the unit, installation costs, and the energy or fuel required to run it.

Gas pool heaters are often more economical than heat pumps for short-term or infrequent use. They are often cheaper to purchase and have similar installation costs. The fuel that powers the heater can cost $5 or more per operating hour but amounts to minimal costs when used infrequently.

Heat pumps are much cheaper in terms of long-term use. They are more expensive to purchase and install but have a longer average lifespan than gas pool heaters. They will need to run longer to heat a pool to the desired temperature, but the cost of running a heat pump is often under a dollar per operating hour.

If the following pros appeal to you, you should purchase a gas pool heater.

  • Warming your pool at a rapid speed
  • The low upfront cost of purchasing and installing the heater
  • Reliable and versatile enough to be effective in any temperature

If you find yourself disinterested in the benefits of a gas pool heater, consider if the pros of a heat pump appeal to you instead.

  • Higher energy efficiency and eco-friendliness
  • Low long-term costs associated with running the unit, even if used regularly
  • Moderate versatility and adaptability to temperature when purchased with an inverter or variable-speed technology

Whether you purchase a heat pump pool heater or gas pool heater, you can expect both units to be reliable and luxurious with the proper care and maintenance routine. Heating can add a whole new layer of excitement to a backyard pool, so you can expect to enjoy yourself as long as you approach the process with optimism and a willingness to have fun.

Make The Right Choice For Heating Your Pool

Heat pumps and gas pool heaters are incredible options for warming a swimming pool to a comfortable temperature. While both are excellent in their ways, their different pros and cons can make one option more appealing to some pool owners than others.

Many pool owners will enjoy gas pool heaters' reliability and cheap upfront cost. Others might feel drawn to the eco-friendliness and long-term affordability of heat pumps. Chat with our team today if you have questions about whether a heat pump or gas pool heater would be better for your swimming pool.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published