How much does a pool heater cost to buy and

How Much Does a Pool Heater Cost to Buy and Maintain?

An aboveground or inground swimming pool is a great addition to your yard because it gives you an area to go sit and relax. Finding out the average pool heater cost and installing it with your pool can help to make it more comfortable and pleasant to use well into the late afternoon hours. The heater can also help you extend your season each year, and this will allow you to get the most use possible out of your investment. Some companies include the pool heater cost with the original installation, but some don’t offer it. 

The climate will be your biggest cost factor. It’s going to take a much bigger heater that burns more fuel in Wisconsin than it does in Arizona to keep your pool at a warmer temperature. So, this will help dictate your pool heater cost. Additionally, there are other factors that play into your costs, including the type of pool, the size of the pool, and the type of fuel the heater uses. It’s important to know how all of these pieces fit together to help you come up with your total pool heater cost. 

The pool heater cost usually ranges between $3,500 and $5,500. On average, most people find their pool heater costs falling right around $4,500 if they purchase a 300,000 BTU gas pool heater and install it in a new pool that has a total surface area of 650-square feet. Labor will factor in as well, and it can easily add between $500 and $1,500 to your pool heater costs. If you pick out a solar heater or heat pumps, your costs can jump up to $8,500. This can cost you between $100 and $600 per month to run too, depending on the type. 

If you’re trying to figure out your pool heater cost and decide whether or not this is an investment you want to take on, this is for you. We’re going to outline the biggest factors that go into helping you decide your total pool heater costs, and you can take the estimates and get a rough project price projection. You can then take these estimates and see how they stack up to your calculations and pick the heater that is going to work the best for your situation. 

1 high quality pool heater
Get a pool heater from a reputable brand to ensure that it lasts and that it’s powerful enough to heat the water quickly and effectively. A reputable brand is more likely to use more durable parts, and this can make it last longer.
Hayward H400 Pool Heater by Bill Jacobus / CC BY 2.0

How Pool Type Impacts Your Pool Heater Cost

Not only does the type of pool dictate how you maintain it, but it also dictates which heating system will work best, depending on your climate. It’s a good idea to do a little research and talk to a local professional before you make your final decision. 

Above-Ground Pool 

Solar and gas are the two most popular picks for above-ground pool heaters. Since these types of pools are smaller than in-ground pools, your pool heater cost should be lower. Additionally, an above-ground pool located in a warm climate could only require a solar ring to give you enough heat. On average, your pool heater cost for an above-ground pool will range between $1,300 and $2,400. 

In-Ground Pool

An in-ground pool can be very large, and it can be harder to heat it. However, it can also retain heat much better because it has the ground to act like insulation. So, it makes sense that you can usually get away with almost any type of pool heater for your in-ground pool. Your average pool heater cost starts at $1,350 and goes up to $11,000. 

Natural Pool

A natural comes designed to hold heat from the sun, and this allows them to reach a comfortable temperature during warm weather or in warm climates without using a heater. Using dark liners, covering the pool, and using a few floating solar panels can also warm the water. Heat pumps also work very well for this type of pool. Your average pool heater cost ranges from $2,250 to $7,000. 

Plunge Pool

A plunge pool is a smaller and more compact form of a swimming pool that works well in small yards or in yards with limited space due to ponds or gardens. This pool usually gets installed in the ground, but it can be installed above-ground as well. Since it has a smaller size, you can get away with any heating method. You want to base your pick on your climate and needs. Your pool heater cost will be lower with a plunge pool at $1,250 to $3,000. 

Salt Water

A saltwater pool allows you to choose from any type of heater. Gas is a very popular choice for this type of pool because it allows you to heat your water very quickly while keeping a good fuel efficiency. This is why there is a broad price range for your pool heater cost with this type of pool, and it starts at $1,400 and goes up to $9,500, depending on the size of the pool and the type of heater you pick out. 

2 pool type and heaters
You want to match your pool type to your heater to ensure that it works as effectively as it possibly can because this will allow you to swim sooner and stay comfortable with warmer water temperatures.
Pool Equipment by Bill Jacobus / CC BY 2.0

Type of Heater and Cost Ranges

You get the choice of different types of swimming pool heaters, and the most common picks are gas, electric resistance, solar, and heat pumps. Almost any pool heater works well for all types of pools, but certain heaters are preferred in some circumstances. The unit the manufacturers use to measure a gas or electric pool heater size is a BTU. 

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit, and this is the industry standard measurement for heat capacity. You can heat a pound of water 1°F using 1 BTU. The amount of BTUs you need to heat your pool will depend on the type of heater you pick out. So, a gas heater will need more BTUs than a heat pump. The most popular types of heaters include: 

Electric

If the pool is small or the temperature is over 55-degrees, it’s a solid pick to get an electric heater. This type of heater comes with an electrical circuit that gives it enough power to allow the heating element to heat the water as it gets pumped through the system and slowly added back to the pool. This type of heater will only raise the water temperature a few degrees each hour, so it can take hours to get the water to a comfortable temperature if you don’t run it constantly. 

Ideally, an electric heater will last between 5 and 10 years as long as you take care of it. This can help justify your pool heater cost, but it’s more budget-friendly. Also, it doesn’t pollute the air, and the outside temperature won’t factor in. It can boost your electric bill, so you’ll pay between $800 and $4,500 for this style heater. You want to add between $450 and $1,000 for labor to bring your total costs between $1,250 and $5,500. The best size based on your pool’s surface area is: 

  • 50,000 to 99,000 BTUs: 280-square feet to 400-square feet – $1,250 to $5,800
  • 100,000 to 148,000 BTUs: 400-square feet to 650-square feet – $1,450 to $5,000
  • 150,000-199,000 BTUs: 650-square feet to 800-square feet – $1,650 to $5,500

Gas

Gas pool heaters are one of the most popular styles available, and they run on propane or natural gas. You’ll use either a propane tank or run a natural gas line to make the heater work. The cost to run your natural gas heater over propane can cut your costs in half. A propane pool heater can add more to your pool heater cost to run a month, it’s a good option if you don’t already have a natural gas line installed. 

This is another fairly inexpensive option, and it can heat water quicker than any other type of heater. Additionally, it uses a thermostat to get the correct temperature. They do have a more expensive operation cost, but they should last between three and five years. The pool heater cost will range from $900 to $4,500, and labor can add another $450 to $1,500 to bring your grand total to $1,350 to $6,000. You’ll need the following heater size based on your pool’s surface area: 

  • 100,000 to 150,000 BTUs: 310-square feet – $1,350 to $4,000
  • 150,000 to 200,000 BTUs: 390-square feet – $1,950 to $4,600
  • 200,000 to 250,000 BTUs: 510-square feet – $2,200 to $4,750
  • 250,000 to 300,000 BTUs: 650-square feet – $2,350 to $5,000
  • 300,000 to 400,000 BTUs: 800-square feet – $2,450 to $5,500

Heat Pump

A heat pump will use electricity, but it costs less to run because it’s more efficient overall. You will have to put it on its own dedicated circuit. It extracts heat from the air to make it more efficient. This type of heater will be slower at heating the water than gas, and your pool heater cost is more upfront for this type. 

It should last more than 10 years to help justify your higher upfront costs. You’ll pay between $1,800 and $6,000 for the heater before adding another $450 to $1,000 for labor to bring your total cost to $2,250 to $7,000. The average size you need is as follows: 

  • 70,000 to 85,000 BTUs: 280-square feet to 400-square feet – $2,250 to $5,000
  • 110,000 to 117,000 BTUs: 400-square feet to 650-square feet – $3,450 to $6,000
  • 137,000 to 141,000 BTUs: 650-square feet to 800-square feet – $4,250 to $7,000

Solar

Solar garden lights are nice, but solar heaters are some of the most cost-efficient options since they have zero running costs. You can only use them in an area that gets a lot of direct sunlight. They can easily work for 10 to 20 years after the original installation, but they can slow down with how quickly they heat the water as they age. The installation costs are higher, and they can be slightly unattractive. 

These heaters are environmentally-friendly and they require very little maintenance. The larger your pool is, the more solar panels you’ll need to heat it. Your panels usually come in 4×20 or 4×10 sizes. For a solar heating system, your pool heater cost will fluctuate between $2,500 and $9,000 for the unit and $600 and $2,000 for the labor. This brings your grand total to between $3,100 and $11,000. Based on your pool’s surface area, you’ll need: 

  • 6 Panels: 510-square feet – $3,100 to $7,000
  • 7 Panels: 650-square feet – $4,100 to $9,000
  • 8 Panels: 800-square feet – $5,100 to $11,000

Pool Heater Run Costs

Once you install the pool heater, you’ll need fuel for it to run less you get a solar model. It’s a good idea to factor this into your pool heater costs when you’re deciding on a type of heater. Your cost will vary depending on how often you use the pool, local rates, how warm your planting zone is, and if you use a pool cover. 

You want to know what the estimated pool heater cost is to run each type per month because this can impact how much you pay out over the life of the heater. We’re going to assume you run a heater six months out of the year for these pool heater cost estimates. This price will vary based on how many degrees you want to heat the water, the energy amount yoru heater uses, and local utility rates. 

Electric Heaters

In the United States, the average electricity cost is 13.31 cents per kWh. So, any electric pool pump will use around five kilowatts for every 100,000 BTUs per hour. Your pool heater cost per hour is around 66.5 cents for an electric heat pump. Monthly, this adds up to $50.00 and $150. Now, if you get an electric resistance pool heater, it’ll cost several times more than other electric heaters, and your pool heater cost can easily jump by $400 to $600 a month. 

Gas Heaters

If you get a natural gas pool heater, it’ll use around one therm per hour if you get a 100,00 BTU model. If you get a 400,000 BTU model, you’ll use four therms per hour. Natural gas will increase your pool heater cost by $0.80 to $1.10 a therm. Propane like your tankless water heater will easily cost double. If you choose natural gas for your fuel source, you’ll spend between $300 and $500 a month and $1,000 for propane on average. 

Solar Heaters

It’ll cost you nothing to run this type of heater unless you want a battery backup. You do need full sun to power it though. This is why a lot of people choose to combine this heater with another system like a heat pump. This is a bigger upfront pool heater cost, but it evens out with zero operating costs. 

3 heater run costs
Understanding what your heater’s run costs are per month will help you decide which one fits into your budget the best. Some have higher upfront costs, but you can offset them by paying less each month you have your heater running.
More of the Pool Solar Heater by Jeremy Zawodny / CC BY-NC 2.0

Labor Costs

 You want to hire a professional to install your new pool heater, even if it increases your pool heater cost. If you don’t install it correctly, your heater has a very high chance of failing prematurely. Also, you can easily void any warranty if you install your heater incorrectly. Installation requires you to place a gas line, install solar panels, routing electricity, plumbing work, and venting. Depending on your situation, this can take a single day or several consecutive days. 

Depending on your system’s complexity and where you have your pool in your yard, the labor costs generally range from $500 to $2,000. Most contractors will charge by the project, so this can cause your pool heater cost to fluctuate. If they need additional supplies for wiring or plumbing, you’ll add between $50.00 and $100 to your labor costs. The company may include the removal of the old heater at no extra cost. If they don’t, add $30.00 to $50.00 to remove and dispose of it to your pool heater cost. 

Maintaining Your Pool Heater

It’s important that you maintain your pool heater to extend how long it lasts. Make a point to keep the area around the pool heater free of twigs and leaves, and clean around keep the grass neatly cleared or trimmed. You should also keep an eye out for rodents and check your manual for any other tips. You want to keep your pool chemistry balanced and maintained so that the heater performs at top levels. Winterize it properly when you switch it off for the season. 

Each spring, have a professional come out and inspect the heater to ensure it’s in good shape. This can help make your heater last longer, and this makes it easier to justify your pool heater cost. During the inspection, they’ll tell you about any repairs you need to have done or when it’s time to replace it. An inspection will add around $150 to your pool heater cost. 

Cost to Repair a Pool Heater

If your pool heater stops heating as it should, the controls stop working correctly, you spot corrosion or rust in the system, or the heater starts to make noises, you want to have an inspection. In some cases, this inspection may result in small repairs that restore your heater. In other cases, you may need to replace the unit. For a repair, your pool heater cost can fluctuate from $175 to $750. If the repair helps the heater last a few more years, it’s usually worth it over buying a whole new unit. 

Cost to Repair a Pool Heater

To replace a pool heater, you won’t see much of a price difference from the original pool heater cost. You could save between $100 to $300 if you have pre existing electrical, gas, or plumbing systems in place. The company could charge to remove and dispose of the old heater. A professional can help you decide if you should repair or replace your heater. You will get to the point when the repair isn’t worth it and you decide to buy a whole new heating unit. 

Price to Enhance or Improve Your Pool Heater

There are additional steps you can take to enhance or improve your pool heater, but many of them will increase your pool heater cost estimates. Generally speaking, most of the following things are optional, but one isn’t because states mandate that you enclose your pool area. You can choose: 

Pool Cover

A pool cover can help you reduce your costs. It can help increase the water’s temperature when you’re not using it, and it can also keep debris out that could cause clogs. The pool cover cost will depend on the size you need, whether it’s a safety measure to prevent accidental falls into the water, and the material you pick out. A manual pool cover starts at $25.00 and goes up to $2,000. An automatic pool cover can easily cost between $8,000 and $20,000. 

Pool Enclosure 

A pool enclosure can give you more months to swim when the weather starts to cool down. It’ll help keep out debris and dirt, and it can help keep the water from cooling down so much. You can choose from retractable or permanent options to help offset your pool heater cost, and the average price for an enclosure is right around $22,000. You can choose everything from a fully custom enclosure to a simple nylon dome. 

Pool Fence

A pool fence is required in almost every state to help improve the safety of the pool area. They have a broad cost range because different states have different regulations. Some fences only have to be three feet high to meet regulations while others have to be five feet high. Your fence will cost between $3,000 to $10,000 to erect, and you should consult a professional to make sure it falls in line with regulations to avoid fines. 

Solar Blanket

A solar blanket is a type of cover that goes over the pool when you’re not using it. It works to trap the sun’s rays to help heat the water. You can use them on their own if you live in a hotter and sunnier climate, or you can pair them with a secondary heating system. This blanket will range between $35.00 to $500 each, and they can last for years. 

Solar Pool Ring

You have a solar pool ring that will float on your pool’s surface. This ring will convert sunlight into heat and transfer it to the water. You can add more than one pool ring into your pool, and you’ll spend between $50.00 and $75.00 a ring. 

Where to Find Pool Heater Installers Near You

You don’t want to install your pool heater on your own, so you have to factor labor into your pool heater cost when you work out your budget. You should call more than one company to get cost quotes, and you can start here: 

Frequently Asked Questions 

4 pool heater cost faqs
Asking questions before you start your installation process will ensure that you get a good feel for the project’s scope, and it can also help you understand why your final price ends up where it does.
IMG_4213 by Justin Moore / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

1. What is the most popular type of pool heater?

The most popular type of pool heater is a natural gas option. People prefer this type of heater because it’s the one that is going to increase your water temperature the fastest. In turn, you can enjoy your pool much quicker during the day. 

2. How quickly does a pool heater work?

How quickly the heater works on your pool depends entirely on the type of heater you pick out. If you have a gas heater, it can take between 12 and 18 hours to take your pool from 45-degrees to 80-degrees. Larger pools will take much longer to heat than smaller options. 

3. Which heaters work best with inground pools?

It is possible to add a heater to your inground pool, even after you’ve installed it. Solar, electric, and gas heaters will all work well with this pool type. 

Bottom Line

Your pool heater cost has several cost considerations associated with it, and each situation is unique. This is why you want to call contractors and get customized quotes to get as close to your final project cost as possible. If you get it right, you’ll have warm water to enjoy later in the day, and it can easily extend your swimming season by months. 

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