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Gas vs Electric Pool Heater: What’s the Difference?

Gas vs Electric Pool Heater

Gas vs Electric Pool Heater

If you are looking to heat your pool, you might have questions about what type of heater is best for warming the water. The two most common types of pool heaters are gas and electric heaters, and we are going to take an in-depth look at both types and talk about the pros and cons of each.

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The 2 Types of Pool Heaters

The two types of pool heaters that we are going to be looking at are gas and electric.

1. Gas Pool Heaters

Gas heaters work by heating water over an open flame and work very similar to a water heater or boiler in your home. There are two types of gas pool heaters: natural gas and propane.

Natural Gas

Natural gas pool heaters will require a gas line to be present, and it will need a professional to install it.  Natural gas heaters are much more expensive than propane heaters, but they are much more permanent and will last many years.

Sta-Rite SR333NA Natural Gas Pool Heater


Propane heaters use small refillable tanks that you may already have experience using with your barbeque grills and generators. Propane heaters are much less expensive than natural gas, but they require constant refilling and could run out when you need it most.

Besides the initial cost, both types of gas heaters will require more maintenance than an electric heater as carbon builds up around the ignitors. They will also release harmful emissions that are bad for the environment and will require adequate ventilation.

Hayward W3H400FDP Propane Pool Heater

On the positive side, a gas heater can heat the water to a higher temperature than is possible with an electric heater, and it can do it much faster as well. The gas heater’s ability to quickly heat the water to a high temperature allows you to use it in cold weather and can allow you to keep your pool open year-round in some cases.

When To Use A Gas Heater

Use Gas for larger pools, and in colder environments. Use Gas in smaller pools that you want to enjoy during the colder winter months.


  • Able to keep the pool open year-round
  • Heats the pool quickly
  • Heats water to a higher temperature
  • Not environmentally friendly
  • Fuel cost varies
  • Require more routine maintenance
  • Higher initial cost

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2. Electric Pool Heaters

Electric heaters work by pulling water over several heating elements that are heated by electricity. The more heating coils a heater has, the more hot water it can produce. These heaters operate in a similar way to tankless water heaters found in some homes.

Electric heaters are often less expensive to purchase initially than gas heaters, and you usually don’t require professional assistance to install it. They are much better for the environment producing no harmful vapors, and there is no chance they will explode or leak fuel.

FibroPool FH055 In Ground Swimming Pool Heater

The downside to electric pool heaters is that they heat the water very slowly, and it can take several hours to increase the temperature a degree or two. This slow heating is especially noticeable if you have a large pool. Because the pool heater needs to run for extended periods, the cost of warming the water can get very high when compared to the ongoing cost of Gas. The heater’s inability to raise the temperature more than a few days renders it incapable of keeping your pool open through the winter season.

When To Use Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are perfect for smaller pools and pools that don’t require much heating. These heaters can help the pool maintain temperature over a cold night, and you might like them if it often takes you a long time to get used to the water in your pool.


  • Lower initial cost
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Expensive to operate
  • Don’t permit year-round use
  • Heat water slowly
  • Slow Heating

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The type of heater you get for your pool depends directly on the type of pool you have. If you have a  large inground pool and your home already uses natural Gas, then a natural gas heater is the best choice. If you have an above-ground pool and you would like to extend the season, a propane gas heater can be the best solution. If you have a small pool that gets cold overnight, or you find your pool a little chilly even on the warmest days, then an electric heater may be all you need to maximize your pool time enjoyment.

We hope that you found our look at the differences between Gas and electric heaters helpful and informative. If you have enjoyed reading, please share this pool heater comparison on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: CoolR, Shutterstock


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