Swiming Pool

How a Gas Pool Heater Works – Does It Use a Lot of Gas?

Read Time:9 Minute, 36 Second

We address various pool heater types, explain how a gas pool heater operates, and list a few benefits and drawbacks of gas heaters in this article.

Main Takeaways

  • There are three types of pool heaters: solar, gas, and electrical.
  • Depending on the type of heater, a pool heater will need to be installed; be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Hire a professional if you are uncertain.
  • Consider your budget, pool’s size, and location before making a heater decision.

How Pool Heaters Work

Your water’s temperature is maintained by a pool heater. It functions by taking in cold water and heating it in the heating tank before returning it to the pool, maintaining relatively stable water temperature.

Not every heater operates in the same way. You can pick from electric, gas, or solar pool heaters, which are the three types available. Each operates, is installed, and is maintained in a unique way.

Electric Heaters

Above is a diagram of an electric heater that includes: a) a condenser; b) a compressor; c) an evaporation coil; d) a fan; e) cool air; and f) warm air.

By recirculating warm water into the pool, electrical heaters heat the water in your pool. The pump draws fresh air from the outside in order to heat the water (see figure 5 in the diagram above). There is liquid refrigerant called freon inside the pump. This freon is compressed (figure 2, using the compressor) until it reaches a high temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit. A low-pressure system is where the freon is introduced through a valve before becoming gas.

Evaporator coils (figure 3) are used to circulate this gas while cooling it. The heat pump’s water is heated by this cooling of the gas. The cycle now restarts with the freon having returned to a liquid state by this point.

Ideal heating conditions call for an outdoor temperature of at least 50 degrees.

Gas Heaters

Above is a diagram of a gas pool heater: 1) a heat exchanger, 2) a burner, 3) a fan, 4) a cold pool water entry, and 5) a heated water exit.

Burning either natural gas or propane inside a combustion chamber is how gas heaters operate. The combustion chamber contains heating coils made of copper (heat exchanger, figure 1). The heated water exit pipe (figure 5) is used to return the warmed water from the chamber back into the pool.

Your pool will be heated by both propane and natural gas, which burn cleanly. Propane, on the other hand, has a lower environmental impact than natural gas, so if you’re concerned about the environment, you might want to use it.

In contrast to electrical heaters, gas heaters operate independently from the ambient temperature and heat water much more quickly.

Solar Heaters

Above is a diagram showing the components of a solar pool heater: 1) solar panels, 2) temperature sensors, 3) solar controllers, 4) pumps, 5) filters, 6) check valves, 7) auto valves, 8) heaters, 9) salt cells, 10) returns, and 11) intakes.

You have a lot of options when choosing a solar heater because the world is moving toward more environmentally friendly practices.

Solar Panels

You have the option of installing solar panels to heat the pool water. On top of the pool’s existing plumbing, these panels are mounted. The solar heating panel is heated by the pool’s filtering pool pump.

Solar Blankets

As the name implies, a solar cover is a plastic blanket made of “bubbles” that use the sun’s rays to trap the heat in the blanket and warm the pool water below. These solar blankets are excellent for warming up your pool on a sunny day and working hard to prevent evaporation, thus maintaining your pool’s temperature.

Solar Rings

Solar pool rings and solar blankets are equivalent in theory. They are constructed from two sheets of UV-resistant vinyl. The water below is heated as a result of these vinyl sheets absorbing sunlight. For the surface to function, only 80% of it must be covered. As each section of solar rings can be attached with magnets, they are more maneuverable than solar blankets.

Liquid Pool Cover

An evaporation suppressant is a liquid pool cover. The pool receives this liquid directly from the bottle. By doing this, a barrier is built up on the water’s surface to stop evaporation, which accounts for the majority of heat loss in water temperature. Up to 50% of evaporation can be stopped by this liquid.

Installation Process

If you enjoy doing things yourself, installing the heater for your pool should be a simple task. Having a professional install it for you is advised if not.

I’ve briefly described each type of heater’s installation procedure to give you an idea of what to expect, but always adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions that you are given.

6. How a Gas Pool Heater Works2

Electric Heaters

Step One: Choose the Location

Install the heater in a place with a good airflow, preferably outside. There shouldn’t be anything blocking the air coming out. Otherwise, it might wind up returning to the heat pump.

Step Two: Check the Water Flow Rate

Make sure the heat pump’s water flow rate is high enough from the pool pump and the filter. Your water won’t heat up quickly enough if it is set too low.

Step Three: Mount the Base

The base of the electric heater should be set down on a level surface, such as concrete or even wood decking. Make sure your heater has adequate drainage underneath it because humidity can occasionally cause it to drip water.

Step Four: Do the Electrical Work

Check to see if your circuit breaker can support the pool pump before installing your pool heater. Otherwise, it might trip your electrical system. The cable that connects the electrical point and the heater should not be in the path of people walking, as this could cause damage.

It is best to have a qualified electrician handle the electrical work because the heat pump will need to be installed correctly.

Step Five: Complete the Plumbing

Although there may be some challenges with this installation step, if you correctly follow the instructions, there shouldn’t be any issues. Only connectors and elbows are required to connect the heat pump to the plumbing that already exists.

Only two pipes, a flow pipe and a return pipe, are needed for the heat pump. These are attached to the pool pump’s existing pipes, forcing water from the pump into the heat pump and then back through the pump into the pool.

Gas Heaters

Installing a gas heater follows the same procedures as installing an electric heater. Using connectors and elbows, connect the flow and return pipes of the existing pool pump in a suitable location.

You might be required by law to have a professional approve the gas line installation before using it or to have them do it themselves. For more information, check the laws in your area.

Solar Panels

The process of installing solar panels is a little more difficult than the others. You should hire an expert to handle it for you. Here is a quick summary of what happens during installation.

Step One: Choose Your Panels

To determine the size of the panel you’ll need, measure the size of your pool. To effectively heat your pool, you’ll need panels that are at least half as large as it.

Step Two: Choose the Location

Pick a spot that receives unhindered direct sunlight for at least 4 hours each day. Your roof is a good place to install the panels. For the solar panels to function, they don’t even have to be close to or facing the pool. Simply set them up so that they face the sun.

Step Three: Hire a Professional

By hiring a professional, you can be sure that they will safely connect all the wiring, take care of all the plumbing issues associated with the solar option, and effectively connect the panels to your existing pool pump.

Solar Rings, Blankets, and Liquid Solar Cover

These have a fairly simple installation process, and a manual is provided. The solar rings and blankets are typically placed on top of the water’s surface to float, while the liquid blanket is simply poured into the water straight from the bottle.

Advantages of Gas Swimming Pool Heaters

The temperature of the air has no bearing on how a gas heater works. Compared to a heat pump, which is less effective in colder temperatures, it will heat your swimming pool more readily in those conditions. For pool owners who want on-demand heat, a gas heater is the best option because it conveniently heats your swimming pool more quickly than a heat pump.

Low purchase costs and quiet operation are two additional benefits of gas heaters.

Disadvantages of Gas Swimming Pool Heaters

Gas heaters have a lot of drawbacks in addition to a few significant benefits. A gas heater specifically has a COP between 0.80 and 0.85, making it the least effective type of heater. Because gas prices were so low in recent years, gas heaters were very affordable to run, so many consumers were willing to overlook their low efficiency. Gas heaters are currently the most expensive and inefficient type of heater to operate due to the recent increases in gas prices.

The negative environmental effects of gas exhaust, the need for gas lines (for natural gas heaters only), and the short lifespan of gas heaters are some additional drawbacks.

Maintenance Tips

The simplest way to make sure your pool heater lasts for a long time is to maintain it. Here are some good maintenance advice.

  • Clean debris from pool pumps
  • Check for leaks or cracks in the pipes
  • Regularly turn the thermostat knob to prevent erosion
  • Keep the area around the heaters clear
  • Check the wiring – there should be no melted or exposed wires

How to Select the Right Heater for Your Pool

Your unique requirements should guide your decision on the best pool heater. Your budget must be considered. When natural gas and propane prices rise while electricity prices stay the same, electric heaters may be more affordable than solar ones in some cases.

Your location and climate would also need to be considered. Solar heating is not the best choice for you if it is frequently cold and cloudy where you live. In colder climates, electric heaters work better.

As a general rule of thumb, consider the following three things when choosing a heater:

  • Budget
  • Location
  • Size of pool

For more detailed model recommendations, visit my guide to the top electric and gas pool heaters. If you’re also interested in the best solar heaters, I’ve written a separate article about them.

Bottom Line

You have the option of an electric, gas, or solar pool heater; I’ve outlined the differences and their respective functions so that you don’t have to worry about that. You can choose the best one for you by considering your budget, the neighborhood where you live, and the size of your pool.


Does a Gas Pool Heater Need Electricity?

One fairly obvious difference between them is found in their names: Gas pool heaters run on gas, whereas electric pool heaters use electricity to warm water. The cost of purchase, operating costs, heating speed, and environmental friendliness are additional differences.

How Much Does Gas Pool Heater Cost Per Month?

Gas heaters average $200 to $400 per month, while propane heaters have a wide range of $200 to $850 per month. Your climate, pool size, and regional energy prices will all affect these costs.