Gas, Electric, and Solar: A Breakdown of Your Pool Heating Options

The ability to heat a swimming pool drastically expands the seasons in which you can use a pool, especially in areas that aren’t warm year-round. Many of our pool owners will start swimming well before Memorial Day and long after Labor Day, sometimes putting off closing their pools until October or November. And for those who have spas, many will opt to heat these all winter long.

So what are the best options for heating your outdoor water features? There are a few different types of heating systems available for custom swimming pools and spas. Each one has unique characteristics that may make it the best option for your setup. Let’s take a closer look at the three main options and the pros and cons to consider for each.

Electric
Heat Pump

In a typical installation, this style of heater is utilized
for its ability to maintain a desired temperature in your swimming pool
and extend the usable season of your pool. This is NOT a quick, “on-demand”
heating system, it requires a little bit more forethought and planning to work
efficiently.

The heat exchanger in the heat pump “pulls” heat from the
outside air temperature and transfers it to your pool water. The warmer it is
outside, the quicker your pool water can get up to temperature. For this
reason, it is not the best choice if you want 84 degree pool water when it is
50 degrees outside! It is also not a good solution to heat up a spa that may be
designed as part of your pool project.

Clients often look for spa water temperatures in the 98 –
104 degree range. A heat pump will not do the job. However, most of our clients
are only looking to gain an additional month of swimming early in the season
(May) and a month on the back end of the season (September/October). A heat
pump is a great way to get consistent pool temperatures of 82 – 84 degrees
during those months.

The energy efficiency of the heat pump comes from slowly warming
the water up. It will take a few days for the heat pump system to get your
water up to those temperatures…so plan accordingly. There are also times during
the hottest parts of the summer when your pool starts to become too warm to be
refreshing. Heat pumps can now be installed to actually help keep your pool
cooler! Be sure to ask your pool professional if this may be an option worth
exploring.

Gas Heaters (Natural Gas or Propane)

If natural gas is available and installed at your home, you
will be able to connect a heater to your gas meter to take advantage of what is
already available to you. If natural gas is not an option at your residence,
you can purchase or rent a propane tank to supply the fuel necessary to install
a gas burning heater.

Both natural gas and propane heaters come with a couple of
installation options and challenges that need to be considered. For natural gas
applications, the pool heater that is being installed has certain requirements
for the volume and pressure of gas needed to operate the heater correctly. Your
pool professional will need to coordinate with a plumber who is certified to
install gas lines and hook ups to make sure that the system installed on your
residence will meet these requirements.

There may be instances where the size of your gas meter or
supply lines need to be upgraded to meet these requirements. For propane gas
installations, you need to have a tank that supplies the gas to your heater. If
you do not already have one or need a larger one, you can sit a tank above
ground or choose to bury your tank. With either option, your tank needs to be
within 100 feet of an area for a gas tanker truck to park and refill your tank
as needed. So consider this as you are designing your project.

Unlike Electric Heat Pump pool heaters, gas heaters are
designed to quickly heat up your pool or spa and have the ability to get water
temperatures up to 104 degrees. For that reason, if a built in spa is part of
your project design a gas heater is your ticket. The gas heater has a dual
thermostat, so it can be utilized to heat both the pool and the spa. You can
set the pool temperature to 84, but when you feel like slipping into the spa
for some relaxation you can boost the spa temperature up to 102 with the same
heater. This heater selection is better for that on-demand, “having a pool
party this weekend” type of customer. If you use it as a consistent pool
heater, you will burn through gas quickly! Be prepared for some hefty gas bills
if you have a larger swimming pool.

Solar or
Geothermal Heating Systems

These systems are a little less common in the Northeast part
of the country, but are available options. These two types of installation will
require coordination between your pool contractor and a professional contractor
that specializes in that particular system. There are many different options
available to consumers on solar heating systems, it is just a matter of finding
what works for you.

Geothermal systems are typically installed with a new home
being built where a geothermal heating source is already being planned for. One
thing is for sure though, these systems work and are environmentally friendly!

Dual Heat Systems

Here is where we can get creative! We can combine any of
these options to get a pool heating system that is truly custom. For example: If
you have a pool and spa combination, we can install an electric heat pump to
consistently keep both bodies of water at 84 degrees and also install a gas
heater just for the spa to “boost” the heat up to 104. You could also
supplement these heaters with a solar or geothermal system to further customize
your options.

The most important takeaway is that you have options! Technology
is constantly growing and improving, so be sure to seek the advice of an
experienced pool company who understands what’s available on the market, and
can present you with the best options for your pool project. With the
investment you’re making in your pool, you want to be sure you get exactly what
you want – and that you have a pool that is comfortably and functional for your
lifestyle.

If you have
additional questions about the right heating system for your pool or spa, contact
Aquavisions today
and we can help you!


What You Need to Know About Building an Indoor Pool

When a homeowner wants to build
an indoor pool (especially in the Northeast), it’s often so that they can enjoy
it year-round. And that might be a good reason to do it, especially if the
client is a competitive swimmer or training enthusiast.

Other times, it is for health or
therapy reasons since swimming offers a low impact and buoyant exercise that is
good for the joints. Additionally there are all sorts of different specialized
equipment for underwater exercise including treadmills, pull up bars, and swim
jets where you swim against a current of water.

Dehumidification

The biggest difference in doing a
pool indoors as compared to outdoors is the need for dehumidification systems
to “treat” the room. Moisture and interior surface materials (drywall, wood,
insulation, etc.) typically don’t interact well!

It is imperative to hire a good
HVAC company and designer to ensure that the moisture in the room is being
addressed. Windows will need air returned onto them to prevent condensation and
fogging, air handling units need to take moisture out of the air, and the
heating/cooling system will need to interact with the pool water temperature to
make sure that the room itself doesn’t feel like a rainforest.

The contractor that is building
the structure around the pool should also help provide guidance on finish
materials that are suitable for wet conditions. Because of the complexity
created by all of these moving parts, it is important to hire an experienced
pool construction firm that is comfortable working with timeframes and
schedules of other contractors involved in the project.

Impact on Project Cost and Timeline

The pool will be one of the first
things started on the project but, will be the last to finish since adding
water to the pool is the final piece. There is typically not a large change in
how much the pool will cost compared to an outdoor pool. The big difference is
what you will need to spend on the dehumidification system of the room itself.

Don’t skimp on this system! Protect your investment and make sure that your system will keep the room comfortable and your materials protected. Also, indoor pools are generally smaller than outdoor pools. Because of the cost associated with the actual room construction and dehumidification systems required, the room size will dictate the pool size.

Experienced with Indoor Pools

Aquavisions has had the pleasure
of completing several indoor pool projects for clients over the years. One of
our most recent projects is a small to mid-sized pool as part of a new home
construction. The house is located on a unique lot that overlooks a famous
Pennsylvania trout stream in the State College area. The slopes and elevations
of the terrain, along with the water table elevation required the services of a
commercial construction company to build the foundation(s) of the home.

Once the foundations were in
place, Aquavisions came in and installed the concrete pool shell within those
foundation walls. The end product allows the clients to gaze out of their
windows (while swimming in their pool!) and enjoy the view of the tumbling
stream beyond. As part of the building process, the home builder had to build a
bracing structure within our pool shell and constructed an entire floor OVER
our pool so that they could continue to work on the rest of the home. Then we
came back, peeled that floor away, and completed the indoor pool project. It
was quite a magnificent end product!

If you would like more information about building an indoor pool, or
any pool, contact Aquavisions today
to start a conversation.