Gas vs. Electric Pool Heater: The In-Depth Comparison Guide

The summer season comes to an end at last, and your neighbor is preparing themselves to close the pool. But you decide to extend the pool season to enjoy the ultimate fun of swimming- even on the chilly days of winter. 

And when it comes to extending the pool season, pool heaters are the phrases that come into our mind first. Without them, you can’t make the pool water warm for swimming. 

There are three types of pool heaters- electric, gas, and solar. But the heck is- you have got conflicting opinions both on electric and gas pool heaters. Pool owners are often confused between selecting electric vs gas heaters for their pool. This confusion makes them go nuts and you ask themself- Electric Vs. Gas Pool Heater: Which type of heater is the best? 

To know which one will be perfect for your scenario, stay in tune with us till the end. 

Electric Vs Gas Pool Heaters: The Difference You Must Know

From this chapter, you will learn about both the electric heater and the gas one. We bring these two types of heater head to head. As a result, you can easily decide which one will be best for you.

How Gas Pool Heater Works

A Gas Heater heat pool water by igniting flame using natural gas or propane. The flame goes through the heating unit and water will pass through the hot tubes and the temperature of the water will rise by coming into contact with the hot coils.

Advantages of Gas Pool Heater

  • Perfect for any weather condition, even windy condition or colder climate
  • Can heat the pool water faster and raise the water temperature quickly
  • A gas heater is capable of heating water year-round
  • Compatible to use on Spa or Hot Tub
  • This is compact and it won’t take much space

How Electric Pool Heater Works

Some people get confused by the electric pool heat pump and electric heater. Though, the working principle of both heater is different. The electric heater uses a resistance coil, which generates heat with the help of electricity, the water circulates through the coil and the temperature increase with the contact of the heated resistance coil.

Where a pool heat pump draws heat from the air. An electric heat pump uses refrigerant to absorb surrounding heat from the environment. Warm air is drawn over the evaporator coil by the fan. The water circulates through the heat exchanger and comes as warm water to your pool

Advantages of Electric Heater

  • The electrical heating system is more budget-friendly and more efficient
  • Works best when your surrounding temperature is not too cold
  • Quick startup, easy to install, and no need for any extra arrangement
  • The regulatory requirement for both the heat pump and electric heater is minimal.

An electric pool heater or heat pump is not an ideal choice if your area’s average temperature is below 50 degrees Fahrenheit as well as not suitable for Spa or Hot Tub.

Which is Cheaper Gas or Electric Heat

This is the major concern every pool owner thinks of when they are in the market to shop for a pool heater. They fail to decide which one will be cheaper and best in terms of the overall cost. So, take a look at the below chart to compare the price of both two heating systems. 

Pool Heater TypeInitial Cost Installation CostOperating Cost
Electric Heater$1800-$6700$500-$1000$100
Gas Heater$800-$4800$500-$1500$300-$500

Initial Cost

The initial cost you need to spend on an electric heater will take your fortune. In simple words, it takes a leg and arm to get the electric heat pump. The average price of an electric heater is between $1800-$6700. Indeed, you should spend above $2000 to get a functional electric pool heater.

On the other hand, a gas or propane heater will be your best trait if you are on a budget. It takes around $800-$4800 to get the gas pool heater. Considering the initial cost, it seems a gas pool heater will be best to heat the pool.

Installation Cost

An electric pool heater is cheaper to install. It takes only $500-$1000 on average from your wallet to assemble the entire unit. You can cut and bring the installation cost to half if you have mechanical & electrical knowledge and install the unit yourself. 

In contrast, you should spend $500-$1500 to install the gas pool heater professionally. There is no chance to cut the price in installing the unit yourself as it’s a bit tricky to do. In short, an electric heater takes fewer bucks compared to the gas one when it comes to installation.

However, if your home is equipped with a natural gas line, the gas heater should be your first choice. Though you can still use a gas heater, you need to install a propane tank according to your local area rules. Therefore, you need to consider the additional expense for burying the gas tank underground as well.

Operating Cost

When it comes to operating costs, an electric pool heater will be your go-to heater. It doesn’t take you more than $100 to operate the unit. However, we don’t recommend the electric unit if you don’t run your pool daily. 

On the other hand, a gas heater will empty your wallet as it requires $300-$500 per month to operate the heater. However, a gas unit can be your best trait if you don’t use it daily. 

Note: Some users complain electric heaters will cost a lot of bucks to operate. It heats the water slowly as a small part of the heating element will come in contact with the water. So, you need to run the unit for an extended time, which increases the electricity bill. However, we do not agree with them. It seems to be an exaggeration to fill a 500-gallon tank 2-3 times in a season. 

Heating Efficiency

A gas pool heater is ahead of an electric heater in terms of heat efficiency. It provides you with more heat to keep your pool water warm even on the chilly days of winter. Unlike an electric heater, it heats the pool faster, and you can adjust the temperature according to your need. Indeed, you will get full control over the temp. 

On the other hand, an electric pool heater is not heat-efficient. It works slowly, and you need to run it a day or two before you plan to swim. Therefore, you will never get enough heat from the electric unit if the outside temperature is cold. 

Eco-Friendliness

If you are a nature lover and want to save this earth by reducing carbon, an electric heater is just for you. It’s a green pool heating unit that uses electricity to heat the water without polluting the environment. In simple words, it’s eco-friendly. 

In the counterpart, a gas pool heater emits a lot of carbon into the air. It contaminates the environment. Therefore, a gas unit poses a potential danger if you fail to run it properly.

Is a Gas or Electric Pool Heater Better?

An electric pool heater is better than a gas heater if you compare both heaters by these criteria: overall cost, heating efficiency, ease of installation, and maintenance. 

Though the initial price of an electric pool heater costs a leg and arm, it will save you money in the long run. You need to cost only $100 to run the unit per month. On the other hand, you should spend $300-$500 bucks to operate a gas pool heater. 

The best part is- the electric unit is eco-friendly as it doesn’t emit harmful gases like carbon. So, you will heat your pool by saving our earth from the hazardous effect of environmental pollution. Slow heating is the only con of an electric heater. It heats the pool water slowly compared to the gas unit. However, you can extend the swimming season by installing a solar blanket. 

Indeed, we recommend you to go for the electric pool heater if you want to swim in your pool daily without polluting the environment. 

What about the Solar heater?

If you live in a sunny area, may want to go without electricity and gas pool heaters altogether and consider going with a solar pool heater. Solar energy is the cheapest and cleanest option for warmer and sunny climates. A solar pool heater is similar to a solar panel, it uses the sun’s energy to produce heat. Although, the initial cost is high and you may need enough space for placing solar panels.

Though the initial cost is high, you could return your investment by 2-3 years, because there is no or very less monthly running cost.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Which Is Cheaper To Run Gas or Electric Pool Heater?

    Electric pool heaters are cheaper to run than gas heaters. You need to spend just $100 bucks to operate an electric unit. On the other hand, it will take your $300-$500 to run the gas heater. However, the cost of operating a pool heater also depends on pool size. A large pool requires more gas or electricity than a small one, which will add extra costs. 

  2. What Is More Efficient Gas or Electric Pool Heaters?

    When it comes to energy efficiency, electric pool heaters are more efficient than gas heaters. It costs you only $100 to run an electric pool heater while the gas one requires $300-$500. But if we talk about heat efficiency, gas heaters are the winners. The outside temperature never impacts the heat output of a gas heater, and you can adjust its temperature according to your need. 

  3. Do Pool Heaters Use A Lot of Electricity?

    A traditional pool heater can draw a lot of electricity. However, the modern electric heater doesn't require more electric power to operate and it will cost you only $100 bucks to run per month. But many electric heater owners complain they need to run the unit for a long time as it heats the pool slowly.

  4. Does a gas pool heater need electricity?

    No, a gas pool heater doesn't require electricity to operate it. As the name suggests, it only uses gas to run the gas heater smoothly. So, you don't need to worry about an ambient pool if the electricity goes out as it runs on gas. 

Conclusion

Now, it’s time to decide which one you will pick- an electric or gas pool heater. 

The electric heater is energy-efficient to run, while the initial price of a gas pool heater is affordable. On the other hand, an electric pool heater is eco-friendly and doesn’t leave a carbon footprint like the gas one. On top of this, a gas heater heats the pool faster than an electric unit. 

Indeed, both pool heater types have upsides and downsides. However, we recommend you go for the electric pool heater as it is eco-friendly, requires fewer bucks to operate, and is perfect for regular use.

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