Swimming Pool Heater Installation
How much does it cost to install a swimming pool heater?
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Swimming Pool Heater Installation Cost Guide
Updated: 31 Aug 2022
Swimming Pool Heater Installation
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
Reviewed by Adam Graham remodeling expert. Written by Fixr.com.
A swimming pool is a wonderful addition to any backyard, providing many hours of fun and relaxation. Installing a heater will enhance the experience, making it more comfortable and pleasant to splash, play, and exercise. A heater can also extend the swimming season for the whole family, getting more use out of your investment. There are many options for heaters based on the size and type of pool, the type of fuel desired, and the climate you live in.
The national average price for installing a heater ranges from $2,500 to $5,000. Most homeowners pay about $3,500 to install a 250,000 BTU gas option in a pool with a surface area of 648 sq. ft. On the low end, some homeowners spend as little as $1,000 on installing an electric resistance option of up to 50,000 BTU on a 288 sq.ft. pool. At the high end of the spectrum, you could spend as much as $9,000 on installing an 8-panel solar heater that can heat up to 800 sq.ft., along with a pool cover.
Swimming Pool Heater Price
|Pool Heater Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$3,500|
Cost of Pool Heater Installed by Type
Various types of swimming heating systems have an average price range of $1,000 to $7,000, including the installation labor and all materials. Gas, electric resistance options, heat pumps, and solar options are the most common ones that you’ll find. You can use pretty much any heater in any type of pool, but there are some factors to consider in choosing the best one. The unit used to measure an electric or gas heating system size is a BTU. This stands for British Thermal Unit, the standard unit in the industry to measure heat capacity. One pound of water can be heated 1°F with 1 BTU. The number of BTUs needed depends on the type of heating system, which you will see reflected in the tables and subsections below.
|Type||Unit Price (Installed)|
|Electric Resistance||$1,000 - $6,000|
|Gas (Natural and Propane)||$1,500 - $5,500|
|Heat Pump||$2,500 - $6,500|
|Solar||$2,500 - $7,000|
Electric Pool Heater Installation
Expect to pay between $1,000 and $6,000 to install an electric resistance system to heat your pool. An electric resistance option is a good choice when the temperature is over 55 degrees or if the area is small. This option needs its own electrical circuit to provide enough power for the heating element to heat the water pumped through the system and returned to the water. It takes several hours to heat the water, only raising the temperature by a few degrees each hour. The unit lasts between five and ten years with proper maintenance. These heating systems are inexpensive, do not pollute the air, and are not dependent on the outside temperature. However, the electric bill can get high because it uses a lot of electricity.
|Unit Size||Heated Area||Unit Price (Installed)|
|50,000 - 99,000 BTU||290 - 400 sq.ft.||$1,000 - $4,000|
|100,000 - 149,000 BTU||400 - 650 sq.ft.||$1,500 - $5,000|
|150,000 - 199,000 BTU||650 - 800 sq.ft.||$1,800 - $6,000|
Gas Pool Heater Installation
A gas heating system is priced between $1,500 and $5,500 for an installed unit. Natural gas is less expensive than propane but is unavailable in all areas. Propane is more expensive but is a more versatile fuel that can be used in more places. In addition, natural gas burns cleaner than propane, producing fewer emissions. Propane produces more emissions than natural gas but still burns relatively clean. Finally, natural gas pool heaters typically have a shorter lifespan than propane heaters. Propane heaters are built to last longer, making them a good choice if you want a long-term investment. Both types of heaters are efficient and effective, so ultimately, the decision comes down to personal preference and your specific needs. These units are fairly inexpensive, heat water faster than any other option, and use a thermostat. The downside to these options is the high price of operation. Gas heating systems should last at least five years.
|Unit Size||Heated Area||Unit Price (Installed)|
|100,000 - 150,000 BTU||290 - 395 sq.ft.||$1,500 - $3,000|
|150,000 - 200,000 BTU||395 - 450 sq.ft.||$1,850 - $3,500|
|200,000 - 250,000 BTU||450 - 515 sq.ft.||$2,000 - $4,000|
|250,000 - 300,000 BTU||515 - 650 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $4,500|
|300,000 - 400,000 BTU||650 - 850 sq.ft.||$3,000 - $5,500|
Pool Heat Pump Installation
Expect to pay between $2,500 and $6,500 for the total heat pump installation price. A heat pump also uses electricity, but it is much more efficient and it is less expensive to run. It will need its own dedicated circuit. It is more efficient because it extracts the heat from the air. A heat pump heats the water slower than gas and it's more expensive upfront. Pool heat pumps are relatively low maintenance and easy to install. However, they can be costly to operate and may not be as effective in very cold climates. These heat pumps should last more than ten years.
|Unit Size||Heated Area||Unit Price (Installed)|
|70,000 - 85,000 BTU||280 - 450 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $4,000|
|110,000 - 117,000 BTU||450 - 650 sq.ft.||$3,500 - $5,000|
|137,000 - 141,000 BTU||650 - 800 sq.ft.||$4,000 - $6,500|
Solar Pool Heater Installation
You can expect to pay between $2,500 and $7,000 for a solar heating system. Although the units themselves are priced a little more, solar options are the most efficient since running them has little to no expenses. However, they can only be used in areas with plenty of direct sun. These units can last as many as 15 to 20 years, but the rate at which the water is heated is slow. Solar panels can also be unattractive, and the solar heating installation price is high. Solar options require little maintenance and are easy on the environment. The larger the swimming area, the more solar panels are needed. Panels generally come in 4 x 10 sizes or 4 x 20 sizes.
|Number of 4 x 10 Solar Panels||Heated Area||Price (Installed)|
|4 Panels||290 - 450 sq.ft.||$2,500 - $3,250|
|6 Panels||450 - 515 sq.ft.||$3,000 - $4,750|
|8 Panels||515 - 650 sq.ft.||$4,500 - $6,500|
|10 Panels||650 - 800 sq.ft.||$5,500 - $7,000|
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Pool Heating System Cost by Type of Pool
The average heating system price ranges from $1,000 to $7,000. Most heating systems can be used on any type of pool, and their price depends on the size more than the type of pool. However, there are instances where certain types of heating systems are recommended for different types in certain environments. Before choosing a pool heating system, consult a professional to ensure you get the right one for your needs. In the table and subsections below, you will see the average price of a pool heater based on the pool type you have.
|Type||Unit Price (Installed)|
|Plunge||$1,000 - $4,000|
|Saltwater||$1,000 - $7,000|
|In-Ground||$1,000 - $7,000|
|Above-Ground||$1,500 - $7,000|
|Natural||$2,500 - $7,000|
Plunge Pool Heater
The average plunge pool heating system is priced between $1,000 and $4,000 to have installed. A plunge model is just a small version of the standard model, usually installed in the ground. It is a popular choice for people who want to swim but may be limited on space. Because of its small size, any heating method should work and the choice should be made based on your needs and climate.
Saltwater Pool Heater
The average customer should expect to pay between $1,000 and $7,000 for a heating system for their saltwater pool. Any type of the above-mentioned systems will work in a saltwater option. Gas is the most popular method because it heats the water quickly and offers fuel efficiency. That being said, you can find several different styles of systems to choose from when outfitting your saltwater option, depending on your preferences.
In-Ground Pool Heater
On average, an in-ground option is priced between $1,000 and $7,000 to have installed. Depending on the size, climate, and your situation, any type of heating system may be the best choice for an in-ground option. Gas systems heat things quickly and efficiently, but you may live somewhere where electric rates are cheaper, and that makes more sense. Of course, a solar system could be a great solution, too, and will be at the higher end of the price range.
Above-Ground Pool Heater
The average above-ground pool owner should expect to pay between $1,500 and $7,000 to heat their water. Gas and solar are the most popular choices for an above-ground option. Since above-grounds are usually a bit smaller, the price tag should be lower. Plus, an above-ground option in a warm climate may only need a solar blanket or a solar ring to provide heat.
Natural Pool Heater
Average customers should expect to pay between $2,500 and $7,000 for a natural pool heating system. Natural options are made to hold heat from the sun and can often reach comfortable temperatures in warm climates without heating. Covering the water, using dark liners, and using floating solar panels can also do the trick. Heat pumps are also a great choice for natural options when you want to keep them at the perfect temperature.
Labor Cost to Install a Pool Heater
Of the $3,500 it costs to install a system, between $500 and $1,000 are attributed to the labor costs. Typically, pool builders or pool heating contractors do this job and quote the project with the pool heater cost and installation included. If additional supplies for plumbing and wiring are needed, expect this to add between $100 and $500 to the total cost of installing a pool heater.
The final labor price depends on the system’s complexity, location, and other details. It is a good idea to hire a professional to install a heating system. Improper installation is one of the biggest reasons a heating system fails prematurely. Plus, many warranties become void if a system is installed improperly. The installation of a pool heater depends on the type of heater you have. A gas pool heater involves placing a gas line, so you should find out the price to run a gas line to the heater. On the other hand, installing an electrical or solar pool heater requires routing electricity or installing solar panels, venting, and plumbing work. The professional will place the pool heater at least 25 feet away from the pool. Pool heaters require proper air flow, at least 24" clearance on the sides, and no obstructions wherever it’s installed. The process takes two hours or several days, depending on the particular situation. Some pool heaters can be added to an outdoor area in just a few hours. However, if you need to add ground leveling or decking, the additional work may extend the process to several days.
Pool Heater Replacement Cost
The replacement price typically ranges from $2,525 to $5,550, depending on the type of pool heater you have and what type you want to switch. The replacement price is not much different than the average $2,500 to $5,000 price for initial installation. In some cases, you may save about $100 to $500 for having preexisting gas, electrical, and plumbing systems. Removal of the old unit may be included with your new installation. If not, you should expect to pay an additional $25 to $50 for removal and disposal. A professional can usually help you decide when it is time to replace the heating unit. There will come a point when the price of a repair is not worth the amount of life the heating unit has left.
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Pool Heater Repair Cost
Expect to pay between $170 and $750 for repair. If this can extend the life of the heating unit, it may be worth it instead of paying for a replacement. If you find that your unit is not heating adequately, there is rust or corrosion on the system, the controls are not working properly, or the unit is making strange noises, it is time to have it inspected. In some cases, a simple repair can get everything in working order, and in other cases, it may be best to replace the system.
Cost to Run a Pool Heater
The average price to run a heating unit ranges from $0 to $12,000 per year, depending on the type of unit that you choose. After the unit is installed, unless it is solar, it will take fuel for the system to run. Keep the price of fuel in mind when making the decision on which option to install. The price will vary depending on local rates, how often the water is used if a cover is used, and how warm the climate is. The heater type also affects the price. Solar heaters are the cheapest to use because they use solar energy. The monthly and annual cost to run an electric pool heater and the cost to run a gas pool heater is lower than running a propane heater which is an eco-friendly gas that costs more to use. The swimming pool season lasts 4 to 12 months, depending on where you live. Here is a comparison chart with the type of options available and estimated monthly and annual expenses. The table uses 4 to 12 months as a reference for swimming season. Keep in mind that pricing will vary based on local utility rates, the amount of energy the heating unit uses, and how many degrees the water needs to be heated.
|Type||Monthly Expenses||Annual Expenses|
|Solar||$0 - $10||$0 - $120|
|Electric Heat Pump||$50 - $150||$200 - $1,800|
|Electric Resistance||$175 - $600||$700 - $7,200|
|Natural Gas||$200 - $500||$800 - $6,000|
|Propane||$250 - $1,000||$1,000 - $12,000|
How Many BTUs Do I Need to Heat My Pool?
BTU, or British Thermal Unit, is a unit of measurement that indicates a system’s heating or cooling capacity. One BTU is equivalent to the energy needed to raise or lower the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. When it comes to pool heating, BTU rating is an important consideration. How many BTUs you need to heat your pool depends on many factors, including the size and type of pool, the climate you live in, the surroundings of the pool, and your preferred water temperature. In general, however, most pools require between 85,000 and 200,000 BTUs to maintain a comfortable water temperature. To ensure your pool is sufficiently heated, it is always best to consult a qualified pool professional.
The average price for a maintenance inspection is about $100 to $200 when done by a professional. Have the unit inspected each year before turning it on for the season. This extends the life of the heating system. During this inspection, the professional checks the condition of the pool, including any safety issues it may have, tests the heating and cleaning equipment, and recommends any necessary repairs. To keep your unit in great shape, you will want to keep the area around your heating unit free from leaves and twigs. Also, watch for the presence of rodents and check the manual that came with your system for other tips. It is also important to maintain proper water chemistry so that the unit performs at its best and to properly winterize the system when turning it off for the season.
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Enhancement and Improvement Costs
Pool covers cost $30 to $500 for an above-ground pool and $650 to $20,000 for an in-ground pool, depending on their style and method of operation. A cover is a great tool to cut maintenance and usage expenses. It keeps the water warmer when not in use and prevents debris from clogging up the heating system. The price of a pool cover depends on many factors, including the size, material, and whether it is a safety cover to prevent falls into the water.
Expect the solar blanket price to range from $50 to $500, depending on the size and style of blanket that you choose and any premium features it may have. A solar blanket traps the sun’s heat and uses it to heat your water. They can be used on their own in a hot climate or in combination with another heating system. Solar blankets are an affordable way to keep heat in the water when you’re not using it.
The average price for an enclosure installation is $10,000 to $30,000. However, these start with a simple nylon dome and go up to a customized structure. A pool enclosure keeps the water temperature warmer and allows users to swim in the pool during colder months. An enclosure also keeps out dirt and debris. There are both permanent and retractable options. You can pick and choose from styles to suit just about every need.
Solar Pool Ring
Solar rings are going to be priced between $35 and $70 each. Solar rings float on the surface of the water and convert sunlight to heat. You can place multiple solar rings on the surface to help heat up the water, no matter how big yours is or what kind of heat you want to create. The rings vary in size and style, which is what will account for the price difference. Consult with a pro to determine how many rings you’ll need to heat your water to the appropriate temperature.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Permits and licenses. Permits may be needed in your area if water lines, gas lines, or electric lines are being modified to install the heating system. Also ask for verification that the professional you are hiring is a licensed installer.
- DIY. Only attempt this project as DIY if you have an extensive background in plumbing and/or electrical. It is best to let a professional handle this project to ensure proper installation and that the warranty of the unit does not become void.
- Climate. A warm area with plenty of sunshine will be better suited to a solar heating system than a cold area without much sun. Colder areas will need a gas or electric heating system.
- Having hookups or installing new hookups. If the plumbing and wiring is all set up and does not need to be replaced or repaired, this will decrease the installation price for a new unit.
- Warranties. When you purchase a pool heater, you may be given the option to purchase a warranty. This cost may seem like an unnecessary expense. However, a warranty provides peace of mind in knowing that the cost of repairs or replacement will be covered by the installation provider.
- Location. Not every state and area has the right hookups for the type of pool heater you want to install. Some will have gas hookups readily available, while in other areas, your only option may be limited to an electrical or solar heater. Check which hookups your area has to know which pool heater you can install.
- Installation area. Keep in mind that natural gas and propane pool heaters should not be installed indoors without proper ventilation and air flow. They may produce fumes that are toxic to humans and pets.
- Lifespan. The longevity of the pool heater depends on several factors, including the type of heater, the quality of the unit, and how well it is maintained. Gas heaters tend to have a shorter lifespan than electric heaters. Additionally, cheaper units often break down quicker than higher-quality models. With proper care and maintenance, most pool heaters last for several years.
- How much does it cost to put a heater in a pool?
The price varies widely and depends on the size of the swimming area, type, and climate where it is located. Expect to pay between $2,500 and $5,000 for heating system installation.
- Are pool heaters worth it?
Heating systems may be expensive, but a heating unit makes it more comfortable to be in the water and extends the season of use.
- What size heater do I need for my pool?
This will depend on the type of unit you choose and the size of your pool. For instance, a surface area of 300 sq.ft. would need an electric resistance option ranging in size from 50,000 to 99,000 BTU or a gas option ranging in size from 100,000 to 150,000 BTU. A surface area of 800 sq.ft. would need an electric resistance unit ranging in size from 150,000 BTU to 199,000 BTU or a gas unit ranging in size from 300,000 BTU to 400,000 BTU.
- What is the best way to heat a swimming pool?
The best type of heater for a swimming pool depends on a variety of factors, including climate, budget, size of the pool, and desired pool temperature. Solar units are the most environmentally friendly option, but they can be less reliable and may not work as well in colder climates. Gas heaters are more expensive to operate, but they heat up quickly and can be used in any climate. Electric units are another option, but they can be expensive to install and may not work as well in very cold weather.
- How much does it cost to heat a pool with electricity?
An electric heat pump costs between $50 and $150 per month. An electric resistance option costs between $175 and $600 per month.
- Are electric pool heaters good?
Yes, electric options work well, especially for small areas. Electric heat pumps are more efficient than electric resistance heating systems.
- How fast will a pool heater heat a pool?
This depends on the type of heating system. A gas system can generally get a pool from 45 degrees to 80 degrees in about 24 to 72 hours.
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