Gas pool heaters are very popular but these days might be considered environmentally unfriendly when there are more energy efficient ways of heating a pool.
However gas pool heaters are popular because they have a number of advantages:
- Relatively cheap to buy and install – Obviously the cost depends on the size of your pool but gas pool heaters for above ground pools are available under $1000 and for in-ground pools under $1500. You will have to pay to have the gas and electric side of things professionally installed but the rest of the installation should be within the capability of someone who is reasonably handy.
- Powerful – A key advantage of gas pool heaters is that they are powerful and can heat up a pool quickly (although we are still talking hours rather than minutes). Therefore they are ideal if you only heat your pool from time to time.
- Energy Efficient – Gas heaters are much more efficient that they used to be with most falling in the 80-85% range. However you can buy gas heaters with an efficiency rating of 95% but they are expensive.
- Reliable – Although gas heaters are improving all the time this is a tried and tested technology. A properly maintained heater should give you many years of worry free pool heating.
- Not affected by the weather – A gas pool heater will operate in all weather conditions.
Gas heaters usually are available for either natural gas or propane. In terms of performance it does not matter which you use but in terms of cost there is a major difference. Propane is much more expensive and you would only use it if natural gas is not available.
Gas pool heaters are available in both electronic and millivolt versions. The former are more popular as they feature electronic ignition and electronic controls. However to power these functions they need an electricity connection. Millivolt heaters, on the other hand, use a pilot light ignition system (which wastes energy) and have more basic controls but have the advantage of not needing an electricity connection.
The main competition these days comes from pool heat pumps. These cost considerably more, are less powerful, are electrically powered and don’t work in very low temperatures. However, they can be several hundred percent efficient so that they are cheaper to run than a gas heater.
If you heat your pool constantly during the season then you should certainly consider a heat pump. If you do not heat your pool all the time then a gas heater will be your best option giving you the best balance between purchase/installation costs, heating power and running costs.
The table on this page gives approximate running costs for a gas heater by city.