Winter comes with a chilling cold that may threaten to keep consumers away from their pools. However, the changing season doesn’t have to limit the fun in the water—because businesses can offer pool heaters as the perfect solution.
In fact, there are a few options to consider when it comes to heating pools. These include solar and gas swimming pool heaters. But which is the better investment for the year ahead?
Keep reading for a breakdown of gas vs. solar swimming pool heaters, as well as to discover which is the better option for more sales in 2024.
What are gas swimming pool heaters?
When it comes to heating swimming pools, gas heaters have been the go-to choice for ages. What’s more, the newer models are even boasting better efficiency than the older ones.
But here’s the catch: their cost-effectiveness is questionable, depending on the consumer’s local climate and how often folks use the pool. That’s why some people are giving solar pool heaters a second thought—as they may save a few bucks in the long run.
When it comes to gas pool heaters, these models operate on either natural gas or propane. First, the pump circulates the pool’s water before passing it through a filter. Once the water reaches the heater, the gas in the combustion chamber will ignite, transferring heat to the water before it transfers back to the pool.
Gas-pool heaters are the go-to choice for rapidly heating pools, making them ideal for consumers using their pool intermittently. Unlike solar variants, gas pool heaters can easily maintain the desired temperature, regardless of weather conditions or climate.
- Gas pool heaters have a lower initial cost than their solar counterparts.
- They can heat swimming pools even in chilly conditions.
- Gas pool heaters can also heat water faster than solar variants.
- They’re not the best for environmentally conscious consumers as gas pool heaters contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
- Gas pool heaters may have a cheaper initial investment but higher operation costs.
- They may have a shorter lifespan than solar variants.
What are solar swimming pool heaters?
Solar pool heaters are a fantastic way for consumers to slash their swimming pool heating expenses. With minimal annual operating costs, solar pool heating is one of the most cost-effective solar energy applications today—but their effectiveness depends on the user’s climate.
Solar pool heaters work like their gas variants but they use solar collectors instead of a gas chamber. The water passes through a filter before reaching the solar collector, which heats up before reentering the pool.
The best part is these collectors can also assist in cooling the pool during the hot summer months by circulating the water at night—an attractive bonus for consumers.
- Solar pool heaters use a renewable source of green energy.
- They last longer than gas pool heaters.
- They are also highly energy efficient.
- Solar pool heaters have a high initial cost.
- They’re not ideal in colder climates.
Gas vs. solar swimming pool heaters: what are the differences?
Gas pool heaters may be cheaper to purchase, but they have the highest operating costs. And various factors like pool size, climate, and cost of natural gas can impact how expensive they’ll be to run. However, as a general rule of thumb, consumers can expect to pay US$ 200 to US$ 500 per month to use gas pool heaters.
Conversely, solar pool heaters are pricier than their gas counterparts but are cheaper to use in the long run. After consumers install a solar pool heater, the only operating cost they may incur is the electricity needed to run the pump. Luckily, it’s a minor amount, typically from US$ 10 to US$ 25 monthly.
Installation and maintenance
Pool heaters are not something consumers can install themselves (unless they have the technical knowledge). For gas variants, proper installation is necessary for consumers to get the most out of them—and the best way to do it is with the help of a qualified professional.
Maintenance is another critical aspect that determines the gas pool heater’s efficiency. Typically, consumers should schedule an annual tune-up for their pool heater—but they may also consult their owner’s manual to find the required maintenance schedule.
In contrast, solar pool heaters require more than calling a professional installer. Their installation requires several considerations, including the available solar resources, local climate, adherence to building codes, and safety considerations.
However, installation is just the beginning for solar pool heaters. If consumers want them to run smoothly for longer, they must maintain them properly. Users can consult their owner’s manual or ask a professional for the specific requirements to ensure proper maintenance.
Also keep in mind, if consumers regularly monitor their pool’s chemical balance and maintain the filtering system, their solar collector won’t need as frequent maintenance. Typically, glazed collectors will need some cleaning however, especially in dry climates where rainwater won’t provide a sufficient rinse.
Heating speed and efficiency
Gas pool heaters use a standard test based on their BTU (British thermal unit) to gauge their efficiency. Heater efficiency is a measure of how well a heater can turn fuel into useful heat.
For instance, if businesses offer an 80%-efficient gas pool heater, it means that out of every US$ 100 consumers spend on fuel, they’ll get US$ 80 worth of heat with US$ 20 going to waste. So, the higher the efficiency, the less energy is wasted.
Manufacturers often place the efficiency of their gas pool heaters on their nameplates. But retailers can ask for the information directly. Modern gas pool heaters can come with 89% to 95% efficiency, saving consumers even more energy.
Regarding heating speed, gas pool heaters can pull off a quick warm-up speed (usually 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit per hour), but the pace may decrease depending on the pool’s size. Plus, they can maintain their heating speed even on cloudy or cooler days and even provide precise temperature control.
On the other hand, businesses must look at the collector’s thermal performance rating to determine the solar pool heater’s efficiency. Depending on the heating system’s size, they’ll see it measured in BTU or kilowatt hours daily.
The higher the number, the better the collector will gather solar energy. A high-efficiency collector will save consumers money and may need less space to heat pools.
However, solar pool heaters rely on sunlight and weather conditions, so they may heat pools slower than gas models and struggle on cloudy/rainy days. And they have a less precise temperature control.
Whether running on natural gas or propane, gas heaters burn fossil fuels to generate heat. This burning process releases carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gasses into the environment. Unfortunately, these emissions contribute significantly to global warming and climate change.
Gas heaters are not deemed environmentally sustainable because they depend on finite fossil fuel resources and directly harm the environment.
Solar pool heaters are the exact opposite of gas models. They have minimal environmental impact as their operation produces zero greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. Solar heaters are an eco-friendly and sustainable choice for pool heating since they use the sun (abundant and renewable energy).
Gas pool heaters generally have shorter lifespans than solar variants. On average, a gas heater will last around 5 to 10 years. However, the lifespan depends on quality, maintenance, usage, and local climate.
In addition, gas heaters have more moving components, including the combustion chamber, gas burner, and other electronic parts. Sadly, these components can deteriorate with time due to repeated combustion, temperature fluctuations, and exposure to water chemicals.
On the other hand, solar pool heaters are known to offer durability and longevity. Solar pool heaters can last for 15 to 20 years, or even longer when they receive appropriate care and maintenance. In some cases, top-tier systems can function efficiently for multiple decades.
Solar pool heaters keep things pretty simple. They don’t pack many mechanical components—their setup mostly involves solar panels, collectors, and a circulation pump. And that simplicity is a big part of why they keep performing well for years.
Which is the better option?
Gas pool heaters are the go-to option for consumers seeking faster pool heating. However, many consumers are moving towards environmental friendliness, meaning solar pool heaters are getting more attention.
But that’s not all that businesses should consider, as popularity also determines which may be more profitable. Unsurprisingly, solar pool heaters have the upper hand in this department. Google Ads shows that they drummed up an impressive 40500 searches in October 2023.
Gas pool heaters might not be in the same limelight, but they do show a respectable performance with branded variants hitting an average of 8100 monthly searches. Also noteworthy is that generic gas pool heaters commanded 6600 monthly inquiries, up from 5400 searches in 2022.
In summary, businesses looking to align with the eco-friendly trend should opt for solar pool heaters. However, retailers targeting specific niche markets may discover profitability in offering gas pool heaters.
Gas and solar pool heaters are giants in the pool heating market. However, the debate between gas vs. solar swimming pool heaters has only one answer: the consumer’s preference.
Solar pool heaters are a great investment if the target consumers prioritize eco-friendliness and sustainability. However, pool owners searching for a faster, more reliable way to heat their pools will gravitate toward gas pool heaters.