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Life Spans of Heat, Gas, and Solar Pool Heaters? Which One Lasts the Longest?

As a pool owner, you want to find the most cost-effective and energy-efficient heater out there. There are three types of pool heaters available, each with its own pros and cons. Here’s how they compare.

Gas Pool Heater

Gas heaters burn either natural gas or propane using a combustion chamber containing copper coils. Water is heated when it passes through the coils.


  • Affordable up-front purchase price
  • They are not affected by air temperature
  • They heat water quickly


  • More expensive to operate than other heating sources
  • Very high maintenance, which adds further cost
  • Not energy efficient at all
  • Not environmentally friendly
  • Requires time to heat up the pool

Overall a gas pool heater only lasts about five years and is really only suited for very small pools or spas.

Heat Pump Heater

Heat pumps use electricity as their energy source. The heat pump’s fan pulls in air from outside, which is directed over the evaporator coil. The heat is absorbed by a liquid refrigerant in the coils turning the air into gas. The warmth of the gas goes through a compressor that heats the gas even more, which goes through the condenser and transfers the heat to the pool water that circulates through the heater. The warm water is then finally sent back into the pool.


  • High energy efficiency
  • Lower operating costs


  • More expensive up-front cost
  • Heating efficiency is affected by outside temperatures
  • The colder the outside temperature, the more energy they use
  • Can be complicated to determine the size required

Heat pump heaters tend to last twice as long as gas heaters at about 10 years and, therefore, in the long run, will save you more money.

Solar Pool Heater

Solar pool heating systems are becoming the heater of choice as more people learn about their impressive performance and return on investment. They use solar panels to transfer heat from the sun directly into your pool. They can be installed on your roof or in your yard, in the spot that gets the most sunlight. The solar power is gathered by collecting heat from the sun, and the water is circulated by your existing swimming pool pump, heated, and then sent back to the pool.


  • Almost no operating costs
  • Uses your existing water filtration pump
  • No additional fees for energy, as it uses the free power of the sun’s heat
  • Completely maintenance-free
  • High energy efficiency
  • Completely environmentally friendly
  • The water is constantly being warmed by the sun, so the water is always heated


  • Higher up-front purchase price
  • Can’t be used in winter

While the solar pool heater is more expensive up front, it is the cheapest to operate, requires no maintenance, and lasts an average of 20 years, so overall, you get the best return on investment.

If you would like more information about solar pool heaters, click here.

What Our Customers Are Saying:
  • Our pool heater is 17 years old and broken. Instead of replacing it with a regular gas heater, we went solar. For only a few dollars more, my original pool builder came out and installed Thermocraft Solar Panels by CMI, and now we are making our money back by not having to pay heating bills anymore! We were paying over $300/ month with the gas heater! I also feel great about "going green" and helping the environment.