How To Build A Swimming Pool Heater

Materials and Tools Needed

List of materials

  • Pool heater (gas, electric, or solar)
  • PVC pipes
  • Valves and connectors
  • Insulation materials
  • Electrical wiring and components
  • Plumbing fittings and hoses

List of tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrenches
  • Pipe cutter
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife
  • Drill
  • Level

Choosing the Right Type of Pool Heater

When it comes to heating your swimming pool, there are several options available. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at gas heaters, electric heaters, and solar heaters.

Gas Heaters

Gas pool heaters use natural gas or propane to generate heat for the water in your pool. They work by burning the fuel in a combustion chamber, which then heats up copper coils that transfer the heat to the water.


  1. Quick heating: Gas heaters can raise your pool’s temperature quickly.
  2. Suitable for larger pools: Gas heaters are capable of heating large volumes of water efficiently.


  1. High operating costs: Gas heaters tend to be more expensive to operate compared to other types.
  2. Limited energy efficiency: These heaters are not as energy-efficient as electric or solar alternatives.

Electric Heaters

Electric pool heaters utilize electricity to warm up your swimming pool water through an electrical resistance element inside the unit.


  1. Energy-efficient operation: Electric heater units convert almost all input energy into heat output.
  2. Lower installation costs: Electric systems generally have lower upfront installation costs than other options.


  1. Slower heating time: Electric heaters may take longer than gas counterparts to reach desired temperatures.
  2. Higher long-term operational costs: Electricity rates can vary significantly depending on location.

Solar Heaters

Solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into thermal energy that is used to heat the pool water. Solar heaters are environmentally friendly and cost-effective in the long run.


  1. Low operating costs: Solar energy is free, resulting in significant savings on utility bills.
  2. Eco-friendly: Solar heaters produce zero emissions and have a minimal carbon footprint.


  1. Dependence on sunlight: The effectiveness of solar heaters can be affected by cloudy weather or shade from trees or buildings.
  2. Slower heating process: Solar heaters may take longer to reach desired temperatures compared to gas or electric options.

Sizing the Pool Heater

Choosing the right size pool heater is crucial for efficient and effective heating of your swimming pool water.

Calculating the Pool’s Surface Area

To determine the appropriate size, you need to calculate your pool’s surface area by multiplying its length by its width (in feet).

Determining Desired Temperature Rise

Decide how much warmer you want your pool water compared to ambient temperature, known as temperature rise.

Using a Pool Heater Sizing Chart

Consult a sizing chart provided by manufacturers that will help you find an appropriately sized heater based on your calculations.

Designing the Pool Heater System

Proper design of your pool heater system ensures optimal performance and safety.

Determining Location of Heater

Choose a location near existing plumbing connections with sufficient ventilation for gas-powered units or adequate space for electrical equipment installation.

Planning Plumbing Layout

Design an efficient plumbing layout that minimizes pressure drops, reduces heat loss, and maximizes circulation within your system using PVC pipes, valves, connectors, and fittings as needed.

Considering Safety Measures

Follow local building codes regarding proper ventilation for gas-powered systems and install safety features such as backflow prevention devices.

Installing the Pool Heater

Installing a new pool heater involves several steps:

Preparing Installation Site

Clear any debris from the designated location ensuring enough space around it according to manufacturer guidelines.

Connecting Heater to Plumbing System

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Connect the heater to the pool’s plumbing system using PVC pipes, valves, connectors, and fittings. Follow manufacturer instructions for proper installation.

Installing Necessary Electrical Connections

If you’re installing an electric or hybrid heater, ensure that electrical connections are made safely and according to local regulations. Consult a qualified electrician if necessary.

Testing and Troubleshooting

After installation, it is crucial to test your pool heating system for leaks and functionality.

Checking for Leaks

Inspect all connections thoroughly for any signs of leakage. Repair any identified issues promptly.

Testing Heater’s Functionality

Turn on the heater and monitor its performance by observing how quickly it heats up the water. Ensure all controls are working correctly.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

In case of problems like inadequate heat output or malfunctioning components, refer to manufacturer guidelines or consult a professional.

Maintenance and Care

Proper maintenance helps prolong the lifespan of your pool heater system:

Regular Cleaning and Inspection

Clean debris from filters regularly; inspect valves, pipes, connectors periodically; clean as needed following manufacturer guidelines.

Winterizing Pool Heater

Before winter sets in, drain excess water from your heater unit carefully following recommended procedures specific to your type of system.

Replacing Worn-out Parts

As parts wear out over time due to normal usage or external factors such as weather conditions or corrosion replace them with suitable replacements recommended by manufacturers.

Cost & Energy Efficiency Considerations

When selecting a pool heating solution, consider both upfront costs and long-term energy efficiency:

Comparing Costs of Different Types of Heaters

Evaluate initial purchase cost along with ongoing operating costs associated with each type (gas vs electric vs solar) before making a decision.

Evaluating Energy Efficiency Ratings

Review energy efficiency ratings provided by manufacturers that will help determine which option is most efficient based on their respective consumption levels compared against output results.

Calculating Long-term Savings

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Consider the potential savings on energy bills over time to determine the overall cost-effectiveness of your chosen pool heating system.

Safety Guidelines and Regulations

Safety is a top priority when installing and operating a pool heater:

Understanding Local Building Codes

Familiarize yourself with local regulations regarding installation, ventilation requirements, safety features, or any permits required for specific types of heaters.

Ensuring Proper Ventilation and Gas Connections

If using gas heaters, ensure proper ventilation according to guidelines provided by manufacturers. Check gas connections regularly for leaks.

Installing Safety Features

Install backflow prevention devices where necessary; secure electrical wiring properly following recommended practices to prevent accidents.


Choosing the right pool heater for your swimming pool is essential in ensuring year-round comfort and enjoyment. Consider factors such as cost, energy efficiency, size compatibility with your pool dimensions along with compliance to safety guidelines while making your decision. By following proper installation procedures and regular maintenance routines you can enjoy warm water even during colder months without breaking the bank or compromising on safety.


Q: Which type of pool heater is best for large pools?

A: Gas heaters are often recommended for larger pools due to their ability to heat water quickly and efficiently.

Q: Are solar heaters effective in cloudy climates?

A: Solar heaters may be less efficient in areas with frequent cloud cover or limited sunlight exposure. However, they can still provide some level of heating even under these conditions.

Q: How long does it take an electric heater to heat up a swimming pool?

A: The time it takes an electric heater depends on several factors such as the desired temperature rise and ambient temperature. It generally takes longer than gas heaters but offers better long-term energy efficiency.

Q: Can I install a pool heater myself?

A: While DIY installation is possible if you have experience with plumbing or electrical work, it is recommended to consult a qualified professional to ensure proper installation and compliance with safety regulations.

Q: How often should I clean my pool heater?

A: Regular cleaning and inspection are recommended at least once every swimming season. However, you may need to clean more frequently if there is excessive debris or if you notice any performance issues.

Q: Are solar heaters cost-effective in the long run?

A: Solar heaters can be highly cost-effective in the long run as they utilize free energy from the sun. Although initial installation costs may be higher, they provide significant savings on energy bills over time.

Q: What safety precautions should I take when using gas-powered pool heaters?

A: Ensure proper ventilation according to manufacturer guidelines and check gas connections regularly for leaks. It is also essential to comply with local building codes regarding gas appliance installations.


  • Solar pool heater: A device that uses solar energy to heat the water in a swimming pool.
  • Pool pump: A device that circulates the water in a swimming pool, ensuring proper filtration and distribution.
  • Plywood: A type of wood panel made from thin layers or plies of wood veneer glued together, commonly used for construction purposes.
  • Solar cover: Also known as a solar blanket, it is a cover placed on top of the pool surface to help retain heat and prevent evaporation.
  • Ground pools: Swimming pools that are installed directly on the ground without any excavation required.
  • Water temperature: The degree of hotness or coldness of the water in a swimming pool, measured in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius.
  • Heat pump pool heater: An energy-efficient heating system that extracts heat from the surrounding air and transfers it into the pool water.
  • Solar pool cover: Similar to a solar blanket, it helps trap sunlight and insulate the pool water to maintain warmth while reducing evaporation loss.
  • Pool covers : Protective covers used to shield and protect swimming pools when not in use. They can be manual or automatic.
  • Pool warm : Term used to describe maintaining an elevated temperature within a swimming pool for comfort during use.
  • Warm Pool : Refers specifically to keeping desired temperatures within acceptable range for swimmers’ comfort levels.
  • Solar energy : Energy derived from sunlight which is harnessed through various methods such as photovoltaic panels or thermal collectors.
  • Coil : In this context refers typically refers tubing wrapped around components where fluid flows; utilized either via direct exposure (solar)or with other forms energy heaters/cooling devices (heat pumps).

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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