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How to Choose a Pool Heater for your Spa: Gas Heater or Heat Pump?


During cold seasons like Winters, swimming pools are always ice cold and most of them go under winterization, which means they are closed for the whole periods of Winter and probably Fall.

However, Winterization is not always an option for most of us who like swimming and warm baths. You can enjoy your winters and any cold weather days in a spa without worrying about ice cold water, thanks to pool heaters. 

There are 2 main types of spa heaters we are going to cover here; gas heater and heat pump. Before you make your decision to buy one, you have to know how it works and be sure it is the best for you interms of size, conveniency and cost.

Generally, cost, size, conveniency and location are the main things to consider when buying a pool heater: Size of your spa will determin the size of the pool heater that you buy, while operating cost, conveniency and location will determine the type of pool heater that you choose between gas and pump heaters.

When considering cost in choosing the best pool heater for your spa however, it is important to know that cost difference will not be very dramatic and in the long run operating cost should just be around the same range.

A significant difference in operating cost however will depend more on how well or bad you operate and maintain your spa whether gas or heat pump, like covering it with a pool cover that prevents heat from evaporating when pool or spa is not in use and more.

When it comes to your location or state, the best pool heater for your region may be determined by how cold or warm your state or region is during different seasons, and may be electric rates in your state being some states have exobitantly higher rates. 

Generally, warmer region like texas may require a heat pump because it will be economical in maintaining heat, rather than using a gas heater that is best for colder region states or region like Philadelphia that requires heavy and faster heating.

Heat pumps always work best in warmer regions: In colder regions, heat pump will overwork and have some difficulty heating and maintaining your spa water at some higher temperatures.   

Below are 2 types of swimming pool heaters and how they work, go through them and select the best pool heater that suits your needs.

1. Gas Heaters

Gas heaters are the most common pool heaters you will find around. I suppose, this is because gas heaters are instant and very convenient when you need your pool or spa ready within a short while.

A standard pool gas heater will heat pool and spa water to desired temperature within 15 minutes as compaired to heat pump that takes upto 45 minutes. Moreover, a gas heater heats your water in all kinds of weather hot, cold or rainy, which is not possible with solar heating system that may opt you to winterize your pool during the winters.

Gas heaters use a natural gas or Propane to create fire in the heat coil, which heats water on its way to the pool. Modern gas heaters like Hayward Universal H Series are made to be regulated between low, medium and high BTU (British Thermal Unit) or temperatures that suit the user.

When selecting a gas heater, you have to be very keen on the size of the heater in BTU: If you want to heat water in a big pool or spa, you need larger BTU Gas Heaters, the larger your spa or pool is, the more you need a gas heater with larger BTU.

Also, it is important to know that you can use a bigger BTU gas heater in a smaller spa to increase effeciency. Most gas heaters in the market today range between 100,000 BTU and 500,000 BTU and you go with the best size for your pool.

Hayward Universal H Serie Pool Gas Heaters are among the top pool natural gas heaters and you can choose your size between 100,000 BTU to 500,000 BTU depending on the size of your pool or spa.

Lager pools from 20,000 gallons can use between 300,000 BTU and 500,00 BTU gas heaters for faster and instant heating. But it won't hurt to use 400,000 BTU gas heater on a 10,000 gallons spa.

Like said earlier, smaller BTU natural gas pool heaters do not heat your water faster and are best only if you have or want to put up a small hot tub and maintain hot water all the time like during the winter seasons.  

However, if you want an instant gas heater for bigger pool or spa, select pool heaters with higher BTU from 300,000 BTU to 500,000 BTU.

2. Heat Pumps

Heat pump is the second swimming pool heater we are going to look in to due it's efficiency in heating and maintaining required water temperature in a hot tub or spa.

Depending on the size of the heat pump, you need to choose the best size heat pump that will heat your small, medium and large spa water faster.

Heat pumps use electricity and that is why it's effective in heating and maintaining your spa water temperature at a cost that can be slightly lower that other types of pool heaters. 

Although slower in heating rate compared to natural gas heater, heat pumps are considered cost effective and handy when you need to maintain hot water in your spa for a long period since it does not use a lot of power to maintain water temperature. 

One big advantage of top brand heat pumps like Hayward Electric Pool Heater is that you can regulate the water temperature levels up and down to suit the users preference, and therefore apart from heating your water, it can be used as a chiller to reduce water temperature in areas that have hot and humid temperature and spa water temperatures tend to rise often. 

Before you buy a heat pump, you need to know the water temperatures that you will maintain first in your spa, then select the right size heat pump that will heat and maintain your water temeperature efficiently.

Just like gas heaters, heat pumps with larger heating capacities are the best for larger pools and are fast heaters.

To select the right heat pump for your spa, use this formula recommended by US  Department of Energy to select the right size heat pump in BTU:- Pool Area x Temperature Rise x 12

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