When one hears of an “above ground pool,” the image that most likely springs to mind is that of an inflatable, Wal-Mart variety one. Yet above ground pools can be well-made and provide a cheap alternative to the below-ground status symbol kind. Heating an above ground pool isn’t all that difficult, considering all you have to do is plug the pool heater to one of its sides. While these heaters are generally affordable and safe, trying to pick one can leave you scratching your head without knowing what to look for. Above ground pool heaters are categorized into electric, gas or solar ones. Each of the three types has its pros and cons, and you should carefully study them all before making a decision.
It’s not just about the heaters themselves, but also the layout of your home’s surrounding area and your interior design: for example, have you experienced flooding from your above ground pool or a nearby pipe, and had to have water extraction performed in your yard? Somewhat paradoxically, water can ruin a pool heater, so if flooding has been an issue, perhaps you’ll want a heater that’s not as vulnerable to water exposure. Taking note of these little things can save you a great deal of money later on.
Electric above ground pool heaters
Let’s start off with the simplest of the bunch. As is the case with most appliances, an electric heater will generally be more reliable than others – can’t beat a plug-n-play system. These heaters are also called ‘electric resistance heaters’ based on how they operate – through a resistor unit that will first use electric current to power itself and then convert the energy to heat the water inside the pool.
Electric heaters will probably be the first choice of many due to relatively low prices and ease of use. Sure, the installation is a bit complicated, but it’s all smooth sailing (or swimming) from there on, right? Well, yes and no. An electric heater can turn out to be a lot more expensive than the other two types, making it a subpar choice for larger pools and even some medium-sized ones.
Solar above ground pool heaters
Even ‘greener’ than electric heaters, these use nothing but solar power to provide warmth to your pool. They probably sound better than they really are, though – despite numerous advances, solar technology is still in its infancy, and it shows whenever someone tries to use solar energy as a main source of power. Right now, these panels are best utilized as auxiliary power sources.
A solar pool heater doesn’t really come with any monthly costs and won’t be prone to breaking down, but it also won’t deliver as much juice – no sun will mean the pool is off-limits for you and your family.
Gas above ground pool heaters
As always, gas tends to be a messy option, despite creating good results. Gas heaters have an efficiency that is comparable to electrical ones, but make many feel uncomfortable – they pollute the environment and tend to bring explosive thoughts to people.
They are cheap to install for the most part, but otherwise rely on an expensive resource whose price is subject to further hikes; they can also break down in just a couple of years.