Everyone is talking about heat pumps for swimming pools. If you ask a pool specialist to recommend the most efficient water heater for your above-ground or inground pool, the first response will be to consider a heat pump installation. Since this method of water heating is relatively new, we will try to answer the question, are heat pumps good for swimming pools?
Let's see the components of these pool heaters.
Heat pump for swimming pools does not require a gas line to operate or lots of money to spend. The unit uses electricity to run while moving the heat from the air, water, or ground rather than to produce the heat. As a result, power consumption is very low.
However, heat pump construction is not as simple as the electric type – blower, condenser, compressor, heat exchanger (evaporator coil) are usually inside, making the heat pump expensive to buy. Although the prices of heat pumps are falling, don't expect to buy a good one for less than $2000.
Heat pumps for pools have an important restriction – they work efficiently only when the ambient air temperature remains above 45-50 degrees F, and they are perfect for warmer regions. If you live in an area with a colder climate, you might want to consider combining it with the gas pool heater.
Let’s take a look at the market, where several manufacturers have taken top positions.
Hayward HeatPro heat pumps for residential pools come with a titanium heat exchanger, aimed to raise efficiency and keep it that way for a long time. Parts of the unit are protected from rust by utilizing innovative technology. There are five different unit sizes in series, from 95K to 140K BTU, and you can choose one based on your needs. (Prices: $2,800 - $3,400)
AquaCal SuperQuiet HeatWave line has three models on the market, ranging in power from 100K to 125K BTU and in prices from $3800 to $4800. The manufacturer claims that the COP (coefficient of performance) is at the highest level. Titanium heat exchanger, patented counter-flow water management, corrosion-proof cabinet... are advantages.
Pentair Ultratemp heat pumps for pools were introduced in 2008. Units have titanium heat exchangers and state-of-the-art compressors. Self-diagnostic software, user-friendly control panel, LCD display, and auto-set controls keep the owner worry-free. (Prices: $2,400 - $3,800)
Rheem heat pumps come in Classic, Specialty, and Compact lines, with nine models in total and power from 95K to 133K BTUs. You have to dig into the details to discover all the differences but be assured that all Rheem pool heaters are high-quality ones.
Jandy Pro Series heat pumps for pools have 72K – 137K BTUs per hour output and superior hydraulic flow. Each of the eight models is equipped with a registered control system - Aqualink, which provides automatic temperature maintenance if you wish.
It is easy to grab leading manufacturers’ catalogs and find excellent specifications of heat pumps. The question is – how to choose the best one for your needs. Here are some tips for selecting the suitable model.
First, set the size.
An approximate calculation follows the formula: pool surface area in square feet x temperature rise x 12. The result is the amount of the heat pump BTU output required.
Note: Temperature rise is desired swimming pool temperature minus the average temperature for the coldest month of pool use.
If your pool has no standard shape, depth, or has been positioned in the zone of very cold nights, strong winds, and extremely low humidity... ask a pool professional to help in the calculation.
In any case, bigger is better for most situations.
The most popular heat pump sizes are from 75,000 BTU to 125,000 BTU.
Also, note that you will need rapid heating and high temperatures to heat smaller amounts of water in spas. Choose a strong heat pump or on-demand water heater.
When looking for the best swimming pool heat pump, get familiar with some important features such as efficiency and component quality.
COP (coefficient of performance) indicates energy efficiency with numbers from 3.0 to 7.0. Be careful when comparing models from different manufacturers because the measurements must be done in the same conditions.
The best heat pumps for pools are those with the highest energy efficiency, so make sure to buy the unit with the scroll compressor instead of the reciprocal compressor, which is found in budget-friendly models. Sturdy and quality construction is also very important to protect the unit from harsh conditions.
For some units, you will find a heat/cool option – a heat pump can also cool pool water if you need it, but this kind of system is more expensive to buy.
How often are you planning to use a pool? Every day or on weekends?
If you are using a pool daily, that means you want a heated pool or comfortable water temperature at all times. In this case, a heat pump with high efficiency is the right choice.
If you want to occasionally use a pool or spa, look for other options, such as a gas or electric on-demand pool heater.
Your location and climate are important factors to consider when buying and installing an electric pool heater. In order to keep a comfortable temperature in your pool during cold days, you would need a unit with a high heating capacity.
After all, if you want to heat water in your pool frequently in a moderate climate buy a heat pump. With low electricity bills, it will be paid off quickly.
Moreover, with proper maintenance, it can last longer than a gas type.
The best swimming pool heat pumps are those that come with quality materials and useful features, and provide reliable and efficient work for many years.
Does a pool heat pump work in the winter?
Most electric heat pumps are designed to work in low temperatures, as long as they remain above around 40 F and sometimes as low as 20 F. They automatically shut down, preventing pool heat pumps from freezing.
Should I cover my pool heat pump in the winter?
If you live in an area with a cold climate with a lot of snow, ice, and hail, it is recommended to cover the device using a suitable cover. If you winterize your pool equipment properly, covering your pool heater might not be needed, but it is good to have, to reduce the risk of damages caused by the elements or falling branches, sticks, rocks, and other debris.
How long does a pool heat pump last?
With proper installation, swimming pool heat pumps will have an average life expectancy of about 10 years. Many factors can affect the lifespan of a heat pump, including the climate, element quality, usage, water chemistry, and maintenance.