Pool water temperatures can drop substantially after a few days of cloudy weather which can deter the toughest of kids. 90% of swimming pools that are not heated are only used for 3 months of the year, from December - February! In this article, I am going to provide my professional opinion as to why I think a Heat Pump is better than Solar Pool Heating!
The main and only reason to heat your pool is to enjoy it all (nearly) year round. Old school heating methods (Electric kettle style) were very expensive and ineffective, fast forward to 2021 and Heat pumps are by far the most economical options to heat nearly any pool. With even further technology advances you could connect a heat pump to a solar electricity installation on your roof to virtually cost you $0! So while the sun is shining on your roof, your pool is powered and heated all day long.
Solar pool heating comes in a close second to heat pumps, While relatively expensive to install, over the life of the system it can be cost effective. Solar systems use strips or panels of collector tubes, which are mounted on your roof, with your pool water pumped through it continually (as a slow rate). It can still heat your pool water if it is cloudy, though not to usual desired temperatures as full sun would. If there's consecutive cloudy days, your temps will plummet. It is important to note that an additional “Solar Pool Pump” is also required to operate the solar heating system, this is an additional electricity cost.
How do swimming pool heat pumps work?
Heat pumps are not actually solar powered, but the way they operate is by drawing the heat and humidity in the air, just like a reverse cycle air conditioner. As most heat pumps can create 5 times as much heat as the energy it consumes, it is a much more efficient method than pumping water around your roof. Heat pumps can also be installed on the ground and require little space, perfect for that small yard or plunge pool set up.
A heated pool -
- Extends the swim season
- Is more enjoyable to swim in
- Can be used for exercise or therapy
- Warm waters are stress reducing
- Great for muscles and joints
- Increases property value
- Social aspect for outdoor entertaining
- Feature of the house
This method of renewable heat transfer is proven to be the most efficient form of pool heating. They produce best in class efficiency to keep your pool warm for when you need it, making your garden the oasis that you dream of.
I personally think for the investment that is heating a pool, you want to have peace of mind that when your heating system is on (Heat Pump) that your pool is guaranteed to reach your desired heating temperature.
Too often I have customers converting from Solar Pool Heating to a heat pump as they are heavily dependent on the weather, and are sick of having whinging kids that “the pool isn't warm enough to swim” - even after 7 days of the solar system working and a few $$ the kids won't swim…
Heat pumps work, every time, and with technology these days they truly are the most efficient way to heat a pool.
Why a Heat Pump is better than Solar Pool Heating
There are a number of factors that come into play when tossing up your heater options and It depends on where you live and what your needs are.
The common questions to ask are:
- How often do you swim, daily/weekly?
- What is the volume of water in my pool?
- What is the ambient outdoor temperature?
- How often do you use your pool in autumn/spring/winter?
- Is the pool affected by shade, sun and wind?
There’s no right or wrong answers to these questions. It can depend on the size of the pool, your budget and your preferred energy source.
By far the cheapest way would be a pool cover, these are a small initial investment, $0 ongoing cost, just a bit of effort to roll back and forth over the pool when not in use, and of course it won’t hit that warm 28 degrees in winter.
How much does it cost to run a pool heat pump?
Heat pumps can cost from $150 - $650 per year to run depending on your application, you can also further reduce these costs by using solar power from energy sourced from the sun, virtually costing you $0 to heat the pool.
Inverter Heat pumps cost up to 85% less than other heating methods saving up to $5000 per year to achieve the same (if not better!) result.
What size heat pump do I need for my pool?
Heat pumps are sized for each application, there is not a one size fits all heat pump, with the various factors outlined above, these play a role in the COP required. COP stands for coefficient of performance, it’s a measurement of efficiency for heating and cooling machines which is measured by the total energy output (kW) that is leaving the unit in forms of heating or cooling over the total energy input (kW) that is entering the unit in forms of electricity. The higher COP is the more efficient a unit is, we are proud to say that our units are remarkable for their high COPs of 8 to 10 on average.
Are pool heat pumps worth it?
The short answer is yes! You will get far more use from your pool, when it's heated! As previously mentioned, electric heat pumps are a more efficient use of electricity as it transfers the warmth of the air into the water. Coming at a lower annual cost than gas heaters, this inherently makes electric heat pumps popular for those pool users wanting to use their swimming oasis year-round.
To know more about the differences between Electric, Gas & Solar Pool Heaters, click here.
How long does it take to heat a pool with a heat pump?
Time to heat a pool relies on the size of the unit and the heating efficiency, the bigger the heater (kW), the faster it will heat the pool. We always recommend sizing UP in heat pumps, as they will be more efficient running at half capacity (especially inverters) than a smaller one running at full capacity. A correctly sized heater should have your pool to its desired temperature in 10 hours or less at the coldest time of your desired heating season.
Heat up the pool efficiently by picking the right pool pump size! Click here to check on how to properly size a pool heat pump.
How long does a pool heat pump last?
Most quality brands will have 2 - 5 years warranty depending on the model and specifications. We would avoid any heaters with 12 months warranty, these are known to be “cheaper” units commonly found on eBay and marketplace sites. There is very little parts or after sales support for these units. If you are prepared to make the investment, ensure you pick a quality brand. Our recommendation is Water TechniX and I will expand on this further below.
What happens when the heat pump reaches the desired swimming temperature?
Heat pumps have built in thermostats that monitor the pool's temperature, when the swimming temperature is reached the heat pump is throttled off automatically, it comes back in operation only if the pool temperature is dropped by 1 degrees less than the set temperature. All inverter heat pumps with this technology allows it to drop to a lower speed and higher efficiency.
What is the coldest temperature at which a heat pump can be operated?
Heat pumps can commonly operate down to 0 degrees, with some able to go much lower to -10 degrees, this again is the Madimack range of heat pumps. Within these cold temperatures you will find “defrosting” which is a process to protect the heater from freezing over in very low temperatures. This is an automatic process where a reversible valve releases the heated refrigerant at the compressor back to the condenser to stop it frosting.
We have also covered this in more detail when we explored if heat pumps can be used in the dead of winter.
Is it important to have a pool cover?
All pools will vary in temperatures throughout the year, mainly at night as the ambient temperature also falls. Ideally, all pools should be covered, not only to hold heat within the water, but also to stop evaporation and waste of water (refilling the pool) and they help keep debris out of the pool when you're not using it.
Another pro to a pool cover is that by utilising a cover when the pool is not in use it will drastically reduce the size of the heat pump required, and further reduce operating costs due to the heat retained in the water from the use of a blanket.