TYPES OF POOL HEATERS
There are three basic types of fossil fuel heaters. These heaters are natural gas, propane, and oil heaters.
If money is not an object, fossil fuel heaters are the best heaters on the market. They can be used to heat a pool to 85 degrees at a Colorado ski resort when the outside temperature is below freezing. Depending on the size of the pool, a typical gas heater in Florida consumes about $7.00 of fuel per hour usually raising the temperature of the water 1 to 3 degrees an hour. Usually when a pool owner receives his first bill, the heater is turned off.
While not economical for heating a pool, fossil fuel heaters are the best for heating a spa. They can heat a spa to a toasty 100 degrees on a cold winter night in 15 to 30 minutes. A tank of propane will often last over a year as opposed to three weeks for a pool.
The new Hayward H-Series heaters deliver outstanding energy efficiency, due to their forced air technology, and extremely low NOx emission which complies with all current California and Texas air quality standards. These heaters come standard with Cupro Nickel heat exchangers, chemically resistant polymer headers, and dual thermostats.
A heat pump is simply an air conditioner running in reverse. An air conditioner pumps the hot air to the outside (put your hand on top of the outside air conditioner compressor and feel the hot air). A swimming pool heat pump extracts the outdoor heat and uses it to heat your pool water (now feel the air coming from the compressor and it will be cold).
Heat pumps use 75% less energy than gas to heat a pool under ideal conditions. The colder it is outside, the more energy it takes to heat the pool. Most heat pumps automatically shut off when the air temperature drops below 50 degrees. However when air temperatures are above 70 degrees, they are excellent heaters for a pool. When night time temperatures drop below 60 degrees, a solar blanket is very important because you can lose more heat overnight than the heat pump can replace in the following day and that is money coming out of your pocket.
The Hayward HeatPro heat pumps come standard with a Titanium counter flow heat exchanger, an Ultra Gold corrosion-resistant evaporator fin (usually a $300 option on other heat pumps), dual thermostats, and super quiet scroll compressors with an acoustic compressor cover to minimize sound level.
Solar pool heating is not new. In fact, solar pool heating has been used in Florida for over 40 years. The basic principles of solar pool heating have not changed but the durability of the solar panels has dramatically increased. Today, most solar panels are made from an oil based, high temperature, plastic polypropylene which is completely compatible with all pool chemicals. The solar panels will not scale or corrode and are completely compatible with drinking water. When solar systems are properly installed, solar heaters will last 15 to 20 years or longer. Aquatherm solar panels have a full 12 year, 100% warranty. This warranty also includes the replacement of all hardware. Gas pool heaters and electric heat pumps generally have a 2 to 3 year warranty.
Solar pool heating is designed to keep your pool 10 to 15 degrees warmer than a similar unheated pool, nearby pond, or the Gulf. This means your pool will be above 80 degrees for all but the coldest winter months. If you’re comfortable in a bathing suit, you will have a comfortable pool. In the summer months if your pool becomes too warm, the solar system can be run at night to cool the pool.
It is extremely important that your solar heater be installed by an experienced licensed solar contractor. This will give you an assurance of years of trouble free pool heating. While stainless steel mounting hardware is much more expensive than nylon, vinyl, galvanized or zinc coated materials, it is a must. Over time, less expensive hardware could cause roof damage such as leaks and stains. Remember, if your solar system is going to last 15 to 20 years, it is important that the solar mounting hardware last as long.
SOLAR HYBRID SYSTEMS
More and more pool owners are electing to install solar hybrid systems. Solar hybrid systems combine a solar heater with either a gas heater or a heat pump. The solar heater is the primary heater and on those winter occasions when your northern family and friends come to visit, you turn on the secondary heater to act as a supplemental heating source. You are not trying to break the bank as your heater only has to heat the pool a few degrees to make it comfortable.
This is a subject that no pool owner wants to talk about. Solar blankets are unsightly, bulky, and cumbersome. Despite the troubles, pool blankets do work. Pool blankets do not heat your pool. They are insulation for your pool and the blanket assists in conserving water by minimizing evaporation. If your pool is 85 degrees and the air temperature drops significantly, your uncovered pool could lose 15 degrees in one night. With a solar cover, that drop will be 4 to 5 degrees. Whatever type of heater you have, it will take less time to warm that pool back up to 85 degrees. If your heater is gas or electric, that’s a lot of money.