Heating an above ground pool is one way to keep your pool functional through a larger part of the year. Above ground pool heaters can also help your pool components from taking cold-related damage.
The top four easiest ways to heat an above ground pool are to use gas pool heaters, electric heat pumps, solar panels, or radiant solar exposure. Gas and electric heaters provide the most heat but will cost significantly more than solar or radiant options.
Which method you choose will depend on a few factors about your setup. Below we’ll go over each of these methods in detail and explain the advantages and disadvantages of each one.
The four easiest ways to heat an above ground pool include the following methods:
- Gas pool heaters
- Electric heat pumps
- Solar panels
- Radial solar exposure
There are advantages and disadvantages associated with each of these heating methods. The type of heating method you choose will be dependent on some of these factors:
- How large your above ground pool is
- What your yearly climate range is
- How long you intend to keep the pool open
- Your utilities budget
Below is a breakdown of the four easiest heating methods to use for above ground pools along with the pros and cons of each.
With the highest operating cost out of any above ground pool heating method, gas pool heaters are a practical option if you need a heater to heat a pool in temperatures of less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit or if you’re using the gas heater as a backup for another heating method.
Check out this Gas Pool Heater Found Here from Amazon to see a popular model that will work for most people.
Are Gas Heaters Expensive to Run?
Gas heaters cost $3.30-$4.40 an hour to heat an above ground pool. This comes out to around $200-$400 a month for the cost of heating the pool depending on its size and sun exposure. (source: bobvila.com)
Because they are expensive to run all year-round, gas heaters for above ground pools are often used in a dual heating system with an electric heat pump.
The electric heat pump is used to heat the pool during more temperate times of the year, while the gas heater is reserved for cold weather or as an auxiliary heating unit.
There are two major advantages of using a gas heater for you above ground pool:
- Ease of installation: The first is that these units are the easiest units to install out of all of the heating methods available.
- Fastest heating method: Gas heating allows for the highest rate of heating out of all the heating methods available. Gas heating can heat a pool 1-2 degrees per hour. (source: foleypools.com)
Along with the advantages, there are also some disadvantages to gas heating. The main one is cost.
Gas heating is the most expensive type of above ground pool heating per hour compared to other methods.
The cost of gas pool heaters depends on whether the pool is heated with propane or natural gas. Propane can cost up to twice as much as natural gas, so consider this when deciding if gas heating for your above ground pool is right for you.
Here’s a cool video where someone used their gas grill to heat the pool:
The second easiest heating method for above ground pools is electric heating through an electric heat pump.
While electric heating units for above ground pools might cost more up-front than gas heating units, the operating costs for electric heating units are far lower. This is because electrical heating is more energy-efficient.
Check out this Electric Heat Pump from Amazon to see a popular model that will work for most people.
The main disadvantage of electric heat pumps is that they don’t perform well in cold temperatures. Electric heating pumps for above ground pools work best at temperatures above 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Solar Pool Heaters Are Environmentally Friendly
Solar panels can be used as an auxiliary heat source for your home, but did you know that solar panels on your house or garage can also be used to heat your above ground swimming pool?
The feasibility of solar panels for above ground pool heating depends on several factors:
- Pool size: The smaller a pool is, the easier it is to heat efficiently with solar heating.
- Sun exposure: The ambient temperature of the pool is raised if it is located in direct sunlight, making less additional heating necessary.
- Panel mounting location: Solar panels need to be located where they can receive full sun exposure, such as a roof.
While solar pool heaters are cheap to run since solar energy is free, this is not a cheap system to install. A solar heating system for a pool can run between $2,500 and $4,000. (source: energy.gov)
Solar pool heaters are an ideal option for above ground pool owners who are trying to set up an environmentally-friendly system that will eventually pay for itself.
However, the main disadvantage of solar pool heating is that the system cannot collect energy in cloudy weather, making it less efficient during fall and winter months.
The easiest option to heat an above ground pool is to use another form of energy by allowing radiant sunlight to heat the pool. There are some advantages to this simple method:
- No extra heating equipment required
- Minimal costs
Above ground pools can either be heated with radiant solar energy by placing the pool uncovered in direct sunlight, or the pool can be heated using a specialized solar pool cover that works to warm the water more quickly.
While radiant solar energy is by far the cheapest method for heating an above ground pool, it isn’t the most efficient. A pool heated only by direct sunlight might take weeks in the spring to warm to a swimmable temperature.
Check out this Solar Pool Cover Found Here from Amazon to see what we use that has worked well for us.
Heating a pool with sunlight is also less effective at lower temperatures. Even if the weather is clear, the pool will still be cold if the outdoor ambient temperature is low.
Solar heating is more effective in warm, sunny weather, making it a practical choice for pools that are open in the late spring and summer.
There are several easy ways to heat an above ground pool, and the easiest method for your pool setup will depend on the pool size, your budget, and the area your pool is located.
By figuring out what time of year you plan on leaving your pool open and what kind of operating costs you want to budget for, you can figure out the perfect method for heating your above ground pool.