How Much Does a Pool Heater Installation Cost?

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Installing a pool heater is a wonderful way to use your pool as long as possible, and even if you live in a warmer climate, there will still be those chilly days in the winter when you wish the water was a tad warmer.  Because there are different kinds of heaters, the cost of installing one can greatly vary depending on the type you choose, the professional you hire and where you live.

Pool Equipment by billjacobus1, on Flickr
Pool Equipment” (CC BY 2.0) by billjacobus1

How much does a pool heater install cost?

On average, most pool owners, at least from what we researched online, had paid anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 to have a swimming pool heater installed.  This won’t include the additional energy costs necessary to heat your pool.  Again, depending on how your pool heater works, you could see your energy bill rise by as much as $100 to $550 per month, depending on various factors such as the heater you run and the energy needed to heat your pool.  In the end, the cost to install a pool heater will depend on the size of your pool, the kind of heater you want, the type of pool and what kind of hookups are necessary to get the pool heater up and running.  Refer to our table below to see what the most common pool heaters may cost if you were to hire a professional contractor.

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Type of HeaterHeater Cost (without installation)Professional Labor CostTotalCost to Run per Month?
Gas Heater$1,500 to $2,500$500 to $1,500$2,000 to $4,000$200 to $500 (higher in the winter months)
Heat Pump$2,500 to $4,000$500 to $1,200$3,000 to $5,200$100 to $200
Solar Panels$1,500 to $2,500$500 to $1,500$2,000 to $4,000$0

NOTE:  The installation costs may be less if you already have existing hookups in good condition.  If so, it’s safe to knock 20 to 40 percent off the labor costs.

The types of pool heaters

Electric resistance heater

These inexpensive heaters will use electricity to create the heat as the water runs over the resistor.  These heaters won’t work well for larger heaters and are commonly found in small spas or therapy-like pools.

Gas heater

This is the most common type of pool heater you will find at most households as it’s the most inexpensive option to purchase and tends to heat the water the fastest when compared to other heaters; however, even though they are cheap to purchase, it can be very expensive to run, often costing as much as $500+ per month.  Using either propane or natural gas, a gas heater will be hooked up to your gas line or a propane tank, depending on your preferences/setup.  During this install, the appropriate electricity and plumbing will be hooked up and usually tapped off near an outlet.  If necessary, a larger gas meter may be required.

Heat pumps

The heat pump will extract heat from the atmosphere and will need a dedicated breaker to efficiently operate.  This type of heater is very energy efficient, inexpensive to operate and has a longer lifespan; however, it can be one of the slower options when heating the water.  To install a heat pump, a unit will be placed on a heavy pad, similar to your air conditioner and plumbing from the pool will run in and out of the unit.

Solar panels

Little to no cost to run, solar panels can be environmentally friendly, but out of all options, this heater can be the least dependable, especially if your outside temperatures are lower than your desired pool temperatures.  The solar panels will warm the pool water, which will then be circulated through the pool pump.  Usually, an average-sized pool will take one day to install and will involve mounting the panels on the roof, followed by connecting the plumbing from the roof panels to the solar controller.

What are the extra costs?

Depending on the contractor, additional charges may be applied if additional supplies, such as plumbing and/or wiring is needed.

As mentioned above, the cost to run a pool heater will depend on the kind of heater you’re running.  An electric pool heater will often be the costliest, often costing $450 to $600 to run full time, whereas a gas heater can run $200 to $450 per month.  The costs to run your pool heater will depend on your pool size, your gas/electric rate, the temperatures in your area, your desired water temperature and whether you cover your pool or not.  A safe estimate, unless you’re using a solar cover, should be in the $400 to $600 per month range when you’re running it.  To put it in perspective:  For every degree you raise your pool temperature, the energy costs can increase by more than 10 to 30 percent., for instance, says a pool heater will cost $100 to $300 per month to operate, depending on many factors, including the size of the pool and the average daily temperatures.

Like any appliance or electronic you purchase for your home, a pool heater, unfortunately, won’t last forever.  Depending on the type of heater you purchase, you may find yourself replacing it every five to 15 years, depending on how often you use it.  A gas pool heater, for instance, only lasts five years on average, whereas a solar water heater can last up to 20 years if taken care of properly.

A separate 40 to 50 amp breaker will be required for a heat pump, and if your contractor isn’t able to do it, they may need a qualified electrician to perform the job.  This could be an additional charge, depending on how your contractor is charging.

Tips to know

Just about all heaters will work well in both in-ground and above ground pools; however, solar panels are commonly used with above-ground pools, while gas heaters are often used for in-ground pools.  Electric heaters and heat pumps work best for an indoor pool situation.

Pool heater manufacturers, if you pay close attention to the description, will explain the efficiency of the heater, which will be the percentage of the energy that’s used to make to the water.  Measured in BTUs, all heaters, based on the rules by the U.S. Department of Energy, should be a rating of 78 percent or higher.  100 to 200 BTUs will work best for 1,000 to 10,000 gallons, 200 to 300 BTU will work best for 10,000 to 20,000 gallons, 300 to 400 BTU will work best for 20,000 to 40,000 gallons, and 400 BTU will work best for pools 40,000 to 80,000 gallons in size.

How can I save money?

When you’re not using your pool, consider using a pool cover to trap the heat and keep it as warm as possible.  A good swimming pool cover should only cost $150 or so and can help cut your electricity costs by more than 15 percent.

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