If you have a swimming pool, spa or plunge pool, you need a water heating system. The three types of water heaters for pools include solar, electric and gas. Because most Australians have easy access to unlimited electric supplies, electric heaters are the largest selling systems. Solar water heating systems, while not as widely used, are frequently in the news because of their potential to decrease our environmental impact and lower our energy bills. Gas pool heating systems are the least talked about, but may have advantages over the others in many situations. What is gas pool heating and what are its advantages and disadvantages? A quick look at how the three systems work can give you insight into whether or not gas is the best choice for you.
- The modern electric pool heater, called a heat pump, works in the same way a reverse cycle air conditioner works. Heat pumps extract the warmth from the air and transfer it to the water that passes through the pump.This method of heating water is very energy efficient in a warm climate, but loses some of its efficiency in the colder months of the year.
- Solar pool heating systems use solar panels as the heat source. Water is constantly recycled through channels embedded in the panels. The heated water is then returned to the pool. Solar panels rely on the heat from the sun, so lose efficiency on cloudy days and at night.
- Gas pool heating uses natural or propane gas and basically heats your pool water in the same way that a gas water heater in the home does. One of the big advantages of a gas pool heater is that it can maintain your pool at a constant temperature better than other systems are able to. Gas can also heat pool or spa water much more quickly than electric or solar pool heating systems, even under optimum conditions.
When choosing a pool heating system, you need to ask yourself some questions to determine which system is best for you:
- How great a volume of water are you heating?
- What is the average air temperature in your area? The pool water will retain or lose heat in direct proportion to the outside air temperature.
- Do you use your pool regularly?
- Do you need to keep your pool at a constant temperature or can you get by with cooler water or get by without your pool during the cooler months?
If you have a large swimming pool, live in a temperate climate, use it regularly and don't mind not maintaining an ideal water temperature, an electric heating system may be your best choice. If you live in a warm, sunny climate, a solar system may be ideal for you. Under these circumstances, electric and solar heaters will be cheaper to run than a gas pool heater and deliver adequate service. The main disadvantage to gas pool heating is its cost. If used continuously in a colder climate, it can require a tremendous amount of gas to maintain a pool's temperature. If you want to heat a smaller pool or a plunge pool and only use them occasionally, then gas is probably your best bet, because it will heat the pool to an acceptable temperature quickly and maintain a constant temperature when it reaches the comfort level of your choice. For the same reasons, gas is your best option for heating a spa. In a colder climate, gas is really your only efficient option if you want to maintain a comfortable water temperature.