Gas vs Electric Pool Heaters Comparison

If you happen to live in an area of the world that is warm year-round, then you don’t have to put much thought into the temperature of your pool because the ambient temperature will keep the water at a comfortable level at all times.

However, if you live in an area of the world where you only get a few months of warm summer weather, then what you are going to need for that swimming pool of yours is a pool heater. With that being said, there are various types of pool heaters out there. To be specific, what we’re talking about here is types of pool heaters in terms of the type of energy they use, or in other words, the power source that they run off of.

Generally speaking, there are three types of pool heaters that you can go with. These include gas, electric, and solar pool heaters. Although we will be leaving solar pool heaters out of the equation for today, what we do want to do is to compare gas and electrical pool heaters on a side-by-side basis to figure out which one of these is best for you.

Gas vs Electric Pool Heaters

Gas & Electric Pool Heaters – The Basics

Before we get into talking about whether you want a gas or an electric pool heater for your pool, it’s probably a good idea for you to know the basics in terms of what they actually are and how they function.

Gas Pool Heaters

First off, we have the type of pool heater that uses gas as the main source of power. Now, here we are not talking about gasoline. There are two types of gas that may be used for gas powered pool heaters. These include propane and natural gas. The way in which this type of pool heater works is actually quite simple. This type of pool heater features a combustion chamber just like the engine of your car.

The gas, either the propane or the natural gas, gets fed into this combustion chamber, and then, using a small spark, a flame is created. This constant flame or fire is used to heat a large metal coil which heats up to very high temperatures. This metal coil is contained within a small chamber through which the pool water flows.

As the pool water flows over this heated coil, the water itself also heats up. Like we said, it’s really quite simple. Now, by far the biggest benefit that you get with gas pool heaters is they operate completely independently of the outside temperature and conditions, meaning that they are very effective at heating your pool, even if the outside conditions are not very good.

Propane vs Natural Gas

Before we move on to talking about electric pool heaters, seeing as there are both propane and natural gas pool heaters, it is probably a good idea for you to know the differences between the two.

  • Both natural gas and propane are some of the cleanest burning fuels out there. With that being said, propane is usually considered to have much less of an environmental impact than natural gas.
  • If you have access to a natural gas line, then it is definitely the easier choice to go with. Natural gas comes to you via a permanently fixed line. On the other hand, propane requires large storage tanks that need to be refilled on a regular basis.
  • Do also keep in mind that given the same exact quantity or volume of fuel, propane produces a lot more energy than natural gas, or in other words propane is a lot more energy efficient.
  • With all that being said, keep in mind that the cost of natural gas at this time is about 40% of that of propane.

Pros & Cons of Gas Pool Heaters

Let’s take a quick look at why you want to consider getting a gas pool heater and why you might want to avoid it.


  • Gas pool heaters have the ability to heat a pool up to temperature no matter the outside temperature.
  • Gas pool heaters heat up pool water with great speed.
  • Allow you to choose between natural gas and propane.
  • Ideal for short bursts of heating.


  • Pollute the environment.
  • Can be quite loud.
  • Fairly costly to run.
  • Require a natural gas connection or storage for propane.

Electric Pool Heaters

What is interesting to note is that electric pool heaters are technically heat pumps. The reason why we say this is because electric pool heaters, technically speaking, do not really produce their own heat. Electric pool heaters work by extracting heat from the air around them and transferring that heat into a compressor which heats it more.

To be specific, an electrical pool heater will draw outside air into a special chamber that contains an outer evaporator air coil. There is a liquid refrigerant contained inside of this coil (much like the liquid refrigerant that kitchen refrigerators use), which absorbs the heat taken from outside, compresses it into gas, and that warm gas is then sent into a compressor which heats it even further.

Finally, there is then a heat exchanger through which the pool water is pumped, where the heat from the gas is transferred into the water. The water slowly heats as it circulates through this chamber, and is then sent back into the pool. Now, what needs to be said about electric pool heaters is that they don’t perform overly well when the ambient outside temperatures are cold. If the outside temperature is under 55 degrees Fahrenheit, an electric pool heater will not be able to keep pace.

Pros & Cons of Electric Pool Heaters

Just like gas pool heaters have their advantages and drawbacks, so do electric pool heaters, so let’s take a quick look.


  • Cheaper to run than gas pool heaters.
  • More eco-friendly than gas pool heaters.
  • Do not require a natural gas line or storage for propane.


  • Quite slow at heating pool water.
  • Not ideal for short bursts of heating.
  • Lackluster performance in cold temperatures.


There you have it, people. All of the main differences between gas pool heaters and electric pool heaters. Now that you know what each of these are, and what the differences between them are, you can make an informed choice between them.

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