While solar pool heaters and heat pumps are now more energy efficient choices, gas pool heaters are a good idea for heating small pools and spas. Because they have a direct flame, gas or propane heaters can warm up a pool or hot tub quickly and are an efficient way to go if the pool will be used briefly.
Using an existing gas heater also may be determined by your budget -- even with rebates and incentives, you may not be able to spring for a higher efficiency model right now. Regular maintenance can keep the gas pool heater you already have running efficiently. Unless you're a skilled DIYer who truly knows what you are doing, include the heater as part of an annual maintenance check-up by a pool pro.
Good to know: A gas pool heater should last about five years. Hmmm -- maybe it is time to shop for an energy-efficient model after all.
Types of Gas Heaters
Like those larger, shiny outdoor grills, gas heaters are fueled by natural gas or propane. The different types are:
- Convection Heaters: Like a convection oven, this type of gas pool heater circulates heat. While tank heaters use a small flame, convection heaters rely on a large flame to heat a constant stream of hot, flowing water.
- Tank Heaters: Not recommended for cold climates, tanks use a small flame to heat a large volume of water. For some regions, they can be cost effective. Tankless models are eco choices also.
- Coil / Flash Heaters: The most common type of gas heater and popular because it can heat a large pool or spa quickly. How it works: A flame heats a coil through which a small, fas-moving stream of water passes. This type can also be expensive because it consumes a large quantity of fuel.
After the Fact
If choosing the right type of heater has stalled your backyard pool project, don't worry -- you can make your decision after the pool is built. Most heaters are connected to plumbing outside pools, rather than to piping inside or within the pool. It's a good idea to have the plumbing and pipes installed while the pool is under construction. That way, it will be ready to connect your heater when you have made up your mind.
Did You Know?
The ideal temperature range for a private swimming pool is between 78 and 82 degrees.