Gas Pool Heaters Buying Guide – Choosing the Best Models
(updated 2018)

Looking to buy a pool heater to heat the pool and extend the swimming season? Gas pool heaters can be your best choice without a doubt. They are fast, efficient, affordable and very easy to use – and still, they offer much more. Here are the important features to look for when buying a gas heating device for your swimming pool.

Even though gas pool heaters are the most common type of water heating devices for pools available in the market, and the type most people use – it can still be a tough job to pick the right one.

But don’t worry. If you are looking for a gas heater for either above ground or inground swimming pool, and you haven’t found the perfect one yet– it means you need to take a look further into our buying guide. Come and learn more about gas swimming pool water heaters so you can end up with the best one!

What to know on gas pool heaters

You want the perfect device for your home – so what is more important than knowing what you’re getting? Here are a few notions you should have before making your choice:

How does gas pool heater work

Hayward gas pool heaterHayward gas pool heater

A gas heater may use natural gas or propane. Natural gas is widely used and it is transferred to your home from the utility company through the gas lines. Propane gas is stored in the storage tank and from there moved to the device.

The gas/propane is used to fire up a flame which heats up the combustion chamber. Meanwhile, a pump will make the pool water pass through a tube close to the chamber, heating up the water in the tube that will eventually get pumped out again into the pool. At this moment the water is already heated up and will stay like that until the heater is turned off.

The process of heating up water from gas heaters is fast and efficient. It is pretty simple as well and will maintain water at the desired temperature regardless of the outside climate or temperature fluctuation. Solar pool heaters, in contrast, won’t work as efficiently when it is cloudy or at night, heat pumps when it is very cold, while electric do not have such a power.

Initial price

A standard gas heater will cost from $600 up to $2,500 – a big difference from electric, heat pumps or even solar heaters, that can cost up to $5000. The installation costs of a pool gas heater are also pretty affordable. It can cost up to $500 to install a gas heater, yet an electric one can cost up to $1000 while a solar panel may go over the $2000 for installation.

TIP: A gas heater may cost from $1000 to $3000 considering the cost of the device and installation. If you can afford a high-quality and energy-efficient heater, and a professional installation, go for it. It will be costlier but much more reliable in the long run.

Energy costs

Even though gas pool heaters are much more affordable than other versions, they may be costly in the long run, especially propane type. Electric heaters may be as costly or even more than a gas heater in some cases, yet heat pumps and solar panels are often incredibly cheap to run in comparison. Solar panels, for being renewable, may cost little to nothing to function as they take energy from the sun. Heat pumps, on the other hand, reuse warm water to heat up more water.

TIP: Consider the availability of fuel in your location. Sometimes, it’s better to avoid going for gas heaters if fuel is not easy to find. This will not only make it harder to find fuel but also a lot more expensive, such as when using propane gas.

Lifespan

Despite being much more effective, natural gas heaters are not as long-lasting as other options. Typically, a gas water heating device lasts about five years but could go up to 20 years with luck, yet they require constant maintenance and service to work safely. Electric heaters may last up to 15 years, and solar panels last from 10 to 25 years in most cases.

TIP: Go for something that delivers effectiveness and quality at the same time. It’s common to find more expensive devices much more quality-oriented than the cheapest ones. If you can afford a pricey heater, go for it.

Gas emission

Using natural fossil fuel is environmentally damaging. Natural gas heaters do precisely that; emit CO2 that harms the environment. However, there are a few options that come with a Low NOx emission standard which makes the water heating device environment-friendly. This standard was initially created to meet specific laws set in California and Texas, where low CO2 emissions are obligatory for heaters.

TIP: Make sure the heater you pick comes with a Low NOx emission standard. This way you will use an efficient and environmentally friendly heating machine.

Best gas pool heaters to consider

Hayward H400FDN

The Hayward H400FDN comes with a Cupro-nickel heat exchanger, a polymer header, a bypass valve, and a Low NOx build standard – making the device more reliable, efficient, and environmentally friendly. It provides a highly versatile performance, both for large pools and small spas. In addition, it is designed to deliver much more cost-efficient performance in the long run. It works with both natural gas and propane. You can choose from 100,000 up to 400,000 BTU.

Hayward H100ID1

Designed to deliver excellent performance in pools less than 450 sq. ft., the 100,000 BTU Hayward H100ID1 is the perfect choice for those who need a fast and capable device. It comes with the electronic spark ignition, easy-to-use controls, and a straightforward design for easier installation. What’s more, it is high efficient and durable, thanks to a great construction and outstanding engineering. It works with natural gas and propane which generate Low NOx emission.

Pentair MasterTemp 

Offering different power range in BTU, from 175,000 up to 400,000, the Pentair MasterTemp gas heater is a fantastic choice for anyone who wants efficiency and above-average performance. It comes with a Cupro nickel exchanger and tubing, with a digital control, electronic ignition, and a Low NOx certification for better environmental impact. It can operate with both 120 or 240 volts without problems and comes with a wide array of additional features for even more convenience.  It works with natural gas only.

Check it out here.

Benefits of buying a gas pool heater

When looking for a water heater, you must consider a few features that will undoubtedly matter the most in the long run. Here are the benefits you will get from getting a gas heater:

Effectiveness

Gas heaters heat up the water much faster and effectively than any other type of a heater. These heaters also run anywhere at any time and will heat up the water nonetheless, without problems.

Small & compact

The majority of gas-driven pool heaters are small and compact, so they take less space and will fit practically anywhere.

Versatile fuel options

Even though natural gas is easy to find in most places, in other areas it may be a tough job. That’s why these heaters are often ready to work with propane as well. This makes them much more versatile for different situations.

Easy to install & use

A gas heater won’t be a problem in any way. It is straightforward to install, doesn’t cost too much, and will last longer without much maintenance. The same happens with use; a gas heater needs slight settings configured and then it will be able to work all year-round without problems.

Selecting tips for gas pool heaters

Picking the right size

The first and most important part you should consider when buying a gas heater, is the size. All gas pool heaters power is measured with BTUs (British Thermal Unit), and it means the total energy need to heat up one pound of water in Fahrenheit. So, the more water your pool has, the larger it is, and the coldest it is, the more BTU it will need to heat it up.

Here is a chart of the amount of BTU needed to heat up different pool surface areas.

Pool Surface Area (sq. ft.)

1350
1200
1050
900
750
600
450

BTU

500,000
400,000
350,000
300,000
250,000
200,000
150,000

This chart, however, is not entirely accurate as there are many other factors you may need to consider. To measure it up accurately, here are a few steps you should follow:

  1. Determine the temperature you want for your pool.
  2. Find out the yearly coldest temperature in your location.
  3. Subtract the desired pool temperature with the yearly coldest one (from step 2). You will end up with the temperature rise measure.
  4. Then calculate the total sq. Ft. of your pool surface area (rectangle shape: length X width; round shape: radius X radius X 3.14).
  5. Make some additional calculations with the following equation:

Temperature Rise x Pool Area x 12

If the temperature rise is 50, for example, and your pool area is 500 sq. ft. then the formula should be:

50 x 500 x 12 = 300,000

If you have a 500 sq. ft. pool and the temperature rise is 50 – then you will need a 300,000 BTU gas heater.

Construction

If you are in search of a product that delivers quality, make sure it is made of tough and long-lasting materials. For this, make sure the device comes with a Cupro nickel tubing and heat exchanger. Also, it should come with polymer or resin headers for better performance and much more reliability in different conditions.

Ignition

There are two main choices for ignition, Millivolt and Electronic.

A millivolt is a typical pilot light that stays on all the time, reliable yet not as efficient as the electronic ignition. This one, on the other hand, ignites the burners only when needed, avoiding gas leaks and using less fuel in the long run.

Controls

The controls of a heater need to be convenient to use and straightforward. Most heaters just come with a knob to turn it on and a thermostat to set the desired temperature. Other options may even come with an LCD screen and a wide array of features, including a process monitoring, an efficiency display, and even a timer or clock.

Efficiency

When you pick a gas heater, you must consider how efficient it is regarding the fuel use. The best choice you can make is selecting a device that offers over 90% efficiency, this way you will have only 10% energy waste, meaning that you get better value for your money and eventually waste less fuel in the long run.

Natural gas or liquid propane

One of the most critical questions you need to consider when buying a water heating device for your pool is the type of gas you want to use.

The most important things to consider here are availability and cost. If your home comes with a natural gas line, it is better than buying propane which is usually harder to find and more expensive and requires frequent deliveries. However, additional consideration should be made:

Environmental damage

We all know that fossil fuels damage the environment. Natural gas has a damaging nature regarding emission of the greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Even when the device comes with a Low NOx standard, a natural gas heater will be a lot more damaging in the long term. That’s why propane is a better choice if you can afford it, as it has a lower impact on the environment.

Density

The density of the fuel will tell you how efficient it will be in the long run. The more density the fuel has, the more it lasts and the more powerful it is. Propane, in this case, it is always the best choice, as it is denser and much more long-lasting. A pound of propane produces more than the double of energy than a natural gas pound does, but is more expensive.

Cost

Swimming pool water heaters using propane are 60% costlier than natural gas pool heaters. When you consider availability, places where propane is not easy to find, the price will go even higher. However, due to density and efficiency, it may be almost as efficient in the long run.

Gas pool heaters vs. Electric

Gas heaters

More energy efficient in the long run ($5000 a year)

Cheaper - Initial price $300 to $2500

Lifespan from 5 to 15 years (low maintenance)

Works all year in every temperature - works without electricity

Electric heaters

Less energy efficiency ($6000 a year)

Expensive - Initial price $600 to $3000

Lifespan from 5 to 15 years (high maintenance)

Works all year in every temperature - doesn't work without electricity

What’s the best gas water heating device for your pool?

When searching for the best gas pool heaters you will find many options out there – so you should pick wisely or else you may get higher energy bills than expected. That’s why you should always consider your needs first. Make sure the device meets all of your expectations and fits your budget by examining every one of our recommendations.

An expert advice: reduce the heating costs by choosing an energy-efficient gas pool heater and covering the pool when not in use.

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