Heating it up
The days may be growing shorter and cooler, but that doesn’t mean you need to pack away your cossie, floating pool lounge and summer book.
Chris Fitzmaurice, national manager for Swimart, says creating and maintaining the ideal pool temperature doesn’t come naturally, but with the right heater you can extend your swimming season.
“While pool water predominantly hovers around 18-20 degree Celsius, it takes a designated heating system to bump it up to where we like it most – a balmy 25-29 degrees,” he says. “Installing the right pool heater can extend your swimming season by up to four months and beyond, thus increasing the return on what was undoubtedly a fairly large investment in your pool.”
Here’s a basic overview of the three main heating options – heat pumps, solar and gas – so you can make the right choice for your pool this winter.
Heat pumps work by extracting heat from the air and using it to produce hot water. Reliable, highly efficient and economical to run, heat pumps work in a similar fashion to a reverse cycle air conditioner.
“Compared to gas and electric element heating, heat pumps use just a fraction of the energy to generate the same amount of heat. Although initially heat pumps take longer than gas heaters to warm up the pool or spa water, they are much more economical and will then maintain the heating as well as gas heaters,” Fitzmaurice explains.
Compared to gas and electric element heating, heat pumps use just a fraction of the energy to generate the same amount of heat.
Benefits of heat pumps include their high energy efficiency and lower running costs. As a guide, you can save up to 80% over LPG, 50% over natural gas fuelled heaters and 500% over electric heaters.
Although this heating system will deliver hot water regardless of weather conditions, they can lose their high energy efficiency slightly once the weather really cools down, as the pump has to work harder to heat the water against the outside temperature.
Another thing to consider is they can be expensive to initially install, but the low running costs will make up for this over time.
Solar heating solutions have steadily risen in the market since their introduction more than 30 years ago. The most environmentally friendly option of all, solar pool heating operates by using the energy of the sun.
The main advantage of choosing solar is that it pays for itself in just a few years. After the initial setup cost, the ongoing running expenses are minimal as heat is provided free from the sun. This enables you to increase the amount of time you spend in your heated pool without worrying about expensive energy bills.
Solar heating systems are simple to maintain, and can last up to 20 years if properly installed.
The amount of heat absorbed and the subsequent increase in temperature depends on three key criteria:
- The size or area for the collector and the number of tubes per square metre;
- The location of the collector;
- The quality of the collector system.
Ultimately, the biggest influence is the exposure to the sun, so if you live in a climate that does not get a great deal of sunlight or a very shady suburb, then a solar heating system is not a viable option. Installation can also be costly; however in some cases government rebates may be available, so check out your local council or state government’s website.
Gas heaters are the fastest method for heating your pool, providing a comfortable temperature for swimming on demand.
The most popular type of pool heating, gas systems use natural gas or LPG to heat the pool water by pumping it through a heating unit normally on the filtration line. The key benefits of gas include how simple the systems are to use, and how quickly they heat the pool water. Also, they will heat the pool water up to 40oC, no matter how cold the climate is.
Selecting the right size gas heater depends on three key factors:
- The amount of water to be heated;
- How long you are prepared to wait for your pool to heat up;
- Your preferred swimming temperature.
Many offer dual controls which are ideal for spas, which are heated to higher temperatures than pools.
Different heating solutions are a better fit to different pools, so ask the friendly staff at your local Swimart store whether a gas or solar heater is suited to your area and application.