How Much Does a Pool Heater Cost?

Don’t let a cold pool put a damper on your outdoor lifestyle when you could install a pool heater and enjoy your pool year-round. Expect to pay an average of $2,860 or a range between $1,782 to $4,011 for pool heater costs.

By Brie Greenhalgh | Updated Jul 11, 2022 3:57 PM

Pool Heater Cost

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  • Typical Range: $1,782 to $4,011
  • National Average: $2,860

Nothing ruins the mood of a pool party faster than a cold pool. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: a pool heater. The cost of a pool heater is quickly outweighed by the benefits of enjoying your pool more often. There are a few kinds of pool heaters to consider, including solar, electric, gas, and propane. Your pool maintenance company can help you decide which pool heater is best for your pool. On average, a typical pool heater cost ranges between $1,782 and $4,011, with a national average of $2,860. Get ready to dive into the benefits of pool heaters and what to expect when budgeting for pool heater costs.

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Why Buy a Pool Heater?

Pool Heater Cost

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After the expense of putting in a pool, you’re probably wondering if it’s worth paying another few thousand dollars just to make it more comfortable. Heating a pool might seem more like a luxury than a necessity, but in many cases, it helps the pool be much more usable and functional for you and your guests. Here are the top reasons pool heaters are so beneficial.

Year-Round Enjoyment

If you’ve never owned a pool and live in a warmer climate, you might assume that a pool will stay warm enough during winter thanks to the sunny weather. Sadly, this isn’t the case, as seasonal temperatures won’t remain high enough to keep the pool at a comfortable temperature. And for those who live in much colder climates, there are pool heaters that can get the job done despite the extra-cold temperatures. Swimming pool heaters are the best way to enjoy a dip in the deep end at any time of the year.

Maximum Use of Investment

Installing a pool or buying a house with a pool is a significant investment, so adding a swimming pool heater can make that investment pay off longer by allowing homeowners to use the pool for more months in the year. That’s the lucky part about owning a pool in cooler climates: It’s possible to use and enjoy it year-round—with the help of a solar, gas, or electric pool heater.

Health Benefits

Homeowners install pools to give their families and friends a place to play and relax, but many people also install them to have a way to do low-impact aerobic activity. Swimming burns quite a lot of calories and is also easy on the joints. Pool heaters make it possible to enjoy this healthy exercise more often throughout the year.

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Factors in Calculating Pool Heater Cost

Fortunately, pool heater installation costs are much easier to understand than trying to estimate the cost of building the pool. This is especially true if the original construction prepared the hookups in anticipation of adding a pool heater. In this case, you’ll simply need to determine the type of pool heater you prefer, which is based primarily on your location, climate, and the size of your pool, and then let a pro handle the rest.

Heating Unit Type

There are four methods of heating that pool heaters use: solar, electric, gas/propane, and heat pump. There is the up-front cost to purchase the unit and the long-term cost of running it. You’ll need to decide which heating method works with your long-term energy costs. It might be cheaper to heat a pool using electricity in some areas, but in other areas, a gas or propane heater might be more cost-effective. Search for “pool heater installer near me” to find a qualified pro who can help you choose the best system for your needs.

Labor

Labor accounts for less than half of pool heater costs. According to HomeAdvisor, the typical labor fee for installing a pool heater is between $500 and $1,500. This cost will vary based on the type of pool heater and whether it’ll need to have the gas or electrical systems run from the house to the pool.

Location and Climate

The amount of sun you get throughout the year will also affect the type of pool heater you choose—and thus the pool heater cost. Regions with temperatures usually above 55 degrees have more options to choose from since it can take a lot of energy to maintain a large pool of water at a much higher temperature.

Pool Size

Most homeowners considering pool heater costs find themselves asking, “What size pool heater do I need?” That answer largely depends on the size of the pool. Pool pros estimate that for every 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of water, a pool heater needs to produce 50,000 BTUs of heat. The higher the BTU of your unit, the faster the pool will heat. In colder climates, you may need to double that to get a large pool to heat within a reasonable time.

Pool Heater Cost

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Sometimes a homeowner is looking at pool heater costs to find a replacement. Pool heater repair isn’t always an option, so you may need a pro to remove an old heater. And don’t forget to plan for the long-term operating costs of your pool heater.

Removing an Old Heater

Fortunately, the cost to remove an old heater is relatively minimal. The average cost is $25 to $50 to have it removed and dumped, but some pool heater installers will do it for free when they install the new pool heater.

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Operation Costs

There will be some operational cost involved no matter which type of pool heater you choose. If your climate is compatible with a solar pool heater, you’ll still have some electricity costs to run the pump, but it’s usually only a few hundred dollars for the year. Electric heaters might cost between $175 and $600 per month to run, and electric pumps could cost around $120 to $200 per month. Gas heaters average $200 to $400 per month, while propane heaters have a wide range of $200 to $850 per month. All these costs are dependent on your climate, pool size, and local energy rates.

Pool Heater Types

You might wonder if you need an above-ground pool heater or an inground pool heater, but it’s the type of heating element or fuel that really determines the kind of pool heater that’s best for your swimming pool. When reviewing pool heaters for sale, consider the following differences between the available types of pool heaters and their associated costs.

Solar Pool Heater

A solar pool heater costs $2,500 to $3,000 just for the unit, plus the average $500 to $1,000 for labor to install it. This is the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat a pool, but it only works in truly sunny climates with a lot of direct sun. With little maintenance, you can heat a pool for a few hundred dollars a year, but this method won’t heat a pool quickly since it relies on nature, not fuel. It will require solar panels to operate at an additional cost of $3,000 to $4,000, but this system can also last up to 20 years.

Electric Pool Heater

An electric resistance heater could be a good option for climates that rarely dip below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. This system uses coils to heat the water, and since it generates a lot of power, it will need to have its own electrical circuit. Electric pool heaters have a low up-front cost and can operate whether it’s sunny or not, but they have higher operating costs than other units. They are a good option for smaller pools located in warmer regions. An electric pool heater unit costs between $1,500 and $4,000.

Gas and Propane Pool Heater

Choosing a gas or propane heater is a popular option since these provide reliable and robust fuel to heat a pool. These units cost $1,500 to $2,500 on average, and they can be easily hooked up to an existing line. Gas units cost less to run each month, but propane is an easier choice for homeowners who might live too far from a municipal gas line. Both gas and propane can heat a pool the fastest—even in cold climates.

Heat Pump

A heat pump uses electricity to operate, but it functions by collecting the hot air around it and using it to heat the water. Obviously, that means this system won’t work well for year-round use in cold climates, but it is great for homeowners who want to stretch the summer out for a few more weeks. This system will also require its own electrical circuit, but it’s cheaper to run each month than an electric resistance heater. A heat pump unit costs $2,000 to $4,000.

Pool Heater Cost

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Pool Heater Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

Doing a DIY installation for your new pool heater is only recommended under a couple of circumstances, those being the hookups are already installed, and you’re comfortable handling the fuel source. Some homeowners have pools installed with all the necessary electrical wiring or utility pipes in place so they can simply attach a pool heater following the manufacturer’s instructions.

If this isn’t the case, then this is absolutely a job for a licensed professional since a municipality often regulates any work involving the installation of utilities. It’s dangerous work and is best done by people who have been trained and certified to handle the job. And suppose you’re opting to install a solar pool heater. In that case, you’ll need the help of professional installers who can calculate the correct number of solar panels, determine their placement, and get them installed for maximum benefit.

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How to Save Money on a Pool Heater

Pool heating units are what they are, which means the purchase price is basically fixed once you decide on the type of unit that suits your size of pool. The best way to save on a pool heater is to reduce the long-term operational costs. Here are several helpful ideas for saving money on pool heater costs.

  • Use a solar pool cover to help raise the pool temperature without any extra energy costs.
  • Use any kind of solar inflatable rings or heaters that can be dropped in the pool to help raise the temperature.
  • Ask a pool pro about a high-efficiency pool heater to reduce monthly costs.
  • Keep the heater well maintained to ensure it runs efficiently.
  • Turn the temperature down when it’s not in use.
  • Consider purchasing an inflatable pool dome to prevent evaporation and improve heat retention.

Questions to Ask About Pool Heater Installation

It can be tricky to figure out what kind of pool heater you need to install. You could be wondering if you need a pool heater above ground or an inground pool heater, what the monthly costs will be, and how long the unit will last. Use the following questions to help clear up any confusion when speaking with a pool heater installer.

  • Can you add a pool heater to my existing pool?
  • What if I don’t have hookups? How much will it cost to install the electric or gas lines?
  • What kinds of pool heaters work best in this climate?
  • How many BTUs will my pool require to heat it within a day or two?
  • Are some units more efficient than others?
  • How long will it take for this unit to heat my pool?
  • Can I install this pool heater myself?
  • Where will this pool heater be installed?
  • What should I do to maintain my pool heater, or do you have a maintenance program?
  • Can a pool heater freeze in the winter?
  • Should I run my pool heater all the time?
  • Who do I call if my pool heater doesn’t seem to be doing the job?
  • Are there any warranties or guarantees?

FAQs

With any purchase that’s really an investment, you want to feel confident in your decision. The right pool heater can help you enjoy your pool more often as long as you choose the best kind for your pool and climate. To clarify any remaining questions you might have, consider the following answers to commonly asked questions.

Q. How long does a pool heater last?

On average, an electric or solar pool heater should last 15 to 20 years, but gas or heat pump pool heaters usually last only 8 to 11 years.

Q. Does a pool heater need to run all the time?

In most cases, yes. Most pool heaters take at least a day or more to sufficiently raise the pool’s temperature, but they do really well at maintaining that temperature if they remain turned on. They’ll only have to compensate for a slight reduction in temperature rather than working hard to get the entire pool warm. Using a pool naturally reduces a pool’s temperature, so if you use your pool regularly, it’s probably best to keep the pool heater running.

The exception will be if you have a gas or propane heater. These units are powerful enough to heat most pools quickly, so you may not need to run them as often.

Q. How long does it take to heat a pool?

It depends on the pool size, pool temperature, air temperature, and type of pool heater, but the average is 24 to 72 hours. Gas and propane heaters work the fastest. Cold pools in cold climates will take longer to heat than the same size of pool in a warm environment. Solar heaters are also slow to heat a pool since they only work during daylight. Heat pumps can also heat pools within that same 24- to 72-hour period.

Q. How do I find a professional to install a swimming pool heater?

As always, it’s recommended to work with licensed and insured professionals to ensure that they are qualified to get the job done and to do it right. They should be familiar with all types of pool heaters and what’s best for your location to maintain the temperature you prefer. Always call a few pool heater installation companies and ask them any questions we suggested to get a better idea of their expertise and qualifications.

HomeAdvisor has top-rated pool heater installation experts near you who are ready to help. Get free, no-commitment project estimates for pool heater installation here.

Sources: HomeAdvisor, Bankrate

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