So many people each year come across the decision making process of purchasing a new swimming pool heater and wonder which way they should go. If you live in Orlando, FL or in the same basic climate this article should help you choose one of the big 3 choices that are readily available to most pool owners. Lets talk about the pro's and con's of each as well as the different swimming pool scenarios that you may have.
First thing's first take a look at your current normal swimming habits. Do you swim laps year round in Orlando? Are you looking to just heat up a hot tub every so often? Do relatives come over to visit you in Orlando and swim every few months? You'd like to heat up your pool for them while they're here? Once you answer what your normal swimming habits are it will help you hone in on what type of heater will best suit your needs and the needs of your guests. If you can't tell your normal swimming habits because you've only recently purchased a home in Orlando with a pool I would tell you to try and give it a full year before making a decision to buy a heater. You will drop a couple of grand minimum and may not use the heater as much as you'd like to think because the excitement may wear off quickly for some pool owners. That being said, if you have kids or grand kids you will never hear the end of it if you just purchased a home in Orlando with a pool and it's too cold to use the blasted thing. So how much is your peace and quiet worth?
If you've decided that you'd just like to heat up your spa occasionally. You should most assuredly go with gas. You'll need to check your local building code on the possible location for your gas heater and tank if you need one. They usually take into consideration proximity to windows and other ignition sources. Gas heaters in Orlando, FL usually cost from $2000-$2750 installed. Natural gas or Propane, either way will work for just heating your spa. A gas heater with at least 150,000 BTU's (British Thermal Unit) should suffice for most 4 to 6 person hot tubs. Almost all heaters nowadays have automatic ignition so that you don't have to light a pilot light manually. They are also usually equipped with blowers to increase the efficiency and save on gas. For most of us, we'd usually like the spa to heat up to temperature in about 30-45 minutes. This time frame will depend on 3 things, the size of your spa, the heater BTU's and the beginning temperature of your water. We generally suggest a 250,000 BTU heater in Orlando because it has enough power for the summer or the winter to get the job done quickly. For those of you that are lucky enough to live in an area in Orlando that is plumbed for natural gas you have the added ability to heat your pool with gas. This becomes a viable option because with natural gas there is a constant supply of gas from the gas company. The people in Orlando who must use propane will have to have a propane tank installed and by heating your pool it will usually suck the tank dry in a day or so. Propane is also it is the most costly of all of the ways to heat your swimming pool. You won't really feel this in your wallet if you're just heating up your spa every so often but try going through $400-500 worth of gas every couple of days and it's not so pretty.
For a little variation on heating your pool and attached spa in Orlando you can go with an electric heat pump. This type of heater looks just like an outside AC unit. The cost for an installed heat pump unit in Orlando, FL varies from $3500-$4500 depending on the electrical upgrade that your pool wiring may need to supply power to the unit. It's highly suggested to get the biggest heat pump with the most BTU's that can fit on your equipment pad. This will help out when the temperature drops. Heat pumps shine when you get your pool up to temperature and keep it there to swim at any given moment. In the case of heating your pool year round in Orlando, FL this is the way to go. When it's time to heat up your spa you still have the ability to do so but it will take 2-4 times longer than gas. It is highly recommended to get a pool cover to help retain the heat over night. You will lose around 30% of your gained heat at night if you choose not to cover your pool. There are many products on the market to help in this regard. One thing to note on many heat pumps is that if you live in a climate other than Orlando, FL that constantly dips below 38 degrees the heat pump will shut down if it was set to run during that time. This is done because the outside ambient air temperature doesn't offer enough heat to compress and transfer to your swimming pool. So there is no point in running the heat pump.
Lastly is solar heating. Please keep in mind that solar systems for the most part merely extend your swim season. Even in Orlando, Florida it is still far too cold in January and February to swim in a pool heated with solar panels. The cost for a solar system in Orlando, FL can range from $3500-$5000. It has the highest initial cost but the best monthly fuel cost because the sun's rays are free. If you have just a pool and no spa this is by far the best way to go about heating your pool. As a rule of thumb you should have the same amount of available square footage on your roof as in your pool in order to produce enough heat on a daily basis for your swimming pool. It is best if the panels are installed on a south facing roof to capture the most sun but is still alright on an east or west facing roof if you add some additional panels.
Of course you can always have multiple heaters to cover all of the bases. Probably the best all around setup that I've seen in Orlando would be a solar heater combined with a gas heater that was plumbed for natural gas. In this case you could get free heat from the sun and yet have the ability to heat your spa quickly when you needed to. You could also set the solar heater to heat up your spa for free in the daytime and your gas heater at night. A further note about any of these swimming pool heating systems in Orlando that you may choose is that you will always have to run your pool pump in conjunction with the pool heater to keep the water circulated properly. So no matter which way you choose you will see an increase in your energy bill each month. To many it is a small price to pay for the year round enjoyment of your back yard swimming pool and spa.
If you'd like a free estimate on a swimming pool heater in Orlando please call us at 407-255-7665. We also perform heater repairs in Orlando for gas and electric heaters. You can read about that here: Heater Repairs