What Are Pool Chillers?

Written by Michael Dean
December 27, 2023

cooling down swimming pool water

At the height of summer, as temperatures soar, all you can think about is jumping into your pool to cool off. So, it can be kind of a bummer if the water is as hot as the pavement outside. This is especially a problem in the southern regions of the country, where temperatures can rise to as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. But like most problems nowadays, there’s a fix. Pool chillers!

In this article,  I’ll go over everything you need to know about pool chillers, including how they work, why you should get one, and more. Let’s dive straight in and cool down your pool to a nice, comfortable temperature!


Main Takeaways

  • Pool chillers, also known as pool coolers, work much like air conditioners by circulating hot water through a cooling system before releasing it into the pool again.
  • They are useful in very hot regions, have long lifespans, restrict algae growth, and allow for superior control over your pool temperature.
  • Alternatives to cooling down your pool involve getting a pool cover, circulating your air with the pump at night, installing awnings, etc.

What Are Pool Chillers?

As you might be able to guess from their name, pool chillers are essentially air conditioners for your swimming pool. They keep your pool refreshingly cool during even the hottest summer days by circulating the water and cooling it before it enters the pool again.

Some pool chillers are independent units, while others come integrated as a part of the pool heater, which is a popular option for some pool owners interested in maintaining a consistent and enjoyable temperature in the pool throughout the year.

How Does a Pool Chiller Work?

The way a pool chiller works is fairly simple. Much like an air conditioning system, as the water circulates throughout the pool chiller, a refrigerant in the chiller absorbs heat from the pool water. In some systems, cooling fans lower the temperature of the water. In both cases, heat is released to the outside air, lowering the temperature by 5 to 10 degrees. The cool water then cycles out of the chiller, re-entering the pool and completing the cycle. And voila! As water continues to cycle through the chiller, your pool will get cooler and cooler!

Reasons to Get a Pool Chiller

You may know the benefits of getting a pool heater, but why get a pool chiller? Is there any need for one? Here’s a rundown of the main reasons to get a pool chiller:

Beat the Heat

In the middle of the summer, the last thing you want to do is jump into something that feels like a warm bath. Instead, you want something cool to beat the beat. With a pool chiller, you can enjoy your pool at the perfect temperature suited to your preferences. A chiller will help regulate the water temperature, no matter how unbearably hot it gets!

Less Evaporation

Water loss from the pool due to evaporation during the summer usually occurs at an alarming rate. Keeping a chiller active during the day will help lower evaporation rates, reducing water loss and reducing the need to rebalance water chemistry levels due to evaporation. This saves you money and is much better for the environment, too!

Inhibit Algae Growth

It’s no secret that algae love warm and damp places, like a swimming pool in the summer. Cooler water temperatures make it less welcoming for algae to thrive in your swimming pool, which is also a plus point for water quality. This means you’ll save more on chemicals in the long run.

Ideal for Certain Pools

Dark-bottom pools might be moody and have a gorgeous aesthetic, but the issue is that they absorb and retain heat very quickly. So do pools less than 6.5 feet deep or even pools with a pebble or tile finish! A chiller regulates the temperatures of such pools during brutal heat waves.

Complete Temperature Control

No matter the time of the day or the region you’re in, with a pool chiller, you can retain complete control over the temperature of your pool. This is especially the case if you have a pool chiller/heater combo! You might be skeptical about how useful this is, but trust me, when temperatures are soaring above 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the middle of July and the water is boiling, a chiller is all but necessary to bring your pool temperature down!

Other Ways to Cool Down Your Pool

Pool chillers are a wonderful solution to cool down your pool, but they aren’t the only way to do it. Here are a few other solutions to cool down a hot pool during a hot summer.

Run the Pump at Night

There’s nothing more important than circulation to keep the pool water at a pleasant temperature! So, keep the pump running. This is especially important at night. The cooler air temperatures at night will help bring the pool temperature down faster, even more than if you run your pump during the day.

Shade

You can consider installing awnings or shade sails over your pool to reduce the amount of heat absorbed by the water.

Water Features

Water features like a fountain or water can help cool down the water temperature by increasing air exposure. As a plus, since they are decorative, they’ll make your pool look stunning in your backyard! Another water feature you should consider to cool down the swimming pool is a pool aerator. This is a fairly inexpensive way to help make hot summer days more bearable.

Ice

It goes without saying, but one of the fastest ways to cool down the pool water is to add ice to the pool. This method may be impractical for most, but if you can obtain a lot of ice somehow, simply dump it in your pool to cool the water down almost instantaneously!

Partial Drain and Refill

Now, this option depends on your water source, but a final option to cool down your pool is to do a partial drain and refill. When draining your pool, make sure to do it slowly and carefully. Of course, this only really works if the new water is much colder than the pool water.

How Much Do Pool Chillers Cost?

Pool chillers can range from $2,500 to $6,500 or more.

The biggest factor that affects the price is what type of pool chiller you get. As you may expect, a chiller/heater combo will be on the more expensive side of the spectrum, costing $6,000 to $6,500+. On the other hand, a standalone unit is usually half that price, at around $3,000 to $3,500+.

Of course, you can also expect price variations depending on the manufacturer, the model, and the size of your pool. Head to my pool chiller cost analysis for a deeper dive into the numbers.

Are Pool Chillers Worth It?

Now for the big question: are pool chillers worth it? I’d say a pool chiller is a region-specific purchase, and in an area where the days get hot real quick, I’d say yes, pool chillers are very much worth it if you want to cool down effectively.

 If you’re in a colder region with shorter summers, definitely not. In fact, most pool owners living in climates with shorter summers are probably more interested in increasing the temperature of the water to lengthen the pool season.

However, on the flip side, a pool chiller may be a worthwhile investment if you’re in a state like California, Texas, Florida, or Arizona. In these states, some days get hot enough to fry an egg on the pavement, so jumping in warm pool water is definitely not as pleasing!

A pool chiller is a significant investment, so it’s best to consider your options carefully before getting one. But the good news is that chillers also have a pretty lengthy lifespan, with most models lasting up to 15 to 20 years!

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Frequently Asked Questions

When should I run my pool chiller?

I recommend running the pool chiller at night when the outside temperature is cooler. By the time you wake up, the pool should be cool enough to enjoy throughout the day. If the water does warm up, you can always turn it back on in the afternoon when needed.

Do I need a pool chiller in Florida?

Yes, definitely! Temperatures in Florida can climb up to a hot and sticky 100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit in June, July, and August. Humid conditions might make it challenging to cool a pool in Florida, but it certainly helps!

Do I need a pool chiller in Texas?

Yes, I recommend a pool chiller in Texas. Temperatures in Texas can climb insanely high, and pool temperatures are reported to climb to the 90s and even the 100s! Yikes! To avoid this, install a pool chiller.

Beat the Heat with a Pool Chiller

Swimming pools are meant to cool you down during the hot summer months, so it can be a real bummer when you step into one that feels like bathwater. A pool chiller can take the edge off the heat, making it possible to enjoy a lovely ambient temperature just right for a sunny day in July. That said, if you’d rather opt for low-cost solutions, you can always opt for water features, ice, and other alternative methods.

Do you have more questions about pool chillers or anything else pool-related? I can help you out. Just drop me a message!

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