For many pool owners, a heater seems like a luxury. Not only is there the initial expense of the heater itself, but also installation and operation costs to consider. However, you might miss out on months of poolside fun every year without a pool heater.
A pool heater is well worth the money to regulate your water temperature for most homes. The right pool heater allows you to make the most of your swimming pool year-round, even when the weather starts to get chilly. Here, you’ll see just how much it costs to heat your pool and how to do it efficiently. For data on specific heater models, head to my research on the best pool heater.
The Different Types of Heaters
There are three main types of pool heaters that you can choose from that primarily differ in which energy source they use and price point and operating costs. Depending on the heater you want, you may pay anywhere between $1,000 and $8,500 for a new unit.
|Heater Type||Average Price Range|
|Solar Heater||$2,300 to $9,600|
|Electric Heat Pump||$2,300 to $7,700|
|Electric Resistance Heater||$1,200 to $6,200|
|Gas Heater||$1,300 to $6,300|
|Equipment||$1,800 to $8,100|
|Labor||$500 to $1,500|
|Total||$2,300 to $9,600|
Solar heaters have a higher initial cost than other types of heaters, but for many pool owners, they pay for themselves over time. Solar heaters convert energy from the sun into heat for your pool using solar panels without costing you a dime. Find out more about the cost of a solar pool heater in my cost breakdown article as well. They’re also environmentally friendly, low maintenance, and typically hold up around 25 to 30 years.
Solar heaters tend to warm the water slowly more slowly than other options, at a rate of about one to three degrees per minute. They also require light year-round and won’t work well if they aren’t directly facing the sun. They are also a great option for above ground pools; check out my article on how to heat an above ground pool for more information.
- Free to operate
- Eco-friendly and energy-efficient
- Don’t require much maintenance
- Last up to 30 years
- High installation costs
- Heats the water more slowly than other options
- Require light year-round
- Panels don’t work well when facing north
You can head to my solar pool heater reviews for specific recommendations.
Electric Heat Pumps
|Equipment||$1,800 to $6,700|
|Labor||$500 to $1,000|
|Total||$2,300 to $7,700|
Heat pumps use a 220V electrical line and at least a 40 amp breaker to convert energy into heat. They’re relatively expensive to purchase, but don’t cost much to operate. Most heat pumps have a green, energy-efficient design that keeps energy usage and emissions low.
Electric heat pumps are ideal for those who use their pool daily. If you prefer only to heat the water occasionally, a heat pump might not be the right choice for you. They heat the water very slowly, especially when it’s cold outside.
- Clean, green option
- Energy efficient
- Relatively low operating costs
- Fairly expensive installation
- Heats water slowly in cold temperatures
Electric Resistance Heater
|Unit||$700 to $5,200|
|Labor||$500 to $1,000|
|Total||$1,200 to $6,200|
Though this type of heater also runs on electricity, it warms water through a different mechanism than heat pumps. Instead of relying on heat from the surrounding air, this type of pump passes water directly over a heating unit.
Electric resistance heaters function well independently of temperature, making them a good choice for cold climates. However, the design is relatively inefficient and costly to run. It’s also a significant drain on your daily energy consumption.
- Produce clean energy
- Works well in both warm and cold climates
- Low initial cost
- Inefficient design
- Costs more than other options to operate
Propane and Gas Heaters
|Unit||$800 to $4,800|
|Labor||$500 to $1,500|
|Total||$1,300 to $6,300|
Propane and gas pool heaters are popular for homeowners because they’re relatively cheap to install and heat water quickly. They make a good choice for those who only swim occasionally and want the option to heat and cool their pool as needed, as propane offers complete control over temperature.
While propane heaters might be cheaper upfront, it’s important to remember that they cost more to operate than other options. Propane also poses more of a potential danger to your household than other energy sources if misused.
- Fairly cheap to install
- Heats the water quickly
- Offers precise control over temperature
- Expensive to operate
- More hazardous than other options
Check out my complete comparison of electric vs. gas pool heaters for more similarities and differences and which you should choose. I also wrote a guide on how pool heaters work if you’re curious about the specific mechanisms of each heater type.
Cost Considerations When Installing a New Pool Heater
Once you find the right pool heater for your pool, there are still installation costs to consider. You must prepare your pool, from removing old pool heating equipment to installing new hookups.
Removing Your Old Pool Heater
If you already have a heater in your pool, you must remove it before installing a new one. The cost of removing an old pool heater will average around $25 to $50, depending on the type of heater you have and how it fits into your pool setup. Most will simply include removal in the overall installation cost if you hire a professional. If you don’t know whether or not you need a new one, read my guide on how long pool heaters last.
If you don’t already have existing utility hookups attached to your pool, you’ll have to add some before installing your heater. Gas, propane, and electric heaters require specialized utility lines to work, while solar heaters need to connect to functioning panels.
If you have to add hookups or switch to a different utility line, it will add an average of around $500 to $1,500 to the final installation price. Installing new gas lines costs between $300 and $800, and adding an electrical line costs between $500 and $2,000. A new water line can run you anywhere from $300 to $2,000.
DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Sometimes, pool owners save on installation expenses by installing a heater themselves. It’s pretty easy to do if you already have the hookups available and ready to go. You can save as much as $300 to $1,000 on installation fees.
While the DIY route might seem prudent, keep in mind that it may cost you more in the long run. An improperly installed heater can cause all sorts of problems. Often, it’s best to leave the heater installation to the professionals.
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The Average Cost of Installing a Pool Heater
It costs most pool owners anywhere between $1,600 and $4,000 to install a new heater in their setup. On average, you can expect to pay $2,800 to replace your old heater or install a brand-new one.
The most expensive heater options upfront are heat pumps and solar heaters, which can cost up to $8,000 to purchase and install. However, it’s important to remember that these heaters are also cheaper to operate than other options.
While gas and electric resistance heaters typically cost just $1,200 to $6,200 to install, their monthly operating expenses can add up over time. However, the cost difference may be worth it to someone looking to heat their pool quickly.
What Affects the Cost of Heating?
The type of pool heater you choose isn’t the only thing that can affect your heating bill’s cost. There are several other factors to keep in mind that could potentially push you past your budget.
The Outside Weather
Climate is one of the most important things to consider when looking at pool heaters. A high daily average temperature can save you on energy costs, whereas cold weather means less efficient heating. Heavy rain, high winds, and snow can make your heater work harder.
People generally spend more during the winter months to heat their pools. If you live somewhere cool year-round, you may also have to spend in the summer, though your energy bill will be much lower.
The Size of Your Pool
It probably comes as no surprise that your pool’s size is a key consideration when it comes to heating efficiency. A small or weak heater will take much longer to heat a large pool than a high-capacity heater.
A general rule of thumb is to increase your pool heater size by 50,000 British thermal units (BTU) for every 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of water your pool holds. If you live in a cold climate, you may need to increase that to 100,000 BTU.
|Volume (gallons)||Surface Area (Sq. Ft)||Heater Size (BTU)|
|1,000-10,000||Up to 300||100,000-200,000|
Make sure to read my article on what size pool heater you need (which has a calculator) to figure out the right size for your pool.
Using a Cover
If you leave your pool heater running 24/7, using a cover can help insulate the pool water and reduce your heating costs by up to 70%. By keeping it covered when it’s not in use, you reduce both heat loss and evaporation. Pool covers are especially handy in colder climates.
Installing a pool cover means more than just throwing a tarp over the water. A professional automatic cover costs around $650 to $2,200 to install, depending on your pool setup. You can also opt for a cheaper solar blanket, which will run you around just $50 to $500. This type of cover transfers heat from the sun to the water, lowering your overall energy consumption.
If price is no object, you may want to build an enclosure for your pool. Doing so can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $14,2000, but it helps prevent heat loss while protecting your pool from the elements. An enclosure will also help to keep your pool clean and make daily maintenance tasks a little bit easier.
The price of utilities such as propane, gas, and electricity can vary from state to state and even between cities. Utility rates in your area can significantly impact how much you have to pay to heat your pool. When choosing a heater, you may want to look into which utilities are cheapest and most easily accessible where you live.
Your Preferred Temperature
If you like to keep your pool at near-sauna temperatures, you’ll likely pay more for heating costs. High water temperatures require lots of energy, especially during colder months. If you want to save on heating costs, you don’t necessarily have to resign yourself to swimming in uncomfortable water. You can lower the temperature whenever the pool isn’t in use to use less energy and thus save on your energy bill.
The Average Cost of Running a Pool Heater
It’s important to factor operating costs into your monthly pool budget if you plan on installing a heater. The cost of running a heater can vary greatly depending on what type of fuel source you use.
|Type of Heater||Cost Per Year||Cost Per Month|
|Solar||$0 to $120||$0 to $10|
|Heat Pump||$700 to $2,400||$120 to $200|
|Electric Resistance||$2,100 to $7,200||$175 to $600|
|Propane||$2,500 to $10,200||$200 to $850|
|Natural Gas||$1,400 to $4,800||$200 to $400|
It isn’t always cheap to install a new pool heater, but most people find the investment well worth it. You’ll get twice as much use out of your inground pool over the year, rain or shine. With so many options, there’s bound to be a pool heater that will fit your lifestyle and your budget.
Have questions? Shoot me a message, and I’ll help however much I can.