How to select the best heating to extend the swimming season
Being able to use your swimming pool throughout the year should be a goal for pool owners who want to gain maximum returns on their investment. Installing the right pool heater can extend your swimming season by up to four months and beyond.
Today, trans-seasonal pool heating is becoming even more commonplace, with a range of pool heating solutions to choose from, depending on your budget, location and lifestyle.
Creating and maintaining the ideal pool temperature doesn’t come naturally. While pool water predominantly hovers somewhere around the 18-20°C mark, it takes a designated heating system to bump it up to comfortable levels — around 25-29°C.
There are three main heating options to choose from: solar, gas and heat pumps.
Undeniably the most environmentally friendly option of all, solar pool heating operates by using the energy of the sun. In a solar pool heater, pool water is pumped through the filter and then through one or more solar thermal collectors via a solar pump located on the roof, where it is heated before it is returned to the pool.
Unlike other pool heaters on the market, solar pays for itself in just a few years. After the initial setup cost, the ongoing running expenses are minimal as heat is provided free from the sun. Solar systems have virtually no operating costs, just the cost of electricity to pump the pool water through the solar absorber on the roof. Solar heating systems are also simple to maintain.
The amount of heat absorbed and the subsequent increase in temperature depends on three key criteria:
– The size or area for the collector and the
number of tubes per square metre
– The location of the collector
– The quality of the collector system
Ultimately, the biggest influence is the exposure to the sun. So if you live in an area that does not get a great deal of sunlight, your roof is under a significant amount of shade, or you don’t have sufficient roof space, then a solar system is not a viable option. A solar pool heater works well as a complement to a heat pump or gas heater.
Reliable, highly efficient and economical to run, heat pumps extract heat from the air (similar to a reverse cycle air conditioner), and use that heat to produce hot water. Compared to gas and electric element heating, heat pumps use just a fraction of the energy to generate the same amount of heat.
Benefits of heat pumps include their high energy efficiency and lower running costs. As a guide, you can save up to 80 per cent over LPG, 50 per cent over natural gas-fuelled heaters and 500 per cent over electric heaters.
One of the disadvantages of this type of system is that it can lose its high energy efficiency slightly once the weather really cools down, as the pump has to work harder to heat the water against the outside temperature. However, unless you live in an area that experiences very low winter temperatures, this should not be a concern.
Inverter heat pumps
An inverter heat pump is one of the more popular heating choices as customers are enticed by the heating efficiency, low noise levels and lower running costs. Inverter heat pumps feature a smart controller and a variable compressor, which enables the fan to slow down or speed up depending on the pool water temperature. This automatic controlling system prevents the heater from using more energy than necessary.
Gas heaters are the fastest method for heating your pool, providing a comfortable temperature for swimming on demand. Put simply, they could extend your swimming season all year round. Gas heating systems use natural gas or LPG, heating the pool water by pumping it through a heating unit.
A key advantage of a gas heater is it can heat pool water much faster than a solar or heat pump system can, and will heat the pool water up to 40°C, no matter how cold the climate is. Gas heaters are also able to maintain any desired temperature regardless of the weather.
Selecting the right size gas heater depends on three key factors:
– The amount of water to be heated
– How long you are prepared to wait for your pool to heat up
– Your preferred swimming temperature
Many offer dual temperature controls that are ideal for spas, which are heated to higher temperatures than pools. No system is without some drawbacks. Gas could be considered less efficient compared to heat pumps and solar heating systems, but this depends largely on the climate you live in and the gas supply.