Are Gas Pool Heaters A Good Buy?Although lots of gas pool heaters are sold they are not as energy efficient as alternativeslike heat pumps or solar heating systems so buying one might be consideredenvironmentally unfriendly.Against this we have to accept that lots of this type of pool heater are sold because theyhave advantages over the competition: • Relatively cheap to buy and install - Obviously the cost depends on the size of your pool but gas pool heaters for above ground pools are available under $1000 and for in-ground pools under $1500. You will have to pay to have the gas and electric side of things professionally installed but the rest of the installation should be within the capability of someone who is reasonably handy. • Powerful - One major benefit of gas pool heaters is that they have a high capacity (up to 400k BTU/hr for residential pools) and can therefore heat the water relatively quickly. This makes them the best option if you only heat your pool occasionally. • Energy Efficiency - Gas pool heaters are much more efficient that they used to be with most falling in the 80-85% range. The top rating for a gas pool heater is presently 95% but whilst this saves on running costs you have to pay more for such an efficient heater. • Reliability - Whilst gas heaters are constantly being improved the basic technology is well understood and tested. A properly maintained heater should give you many years of worry free pool heating. • Independent of the weather - A gas pool heater will operate in all weather conditions.Ideally gas pool heaters should use natural gas but most ranges include versions for usewith propane. In terms of performance it does not matter which you use but in terms ofcost there is a major difference. Propane can cost up to twice as much as natural gas so isnever the preferred option.Gas pool heaters are available in both electronic and millivolt versions. Electronic heatersare the most popular as they feature efficient electronic ignition and sophisticated digitalcontrols. Of course these systems rely on an electrical connection. If providing anelectrical connection is a problem then the answer is a millivolt heater. These use a pilotlight (which wastes some gas) and have simple controls but do not need electricity.Many manufacturers offer models with many different versions of heaters, major playersin the market include Raypak, Zodiac/Jandy and Hayward Pool Products.The main competition these days comes from pool heat pumps. These are considerablymore expensive to buy and are not as powerful. They work on electricity which is moreexpensive than gas and they dont operate at low temperatures. Their big advantage is that
they move heat from the air to the water rather than generating it. This gives them anenergy efficiency rating of several hundred percent and makes them cheap to run.If you heat your pool constantly during the season then you should certainly consider aheat pump. If you dont heat your pool constantly you will probably find that, taking intoaccount up-front costs, running costs and heating power, a gas pool heater is the bestoption.