My ABP DIY electric heater

rickjames8

New member
Sep 19, 2020
2
Washington DC
So I made this little heater at the beginning of the year and I'm pretty proud of it, so I thought I'd share. I live near WashDC, and we have colder nights (low-60s) and yet this thing was able to maintain mid-80's temps in a 12' dia Intex pool. I actually bought the 12' pool as opposed to the 15' specifically so I could heat it easier. I calculate that this costs me $2 to run for 24 hours. I don't run it often, just when we think we'll need it. It takes about 36 hours to get the pool warmed up from a mid-to-low 70's water temp.

It's basically a 1500w bucket heater that cost me $35. I then hooked it up to an 1800W thermo-switch set to 88 degrees. I put the wiring in a waterproof ammo box. I used PVC boards (1" x 2") to build a hangar and then have a velcro strap to attach it to one of the side poles. I used PVC as I thought it would be more moisture resistant than wood. I'd seen others use these types of heaters by hanging them from a board stretched across the pool. What I didn't like about that design is that I was afraid it was going to tear my cover. I have a black solar cover that keeps the leaves out and also adds a lot of heat. Also, I wanted something I could easily pull out and then just rest up against the side of the pool. An 8ft board didn't seem like it was that easy to move.

I ran some 12/2 underground rated wiring to the pool and made an outlet box for it to all plug in to (some earlier photos show an extension cord I used for testing). My wiring is only about 4" below ground as I'll pull it up each year.

My thermo switch died the other day, so now I just plug and unplug as needed.

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Pretty happy with this set up. We've gotten a lot more use out of the pool because of it. We'd have packed it away by now if not for the heater. They're predicting another mid-70's week next week and I think that will be our last hurrah.

Next year, I'm considering trying to 'pack' the heating element in a PVC pipe and run it in-line with the return from the filter.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,272
Northern NJ
Note that electrical box is not to code. NEC requires all electrical outlets must be at least 6 feet from the inside of the wall and must be GFCI protected.

Water and electricity do not safely mix.
 
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rickjames8

New member
Sep 19, 2020
2
Washington DC
Note that electrical box is not to code. NEC requires all electrical outlets must be at least 6 feet from the inside of the wall and must be GFCI protected.

Water and electricity do not safely mix.
It is a GFCI outlet. I bought a proper outdoor box for it, but the integrated GFCI on the pool filter plug did not fit, so I put everything in the box you see there. Didn't know about the 6ft code, but makes sense. Will mount it elsewhere next year.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
20,272
Northern NJ
You should have a GFCI on every outdoor circuit and not rely on the GFCI in the device power cord. If your outdoor box leaks you need a GFCI on the circuit to stop the electricity.