Without serious consideration into buying a good heater, you can expect your pool season to be especially short anywhere in Canada. Luckily, as you can see here, there really is a huge variety when it comes to different types of pool heaters.
However, before you jump to conclusions by thinking of buying the best looking heaters in the market, it is best to research a little bit. The size of your pool, the budget that you can afford as well as your existing housing infrastructure are important variables to consider. You definitely do not want to buy a heater that is too small for your pool, nor do you want your heating bills to skyrocket. You would not want to install a gas powered pool heater for example, when you housing infrastructure does not have gas heating.
In general, there are 3 major types of heaters:
Gas Pool Heaters**:** These work by utilizing the heat released by burning natural gas or propane within a “combustion chamber” of a heater. The combustion of the gas rapidly heats up a metal coil. When the water in the pool flows through the heater, it comes in contact with the heated coil. This continues until the water has reached a set temperature, and then the heater shuts off. This temperature can be adjusted manually using the heater’s built-in controls. Here are some facts about gas heaters
Gas pool heaters heat the water the fastest. A properly sized gas heater can easily increase the water temperature in a big pool by a couple of degrees an hour. A pool that is 20 degrees C in the morning can be easily heated to 26 degrees C or higher by noon. They can be costly to install and operate. Good gas heaters easily cost $2000 or more and require professional installation. Even though the plumbing installation won’t cost much, the gas installation can be pricey depending on the location of the existing hookup.
Heat Pumps: Electric heat pumps work by drawing in outside warm air using a built-in fan. This warm air passes over the heat pump’s “evaporator coil” that is filled with a refrigerant. When the warm air reacts with the refrigerant, that chemical reaction produces a warm gas. This gas then heats a metal tube. As the pool water passes through the metal tube, it is heated to the desired temperature, at which point the heater shuts off. Their main advantage is that their operating cost is very low. Since heat pumps are relying on outside air, their efficiency dramatically reduces when temperatures start to really dip. Once the temperatures get into single digits they are no longer efficient and become a drain on the home power supply at best. They also have the highest up front cost.
Solar Pool Heaters: Being the simplest of pool heaters, Solar pool heaters are very easy to install and have the lowest cost, both in terms of installation and operation. But, solar heaters only heat when the day is sunny and warm. Most pool owners should therefore install shutoff valves in the pool plumbing in order to bypass the solar heater on colder days. However, unless extending the pool season for early fall or late spring uses, solar heaters are impractical under any condition for Canadian winters. Another big disadvantage is that there isn’t really any temperature controls and hence, you have to make do with what you get.
It is always important to ensure what you need the heater for before making the purchase. Do you want to have a constant pool temperature day and night, or extend the pool season as much as possible? In the first case, you would do best with a heat pump. However, given the steep fall in temperatures in spring and fall, you need a good gas heater if you think you can extend the pool season into the winter and be prepared for the costs. This is especially true for big, backyard pools. Solar heaters are only practical in the summer, and work for those with extremely low budgets.
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