A pool heater sits against a brown wall beside the words "Pool Heater vs Heat Pump"

In temperate parts of the country, a pool heater or heat pump can allow you to swim during spring, summer, and fall. Meanwhile, those living in subtropical climates (like Florida, Texas, and southern California) can swim year-round by installing a heating device. But before getting a pool heating element installed, you’ve got to decide between a pool heater and a heat pump. Read on to learn more about the major differences between pool heaters and heat pumps, as well as the factors you’ll want to consider when making your decision.


Both pool heaters and pool heat pumps will keep your water warm, but the ways each goes about accomplishing this goal are very different. A pool heater works by constantly circulating the pool water through a heat source. As the water comes into contact with the heat source, its temperature increases, allowing the pool to get to a comfortable temperature relatively quickly.

A heat pump, on the other hand, utilizes heat from the ground (or from the ambient air) to heat the pool water. As this air passes over an evaporator coil, it comes into contact with heated refrigerant, which heats the pool water. A heat pump uses only a little bit of electricity to run the fan that pushes air toward the evaporator coil, which makes it an energy-efficient option.

Installing a pool heater can be a fairly simple process. As long as the heater is close to an electricity source (or natural gas) and can be fitted to your pool, you shouldn’t run into any complications.

Heat pump installation can be more complicated since it’s crucial to ensure that the unit has enough ambient air to operate properly. It’s definitely not a DIY project.

Price Differences

When it comes to evaluating the total cost of a pool heater versus a heat pump, it’s important to ensure you’re doing an apples-to-apples comparison. Heat pumps have a higher installation cost than heaters but tend to be more energy-efficient, so the “break-even” point may be as low as a couple of years. Depending on the energy costs in your area, using a pool heater can cost you anywhere from $3 to $9 per hour.

This means that the right choice often depends on the cost per kilowatt hour you’re paying for electricity and the amount of time you plan to use your pool in the off-season. If you pay a high cost per kWh and plan to spend as much time in your pool as possible, a heat pump is likely a better option. But if you just want a way to warm your pool on the occasional random evening you decide to take a dip, or you have access to an inexpensive source of electricity, a standard pool heater can get the job done just fine.

Climate Requirements

When it’s below 50 degrees outside, heat pumps are ineffective, as “heating” water to 50 degrees is likely to leave pool occupants feeling pretty chilly. This means that, unless you’re planning to use your outdoor pool only when temperatures are in the 60s or 70s or higher (or you live somewhere where 50-degree days happen just once or twice a year), a heater is usually a better option.

Whether you’ve decided a pool heater is your best bet or you’re intrigued by the idea of a heat pump, Liquidus Pool Services has you covered. Their experienced technicians have plenty of knowledge about both varieties of heaters and can work with you to decide the perfect heat source for your needs, usage, and budget.

To schedule an appointment or just learn more about your options, give them a call at (214) 903-3732 or fill out the short contact form on their website today.