FACTS ABOUT POOL HEATING
|Considering today’s high
fuel costs, does it make sense for me to heat my pool?
The answer is yes - if you want to enjoy
comfortable swimming at your own convenience. One of the reasons for
owning a pool is being able to swim when you want to. As for cost,
that’s up to you. You really can control fuel consumption and
waste simply by taking advantage of the suggestions made on this
What guidelines should be
followed in heating our pool?
Taking into consideration the need to conserve
energy and to minimize fuel consumption, any unnecessary pool
heating should be avoided. You are the best judge of the kind of use
you want out of your pool. Use of your pool for recreation,
exercise, therapy or just general enjoyment obviously will require
heating it. Your pool won’t contribute to your health or pleasure
unless it’s warm enough to swim in comfortably- and when you want
to swim. Actually, using your home pool can be far less wasteful of
energy and cost you less in fuel than driving to distant resort and
vacation areas for away-from-home recreation.
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|How warm should I keep my
That depends entirely on you, of course. The
temperature recommended for recreational and competitive sports
swimming by the American Red Cross and many swimming coaches is 78
degrees F. This comfort level coincides with good fuel conservation
Young children, the elderly and others often
need 80 degrees F or warmer water, however, and hydrotherapy calls
for warmer water, too.
Although 78 degrees F to 82 degrees F takes in
about everyone, how warm you should keep your pool actually depends
on personal preference.
|Obviously, a heated pool
means more swimming. How much more?
You’re right. The sun alone usually can’t
keep your pool water at that comfort minimum of 78 degrees F. By
having a heater to warm your water you can add substantially to the
daily use of your pool-and you can also extend the so-called
How much more swimming? From early morning to
late evening, even with air temperatures of 65 degrees or lower - if
your pool is warm.
You can stretch your pool season by twice in
most areas and even longer in other areas by having a heated pool.
The usual 2-month season in Detroit, for example, can be doubled,
and in Los Angeles the season can be more than tripled. In New York,
Chicago and Philadelphia - double the season or better.
If we don't heat our pool,
how much swimming season can we expect?
It depends on your climate - and
whether you use a pool cover. Without a Solar cover you’ll probably
have a season of only one or two months in most areas and perhaps
three months or a little more with a cover.
During those months when the average mean
temperature in your area is high enough to heat your pool water to a
minimum 75 degrees F - and hold it there - you will be able to boost
this temperature to 78 degrees F
or more if you use a good Solar cover and keep it on your pool when
the pool is not in use.
Pools that are not covered can lose 4 degrees
F to 5 degrees F overnight in most parts of the country. With a
cover, you can reduce that heat loss by 50% or more. So without a
heater you should be able to use your pool in the afternoons and
early evenings in the warmest part of the season.
Remember that besides air temperature you must
consider such variables as wind speed and humidity, both of which
affect the rate of heat loss from the pool. If your pool is not
covered, protect it from breezes as best you can with walls, covered
fences, shrubs, cabanas, etc.
|Do we need to heat our pool
when the weather's hot?
Again, it depends on you and your personal
pool temperature preference. It also depends on the climate in your
area - and whether you use a good quality cover to conserve energy
Even using a cover, you’ll probably have to
heat your pool a little, particularly during summer cool spells and
for morning and evening swimming.
In Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Seattle, for
example, even the July - August average mean temperatures are
usually below 75 degrees F and moderate heating would be essential
for comfortable swimming. By contrast, average mean temperatures in
summer are high and sustained. But "real" weather has a
tendency to vary a lot from the mean, so it’s a good idea to rely
on a heater to brighten up the cool spots and lengthen the swimming
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are the costs involved in heating a pool?
First, there is the initial
or one-time cost of the heater you select and
its hook-up or installation charge. Second,
there is the monthly fuel cost, which varies
with the type of heating system you buy, the use
of your pool, the pool water temperature you
prefer and other variables.
Third, there is the
matter of annual or semi-annual maintenance and
Operating costs can be kept to a minimum by
installing an efficient, properly sized heater; using a good quality
pool cover; and, of course, keeping your filter clean and your
heating and filtering system well maintained.
What are the health benefits of heating my pool?
A pool that is properly heated and properly used can
contribute to and help safeguard health. Doctors and
physical therapists regard swimming as one of the
most beneficial of cardiovascular exercises. It is
an exercise that nearly everyone can do safely,
while running and jogging are impossible for many
elderly people and those who suffer from arthritis
and muscular diseases.
By heating your pool, you make it possible to
engage more often in swimming exercise because you extend the hours
and the season your pool may be used.
A heated pool prevents chilling and the
problems caused by the loss of too much body heat. Pediatricians say
very young children are especially susceptible to various
respiratory infections which may result from repeated chilling - and
this is also true of elderly swimmers.
A heated pool is a must for therapeutic
benefits and when swimming for relaxation. Doctors and Red Cross
swimming experts recommend pool temperatures of from 78 degrees F
for recreation and competitive sports swimming, to 90 degrees F or
more for certain physical therapy patients.
We hear a lot of praise for
the pool cover. Is it merited?
Most certainly. A good insulating pool cover
can reduce heat loss by 50% or more, depending on your location and
A pool that is uncovered can lose up to 5
degrees F overnight; a good cover can cut that loss by half.
Used at night or whenever your pool is not in
use, the pool cover can help save fuel costs by cutting heat loss
regardless of the type of heating you utilize. And it can even make
an unheated pool more swimmable by helping to retain the sun’s
energy that naturally heats the pool during the daytime.
A pool cover stops water evaporation when it
is in place. It isn’t the water loss that’s the big consideration
here-it’s the heat loss. Every gallon of water that evaporates from
a pool takes with it 6000 BTU’s of heat in the process - and a
typical uncovered pool loses 1 to 1½ inches of water a week through
evaporation. For a 20 by 40 foot pool, an inch of water amounts to
500 gallons - roughly, a heat loss of more than 30 therms every
seven days. (A therm is equal to 100,000 BTU’s).
Besides stopping heat loss, a cover saves on
pool chemicals, too, by keeping them from evaporating with the
What types of heating are
available to us?
Several - from the sun itself to gas-fired,
oil-fired, electric and elaborate solar heating systems.
The most widely used type is the direct fired
natural gas heater because of its low cost, reliability, ease of
operation and the wide availability of natural gas. In areas where
natural gas is not available, heater models can be furnished
equipped to use LP gas or propane gas.
Solar heating ranges from simple
"passive" solar - the familiar pool cover that absorbs and
transmits some of the sun’s energy to pool water - to
"active" solar heating systems.
Used alone, the passive heating technique
merely serves to help keep pool temperatures at existing levels by
retaining natural solar heat and preventing its loss. It cannot add
heat to build up water temperature beyond what the sun supplies.
Active solar uses traditional pool motors to move water from the
pool through a system of solar collector panels for heating by the
sun. This increases the amount of solar heat added to the pool.
Why not go strictly solar?
After all, it’s free.
Not exactly - in fact, not by long shot. An
adequate solar pool heating system will cost substantially more
initially than fuel-fired heaters. It can add 25% to 50% to the cost
of building a pool.
Solar systems have definite limitations. To
begin with, they require sufficient area in which to install large
collector panels, usually on a roof or deck overhang near the pool.
Even in an area like southern California, the total solar collector
area needs to be at least equal to 75% (100 % is better) of the pool
surface area. This means that if you have a 20 x 40 pool you should
have a 20 x 40 collector area available for best results.
You probably would have to increase the size
of your electric pump - or provide a second pump - to deliver the
pool water to the collector panels. And the pump would have to work
almost continuously during most sunlight hours. This means your pump
would be running during "peak load" periods when the
utilities’ generating plants are often taxed to capacity - and
when they charge more per kilowatt than during "off peak"
Solar heating systems heat slowly - and not at
all in cloudy, cool periods. Depending on the collector size and
your location and climate, a solar system may not be able to warm
the water to your desired temperature, even in the swimming season,
except in the afternoon. And there is just not enough solar energy
to heat your pool for swimming in the winter, early spring or late
fall - no matter how many hours you pump.
What is the initial cost of
a gas-fired heater?
for size, natural and propane gas-fired heaters cost the same.
Prices depend on heater size, which in turn depends on the size of
your pool - the gallons of water to be heated. A good rule of
thumb is 6% - 10% of the total pool cost, if yours is an in-ground
pool. And for this small added cost you get considerably more use
from your pool. If you have also decided on a spa, the piping to the
pool is negligible in cost.
If you think of buying a pool in the same way
you think of buying a new car, consider a heater the same way as
adding a radio or air conditioning to an automobile. It’s an extra
convenience you don’t use all the time, but it adds immeasurably
to your enjoyment. With a pool heater you can swim anytime you
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What about installation
With natural gas-fired heaters, they consist
of gas and water connections; for models with electronic control, an
electrical connection to the filter pump circuit. Using propane gas
requires a storage tank. With oil-fired heaters, you will require
the services of a trained oil appliance technician and a storage
tank. If your home already is heated by either oil or propane, the
installation probably can be tied into your regular fuel supply.
In some areas, gas companies will make the gas
installation with only a nominal charge. Check with your local gas
|All things considered,
which method of pool heating is the least expensive?
Studies of 10-year "life cycle"
costs have consistently shown that a good pool cover and a
fuel-fired heater combination is less expensive, overall, than an
active solar system alone, or active solar system and fuel-fired
heater combination. This is true even state tax credits are allowed
for installing the active solar heater. Unless you live in an area
where your electricity is generated by water power (hydroelectric),
it is also true that the life cycle cost of a pool cover/fuel-fired
heater combination is much less than that of an electric heater or
What size pool heater will
Heaters are sized mainly on the basis of the
pool surface area and the difference between the pool and air
temperatures. The average air temperature for the coldest month of
pool use is used in the calculation.
The heating load could also be affected by
such things as excessive wind exposure or much cooler night
temperatures than daytime air temperatures; in those cases a heater
with more capacity may be desirable.
Another factor which may determine the size of
the heater you will need is the way you intend to use your pool.
There are two common pool heating practices - "constant"
temperature maintenance and "intermittent" heating. These
are determined by how you want your pool heated - continually or on
an intermittent basis.
To heat a pool quickly after periods of
intermittent shutdown, a larger gas-fired heater is needed. And in
colder climates a larger than standard size heater also is
recommended for "constant" heating. Maintaining pool
temperature requires the same amount of fuel regardless of the
heater size. For intermittent heating however, a larger heater
actually saves fuel because it brings the pool to temperature more
If you have questions about heater sizing,
consult your heater dealer.
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|How can we conserve energy
and still fully enjoy our pool?
First, keep your thermostat at the lowest
comfortable setting-and mark this setting on your thermostat dial.
Second, if you swim only on weekends and are not using a cover, keep
your heater on a standby setting of 70 degrees. With a cover on the
pool when you’re not using it you can leave the thermostat at your
normal setting. Third, if you’re vacationing for a couple of weeks
or more or shutting down for the winter, turn the heater off
completely, including any pilot light. Fourth, use every available
means to prevent heat loss. Shelter your pool from prevailing winds,
using hedges, other landscaping, cabanas or decorative fencing as
windbreaks even though the pool is covered. Finally, use a pool
cover whenever you are not using the pool.
Is a pool heater safe?
As safe as any major heating appliance in your
home. Most heaters are equipped with
automatic safety pilots or ignition safeguards, pressure regulators,
water pressure relief valves and other safety features. Shut-off
controls are automatic. Electric shock hazard is avoided by
construction and installation of the heater in accordance with
strict electrical standards and codes.
How automatic is a pool
All you do is set it. For heating only at
specific periods, a time clock or electronic timers may be used for
automatic shutdown and turn-on.
|What features should we
look for in a pool heater?
You should be concerned with economy of
operation, reliability and durability. Conservation of energy and
fuel economy are extremely important - and an efficient pool heater
can achieve, both.
By eliminating wasteful heating, a heater can
quickly pay for itself. For example, Most pool heaters are
equipped with a sensitive thermostatic pool temperature control. It
maintains the pool at the exact temperature desired without
wasteful, long on-and-off cycles of heating and cooling.
Rust, corrosion and scale are the elements
that deteriorate pool heaters fast. That’s why we make our sturdy
1-piece heater jackets rigid and strong, with single-seam welding
and a new longer lasting, weather resistant coating that resists
corrosion and ends flaking of finish. Our heat exchanger produces a
scouring-action water flow that virtually inhibits scaling.
We have a salt-water pool.
Any special problems?
Yes. Salt water is highly corrosive, and a
heater must be equipped with a special heat exchanger and other
features to handle it. These heat exchangers are usually very
expensive. Consult with your local pool professional to decide which
heater is best for your pool if using salt.
Will my pool heater require
maintenance inspection a year is sufficient to keep your heater
working efficiently. Maintenance is largely a preventive measure
used to safeguard your heater’s working condition. The ruggedness,
corrosion-free construction and long-lasting finish of most heaters
combine with simplicity of engineering to keep maintenance minimal.
How long should a heater
Some heaters wear out in three or four years,
but other brands can last a lot longer. A product
life of 10 to 12 years is not uncommon. Heater failure is usually
the result of some outside cause-not normal usage - provided it has
been properly maintained.
Could we add a heater
later, after our pool is built?
Yes. Although a pool heater can be
added at any time, it should be included from the beginning, just as
a heating system is installed during the construction of a home.
This means greater convenience for you and less installation cost.
When you include a heater in the beginning, it costs only 6% - 10%
of your pool investment and usually gives you 100% more enjoyment
from your pool. If the heater is not installed when the pool is
built, provision should be made for a heater stub-out in the return
water line, and space or a concrete pad should be provided for
All things considered, what
is the most important reason for choosing a heated swimming pool?
For the sheer enjoyment of swimming in real
comfort - any time you want. Any time of the day, any day of the
year. Owners of heated pools would answer this question in far more
glowing terms, but what having a heated pool amounts to is the
satisfaction of getting more - much more - from your pool investment
in terms of year-round family fun.
Tips to help you conserve
energy and heat your pool economically.
- Keep a thermometer in your pool. It will
pinpoint accurately the temperature most comfortable for you.
- Keep your thermostat at the lowest
comfortable setting. Each degree more heat than needed could add
more to your monthly fuel cost and use up more energy than
- Mark the "comfort setting" on the
thermostat dial. This will prevent accidental or careless
over-heating and waste of energy.
- Lower thermostat to 70 degrees when pool is
to be unused for three or four days. For longer periods, shut
the heater off. You will save money on fuel consumption and help
- Protect your pool from wind. Wind above 3
to 5 miles per hour can lower the pool temperature
substantially. A hedge, cabana or decorative fence can be an
- Use a solar cover when pool is not in use.
This can reduce heat loss by as much as 50%. If you are
vacationing for a couple of weeks or shutting down for winter,
turn the heater off completely, including any pilot light.
- Drain heater completely prior to freezing
weather. Freezing water inside the heat exchanger can result in
- Get a maintenance checkup annually. It’s
your best ounce of prevention. The cost is minimal and
the service will keep your heater working efficiently for many
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