Can You Heat a Saltwater Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
May 25, 2023

pool heater next to a saltwater pool

The pool season can come and go way faster than you want if you don’t live in a warm southern state like Texas, California, or Florida. In some places, you may only get 2 to 3 months of pool weather every year before it gets too cold to swim in the water. In this case, you may want to consider investing in a swimming pool heater to prolong your swimming season. But if you have a saltwater pool, you may wonder: can you heat it just as you can heat a chlorine pool?

In this article, I will answer the above and give you various options for heating your saltwater pool.

Main Takeaways

  • Just like traditional chlorine pools, you can heat a saltwater pool.
  • To heat a saltwater pool, you can use a solar heater, a heat pump, or a gas/propane heater.
  • As long as your saltwater pool is well-balanced, it should not damage your pool heater.

Can You Heat a Saltwater Pool?

Saltwater pools work slightly differently than standard chlorine pools. Many people prefer them because the chemical process is less harsh and does not produce chloramines (which can irritate the eyes and skin).

Saltwater pools can definitely be heated, just like freshwater pools. The saltwater chlorinator does not affect heating units, so you will not have to worry about this when installing a heater in your swimming pool. The heating units will also be set up and installed in the same way as in chlorine pools.

Saltwater Pool Heating Options

Saltwater pools can sustain the same heating options as chlorine pools. However, each heating option has its pros and cons. So I always recommend determining the best option for you before purchasing one. If you are unsure, talk to a pool store professional to get expert advice.

Here are some of the main heating options you can use for your saltwater pool. For more specific recommendations, read my best pool heaters guide.

Solar Heater

Solar heaters are great options due to their low ongoing cost and environmental friendliness. The solar panels use the sun’s energy to heat the water. Pool water is pumped from a pipe to the solar panels and slowly heated. Since these solar heaters need the sun’s energy to work, they are inefficient for overly cloudy climates or places that don’t get much sunlight year-round. Another drawback for many is the cost of a solar heater. For the complete installation and upfront cost of a solar heater, you can expect to pay around $4000 to $5000. If you want to explore this option further, head to my best solar pool heater recommendations.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps are one of the more recently popular systems used for pool heating. The heat pump uses a heat compressor that absorbs heat from the outside air and warms the pool water. The heat pump is attached to the pool’s filter near the pump. Their upfront cost is more than gas heaters, but they are more eco-friendly and tend to have a lower ongoing cost. Heat pumps generally work best at temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t require sunlight to function as solar heaters do. They can cost anywhere between $2500 to $5000.

Gas or Propane Heater

Gas heaters are most definitely the most efficient method for heating your swimming pool. You can either attach the pool heater to your house’s gas piping or use a propane tank to fuel the pump. The heater burns natural gas or propane and uses the heat to warm the pool water, which runs through coils like an electric heat pump. You can heat the pool overnight since they do not require sunlight to power the system.

Gas heaters can be quite a bit more expensive than other options as heating can use a lot of fuel. You may pay around $300 to $500 monthly to keep the heater running. However, the initial setup of the gas heater is much cheaper than the solar heater or heat pump options, costing around $1200 to $4000.

Will Salt Water Damage My Pool Heater?

Many pool owners will notice that pool equipment and filters will corrode in saltwater swimming pools. Saltwater and chlorine water can damage your pool equipment if the chemicals are not adequately balanced. Generally, the problem does not lie with the saltwater itself, but with the acidity or calcium hardness of the water.

Water with low pH pumped into your pool heater can corrode specific components and even damage the equipment over time. Saltwater with high calcium hardness will carry a lot of gritty sediment that can also damage your equipment after some time. It may cause some calcium buildup on the pool’s surfaces as well. Well-balanced saltwater should not cause any damage to your pool equipment unless the area around your pool is made of tile or another salt-sensitive material.

Get My Free Pool Care Checklist

Download my free, printable pool maintenance checklist to help you accomplish regular pool care tasks for any type of swimming pool.

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

Bottom Line

Adding a heating component to your pool is a priority for many as it lengthens the pool season, allowing a nice swim in the pool even in October and November. No one wants to jump into a freezing pool as the weather outside starts to cool as well. Often, saltwater pool owners have to think about how their pool differs from traditional chlorine pools. But thankfully, there is no real difference between heating a freshwater pool and heating a saltwater pool. Furthermore, there are just as many heating options for your saltwater pool. Whether you get a solar heater, a gas heater, or something else, make sure to find the best option for you.

If you have any further questions about your pool, let me know. I am happy to assist! If you want more information on heaters, check out my articles below.

About The Author

Scroll to Top