In cooler climates, heating your pool can give you more swimming time than just the summer months.
There are three main heating options:
- Solar heating
- Gas heating
- Electric heating (heat pump)
An ideal pool temperature is said to be around 25 degrees Celsius. The best heating choice for you will depend on where you live, how you use your pool and your budget.
No matter how you heat your pool, a solar/thermal blanket is an excellent way to reduce heat loss over night. These blankets not only keep the heat in, they also reduce evaporation. For this reason, some state governments offer rebates if you buy one — so find out what’s on offer in your state.
If you live in an area with a lot of sun and have a large roof area, solar-powered heating is an efficient option. Installation of a solar heating system starts around $5000 for a pool sized 50,000 litres.
Solar heating works by pumping pool water into rubber matting that is installed on your roof. The matting is hot from the sun, and transfers the heat to the water before it returns to the pool.
A solar controller allows you to preset the water temperature you want. In order to be effective the rubber matting should be equal to at least 80% of the surface area of your pool. Ideally the matting should be installed on North- or West-facing roofs.
While solar heating is the most efficient form of heating, a cloudy day could leave your pool too cool for a dip. But in warmer, sunnier climates it’s realistic for a solar system to heat the water to 17-20 degrees, 10 months a year.
If you live in a tropical climate where your pool water becomes too warm to be refreshing, a solar heating system can be used to cool it down. The water is cooled by pumping it through your rubber matting at night.
Gas heating is good option if you have access to natural gas. You can use gas heating to maintain a constant temperature, or alternatively just turn it on for the occasions when you want to swim. The latter option will naturally be more economical but it will require planning as the water will take between 12 to 24 hours to reach its ideal temperature.
If you want constant heat, you can use a thermostat to maintain the temperature. A gas heater will cost from $6000 for an average-sized pool. The ongoing costs will be dependent on the gas price in your area.
Electric heating (heat pumps)
If want your pool to stay at a steady temperature for 12 months a year, a heat pump can be a good option. Small heat pumps start at $6000, but a more realistic cost would be around $9000 to 10,000 to heat an average-sized outdoor pool.
Heat pumps use the same technology as air conditioning and refrigeration. In simple terms, they draw water in from your pool, and pump it through a heat exchanger, which is very energy efficient. Initially heat pumps will take 2 to 4 days to heat your pool to an adequate temperature. So if you only plan to heat your pool occasionally, some planning is involved.
Which heating system will suit you?
- Solar heating won’t deliver a perfect temperature all year round – unless you live in a very sunny place. But it is suitable for warmer, sunnier climates or for swimmers who are prepared to miss out in bad weather. It’s also the most economical of the three options.
- Gas heating is a good option if you don’t use your pool all the time, but do want it heated when you do. If you’re after constant heating, it can be more economical than a heat pump if gas is cheap in your area.
- Electric heating is a good option if you want to heat your pool all year round.