Electric versus Gas Heaters

krisiak11

Silver Supporter
Jul 31, 2017
41
Archbald, PA
Most of the installers I talk to seem to recommend Electric Heaters. The one I am looking at is a 110,000 BTU Hayward Pro Series. Installer swears it is powerful enough for a 21,000 gallon pool. Should I be concerned? The gas heater option is 1000 less and 250,000 BTU's plus the cost to run a gas line. Thanks!
 

ps0303

TFP Expert
In The Industry
Jul 6, 2011
4,049
FL
I'm guessing you're in PA. If so, what do you want the heater for? Extend the season, heat up just on weekends, parties, etc. You also need to be aware the heat pumps are not efficient when the temps are below 70.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Are you talking about a heat pump or electric heater? I thought they were different.

The heat pump is efficient, but slow and limited to when they work.

Gas is fast and always works.
 

BMK

Bronze Supporter
Mar 29, 2016
445
SW PA
Depends how you plan to use it. I have both, one each at two separate properties. Generally, if you're going long stretches without it, and just want to heat up the pool for the weekend or that upcoming party, gas would probably be the way to go. It'll bring the water up to temp faster and, as you know, the unit itself is less expensive.

If you're looking to keep the pool at a relatively constant temperature throughout the season, the heat pump (in my case, Heat Syphon) is probably going to be more efficient and less expensive in the long run. Its more of a "set it and forget it" type of thing. Because of how they operate the heat pump is not as effective below 65°-ish, but the water is still plenty toasty. My personal experience with maintenance is that the heat pump has needed zero attention in the last 7 years, the gas heater has needed attention twice in that same time frame (bad igniter and control board issue). But that's just my personal experience, ymmv.

I'm in the final planning stages of replacing my residence pool with a total new build. All the PB I met with relative to this recommended an electric heat pump for this build based on where we live (PA), and how we use the pool (alot, mid May to early October.) ....FWIW.

Lastly, regardless of which unit you go with, a heater's best friend is an auto-cover or good solar blanket overnight. Your heater, and pocketbook, will thank you.
 

elwood58

LifeTime Supporter
Depends how you plan to use it. I have both, one at two seperate properties. Generally, if you're going long stretches without it, and just want to heat up the pool for the weekend or that upcoming party, gas would probably be the way to go. It'll bring the water up to temp faster and the unit itself is most likely less expensive. If
you're looking to keep the pool at a constant temperature throughout the season, the heat pump is probably going to be more efficient and less expensive over time. Because of how they operate they're not as effective below 65°ish, but the water is still plenty toasty. My personal experience with mantenence is that the heat pump has needed zero attention in the last 7 years, heat pump has needed attention twice in that same time frame ( bad igniter and control board issue). But thats just my personal experience, ymmv.
Assume you meant "Gas Heater" needed attention twice?

We have had a Heat Pump on our last two pools, both of which also function as a chiller when the water gets too hot in mid summer. The Heat Pump is great for maintaining temperature, but takes a very long time to get there. As previously stated, if you just want to heat up for the odd weekend or event, go with Gas. If you want to set a temp and maintain for a longer season, go Heat Pump.
 

Geebot

Well-known member
Aug 19, 2013
931
Assume you meant "Gas Heater" needed attention twice?

We have had a Heat Pump on our last two pools, both of which also function as a chiller when the water gets too hot in mid summer. The Heat Pump is great for maintaining temperature, but takes a very long time to get there. As previously stated, if you just want to heat up for the odd weekend or event, go with Gas. If you want to set a temp and maintain for a longer season, go Heat Pump.
Again, the big difference is climate. A heat pump makes practical sense in Arizona, less so in Pennsylvania.
 

Awilli8203

Active member
Sep 7, 2012
44
Pittsburgh
I live in pittsburgh. And had a heat pump for 4 years. It takes way too long to heat the water and does not work well when the nights get cool. I switched to a gas heater last year and there is a world of difference. The gas heater can raise the tempeture 2 to 3 degree per hour and I can start it the day i need it for a pool party.
 

Sandia

Member
Mar 12, 2018
22
Phoenix/Arizona
Hello!
So I do live in Arizona, and looking to have a heat pump installed - any recommendations on brand, etc...?
Do I go with a big *national* pool company offering me free installation or is it better to order one and have it installed?
First pool ever, so not sure about all the ins and outs
THANKS!
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,290
Tucson, AZ
Hello!
So I do live in Arizona, and looking to have a heat pump installed - any recommendations on brand, etc...?
Do I go with a big *national* pool company offering me free installation or is it better to order one and have it installed?
First pool ever, so not sure about all the ins and outs
THANKS!
No nat gas where you are ?
 

robl45

Well-known member
Oct 27, 2007
813
Parkland, FL
Hello!
So I do live in Arizona, and looking to have a heat pump installed - any recommendations on brand, etc...?
Do I go with a big *national* pool company offering me free installation or is it better to order one and have it installed?
First pool ever, so not sure about all the ins and outs
THANKS!
Its a heat pump, they really aren't that different although some are louder than others. You can get Rheem Heatpumps installed really cheap and there are tons of people that can work on Rheem, but they are louder typically than other brands. Poolheatpumps.com is good too.
 

joonbug99

Active member
Jul 23, 2017
30
Rochester NY
Depending on your gas price, if you get a gas heater and plan to heat the pool "on occasion" be careful. if the occasions are frequent it would probably be cheaper to set a heat pump at a temp and forget about it for the swim season. I live in western NY. Buffalo/Rochester area. We open our pool during the 1st/2nd week of May and set the heat pump temp at 84. We close the pool and turn the heat pump off in early to mid October. It's less than 30 bucks a month and the pool is "just right" whenever we wanna get in.
 

JoyfulNoise

TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
May 23, 2015
17,290
Tucson, AZ
My point in asking about natural gas is that here in the valley (Phoenix/Tucson AZ) gas is typically cheaper than electric on a purely energy basis. I can get 1 Therm of nat gas for about $1 (give or take a few nickels) and electricity costs about $0.13/kWh. So, on an equivalent energy basis, gas starts off at about 3X cheaper than electricity. Now, once you factor in the efficiency of a gas heater and compare that to the coefficient of performance for a heat pump, that cost differential can shrink (or expand) a bit. As alluded to, gas heaters are great for spot heating a pool quickly whereas heat pumps need lots of time to get a pool up to temperature but then can be quite efficient at maintaining that temperature. So your intended use makes a big difference as well. Solar heating is a great option here in Arizona as we have excess hot sun around for most of the year that is completely free of charge....

No matter what your heating source is, a bubble cover is essential during the cooler shoulder months as any heat added during the day will all be lost overnight due to evaporative cooling.
 

awstevens

Bronze Supporter
Aug 18, 2016
108
MA
Depending on your gas price, if you get a gas heater and plan to heat the pool "on occasion" be careful. if the occasions are frequent it would probably be cheaper to set a heat pump at a temp and forget about it for the swim season. I live in western NY. Buffalo/Rochester area. We open our pool during the 1st/2nd week of May and set the heat pump temp at 84. We close the pool and turn the heat pump off in early to mid October. It's less than 30 bucks a month and the pool is "just right" whenever we wanna get in.
Do you use a solar cover the whole season?
 

joonbug99

Active member
Jul 23, 2017
30
Rochester NY
Yes. We have have a clear deck system that allows one person to operate the on and off of the solar cover. It also allows for storage of the cover under the concrete decking.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,390
Stuart/FL
My point in asking about natural gas is that here in the valley (Phoenix/Tucson AZ) gas is typically cheaper than electric on a purely energy basis. I can get 1 Therm of nat gas for about $1 (give or take a few nickels) and electricity costs about $0.13/kWh. So, on an equivalent energy basis, gas starts off at about 3X cheaper than electricity. Now, once you factor in the efficiency of a gas heater and compare that to the coefficient of performance for a heat pump, that cost differential can shrink (or expand) a bit. As alluded to, gas heaters are great for spot heating a pool quickly whereas heat pumps need lots of time to get a pool up to temperature but then can be quite efficient at maintaining that temperature. So your intended use makes a big difference as well. Solar heating is a great option here in Arizona as we have excess hot sun around for most of the year that is completely free of charge....

No matter what your heating source is, a bubble cover is essential during the cooler shoulder months as any heat added during the day will all be lost overnight due to evaporative cooling.
Matt,

You're right on the money... no pun intended! Too often I see people talk about efficiency when that's only part of the calculation. The point is operating cost. Almost all electric rates are much higher per therm than gas and often its several times electric costs like in the area you describe. Also gas heaters are getting much more efficient. New low-NOX style burners are 83%+ compared to the legacy burners that were often less than 50% so the heat pump would have to be 200%+ to break even on operating cost alone. Bottom line as you pointed out is people need to do the math for their area to get the correct answer.

Chris
 

jseyfert3

Bronze Supporter
Oct 20, 2017
988
South-Central WI
Matt,

You're right on the money... no pun intended! Too often I see people talk about efficiency when that's only part of the calculation. The point is operating cost. Almost all electric rates are much higher per therm than gas and often its several times electric costs like in the area you describe. Also gas heaters are getting much more efficient. New low-NOX style burners are 83%+ compared to the legacy burners that were often less than 50% so the heat pump would have to be 200%+ to break even on operating cost alone.
It'd be a really bad heat pump to be less than 200% efficient. Depends on ambient temperature and pool temp but they can get up to 600%+ efficiency.