Cooler weather doesn’t stop us Floridians from enjoying a swim in our backyard pools … but that doesn’t mean we want to take a polar plunge, either. Even in February, our climate might accommodate outdoor swimming, but that can’t happen without a nice pool heater to warm up that cold water in cooler weather.
If you’re looking to take your pool to four-season functionality, a good pool heater will do the trick. But which one should you choose? We’ve got you covered with our handy guide to the pool heater market. If you don’t see one on our list, don’t worry — we’ve got a great stock of pool heaters at our Miami showroom. Better yet, we can help with your pool heater’s installation, too!
Things to Consider Before Buying a Pool Heater
Before you start signing any checks, you need to know whether your equipment pad can accommodate another piece of gear. A heater is most often installed after your filtration system, so there needs to be at least 3–4 feet of room for the heater to fit into your rig. Otherwise you may need to invest in some rearrangement renovations.
Types of Pool Heaters
Of course, there are other types of heaters we’re not covering here — such as solar and electrical resistance heaters — but gas and heat pumps are really your best bets.
Heat pumps are the most common and efficient type of swimming pool heaters to use in Florida. A heat pump takes the heat from the outdoor air, then transfers it to the pool water via a compressor and a heat exchanger.
They’re generally more expensive than gas heaters, but use much less energy and last longer. However, heat pumps start to lose efficiency when it’s 50 degrees outside, and they’re practically useless in freezing temperatures. Luckily for Floridians, this isn’t too much of a concern.
Gas heaters can heat a pool very quickly, but do so at the expense of either natural gas or propane. They’re not as efficient as heat pumps, but the startup cost is much less. Gas heaters are particularly great if your house already has a natural gas line, your pool is very small and quick to heat, or if you don’t plan on keeping your pool heated constantly throughout the winter months.
Heating? Cooling? Or Both
Some heat pump models don’t just heat water, but are also able to bring the water temperature down in warmer months. So if your water is too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer, you might want to consider one of these options! Just look for a model notated as a “Heat and Cool” or “H & C” unit.
Intended Use and Size
Do you plan to keep the pool warm year-round, or just in the winter months? Are you using your pool every day in December, or just once in an ice-blue moon? Is the heater dedicated to a backyard pool, or is it also providing auxiliary heat to your hot tub?
These questions can determine the size and function of your pool heater. You may opt for a gas heater if you’re using it sparingly, or you may want to upgrade to a larger heater for a larger pool. Be sure to bring these factors up when you’re determining the right heater with your pool professional.
Our Top Pool Heater Picks for This Year
Best Overall Pool Heater
Gulfstream HE-2 Series
- Great value
- Plastic cabinet withstands corrosion
- Energy efficient
- Ultra-resistant titanium heat exchanger
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, we love Gulfstream’s quality and value. They’re heat pumps made by Floridians, for Floridians, designed specifically to withstand the Florida elements. The plastic cabinet holds up over time against the salty ocean air.
Speaking of corrosion, Gulfstream knows a thing or two about it. That’s why they use titanium heat exchangers to create a more durable, consistent heating experience. If you’re looking for a great heater at an even better cost, this is it.
Best Pool Heater for On-And-Off Usage
Raypak Gas Heaters
- Affordable startup cost
- Heat when you want it
- Functional in frigid temperatures
Maybe you’re using your pool for a few quick swims after making a New Year’s resolution, or you’re entertaining a wild pack of bored children. Raypak is the standard in gas pool heating. It’s a fantastic draw for anyone who isn’t using their pool 365 days a year, or just wants to save some cash upfront. You also have the dual benefit of quickly heating your pool for a short period of time … perfect for, say, a weekend holiday pool party?
Best Pool Heater for the Long Haul
AquaCal HeatWave SuperQuiet Series
- Durable, long-lasting
- Smartphone controls
- Seriously efficient
For those looking to go the extra mile and put in a serious investment, AquaCal has you covered for longer. Like Gulfstream, AquaCal heat pumps boast a super-durable titanium heat exchanger, but they don’t stop there. That’s because the SuperQuiet also delivers some of the best energy efficiency on the market, unit-to-unit. Also, it really is just that — super quiet, which is a nice feature if your equipment pad is situated outside a bedroom.