For healthy family fun in the summertime, nothing beats the enjoyment of a backyard swimming pool. But hot summer days are numbered, especially if you live in the Northeast, and no one wants to swim in cold, uncomfortable water. So before you dive into an investment this deep, be sure to consider the many benefits to keep your water warm and inviting.
One of the most economical and energy-efficient ways to warm an outdoor pool, a pool heat pump uses a small amount of electricity to capture heat from the outside air and transfer it to the pool's water. Unlike conventional oil or gas pool heaters that generate heat by burning fossil fuels, heat pump pool heaters are environmentally friendly and offer significant benefits for homeowners in the Northeast, from efficient, quiet operation and long-term performance to reduced fuel costs and a longer swimming season.
Starting at around $ 1,500 for a basic standard unit, pool heat pumps do have a higher start-up price than conventional pool heaters. After the initial purchase and installation, however, these cost-effective heating systems operate at 1/3 the cost of a traditional oil or gas pool heater, saving homeowners serious money on long-term energy usage.
Using the same principals as refrigerators and air conditioners, a swimming pool heat pump pulls water from the pool's pump as it circulates the pool's water and passes it through a filter. A fan in the heat pump draws in the outside air and directs it over an evaporator coil. As long as the outside temperature remains above 45 ° F, liquid refrigerant within the evaporator coil absorbs the heat from the outside air and becomes a gas. The warm gas in the coil then passes through a compressor, which increases the heat, creating a very hot gas that then passes through a condenser. The condenser transfers the heat from the hot gas to the cooler pool water as it circulates through the heater. The heated water then returns to the pool. The hot gas, as it flows through the condenser coil, returns to liquid form and back to the evaporator, where the whole process begins anew.
Pool pumps are available for both in-ground and above-ground pools and should be sized according to the pool's surface area as well as the difference between the pool's water temperature and the average air temperature. Wind exposure, humidity levels, and night temperatures can also affect the heating load of an outdoor pool. Pool heaters are rated by Btu output and horsepower (hp), with standard sizes ranging from 3.5 hp / 75,000 Btu to 6 hp / 125,000 Btu.
The energy efficiency of heat pumps for pools is measured by the coefficient of performance, or COP, and ranges from 3.0 to 7.0, with seven being the maximum. This measure refers to the relation of electrical energy put in and the amount of heat put out. Typically, manufacturers measure the COP by testing a heat pump heater with an outdoor temperature of 80 ° F and a pool temperature of 80 ° F.
With proper installation and maintenance, your heat pump pool heater can offer the utmost in efficiency. It's best to let a qualified pool professional install your heat pump and perform any complicated maintenance and repairs, particularly the initial electrical hookup. Because of a heat pump's many moving and electrical parts, periodic service and annual tune-ups should also be done by an experienced pool heating professional.