Heat Pump vs Glacier Evap Cooler

TuxATX

Member
Jun 1, 2021
5
Austin, Texas
We are building a pool in the Austin area and are debating adding the chiller now versus next summer if needed (equipment pad will be sized to allow for it either way). We already have a Pentair 400k BTU Nat Gas heater that will be included to heat our pool & spa so I'm curious how adding an electric heat pump that heats/cools works along side that or should we look to add one of the glacier evap cooler type devices? I don't mind going with the electric chiller option if we can just not use the heater and it not cause issues. I see that the Glacier systems look massive which is the only downside to that option.

I do not want to ditch the gas heater for the combo electric heater/cooler as it doesn't seem like it would heat as quickly/efficiently. We will be building a 15'x30' pool that has a 7'x7' spa for reference if that matters. depth will go from 3.5' to a max of 5.5' and the pool includes 15'x6' tanning ledge.
 

duckcmmndr

Bronze Supporter
May 7, 2014
345
Arkansas
Pool Size
29980
Surface
Vinyl
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
You are correct in the gas will heat faster than a heat pump will. Most likely if you are "spot" heating for weekend use only it will cost less to operate too. I just installed a Glacier. So far it has worked great. The operational cost between a chiller and heat pump is big. The heat pump for cooling the water is like running another A/C system while the chiller only runs a fan and a small sump pump. It get's very hot and humid in south Arkansas and I got a chance to test my cooler out under near worst case conditions this past weekend and it passed my test with flying colors. I started with 96 degree water on Friday before I completed my install and ended with 86 degree water on Sunday.

The heat pump wins when it comes to control. While in cooling mode you should be able to set a temperature and it will cycle on/off as needed. The chiller does not work that way and I have not had mine long enough to speak on the best method of operation. I do have automation and I can turn it on/off manually with my phone or set it up on a schedule. I can also set it up with an interlock to trigger it to come on/off at set temperature...but loose the ability to control it manually which I don't like. I ran it overnight the other night from about 10pm till 5am and went from 91 to 86. This is my target temp, any colder than that and the wife gets mad.

Heating is a little different than cooling. Let me give you an example:
  • In the months of the year that you want to heat your pool, regardless of outside air temp and humidity, cloudy or sunny water heated to 86 degrees will feel great if the alternative is 75 degree water or colder.
  • In the months you want to cool your pool down, 86 feels great when it's warm and sunny outside, but in contrast seems chilly when it's cloudy and the air temp is roughly the same as the water.
The point is I don't think I want to set my "cooler" to run anytime the water is above say 86 degrees.

Whatever you decide I would have the pool builder add a dedicated line from the pool to the pad for the chiller, it makes hookup much easier. Glacier recommend a return line the comes out in the middle/bottom of the pool. I did not do that, I ran mine to a return that was located low on the wall in the deep end and that seems to work great and can double as a normal return in the winter when the chiller is not in use.

If interested you can see my install on the 2nd page of my build thread here:
New DIY Inground pool build - Arkansas (Picture Heavy) - Glacier Pool Chiller install complete!
 

TuxATX

Member
Jun 1, 2021
5
Austin, Texas
Thanks for the response, got a great laugh out of the Dorothy reference (watched Twister about a few weeks ago as it was on one of our streaming devices and it's still great). I'll talk to the PB about running a return line for it and ensuring plenty of pad space so we can easily add it next summer. We're already breaking the bank and would rather spend the extra $$ on other upgrades (tile/intellicenter) for now but might as well make it easier to plug and play in 10 months when it will be needed.
 

Cobrarat

Member
Jun 2, 2021
20
Queen Creek Arizona
I was reading up on the glacier Chiller as my pool is getting very hot here in the AZ sun. I have been running the waterfall and fountain in my spa along with my airater and it feel like I am loosing the battle and water in the process. I love the reference to the water temp control device (my wife) as I have the same issues. I am running an Intellicenter and was wondering if the chiller could be hooked up like a heater? that way you could control the temp and not the time that the chiller is running? Any thoughts?
 

jark87

Silver Supporter
Jun 5, 2011
504
Flower Mound, TX
Pool Size
25500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Jandy Aquapure 1400
We already have a Pentair 400k BTU Nat Gas heater that will be included to heat our pool & spa so I'm curious how adding an electric heat pump that heats/cools works along side that or should we look to add one of the glacier evap cooler type devices? I don't mind going with the electric chiller option if we can just not use the heater and it not cause issues. I see that the Glacier systems look massive which is the only downside to that option.
I was in the exact same boat when I chose the Glacier around 5 years ago, although it was added several years after the pool was built because I didn’t know how hot my water would get. My main concern was operating cost of the heat pump when in chiller mode, plus the cost of the unit itself. And there was concern for both units on how effective they would be. After lots of research, I ended up with the Glacier and it has done exactly what I hoped. My pool rarely goes above 82°, but I run the chiller every night all summer long because I want to enjoy the water whenever I feel like jumping in. You don’t have to run it that much if you don’t want temps that low. While the Glacier doesn’t allow for precise temp control, you get the feel for it pretty quickly. And it’s pretty cheap to run because the only electrical draw is the fan motor. I read where the heat pump units are on par with AC units in terms of electricity consumption.

Good luck with your build!

Edit: And yes, the Glacier is sizable, but the footprint isn’t much bigger than the heater. It’s just taller - probably close to 5’ in height. It fit on a standard AC pad, as I didn’t have any extra pad space from the original pool installation. It’s not that heavy, either, since it’s mostly an empty fiberglass drum. Of course, when it has water in it, the weight increases substantially.
 
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