Pool Heaters in South Florida? Pros & Cons

two pool heaters

Introduction to Pool Heaters

Despite how crazy it sounds, pool heaters in South Florida are booming in popularity! You may think a pool heater installation in Miami is only meant to keep your pool enjoyable during our one cold month of the year. However, it is not just outside temperature that impact your water temperature. Rainfall, the size of one’s pool, and the location in relation to the day’s sunlight all impact your water temperature. With the help of a pool heater installer, you can monitor and maintain your pool’s water temperature all year round. Google “Pool heater installation Miami” and you will find Alligator Pools at the top of the list for a good reason! We install ~25 heaters EACH MONTH and see no signs of this demand letting up! So, despite how absurd a having a pool heater installed in Miami sounds, it is WELL worth it!

Types of Pool Heaters

There are three common types of pool heaters available in today’s market. These include heat pumps (most popular), solar powered heaters, and gas/propane heaters. Note, there is also a fourth type of electric resistance heater but that consumes significantly more electricity than the others and should be restricted to hot tubs or spa use only. We recommend the electric heat pumps over all the others for a variety of reasons which we are happy to discuss at length! There are multiple things to factor when determining which is right for you including: cost, energy consumption, climatic factors, pool location, pool coverage, and your pool type (above ground / inground). As with all things in life, there are pros and cons to each.

Gas Pool Heaters

The Basics: Gas Heater

Gas heaters are powered by either natural gas or propane. An internal burner or flame heats the water as it cycles through the unit. The water must flow through a series of pipes that pass over the burner. This causes the water temperature to rise as it comes in contact with the hot coils.

Gas Heater Pros and Cons

Gas heaters are ideal for cooler climates and where gas heating is prevalent in homes. Homes located in extremely windy parts of the country may also elect this version. A gas-powered heat pump will extend a swimming season by many months in colder regions. These heaters are also known to heat a cold pool more quickly than its counterparts. This makes it an ideal choice for those who do not regularly use their heat pump or for those snowbirds who will only need a heater a couple weekends out of the year. Additionally, gas heaters are also an excellent choice for heating a hot tubs or spa due to their quick heating profile. Finally, another reason for their popularity is that they are compact and often save space!

The first negative of gas heaters is their price-tag. Gas heaters are typically (albeit not always) the most expensive heater one can purchase. This is due to their popularity up north and the speed at which they can heat a large body of water. Due to their infrequent use by owners, the gas heater will consume significantly more energy compared to a heater that maintains a consistent temperature level. Any pool heater is most effective if it is used constantly. Another factor to consider is that propane and natural gas prices are constantly changing and hard to predict the pricing volatility. Finally, if you do not already have an installed gas line or tank to run a gas heater, it makes little sense to buy one!

Heat Pumps

The Basics: Heat Pumps

A Heat Pump works by using the warm outside air which to heat your pool’s water. Alligator Pool’s two favorites (and most popular) heat pumps are made by Thermeau and Rapak. These heat pumps capture the warm air with an evaporator coil and a small fan. The water then flows into a heat exchanger which returns the water to the pool. Since these heaters use outside air to warm the water, they do not work well in temperatures of 45 degrees Fahrenheit or below. For the record, an Electric Heat Pump (not what we’re discussing here) uses 5-6x electricity to run when comparing it to a Heat Pump!

Heat Pump Pros and Cons

Industry data suggests these pumps are 4-5x less expensive than a gas heater or a simple Electric Heat pump. That is because this style heater maintains a constant temperature throughout the day rather than turning off and on. Additionally, these heater are more economical as long as you keep them working at a moderate temperature. Don’t try to boil the ocean! In addition, they are also compact and only take up a small area on the existing concrete surface of your pool shed. Finally, Heat Pumps are known to have a longer useful life when comparing it to gas heaters. Additionally, they have significantly annual lower maintenance costs! 

Conversely, a heat pump is not as effective at heating a pool to high temperatures, nor will it heat a cold pool quickly. These heaters are not ideal if you do not use your pool often. They will take a long time to heat your pool as it is such a large body of water. Additionally, another negative is that even in Miami, these pumps are sometimes ineffective, specifically when a cold-front hits and temperatures drop below 45 degrees! Burr!

Solar Heaters for Pools

The Basics: Pool Solar Heaters

Simply put, Solar Heaters use the sun’s energy to heat your pool. Thus, South Florida seems like the perfect place in to have your solar heater installation done! Solar panels are either placed on your pool shed to absorb the energy of our Florida sun or even the roof of your home. Depending on the system, water is pumped up to these panels where it is heated and then returned to the pool. You can use the system during the evening just as effectively because the panels retain the day’s heat. Choosing to glaze or purchased coated collector tubes provides greater efficiency but will come at a higher cost.

Solar Heater Pros and Cons

The obvious advantage of a solar heater for your pool is that the energy source (the sun) is free! However, there is still an electricity cost to pump the water to your solar panel’s location to be heated. These costs however are remarkably low as compared to other heating alternatives. Moreover, solar heater technically has improved dramatically and many solar panels long lives. However, the South Florida weather is not the ‘norm’. Our weather deteriorates these pool heater panels at a MUCH faster rate as compared to the rest of the country! 

Now for the contra view – since solar heaters run on sunlight, they are not suitable for regions with cloudy or frequently shady weather (i.e., rainy South Florida). In addition, you will need to run the pumps for solar heaters continuously to push the water through the panels and maintain the pool’s temperature. It is often the case that, you may need to install an additional pool pump to move the water longer distances. Regarding size, solar heaters do NOT save space and will cover 75% – 100% of the average pool shed concrete pad. So, the larger your pool, the more space you will need for this style pool heater. Finally, maintenance and repair on a solar heater can be just as expensive as purchasing the unit!

Bottom Line

Pool heaters in Miami make sense and are becoming more popular each day. The most important decision is making sure you choose the RIGHT heater for your pool and lifestyle. At Alligator Pools, we are pool heater installation pros and can walk you through what heater is right for you. We hope you find this article to be of some help in outlining the different styles of pool heaters on the market today. Be sure to reach out to us regarding your next pool equipment installation; however, if there are still questions, please feel free to reach out to us!

Contact Alligator Pool Services

All of the testing, trips to the pool store, and adding chemicals to your pool require a significant amount of time. Pool maintenance and the time it takes are among the most common complaints among families who have their own pools. You should spend your free time enjoying your pool, not trying to ensure that its chemistry is perfectly balanced. If you live in Miami-Dade County, contact us today to get a free quote and learn more about how our team at Alligator Pools can eliminate the time and energy spent maintaining your swimming pool. If you enjoyed our pool chemicals guide, but need a second opinion, we provide services in Miami, Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay, and other surrounding cities.