Can You Heat a Saltwater Pool?

Written by Michael Dean
March 14, 2024

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 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 for 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.

However, 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 $2,500 to $8,000.

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 for pool heating. They use 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 $2,000 to $6,500.

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 $1,200 to $4,000.

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 a 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 also cause some calcium buildup on the pool’s surfaces. 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.

Best Pool Heaters for Salt Water Pools

Looking for the best pool heater for your saltwater pool? I’ve got you covered! Here are some of my favorite brands and models to check out, which I’ve used in several projects over the years. These pool heaters are tried and tested, so you know you’re getting the best bang for your buck in extending your pool season.

Solar Heater

Heat Pump

  • Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium: Hayward is a true industry standard when it comes to anything pool-related. This heat pump is one of my favorite Hayward products, as it is durable, reliable, and, of course, saltwater-resistant, thanks to its titanium heat exchanger.
  • Fibropool Heat Pump: A pretty affordable option as far as heat pumps go, this Fibropool heat pump is clean, green, and easy-to-operate. I generally recommend this heat pump for pool owners looking for an energy-efficient pool heater.

Gas or Propane Heater

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Heat a Saltwater Pool?

This answer depends on what type of pool heater you use. As a general rule, it can take anywhere from 8 to 72 hours to heat your saltwater pool.

Are Saltwater Pools Heated Differently Than Chlorine Pools?

Nope, not at all! You can heat a saltwater pool in the same way as you heat a traditional chlorine pool. You have just as many options to choose from as well.

Enjoy Your Heated Saltwater Swimming Pool

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.

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