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Swimming Pool Heat Pump Reviews

swimming pool heat pump This page is a product review and buyers guide for pool heat pumps - or you can read about pool gas heater reviews here. If you are looking for information on solar heating then read this article on how to install a pool solar heater.

Heating a swimming pool requires a large amount of energy. There are only a few options available commercially for heating your pool and an electric heat pump is one of the more long term, cost efficient methods available to you. While a solar heater can provide free heat it is very limited in terms of the output BTU so it can not add length to your swimming season - but instead improves in-season swimming temperatures. A natural gas or propane powered pool heater can deliver heat at any time of the year, day or night, but is the most costly to do so. An electric heat pump has qualities similar to both solar and gas heat in that the cost per BTU output is much lower than a gas heater and also a heat pump has the potential to prolong the swimming season like a gas heater under certain conditions.


Is a heat pump suitable for every pool?
No. A heat pump is not a good solution for every pool and you need to manage your expectations if you are thinking of adding a heat pump to your swimming pool.


Pool solar heaters have the lowest overall cost for heating your pool. They have a low upfront cost and no residual cost since the sin provides the source of energy for heating the water. The only reason that solar heaters are not used on every pool is that there are a number of limitations that make them less than ideal, if not impossible to use on most installations. You need a large flat area with unobstructed, direct sunlight for many hours every day. Additionally you need to plumb pipes up to the roof of your house / pool shed as well as usually upgrading the pump to a medium / high head pump to accommodate the lift. For all of this work, this form of heat provides the lowest BTU output so unless you have the ideal backyard configuration to use solar, it may not perform to your expectations.

Pool gas heaters easily output the highest amount of BTU output, with 250,000 BTU being the most common in the residential market. Gas heaters up to 400,000 can be used for residential applications. These heaters can provide astounding amounts of heat at any time of day or night - simply start feeding $100 bills into the slot in the front. First time gas heater owners often receive a surprise when they receive their first gas bill. A 300,000 BTU heater is like having 10 large BBQ's running on full blast - on a colder night, especially with no solar blanket on the pool, your gas heater will be firing up constantly. Unrestricted use of a gas heater on a swimming pool can easily cost a few hundred, all the way to a few thousand dollars per month so if you use gas heat be certain to use a solar blanket and keep the pool at the minimum tolerable swimming temperature.

Pool heat pumps put out heating BTU's similar to that of very small gas heaters under optimal conditions however like the solar heater they have many potential restrictions that could make them less than ideal for every installation. Heat pumps first of all require a dedicated, heavy draw electrical service similar in size to what a large hot tub would use which not every household will have available. Heat pumps only perform well in certain climates, and require installations with lots of direct sunlight and ventilation on all sides of the unit. Similar to gas heaters, since you are paying for every BTU of heated water in your pool, the name of the game is energy conservation so you must be diligent about using a solar blanket on the pool to reduce cooling from differential air / water temperature as well as heat loss from wind.





How Does A Heat Pump Work?

A heat pump uses electricity and ambient air temperature to heat water in an energy exchange that is essentially the opposite of how an air conditioner works. Think of a heat pump as a reverse air conditioner. It does not use electricity directly to generate heat like with a heating element or traditional form of electric heat, but instead uses the electricity to move air over an evaporator coil. Coolant in the evaporator coil is heated by the ambient air and transfers to a compressor unit that further heats it before passing it through a condenser that acts as a heat exchanger between the heated coolant and colder pool water.

Understanding this you can now appreciate the largest limitation of electric pool heat pumps in that they need hot air to start the process. The cooler the ambient air, the more electricity the unit requires to operate, and a sharp efficiency drop off means that this pump is only cost effective as a form of pool heat within a limited climate. For most effective operation of an electric heat pump the ambient air temperature should be above 40 degrees C (just over 100 degrees F). Electric heat pumps will operate with reduced efficiency at air temperatures above 30 degrees C (86 degrees F) however lower than this can offset the BTU output and increase the electrical demand to the point where there is no benefit in using it.


How To Size A Heat Pump For Your Pool

When you are sizing a heat pump for your pool you definitely want to err on the larger size as opposed to risk under sizing it. Even using the calculations there will be some guesswork involved in sizing the heat pump since the amount of sunlight and ambient air temperatures that your backyard has will be unique to your situation. Combine this with your unique expectations and desired swimming temperatures / length of your swimming season then you can see there are too many variables to definitively say what size you need. The calculations will give you a general idea of the size of heat pump that you need to have. To perform the heat pump sizing calculation you will need to know the following information:

Surface area of the pool To calculate the surface are of your pool multiply the average length x the average width, in feet

Desired pool water temperature - The desired swimming temperature for your pool in degrees F

Air temperature - The average outside air temperature during the coldest month you want to heat the pool in degrees F


(L x W) x (water temperature - air temperature) x 12

This calculation will determine the amount of BTU heat per hour your pool will require to maintain your desired swimming temperature. The following example is for a 16x32 pool with a desired swimming temperature of 85 degrees with an average outside air temperature in September of 70 degrees:

(16 x 32) x (85 - 70) x 12
512 x 15 x 12 = 92,160 BTU / hour


Looking at another example with the same pool except the ambient air temperature is lower, as an example Toronto Ontario Canada had an average air temperature in September 2015 of 17 degrees C (63 degrees F). If you had this pool in Toronto and you wanted to swim at 85 degrees F in September you would require:

(16 x 32) x (85 - 63) x 12
512 x 22 x 12 = 135,168 BTU / hour



Electrical Wiring For Pool Heat Pumps

Unless you read this section completely on electrical demands for pool heat pumps you are almost certainly going to encounter a problem at some point. There are some specific processes for heat pumps which appear contrary to conventional codes about electricity, wire sizing, breaker sizing and the amperage capacity specific to electrically driven air conditioning and heating equipment.

Coefficient of Performance (COP) - As a method of determining the efficiency of a heat pump you would consider the COP which is a calculation of the heat created by the pump divided by the work energy input to the pump. A higher number indicates a heat pump that is more efficient and would cost less to run versus lower number COP. In the most simple of forms the COP can be simplified by saying for every 1 unit of energy input, the heat pump will put out 1 x COP. So 1kW of energy used operating a heat pump with a COP of 6.0 would then produce 6kW worth of heat energy. Comparing COP across brands is not ideal as COP values vary based on many factors and not all manufacturers use the same COP scale. It is better to use COP values between models of the same brand but use a grain of salt when comparing COP values between multiple manufacturers.

Minimum circuit ampacity (MCA) - All heat pumps will have a minimum circuit ampacity value which indicates the maximum current load that a heat pump can sustain past which damage may occur. This is the current specification that is used to determine wire sizing for the electrical service to your heat pump. In almost every other residential electrical application wire size and breaker size are tied but there is an exemption in most electrical codes in Canada and the USA where the wire is sized for heat pumps MCA. This lesser known fact, even among legitimate licensed electricians, can cause quite a bit of confusion when it comes time to run the electrical service for your heat pump. In general 14 gage wire matches with 15 amp breakers, 12 gage wire matches with 20 amp breakers, 10 gage wire matches with 30 amp breakers and 8 gage wire matches with 40 amp breakers. Since many pool heat pumps have a load rating of 50 - 60 amps does that mean they should be installed with #6 gage wire? No, usually not. The MCA value is used to determine the wire size and the breaker is sized based on the manufacturer recommended maximum overload protection.

Maximum breaker size - Sizing of wire gage and electrical disconnect (breaker) size for pool heat pumps is far from straight forward at first glance. Your heat pump will have a maximum overload protection rating (and often a minimum overload protection value also), and breaker size, on the nameplate for the unit. It can appear that this breaker would require a larger wire size, as is traditionally calculated, but so long as the wire is matched to the MCA draw then you should meet all installation specifications and electrical codes. Given these concerns with breaker and wire sizing you should have a qualified professional, familiar with article 440 of the National Electrical Code, connect the electrical service for your heat pump. Failure to follow the manufacturers recommendations for minimum and maximum overload protection disconnects will void your warranty and cause potential failure of the unit.


Unique considerations for electric heat pumps - What can happening to many heat pump installations is that the electrician will install a breaker matched to the wire size, usually a 20, 30 or 40 amp breaker on either an 12, 10 or 8 AWG wire, as this is how wire and breaker sizing is conventionally done. In this situation the startup currents value can exceed the circuit capacity and periodically trip out the breaker. To further complicate this, this does not usually happen right upon installation, but a short while later. As the heat pump ages it will draw more electricity under startup and running conditions and the undersized breaker will eventually start to trip which can cause potential damage to the internal compressor in the heat pump. Over sizing a breaker for wire sizes is something that is never done, except with this exemption for electrically powered air conditioning and heating equipment - so this is something that gets missed quite a bit unless your electrician is specifically familiar with pool heat pump installations, which most are not. Wiring for a pool heat pump is anything but straight forward so be sure to use a qualified professional to connect yours.

* This website is not a replacement for understanding local electrical codes and safety practices and you must research electrical codes and procedures specific to your area, and specific to your installation - given the larger amperage draw, wire sizes and potential for sizing issues with these, it is strongly recommended that you hire a professional, experienced electrician for wiring your pool heat pump.


Hayward Heat Pumps





Model: Hayward HeatPro HP50TA
Size: 50,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 20 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 14.4 Amps
C.O.P: 5.4
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Above ground pools up to 13,000 gallons
Buy this heat pump: From the USA or the Canadian version




Model: Hayward HP50HA Size: 45,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 20 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 12 Amps
C.O.P: 5.4
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Above ground pools & inground pools up to 13,000 gallons
Buy this heat pump: In the USA or a similar Canadian version







Model: Hayward HeatPro HP20654T
Size: 65,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 40 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 24 Amps
C.O.P: 6.6
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: from Amazon.com or a similar Canadian version





Model: Hayward HeatPro HP21004T
Size: 95,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 36 Amps
C.O.P: 6.2
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com





Model: Hayward HeatPro HP21104T
Size: 110,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 35 Amps
C.O.P: 5.8
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca







Model: Hayward HeatPro HP21254T
Size: 125,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 36 Amps
C.O.P: 5.8
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca






Model: Hayward HeatPro HP21404T
Size: 140,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 36 Amps
C.O.P: 6.0
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Pentair Heat Pumps






Model: Pentair UltraTemp 70
Size: 70,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 50 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 33 Amps
C.O.P: 5.8
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca






Model: Pentair UltraTemp 110
Size: 108,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 70 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 42 Amps
C.O.P: 6.0
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca





Model: Pentair UltraTemp 120
Size: 127,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 70 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 42 Amps
C.O.P: 5.7
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com




Model: Pentair UltraTemp 140
Size: 143,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 70 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 43 Amps
C.O.P: 5.8
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Jandy Heat Pumps






Model: Jandy Pro Series JE2000T
Size: 108,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 40.2 Amps
C.O.P: 6.0
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca







Model: Jandy Pro Series JE2500T
Size: 119,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 41.8 Amps
C.O.P: 6.2
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca






Model: Jandy Pro Series JE3000T
Size: 137,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 41.8 Amps
C.O.P: 6.3
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Raypak (Rheem) Heat Pumps





Model: Raypak R2350ti-E
Size: 50,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 35 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 23 Amps
C.O.P: 5.5
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca







Model: Raypak R5350Ti-E
Size: 95,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 40 Amps
C.O.P: 6.2
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or 85k BTU from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca





Model: Raypak R6350Ti-E
Size: 117,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 42 Amps
C.O.P: 6.2
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca




Model: Raypak R8350Ti-E
Size: 133,000 BTU
Maximum breaker size: 60 Amps
Minimum circuit ampacity: 42 Amps
C.O.P: 5.5
Exchanger: Titanium, suitable for salt water pools
Application: Inground pools
Buy this heat pump: From Amazon.com or from PoolSuppliesCanada.ca


Using a solar blanket to cover your pool when not in use will reduce the total energy loss by 50% in your pool. This means that using a pool cover will reduce the amount you need to run your heat pump by 50% which is a huge number to say the least. If you are buying a heat pump to provide heat more efficiently and cost effectively to your pool then you would be crazy to not use a pool cover also.


Similar to a gas pool heater it is critically important that you install any chlorine feeders or salt water chlorine cells downstream from your heat pump in the plumbing system. Further to this you must protect the heat pump with a corrosion resistant check valve in between the heater outlet and any source of chlorine injection. This prevents heavily chlorinated water from being able to track backwards through the pipes which can accumulate in the heat pump and cause it to fail early.


Tips For Installing Heat Pumps




If you are planning to install your own swimming pool equipment then be sure to watch the pool equipment installation video review series by Swimming Pool Steve.

This video is one from this series in which Steve encounters a heat pump that is going to fail due to improper installation (not to mention an absolute travesty of a plumbing installation) so be sure to not make the mistakes of many of the pool owners shown in this series.