Swim Season Central Florida? Natural Gas Heater, Solar?

matthewsunshineflorida

Well-known member
Sep 28, 2018
104
Tampa, FL
Pool Size
12500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
We have a 400k natural gas heater being installed with our pool build in Tampa, Florida. Our pool will end up 12k-13k gallons, it faces west with no shade other than the pool cage. Roughly what temperatures should I expect throughout the year without using the heater? Trying to decide if it's worth getting solar along with the gas (trying to roughly estimate the ROI to see if worth it) and/or picking months to heat the pool vs months where it's just impractically expensive. I prefer the water 86-88.

Any other Florida pool owners with some insight for me? My parents pool is about 15,500 gallons and dad has 528sqft of solar which keeps it in the 80s except Nov - March. We will use the spa even when cold, but I'm trying to find out how to plan heating the pool - or should I just set it to 86 and monitor the usage each month until it bothers me too much? Solar is surprisingly expensive even to DIY which is going to seriously affect payback time vs just running the gas heater cautiously. Any insight is appreciated....

Also, yes I'm antsy because they took off Christmas and new years on our pool so they haven't done squat for 2 weeks (how dare they spend time with their families or take vacations).

Thanks!
 
Last edited:

Fuldo

Silver Supporter
Nov 23, 2017
229
Port Orange, FL
I have a similar pool in the Daytona area. Mine is in a cage and that makes a considerable difference in sun exposure and water temperature. Your weather is probably slightly warmer also, but it seems both locations see frost occasionally. I don't have any devices to heat or cool the water.

My water temps run from a low of about 57 in early January to a high of about 88 mid summer. It gets to 70 by about March 1 and to 80 by about June 1. I briefly considered adding a heat source but discounted the idea after first realizing the cost of equipment and running that equipment and then realizing that being out in a wet swimsuit in Florida winter weather typically is very uncomfortable.

I'm under the impression that the least expensive way to heat a pool in Florida is a heat pump, especially if the goal is to keep the water temperature relatively constant year-round. Electricity is rather inexpensive in Florida unlike the other energy sources there and heat pumps are efficient. A heat pump would probably be sized to keep the water at your desired temperature on the coldest days and it wouldn't have much reserve capacity so it could take hours or days to raise the water temperature many degrees on the coldest days. If you have natural gas available that might be an option but I suspect it would be costly to run. Like everything else, a lot depends on your location, available utilities and the cost of various energy forms. Your goal of 86 degrees year-round is ambitious and I suspect very costly to realize.
 

JoeN64

Bronze Supporter
Jun 6, 2020
11
Clermont, FL
Pool Size
10040
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Liquid Chlorine
We had our pool build completed last May just west of Orlando. We are south facing with a cage. We went with the 400k BTU NG heater as well. When we had the cold snap about 10 days ago our pool got down to 57. It is back up to 66 as of this morning. When we opened it in early May water temps were in the high 70's to low 80's. We used the heater quite a bit that first month. Like you, we like it 86 - 88. Our NG bill went from $25 to over $100 that first month in May, so it cost a lot to heat. In fairness, the pool was new so we used it a lot, too. We were able to use the pool without supplemental heat until the beginning of October.

Our previous pool had solar and propane heat, but I don't remember the BTU. There is no doubt that solar makes a big difference and IMO I think it's worth it. We were able to use the pool from Mar - Nov without supplementing the solar with the heater. We didn't do it this time because we have PV solar for electricity on our roof and no space for any panels. The PV solar is saving us about $150 per month in electricity on average, so it was worth the tradeoff.
 

setsailsoon

Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Oct 25, 2015
3,873
Stuart/FL
Pool Size
12800
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
CircuPool RJ-30 Plus
I have solar and a Jandy NG 260K BTU heater and I'm very happy with both especially now with the Intellicenter automation that lets me set the lead lag temps for switching back an forth when in "Solar Preferred" heat mode. This lets me use solar when it's hot enough in the panels and switch over to gas when it's not with no intervention on my part.

We swim several days or more per week year round so the economics are better for us than most. Last time I checked it was around a 5 year payout on the $5000 solar installation. Right now we watch the forecast and most weeks there's a day or two that we get to 79-81. On those days it usually means we get some partly cloudy or better sun. I'll set "solar preferred" those days and check water temp around 3 pm. Almost always that has water temp 85-87. At the low end I switch to "heat only". If it's higher in the range I switch to heat only around 5 pm. That way we're approaching my wife's required 90 degree so we can have an after dinner swim.

Spring to fall we get most of the heat from solar and rarely run the gas except to heat the spa. This heats to 93 or so in about 20 min usually. During summer solar is throttled back by Intellicenter every day to keep the pool from getting too hot (over 91-92 depending on wife's preferences that day).

Solar and gas combination has worked great for us. We're planning our next house and pool now and the pool will be a little larger and different shape but will definitely have solar plus gas for heat.

I hope this is helpful.

Chris
 

matthewsunshineflorida

Well-known member
Sep 28, 2018
104
Tampa, FL
Pool Size
12500
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Your goal of 86 degrees year-round is ambitious and I suspect very costly to realize.
Yea that's what I'm thinking, so I'm trying to plan the best compromise of initial cost, continuing cost, and a realistic swim season in the first place lol

The PV solar is saving us about $150 per month in electricity on average, so it was worth the tradeoff.
Mind telling me which company did your solar? What is your net benefit from the solar after your lease or financing? We have a huge gable roof with probably nearly 2,000sqft of roof space on the back side, but it's west facing so we'd need more panels than a south facing roof. Definitely interested in both PV solar and pool solar...

I have solar and a Jandy NG 260K BTU heater and I'm very happy with both especially now with the Intellicenter automation that lets me set the lead lag temps for switching back an forth when in "Solar Preferred" heat mode.
That is extremely helpful - we will have intellicenter as well so that's great to know it's so flexible with two heat sources like that. I'll look into this more...
 
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