Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:06

Some Like It Hot

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Some Like It Hot

A heater is essential for getting the most enjoyment out of your pool, and there are several options available to suit your particular design. Kate Milton finds out how to turn up the heat year-round.

Adding a heating system to your pool makes it more enjoyable to use, as it means you can use it throughout the year. Pool heating can also increase the resale value of your home, as well as lending itself to the enjoyment you get from spending hours swimming in your pool.

There are four main types of pool heaters: solar energy, gas, electric and heat pumps. Here, we look at each to help you decide on the best heating option for your specific needs.

SOLAR POWER

Solar power continues to grow in popularity as it has become cheaper to install, while also being the most environmentally-friendly of all the heating options. Solar power is also arguably the most cost-effective way to heat your pool, as solar energy is free.

A solar heater works by pumping water through a collector, where it is heated by direct transfer, then pumped back into the pool. To ensure it is powerful enough for your pool, your solar system should have enough panels to cover approximately 80 per cent of the pool’s size.

It’s important that your solar heater has a heat sensitive control, rather than one that is time- based, as this will ensure it only uses the system when the sun is out. Otherwise, water that runs through the system in cooler weather conditions will rapidly decrease the pool’s temperature, making it harder for owners to reheat the water, which costs time and money.

Solar heaters do take time to heat a pool, so they may not be ideal for spas that need to be heated quickly and to a higher temperature than pools. For this reason, it’s best to have a separate heater for the spa if you choose solar heating for your pool.

GAS HEATING

Gas pool heaters are possibly one of the most popular options available, and this is for several reasons.

Gas heating is one of the quickest ways to heat your pool, making it perfectly suited to pool owners who don’t swim every day and who need to heat the water on short notice. It’s also the best option for spa owners and those who want to use their pool year-round.

Gas heating can also be fairly inexpensive. With both natural gas and LPG (liquid petroleum gas) readily available in Australia, the cost of using gas is affordable – and of course, the lower the pool temperature, the less your costs will be.

It is important to remember that spas must adhere to a temperature limit of 42 degrees Celsius to ensure the pool doesn’t overheat. To combat this, all gas heaters have a thermostatic control that allows owners to set the water to a desired temperature. Some gas heating systems are simple and basic, while others are digital and detailed, so what you choose depends on your needs and the precision you want.

ELECTRIC HEATERS

Electric heaters use a heated element to warm water as it is pumped through the system and then back into the pool – similar to how a kettle works. Electric heaters do not heat pools asquickly as gas heaters, but are a good option for maintaining heat over a period of time.

Electric heaters are inexpensive to install and relatively small in size, so are best used for small pools and spas. This style of heater is usually more expensive than gas to run and may not be the most energy-efficient option on the market, but similar to gas heaters, electric heaters can be used throughout the entire year.

HEAT PUMPS

The second most environmentally-friendly option following solar heaters are heat pumps. This type of heating takes heat from the air then transfers this heat to the water running through the system.

While the heat required for warming water comes primarily from the atmosphere – for which there is no cost – the heater itself runs on electricity. Heat pumps are extremely energy-efficient, using minimal power for maximum output, so are consequently cost-effective to run. If you set your heater to run during off-peak supply times, you’ll reduce your running costs further.

While heat pumps rely on the atmosphere to create warmth, this makes it hard to utilise
year-round. Homeowners who choose heat pumps should check with their local supplier to ensure the location of the pool is suited to pump heating.

Excessive chlorine or salt in pool water can also be damaging to heat pumps, so you must ensure the pool’s chemical levels are precise before running water through the system.

TIPS FOR OPTIMAL HEATING

Depending on how you use your pool, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association (SPASA) recommends varying heating temperatures for particular activities. For example, for recreational use and exercise, your pool should be heated between 24–28 degrees

Celsius, 28–35 degrees Celsius for therapeutic purposes and 34–38 degrees Celsius for spas.

It’s always best to use a thermal cover to trap heat in your pool overnight and to reduce excessive use of your heater. A cover also prevents evaporation and heat escaping the water as the weather cools down. Simply investing in a pool or spa cover can reduce your heating costs by up to 50 per cent.

For best heating results, make sure that the cover fits the pool snugly by having it installed by a professional. If you are planning to use your pool regularly, an automatic roller will make pulling the cover on and taking it off much easier.

Where you live will affect your heating needs, as will the position of your pool. Building your pool in an area that is shaded and unexposed to wind will help maintain the water’s temperature.

Remember to keep your pool at a lower temperature in order to save energy and money. A cooler pool temperature also helps to reduce cleaning and chemical maintenance, as the cooler the water, the less algae that grows.

Finally, plan ahead: if you know you won’t be using your pool for a few days, turn the heater off. This will not only assist the environment, but the cost of your power bills, too.

Investing in a heater is a necessity, as you’ll be sure to get more enjoyment out of your pool while simultaneously adding value to your home. Assess how often you use your pool and what you use it for to help you choose the right option for you. In doing so, all that will be left to do is turn it on, jump in and enjoy the heat!

 

Read 162548 times Last modified on Tuesday, 20 October 2015 01:07