Solar Pool Heater vs Heat Pump
Two common ways many people choose to heat their swimming pools are with
a heat pump or a solar system. Heat pump pool heaters function differently than
solar heaters. It has a much higher lifecycle cost, but it has some benefits.
Knowing the difference between the two can help you choose the best option for
heating your swimming pool. The following articles list the diverse features of
each product to help you make a more informed decision.
Heat Pumps and Solar Pool Heaters: Key Differences
Fortunately for the average pool owner, there are several cost-effective
ways to do this. Perhaps the most attractive of these are heat pumps and solar
pool heating. There is another bunch of thorns. Which of the two is the best?
Heat pumps and solar heaters, and even do-it-yourself solar pool
heaters, all do the same job in very different ways. Both have pros and cons,
and usually some numbers are needed to decide which one is best for your needs.
Let's see the main differences between the two:
Electric Heat Pump Pool Heaters:
A heat pump can be thought of as a reverse air conditioner. Traditional
air conditioners absorb heat in a room and transfer it outside to dissipate it
into the atmosphere. A heat pump takes heat from the outside air and uses it in
its internal mechanism to heat the pool water.
Basically, an existing pool pump or a dedicated pump takes the water out
of the pool via a heat pump. Once the heat pump has heated the water, it
returns to the pool in a continuous cycle.
Electric heat pump pool heaters do use electricity, but are definitely
more efficient than resistance cell heaters.
Solar Pool Heaters:
Unlike heat pump pool heaters, solar pool heaters do not use electricity
to heat the pool water. They rely on the thermal mass of solar radiation to
heat the pool water in a series of tubes or pipes. These tube arrangements are
called solar collectors.
The overall operation of a solar pool heater is similar to a pool heat
pump. The cold water in the pool is pumped into a collector, where it is heated
by solar radiation. The hot water is then returned to the pool, replaced by
cold water, and the process starts all over again.
Advantages and disadvantages of electric heat pump and solar water
While both types of pool heaters do the same job, they both have
distinct advantages and disadvantages. Here's a direct comparison of the
relative pros and cons of each type.
Electric heat pump
1. Can operate day or night in all light conditions.
2. It heats up faster than the solar system.
3. Reduce upfront installation costs.
4. Inconspicuous and relatively easy to move.
1. Much less cost-effective over time.
2. More maintenance is required.
3. Maintenance costs are higher.
4. Types of Solar Pool Heaters
Solar pool heating
1. There are no operating costs other than the power consumption of the
2. Requires less maintenance than heat pumps.
3. Routine repair and maintenance costs are lower than heat pumps.
4. Easy to build DIY version.
5. Larger range of ready-made models to suit all budgets and pool types.
1. High initial cost.
2. Slow heating time.
3. Only heat your pool during the day and in optimal sunlight
4. Larger units are visually unappealing and difficult to reposition.
4. Let us consider the average installation and running costs of these
two pool heater types.
Pool heat pumps require little additional plumbing and control mechanisms. The average cost of a pool heat pump installation is between $2,000 and $4,500.
Solar pool heating
Permanent solar pool heaters require a lot of effort and additional
hardware to install. The average installation cost for solar pool heating
ranges from $1,500 to $11,000, depending on the type of heater chosen and the
size of the pool.
Operating Costs of Heat Pumps vs Solar Pool Heaters
Pool heat pumps are the most efficient electric pool heaters. However,
they still cost between $50 and $100 per month to run. This equates to running
costs of $600 to $1,200 per year.
Solar pool heating
Solar heaters only really use electricity to pump water into the system.
So, on average, a rooftop solar heating system uses about $30 a month or $360 a
year to heat your pool.
We spent some time comparing the pros and cons of solar and heat pump
pool heating. But what if you combine the two? With this in mind, your solar
pool heater heats the water during the day. Then your heat pump takes over
after dark, isn't that super efficient?
Honestly, yes and no. The truth is, depending on the size of your pool
and your specific requirements, a combined system can be very beneficial.
Optimize your pool heating
No matter which heating system you choose, there are ways to increase
efficiency and further reduce operating costs.
1. Pool Cover
Pool covers prevent pool heat from escaping from the pool water. These
simple, low-tech devices can play an important role in helping your heating
system stay ahead of the curve.
2. Solar Pool Ring
Many people disapprove of pool rings as a supplemental source of pool
heating. The truth is that they do work. Also, if you use enough of them, they
also reduce the amount of water lost through evaporation.
3. Floating solar panel heater
These are essentially mini rooftop solar pool heating panels. They are
expensive, but are one of the more effective ways to complement traditional
pool heating jobs.
For homeowners living in sunny areas, in the battle between heat pumps and solar pool heating, solar pool heating wins. Compared to competitors, solar
pool heaters have better overall cost efficiency, ecological impact and
It’s worth noting that a heat pump can help you enjoy warmer water
faster, as long as you want to swim when the outside temperature is above 45-50
degrees (1). However, with a solar pool heater, in favorable climates, you are
more likely to end up getting your money back on your investment; making solar
a solid choice for many home pool owners.