All you wanted to know about swimming pool heating

Pool owners across the globe are familiar with this scenario: winter has long gone, spring is blossoming all around and summer is just around the corner. This should be the perfect time to take advantage of the warm days and enjoy a fresh dip in the pool. In reality, the water is just not warm enough and pool owners are forced to wait for the "really" hot days. But these don't last long and they don't enjoy the pool as much as they can and want. How can the pool be heated so they can extend the swim season? In the next paragraphs we will review the pros and cons of various pool heating methods used around the world.

Heating with gas

This veteran heating method offers a central gas heating system. Traditionally used in commercial pools (sports centers open year round) and adopted by the private pool sector, this method definitely warms up the water. Water is quickly heated and significant temperature changes can be felt within one day.

For cold countries such as Canada, Russia and Northern Europe this is an effective system despite the operation cost it carries. The initial investment is small, and this is why this heating method is still very popular, however in most cases the running expenses are extremely high and can reach hundreds of dollars a month. Additional disadvantages of this gas based heating systems are: it requires gas piping infrastructure, which doesn't exist in most swimming pools; Gas is flammable - so periodical safety inspections are required; Swimming pools that use salt electrolysis systems cannot use gas heating since the salt creates corrosion inside the heater. On top of these the gas heater has a life span of 5 to 7 years.

Heating with electricity

This heating method is less popular today and is used mainly in South America and South Africa. This is in fact a giant heater (think for example of a kettle that needs to heat a large body of water such as a pool, we are talking about significant water volume). The clear disadvantages of this pool heating system is the super high electrical consumption and the damage that lime-scale inflicts on the heater within a short time period.

Heating the pool with a heat pump

Heat pump cleverly utilized the ambient energy to heat the pool-in similarly to how an air conditioner operates. This system is simple to install and easy to operate. Compared to heating with gas or electricity it is 50-70% more efficient.
That said Heat pump carries with it quite a few disadvantages. Pool owners tend to think Heat Pump provides a full heating solution but in fact, the heating capabilities of the heat pump are limited when ambient temperatures are low. In addition the heat pump cannot be installed inside the machine room servicing the pool. In order for the heat exchange to occur it has to be installed outside next to the pool and the combination of compressor based unit near the pool sometime leads to unpleasant noise interruption to the calm pool environment. The heat pump has many moving mechanical parts and a limited life span of an average of 7 years.

Heating the pool with a solar system

A solar system is exceptional effective in regions where sun radiation is high, such as South America, Southern USA, Southern Europe and Australia - where 60% or pools are heated with solar. Amongst its prominent advantages are no running costs above the initial investment. If installed correctly and under suitable weather conditions the return of investment of a solar system can be as low as less than two years, while it will last many years on the roof for free. The solar system's life span is exceptionally long - average of 25 years and is very simple to operate. A solar system will provide a longer swim season than usual and will save its owner money. The system functions well with pools that have a salt system installed (most popular disinfection method today).
With that said, a solar system requires a longer time to install when compared to a heat pump. Piping must by lay, climbing up to the roof is essential and other actions must be executed which demand time and a professional installer. Another disadvantage of the solar system is its dependency on weather conditions - on rainy or cloudy days the system will not generate heat - although these days are not favorable for swimming anyway.

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