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What's The Difference Between a Pool Heater and a Heat Pump?

Comparing Pool Heaters and Heat Pumps Pool season is quickly approaching, and if you are like a lot of people, the season feels like it’s over almost as soon as it starts. Do you feel like you are doing a lot of work and only getting to enjoy your pool for a few months? And, even during those months some days it is too cold to jump in? A great solution for extending your pool season and creating a more comfortable water temperature, that the whole family can enjoy, is to heat your pool. If you have been looking into your options, you have most likely stumbled upon pool heaters and pool heat pumps. While both products work to accomplish the same goal, they work very differently from each other, both having their own pros and cons. So you might be wondering, what is the difference? How do you choose which one is right for you? Let’s dive in.

Pool Heaters

Pool Heaters come in a variety of options. They can run on natural gas, propane, or electricity and work to warm the pool’s water by generating heat. Pool heaters have been around for many years. Natural gas and propane heaters work to heat your water by burning the fuel in a combustion chamber. The water from your pool then runs through copper coils where it draws the heat from the fuel source and returns to the pool warmed. [caption id="attachment_752" align="aligncenter" width="401"] Raypak Pool Heaters Canada[/caption] Pool heaters work quickly to heat the water in your pool, as fast as one to three degrees per hour. This is a great option if you only use your pool occasionally or if your pool is located at a summer home that you visit on the weekends. You don’t have to keep the heater running all season, just turn it on a few hours before you are wanting to swim. Natural gas and propane pool heaters are one of the more affordable options to purchase up front. However, they are more expensive to operate, and can be trickier to install.


  • Heats quickly – 1 to 3 degrees per hour.

  • They do not rely on the outdoor air temperature or climate.

  • Less expensive to purchase upfront.


  • Can be costly to continue running.

  • Requires more maintenance.

  • Not as environmentally friendly

Heat Pumps

Pool heat pumps are an environmentally friendly way to heat your pool. The heat pump draws the heat from the outside air. The pump then uses a compressor to increase the temperature, and delivers the warmed water back to your pool. The cold air that is remaining is then ejected out the tops of the ducts.  Pentair Heat Pumps Canada The air temperature plays an important role in the use of a heat pump since the heat is being drawn from the outside air. The temperature of the air needs to be at or above 50 degrees for the pump to work properly. Heat pumps do take longer to heat the water since they are dependent upon the heat in the outside air. It can take 24 – 72 hours to heat the water in a pool 20 degrees. Due to the longer time required to heat the water typically pool owners will keep their heat pump running throughout the swim season to ensure a comfortable temperature when they are ready to swim. This makes a heat pump a better option for those that have continual use of their pool during the season, as opposed to the occasion use. Since the heat pump is using warm air from outside instead of generating its own heat, the cost of operating a heat pump is much lower than a pool heater, as much as 4 to 5 times less. The upfront cost of a heat pump is significantly more than a pool heater, but the overall cost over time is lower due to the savings you will see year after year in operating expenses.


  • Needed repairs are rare, and with proper maintenance heat pumps can last ten years.

  • Environmentally friendly.

  • Low annual operating costs.


  • Requires the outdoor air temperature to be at or above 50 degrees.

  • More expensive option to purchase up front.

  • Slow to heat.

Deciding between a pool heater and a pool heat pumpWhile both pool heaters and heat pumps are viable options, there are many factors to consider when deciding which is right for you and your pool:

  • How often do you plan on using your pool? Consistently or more on the weekends and for the occasional party?

  • Where do you live? Does your temperature stay above 50 degrees when you are wanting to use your pool?

  • Are you willing to do a little more maintenance?

  • Would you rather pay more upfront to save in the long run or are you looking to spend less on the heating unit you purchase?

Are you still having a tough time deciding which options is best for you? Contact the experts at at 1-855-394-POOL (7665) for help with all of your pool supply questions.  We offer fast and free shipping on pool heaters and heat pumps in Canada.

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