The question is, what kind of pool heater should you buy?
Here are a few thoughts on getting your pool the perfect temperature in the summer months ahead.
If you prefer a cooler pool – If you prefer a cooler pool (up to about 72°), solar pool heating could be an option. Just remember that solar pool heating can generally only raise the water temperature about 10° to 15° above the average outdoor temperature, which means that swimming on cooler mornings and evenings, or later in the season, will probably be uncomfortable even if you prefer your dip on the more refreshing side. It’s also important to note that this temperature may be too cool for young children and the elderly, who may require a temperature of well more than 80ºF.
If you prefer a moderately warm to cool pool – If you prefer a slightly warmer pool (up to about 76-77°), an electric heat pump could be an option, especially at the height of the summer during the day. A heat pump uses heat in the outdoor air to warm the pool rather than generating heat on its own. The problem with a heat pump is that it is limited by the amount of heat in the air: the colder it is outside, the worse a heat pump operates. That means that on most mornings or cooler evenings – or in the late spring or summer– swimming is probably out.
If you prefer a warmer pool – If you prefer a warmer pool (consistently in 80 -85 degree range throughout the swimming season, including mornings and evenings), you really have one possibility: heat it with gas. Natural gas is an option, but the problem with it is that you have to run a line to your pool to supply it, which may be difficult (or even possible). A propane pool heater, on the other hand, can be installed anywhere and connected directly to your home’s propane tank (or to a dedicated tank, if you prefer).
Propane gas is also a better solution if you need to heat your pool quickly – if, for example, you spend time significant time away from home and you turn off your pool heater when no one is there to enjoy it.
The bottom line
To get the most out of your summer swim season here in Maine, it’s a good idea to invest in a pool heater – and if you prefer your pool on the warm side and lack a natural gas hookup, a propane pool heater is the only way to go.