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Swimming Pool Heat Pump Prices
Even in the warmest U.S. climates, pool temperatures rarely stay ideal year-round. In cooler climates, homeowners may only enjoy a month or two of perfect water temperature. No matter where you live, one way of the most cost-effective ways to maintain bathwater-like pool conditions is to install an electric heat pump. Heat pumps capture warmth from the outdoor air and use it to raise water temperatures. They require outdoor temperatures above 45°F- 50°F.
Electric Heat Pump Considerations and Costs
When selecting a heat pump pool heater, you'll want to consider its size and efficiency.
Heat pump size is rated by Btu output and horsepower. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), standard heat pump sizes include 3/5 hp/75,000 Btu, 5 hp/100,000 Btu, and 6hp/125,000 Btu. In order to determine the required Btu/hour heater output for your outdoor pool, DOE recommends the following formula: Pool Area x Temperature Rise x 12
(Note that the pool area is expressed in square feet, while the temperature rise is calculated by subtracting the average temperature for the coldest month of pool use from the desired swimming pool temperature.)
After sizing a heat pump, compare models by their coefficient of performance (COP), a measure of energy efficiency. COPs typically range from 3.0 - 7.0, with a higher number representing higher efficiency. A heat pump with a COP of 3.0, for example, provides 300% efficiency, meaning that 3 units of heat are produced for every 1 unit of heat needed to run the compressor.
Heat pumps are priced according to BTUs and COP. Prices start at $2,000 - $3,000 and go as high as $4,000 - $5,000.
Heat pump operating costs vary by geographic location, desired pool temperature, and whether or not a pool cover is used. DOE estimates that keeping an outdoor pool in Miami at 80 degrees year-round costs $1,460 for an uncovered pool and $300 for a covered pool. In Boston, keeping a pool at 80 degrees from May to August costs $1,075 for an uncovered pool and $120 for a covered pool. See Table 1 on this page for a complete cost by location breakdown.
Professional installation of a swimming pool heat pump is recommended and might cost $400 - $500 depending on the complexity of the installation. Heat pumps require a dedicated breaker and most of the installation work is electrical, so it makes sense to hire an electrician (or qualified pool professional) for the job. Additional costs include an annual tune-up and any required service or repairs. Consult the heat pump owner's manual for a recommended maintenance schedule.
Other Types of Swimming Pool Heaters
A heat pump is but one type of swimming pool heater. You may also consider a gas swimming pool heater (cheaper to purchase but more expensive to run than heat pumps) or a solar heater (comparable in cost to gas heaters and electric heat pumps but much cheaper to operate).