When you are planning a backyard swimming pool, it is important to think about the type of pool heating you want. Pool heaters are vital as they enable you to get maximum usage out of your pool. However, there are a number of different types of swimming pool heaters available, so it is essential to do your research before going ahead, so you can make an informed choice about the right type of heating for your pool.
We have put together this guide to pool heating, to help you understand the different options available and make the right decision.
Things to consider when looking at pool heaters
The right type of heating for your pool will depend on a number of different factors, including:
- The climate and average temperatures where you live
- When and how often you want to use your pool
- How your pool will be used, and who will be using it
- The type and size of pool you have
It is important to look at each of these factors on its own and in combination with the others, to choose the right type of pool heater.
1. Climate and average temperatures where you live
Wherever you live in Australia, even in the warmest regions, you will need some form of swimming pool heating. Pool water is not as warm as you might think, as it cools down rapidly overnight, then takes time to warm up again the following day. It is also considerably colder during the winter months, when there is less sunlight and cooler air temperatures.
However, the climate where you live does have a dramatic impact on the temperature of your pool water. For example, on a hot summer day in Sydney, your water may reach 29°C, but in Melbourne, it is only likely to climb as high as 18 or 20°C. Because of this, it is essential to select a pool heater which will be effective in the region where you live.
These temperatures might sound comfortable, but you also have to take into account that the water on the surface of the pool will be at least three degrees higher than that further down, as the sun’s rays hit the surface of the water but do not penetrate all the way to the bottom of the pool. This means that the surface will always be the warmest part of the pool, and the temperature throughout your pool will be permanently uneven unless you help it along by installing a pool heater.
2. When and how often you want to use your pool
In the winter and at night, your pool water could be 10 degrees cooler than the temperature it reaches on a hot, sunny day. This is an extremely important consideration, as your pool is a large investment which will cost you a significant amount of money, so you need to ensure you can get maximum usage from it.
You are likely to want to use your pool in the evenings, and for as much of the year as possible, not just for a few weeks during the summer. For this reason, you need a pool heating system to enable you to get as much enjoyment from your pool as possible, giving you the best return on your investment.
Swimming pool heaters can also help to add value to your home if you ever want to move on. Potential buyers will want a pool they can use as often as possible, even if you have only used it as a means of cooling off in the hot weather.
3. How your pool will be used, and who will be using it
A cooler water temperature can be fairly comfortable if you are swimming laps, but you are unlikely to do this constantly. You can quickly feel much colder in the water as soon as you stop moving, as you are not using energy. If you intend to use your pool for relaxation as well as exercise, you will need to ensure the water is heated to a comfortable temperature.
This is also particularly important if you will be using your pool for hydrotherapy, as a means of relieving pain and stress or recovering from muscular injuries. These benefits can only be achieved effectively in water which is warm and comfortable at all times, which is why public spas are always heated to 36°C as standard. This is several degrees warmer than pool water naturally gets in Sydney at the height of summer.
You also need to think about who will be using your pool. Children and older people need warmer water temperatures as they do not use as much energy as healthy adults when they swim, so if you have kids or elderly relatives, a pool heater is essential.
4. The type and size of pool you have
The first consideration to think of here is the material your pool is made from. Concrete pools generally need more effective pool heating systems, as concrete is a naturally cold material which is not particularly efficient at retaining heat. Fibreglass is a much warmer material which retains heat more effectively, so your heating system will not need to be so powerful if you have a fibreglass pool.
The size of your pool is also a factor. A larger pool, obviously, contains more water, so it will need a heater which is powerful enough to heat the whole pool to a consistent and comfortable temperature.
You will also need to select the right heater for your pool depending on whether it is built inground or above ground. Above ground pools tend to be smaller, so the volume of water is easier to heat. However, as it sits on top of the ground rather than being built into it, an above ground pool will lose heat through its sides as well as through the surface of the water. As a result, your pool water can cool much more quickly.
However, a high-quality above ground pool will be well insulated, so it is likely to retain heat as effectively as possible. You can also assist this by covering your pool with a solar cover whenever it is not in use. You will need to find a specific above ground pool heater, though, which is appropriate for the size and model of pool you have.
The different types of pool heaters
There are three main types of pool heaters used in Australia: solar pool heaters, gas and electric pool heaters. The type you choose will depend on your individual circumstances, but it is important to learn as much as possible about each type so you can make the right decision.
1. Solar pool heating
Solar pool heating is the most popular type of pool heating in Australia. It is also the cheapest and most environmentally friendly method of heating a pool, as it uses the natural energy from the sun.
A solar pool heater works using a solar pump, which runs on a tiny amount of electricity – just 0.7kW per hour. The pump is linked to a network of capillary tubes which the water is pushed through at an extremely rapid rate, usually 150 litres per minute. This creates a constant temperature throughout your pool, and ensures that the pool remains at this temperature.
Solar pool heating does work best in warm, sunny climates, as the heater will be more consistent throughout the year. On a hot day with plenty of sunlight, it can increase your pool water temperature throughout the pool by as much as 2°C, which makes a significant difference when you are in the water.
2. Electric pool heating
Electric pool heating is still relatively cheap, and it is also highly efficient, as it heats your pool more quickly and reliably than solar heating alone. Electric pool heaters operate via a heat exchanger, which harnesses heat from the air and transfers it to the water in your swimming pool.
The main advantage of this type of system is that it can still collect heat from the air when there is no sunlight, such as on cloudy days and during the night, so it can enable you to get more usage from your pool if you live in a cooler part of Australia. However, electric pool heaters do not tend to increase your water temperature as much as solar heating, so the water might not feel as comfortable, especially if you are relaxing in the pool rather than swimming.
Electric heaters are also more expensive to run, and less environmentally friendly than solar pool heating, as they use a far greater amount of electricity.
3. Gas pool heating
Gas pool heating is the most expensive method of heating your pool, but it is the most versatile and effective. This is because it does not rely on weather or climate conditions. No matter how much sunlight your property receives, or what the air temperature is, you can set a gas pool heater to heat your pool to a temperature of your choice. It will then maintain that heat regardless of the time of day or year. This is why gas heaters are commonly used in spas, so the warm, relaxing water temperature can be guaranteed at all times.
Gas also heats the water more quickly than other systems, so it is ideal if you do not have a lot of free time and want to use your pool as often as possible. However, it is the least environmentally friendly type of pool heating, as it uses the most energy, and it is not as clean as solar or electric power.
A gas pool heater works in an extremely similar way to a gas water heating system in the home, heating the air via a burner tray at the bottom, and then transferring the heat to your pool water through a heat exchanger. It runs on either natural gas or propane depending on your system. This means your pool heater will either have to be connected to your gas supply, or you will need a propane storage tank to operate your heater.
If you do not want to heat your pool entirely with gas, it can be used as a backup system to supplement a solar pool heating system, ensuring you can heat your pool at all times, even when there is no sunlight. You can also heat your pool much more quickly if you ever want to use it in a hurry. This dual system enables you to get maximum usage from your pool at all times.
More information about choosing the right pool heating system
Swimming pool heating is a complex area, but it is important to understand it as well as possible before you begin the installation of your pool. Most pool heaters have to be installed at the same time as the pool, so it can be difficult and costly to go back and change your mind at a later stage.
The first step is to consult with a licensed, experienced plumber. They will take a look at your circumstances and the type of pool you want, and be able to offer you more advice on the best type and model of pool heater to choose. Ideally, you should choose a plumber who has extensive experience of installing heating systems for swimming pools, as they will know more about the most appropriate heater for your pool. If they are based in your area, this is also helpful, as they will have a better understanding of the local climate and weather conditions, and will hopefully also be able to complete the installation for you once you have chosen your pool heater.
It is absolutely essential that you do not try to install your pool heating yourself. All gas and electric works have to be completed by licensed professionals. This protects your safety, and also ensures that your pool is compliant with the law.
If you would like more information about pool heating, please contact our team. We can offer advice on the heat retention of Little Pools, and the steps we have taken to ensure that our pools are as insulated and efficient as possible. We can also help you to choose the most appropriate type of above ground pool heater for the climate where you live.