How to Heat an Above Ground Pool

By Cesar Riel

One of the biggest advantages of an in-ground swimming pool is a heating system. People who have above ground swimming pools are often worried about closing pools early at the start of the winter season. The good news is that you can easily extend your swimming season up to 30 days by heating your above ground pool. It can be achieved by picking the right heating mechanism for your above ground pools. In this guide, we will discuss the best ways to heat your above ground swimming pool so that you can enjoy a swim in warm water on a cold chilly night.

How to Heat an Above Ground Pool

There are various ways you can heat your above ground swimming pool. If you are new to this field, this guide will help you select the best one. Water heaters are the best option, but they are costly, and they will sky-rocket your energy bills. Other options are cheap in the long run but are not very effective and have some limitations in one way or another.

Water Heaters

A water heater is one of the best options to heat your swimming pool. There are different types of water heaters available in the market for you to buy. You can go for any of the following according to your ease and preferences.

  1. Gas Water Heaters

A gas heater uses propane or natural gas to warm the water in your pool. It can raise the temperature by 30 degrees Fahrenheit and extend the pool season to 1-2 months. The best thing about these heaters is that you can use them without any limitations, all you have to do is install them, connect them to a gas source, and you are good to go. They are quick and will heat the water pretty quickly as compared to other options. Just imagine how fast a gas grill heats up, the same is the case with a gas heater.

The main issue with using gas heaters is high running costs. Large gas heaters for big pools are sure to make a dent in your pocket and increase your monthly spending. Other disadvantages of using a gas heater are a small lifespan (6-8 years) and harmful emissions, which are not safe to inhale. However, the initial purchase cost is low as compared to other water heaters. A gas heater will work in all weather and produce quick heat.

  1. Solar Heater

If you are looking for an option with zero running cost and getting a reasonably heated pool at the start of the winter season, the solar heater is a great option. The only limitation while using a solar heater is the reliance on sunshine. If the sun is not out or there is a cloud cover in your area, the solar heater will not work. A solar heater holds the capacity to heat the temperature by 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Solar heaters use solar panels installed in the lawn, roof, or at the side of your swimming pool to heat the water for you. When sunlight falls on the solar panels, the solar energy is converted into heat energy, which is then used to heat your pool. The initial purchase cost of solar heaters is higher than all the other options mentioned in this article. Solar heaters are best for small pools and offer 100% free heating along with an eco-friendly environment. However, they are costly to install and have a slower heating speed. They usually take a lot of time to heat your water, and it also depends on the intensity of the sunlight.

  1. Electric Water Heaters

Another way to heat the water in your swimming pools is to use an electric water heater. The most common type of electric heater is an immersion water heater. It is an easy to use option with quite reasonable results. All you have to do is insert the heater in your swimming pool, turn it on, let it work. Once the water is heated, take it out and enjoy a swim in warm water. The heating capacity depends on the power of the heating element. Electric heaters are cheap to buy and usually have a low running cost. It is best for small pools. For large pools, immersion heating elements will not give good results.

  1. Wood Heaters

Though not very common, wood heaters are also used by some people to heat their above ground swimming pools. Wood heaters burn wood or charcoal in them and heat the water in your pool. They are effective and but need some effort to start them up. Wood heaters can heat small and big pools alike. You will need to add wood to the heater to keep things going because the wood will burn, and the heater will stop once the wood is consumed. The initial setup is not that costly, and wood is also readily available. However, wood heaters produce smoke, which is harmful to human health. Wood heaters don’t produce constant energy and thus fail to maintain a constant temperature like gas heaters.

Heating Pumps

A heating pump is a very affordable option to heat the water in your pools. Their work is quite similar to a water heater. Just like a heater, they need an energy source to operate. A heat pump differs from water heaters in its output methodology. While a water heater produces its heat, heat pumps to heat the air in the surroundings and use it to heat the water. The heat pump output is lower than a water heater and will reduce further when the surrounding air is cold. Heat pumps have a high initial purchase and installation price but are light on your pocket in the long run. While a gas water heater can cost you up to $200-400 a month, a heater pump’s cost will not exceed a hundred dollars. It ensures huge savings in the long run. A heat pump has some limitations, as well. It won’t work well in the area where the temperatures fall below 45 degrees. Their working speed is also slower than a gas heater. On the plus side, they are economical to use, are not dependent on sunshine, and some good ones can increase the temperature by 30 degrees.

Let’s look at some of the options which don’t need external energy to warm your pools.

Solar Blankets

Solar blankets are a cheap option to use and are best for areas where the temperatures remain moderate during winters. The basic purpose of pool blankets is to reduce the evaporation from the surface of the pool. Pool blankets can reduce evaporation up to 75% percent and increase the temperature by 15 degrees. There are two types of solar blankets.

Solid Pool Blanket: Solid pool blankets are heavy covers and need rolling devices to cover and uncover your pool. As they are heavy, they can hold some weight over them.

Soft Pool Blankets: Soft pool blankets or floating blankets are also used to keep the pools warm. They don’t need any device to roll and unroll and are less effective than solid blankets. They are cheap and easy to use.

Solar Rings

Another way to reduce evaporation and maintain a stable water temperature is to use solar rings. Solar rings are disc-shaped structures that are simply laid over your pool. There is no installation needed, and you don’t need any external energy source to make them work. You just need to measure your pool area and then calculate how many rings you need. For example, if your pool has an area of 10 by 20 feet, you would need 5 four-foot diameter rings. One way to ensure that the rings stay connected with each other is to buy magnetic rings. They have magnets on their edges, and these magnets keep the rings connected. In this way, the rings won’t move over water.

Liquid Blankets

heating system for above ground pool

Some people also use liquid blankets to keep their above ground pools warm and heated. Liquid blankets are commercial chemicals that are added to the pool. They create a barrier on the pool surface and limit the water evaporation. The best thing about liquid blankets is that you don’t have to remove them or replace them. They are also safe to use and don’t have any side effects for swimmers and your pets. They also don’t react with the pool equipment. Pool blankets don’t work well in extremely cold climates. They are invisible and don’t interfere with the aesthetics of the pool. They can increase the temperature of the pool by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Wind Shielding

Wind protector for above ground pools

When we are talking about ways to reduce evaporation, wind shielding is also an effective option. In this way, above ground, pools are covered with windshields around the pool area. It reduces the cold air coming in contact with the water and thus reduces evaporation. The shielding cost depends upon several factors such as pool area, the height of the shields, and the material used in them. Windshields can also be used in summer to stop sunlight from entering your swimming area and provide privacy from the peeking neighbors.

How to Choose the Best Option

When you are deciding on the heating option, a number of factors come into play. You will have to consider the size of the pool, the amount of water in it, how much you want to heat it, and how much the temperature falls in your area. Apart from these factors, initial purchase, installation cost, and monthly running expenses matter a lot. The following scenarios will help you evaluate your position and then choose the best way to heat your pool.

  • If you don’t have to worry about the monthly energy bills and want to heat your pull to a maximum, gas water heaters are the best.
  • For large and deep pools, water heaters are recommended. Why? Because you need a lot of energy to heat a large above ground pool.
  • If you have a pool with a large surface area but low depth, a small heater with solar rings is the best way to heat the water. You can also use a heat pump and solar rings or solar blankets to get the maximum effect.
  • For small pools and areas where the temperature won’t fall too much, solar blankets or heat pumps along with wind shielding are the best.
  • If you live in an area where you have plenty of sunshine around the year, solar heaters are held as the best option. They are costly to install but are cheap in the long run with minimum maintenance.
  • For places where the winters are moderate, liquid blankets are also a nice option. You can also use solar blankets or solar rings to get the work done.
  • For northwest America, a water heater will only do the trick as the temperature falls below the freezing point. To optimize the output, you can use solar covers along with water heaters. You will also need to check the BTUs of your heater. BTUs measure the power output of the heater, and some companies also tell you the area or the volume of water a heater can heat.
  • For small pools in moderate climate areas, electric immersion heating elements are also great.
  • A shaded pool will also need a water heater or a heat pump to keep the water warm. Despite the size, shaded pools need more power because they don’t have access to sunshine during the day.

Final Words

Now that we know how to choose the best heating option for your above ground swimming pools, making the final decision won’t be very difficult.

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