If you ask "experts" for advice about water heaters for pools, the answer will probably be – anything but an electric water heater.
But, is it?
It is essential to be accurate because there are two types of electric pool heaters – standard electric resistance water heaters and electric heat pumps.
Electric resistance water heaters are the least cost-effective units on the pool water heaters market. Heat pumps, driven by electricity too, are almost at the other end of the scale, as the most energy-saving water heaters.
There are two reasons why there is a separate article about them and why we didn't cover them as "electric." The first one is that heat pumps use electricity only to transfer heat from air or water, and the second is that electric water heaters heat pumps are commonly referred to just as "heat pumps," or hybrids.
Therefore, here we are talking only about electric resistance heaters that use electrical current to produce heat.
If electric water heaters for pools are so expensive to operate, why use them, what are the pros and cons, and how to choose the best one?
To put it simply, electric water heaters might be an ideal solution if the electricity price would be low. They provide heat in all weather conditions and their heating process is the fastest. Units are compact and lightweight that you can easily transport and handle.
Purchasing prices are reasonable and you can find a great selection on amazon.com.
You can also hear that electric pool heaters are used as spa heaters. Actually, manufacturers produce these heaters with different power – weaker are labeled as spa, and stronger as pool water heaters.
All are suitable for smaller above-ground pools, hot tubs, indoor pools, warm climate pools – where they will not be extensively used. If you find your pool in this group, let's go shopping.
We will cover two brands here: EcoSmart and Coates, both highly recommended by many experts and homeowners.
EcoSmart is a favorite brand among homeowners and installers. Water heaters come in "spa" and "pool" options. Two EcoSmart models are available for shoppers: Smart Pool 18 (with 18kW of power) and Smart Pool 27 (with 27kW), both strong and designed particularly for swimming pools. Compared to other water heater types, such as gas, it is good to know that their equivalent outputs are 61,000 BTU and 92,000 BTU, respectively.
Models are equipped with a digital thermostat and the latest flow sensor technology. Count on 1° to 1.5° F rise per hour for an average pool (up to about 15,000 gallons). Keep in mind also that you will need a 200 Amp main breaker. Prices for EcoSmart pool water heaters are from $900 to $1000.
Coates is a company with a 70-year tradition in manufacturing water heaters and pool equipment. Their offer extends from 1,5 kW to 57 kW units for residential spas and pools and goes further to commercial 180 to 300 kW series.
Besides the proper size of the water heater for your needs in kW, you will get insight into calculation structure and factors which affect it.
Prices of the Coates water heaters are less affordable. For an 18 kW pool water heater, you have to pay $1,460, and a 54 kW heater, suitable for large pools and cold weather applications, costs $2,780.
It is worth mentioning two well-known companies: Hayward and Raypak, which offer only small electric water heaters.
What is important to consider when buying an electric water heater for the pool?
Check the electrical wiring at your house and unit specifications because you will need heavy-duty wiring associated with large amperage circuit breakers. The upgrade is usually required, which raises the cost of installing.
Quality of the tank and heating elements – use of stainless steel is welcome and protection of the other parts.
Check what indicators and safety features are provided.
After all, if you are unsure whether the electric water heater is for your pool or not, consider a heat pump alternative – with equal usage, operating costs can be up to six times lower than an electric resistance heater per month.