How would you like to invite your friends over for a pool party in the middle of winter? A pool heater can make that possible. The average pool heater costs about $3,000. Most pool heaters cost between $1,700 and $4,300, depending on your swimming pool’s size and your location. Some can cost as much as $6,300 to install, while some cost as low as $700.
If you’ve been searching for the right heater for your pool but don’t know what a reasonable price for one looks like, we’ve broken down the average professional and DIY costs to have one installed to help you make your decision.
In this cost guide:
- Average Costs
- Cost Estimator by Size
- Other Factors That Affect Cost
- Related Services
- DIY Cost
- Cost by Location
Average Pool Heater Costs in 2023
|National Average Cost||$3,000|
|Typical Price Range||$1,700 – $4,300|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$700|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$6,300|
These typical prices vary depending on the type of heater you want to install, the type of pool you have, and other cost factors.
Pool Heater Cost Estimator by Pool Size
The size of your pool can significantly affect the cost of heating it. Pool heaters are measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units) and range between 50,000 – 400,000 BTU. The BTUs you need for your specific pool rely on its volume and surface area.
|Volume (Gallons)||Surface Area (Square Feet)||BTUs needed|
|Under 10,000||Under 300||50,000 – 200,000|
|10,000 – 20,000||300 – 500||200,000 – 300,000|
|Over 20,000||Over 500||300,000+|
All else equal, higher BTUs lead to a higher heater cost. Expect to pay about $.0.01 – $0.04 per BTU, with the average cost decreasing as BTUs increase. Please see the typical prices in the table below.
|50,000 – 100,000||$1,000 – $4,000|
|100,000 – 200,000||$1,500 – $6,000|
|200,000 – 300,000||$2,400 – $8,000|
Other Factors that Affect Cost
The overall cost of a pool heater is also impacted by:
The cost of a pool heater depends on the type of heat. Please see typical pricing below.
Electric heaters are best for climates that are usually above 50°F. Electric resistance heaters are one of the more affordable options to install, costing between $1,400 – $5,600 per installation.
✓ 5 – 10 year life span
|✗ Higher energy bills|
✗ Not good for cold climates
Gas pool heaters come in two varieties, natural gas and propane. It costs about the same to install them, around $1,700 – $4,900 per installation.
Propane can increase your energy bills higher than natural gas. However, if you choose natural gas, there must already be natural gas lines installed on your property, making propane a good alternative for homeowners who don’t have that.
|✓ Affordable upfront cost|
✓ Good for cold climates
|✗ Need existing gas line for natural gas|
✗ Propane has high operational costs
Electric Heat Pump
Pool heat pumps work similarly to electric resistance heaters but rely half on electricity and half on heat from the air. Heat pumps cost $2,250 – $5,875 per installation and $1,475 – $4,700 per year to run.
|✓ Energy efficient|
|✗ Works best when it is over 50°F|
✗ Not good in cold states
Solar heaters are affordable, energy-efficient, and last around 15-20 years between replacements (the longest of all the heaters on our list). Expect to pay about $2,835 to $7,335 for a solar energy pool heater.
|✓ Low maintenance|
✓ Low operational cost
✓ Great in areas with a lot of sun
|✗ Takes longer to heat|
✗ Needs a lot of sun exposure
Type of Pool
The style of pool you have can change the way you need to heat it.
In-ground pools are among the most popular pool styles but tend to be bigger, making them harder to heat:
- Heat pumps are an excellent way to heat your in-ground pool as they cost exponentially less than gas or propane options, but if you live in a colder area below 50°F in the winter, it will take too long to heat up.
- Gas or propane heaters are a great option for cold climates with existing gas utility lines.
A misconception of above-ground pools is that you can’t enjoy them year-round, but choosing the right heater can keep your above-ground pool swimmable year-round.
- Propane or gas heaters are hard to install but heat your pool quickly regardless of the weather.
- Because the above-ground styles are usually smaller than other pools, the most effective way to keep your above-ground pool warm is to install a solar blanket along with a heat pump.
Natural pools are one of the most unique pool setups out there, designed to appear like hidden ponds or oases in your backyard. They are easy to maintain and eco-friendly, but costly to install.
Going for a pool heater with low operational costs (i.e. heat pump or solar heater) may be the best option to offset the cost, especially if you live in a warmer climate.
Saltwater pools are great for homeowners who hate dealing with harsh chemicals. You can heat a saltwater pool with all types of heaters. Some pools may work best with just a pool cover, enclosure, or solar blanket, which can be more expensive at first but will save you money over time.
Plunge pools (or dipping pools) are a good alternative for traditional in-ground styles, especially for properties with smaller backyards. Plunge pools are around the size of a hot tub, making them quick and affordable to heat.
If you live in a sunny state, installing a solar heater may be the most cost-effective and efficient way to heat your plunge pool. Electric pool heaters are a good option for plunge pools as well.
Depth of Your Pool
It may seem self-explanatory, but the shallower your pool, the less time and money it takes to heat it.
With a smaller pool, you’ll be able to purchase a heater with a lower amount of BTUs, or you could run your heater for less time. A shallower pool will also heal quicker after a cold spell, which is excellent for homeowners living in the north.
With a deep pool, you’ll need a heater with high BTUs, and you’ll have to run it for longer, which will increase your upfront costs and your electricity bill.
When buying a new pool heater, it is wise to consider how much it will cost to run it. Please see typical operational costs by heater type in the table below.
|Heater Type||Typical Annual Cost|
|Solar||$0 – $120|
|Heat pump||$1,475 – $4,700|
|Natural gas||$1,375 – $5,400|
|Propane||$1,925 – $8,100|
|Electric||$1,675 – $6,350|
Please keep in mind that larger pools and pools in colder climates are typically on the high end. In contrast, small pools in warm climates will cost much less to keep warm.
Additional operational costs may include:
- Winterization: Your pool heater can freeze, so winterizing is an essential service to add to your pool care if you live in a northern state. It costs between $137 – $300 and is done by guaranteeing your heater is entirely free of any pool water.
- Heater replacements: Pool heaters can last many years but could become hazardous if they’re not correctly cared for. Possible issues include rust and rodent infestation. Most professional installers charge between $25 – $50 per hour to have your system replaced or removed entirely.
If you’re in the market for a pool heater, you may also want to add the following to your outdoor living space:
Having a cover for your pool can significantly reduce your heating costs, prevent accidental drownings, and lower chemical loss to keep your pool clean. Common pool coverings include:
- Solar covers or blankets are among the most affordable options for a pool cover, ranging from $43- $500. Solar blankets work by allowing the sun’s rays to warm the pool and prevent evaporation during the night to trap the heat.
- Automatic pool covers are easier to use than manual covers, prevent people from getting hurt, and stop debris from getting in your pool. Depending on your pool’s size and shape, automatic pool covers can cost anywhere from $4,600 to $13,700.
- Manual pool covers are cheaper, usually priced between $390 to $2,400, and are like blankets that you roll out over your pool.
- Pool enclosures are the most expensive type of pool covering. The cost to install pool enclosures ranges from $6,300 to $19,600, and they can vary in style and material. Pool enclosures are usually screened-in areas that cover your entire deck and water feature and include furniture and decorations
One of the main reasons people choose automatic pool covers is that the manual styles require two people to roll out, but solar blankets are easier to place than automatic and manual styles.
Although composite decking costs more than wood decking, it is low-maintenance and has a longer life span. It’s great for pool decks because it isn’t susceptible to rot, like natural wood is. Composite decking typically costs $5,100 – $11,200.
|National Average Cost||$8,860|
|Typical Price Range||$5,100 – $11,200|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$3,600|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$20,000|
Fire pits can add light, warmth, and a rustic ambiance to your outdoor living space. A fire pit can work with your heated swimming pool to make the outdoors a lot more bearable during winter.
Expect a fire pit to cost $240 – $2,400. There are many things to look for when choosing a fire pit for your home.
|National Average Cost||$850|
|Typical Price Range||$240 – $2,400|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$200|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$5,000|
Instead of heating your pool, how about installing a hot tub in the backyard? Hot tubs are a relaxing addition to any yard and most hot tubs cost $4,500 – $10,000.
|National Average Cost||$6,900|
|Typical Price Range||$4,500 – $10,000|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$1,000|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$25,500|
Retaining walls control water flow to prevent soil erosion and the typical cost of retaining wall installation is $3,500 – $9,400. Because of their curb appeal and the protection they provide for your home, most retaining walls pay for themselves.
|National Average Cost||$6,300|
|Typical Price Range||$3,500 – $9,400|
|Extreme Low-End Cost||$1,200|
|Extreme High-End Cost||$13,700|
Cost of DIY Pool Heater Installation
If you are a hands-on type of pool owner, we’ve broken down the costs to install a solar pool heating system on your own. The DIY price and equipment needed for this project will vary based on the type of pool heater you’ve chosen to install.
|Equipment Needed||Typical Cost|
|Vinyl irrigation hose (100 ft. 30 m, 3/4 in.)||$85|
|UV-resistant zip ties (500 pack)||$30|
|A large piece of plywood (11/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.)||$30|
|Y adapters (2-pack)||$21|
|Threaded adapters (5-pack)||$15|
How to Install a Pool Heater in 4 Steps
Step 1: Spray paint the plywood black to absorb as much heat from the sun as possible.
Step 2: Tightly wind the irrigation hose on the front of the plywood and secure it with UV-resistant zip ties.
Step 3: Route the hose to your water heater and the water heater to your pool. Do not glue or tape the valves or threaded adapters to the heater.
Step 4: After partially closing the valve, the water can start to flow and be heated by the “solar panel.”
DIY Cost Vs. Professional Installation Cost
The DIY cost to install a solar pool heater is $221.54 plus the cost of the heater. In contrast, professional installation is typically $500 – $1,500 plus the cost of the heater. Installing a homemade solar heater is relatively easy and affordable, but it takes previous knowledge and training in water and electric services to do it safely.
Installing a pool heater is best left to the professionals if you’re a beginner at home improvement, especially if you are looking to install a gas or propane heater.
Cost of Pool Heaters by Location
Your home’s location is one of the most important factors to consider when installing a swimming pool heater. The cost to install a pool depends on your geographic location for the following reasons:
- Climates can range drastically state by state, and those located in Florida will have different heating needs than those in Minnesota. The colder the climate you live in, the harder your pool will be to heat, and the more BTUs your heater will need.
- Solar heaters are an affordable option in areas with a lot of sunlight.
- Cold climates with little sun benefit from a gas or propane heater. Although more expensive, they will heat your pool better.
A professional solar system will collect and save the sun’s rays even through the clouds. The performance of your solar heater does depend on the quality of your panels. If you decide to DIY a solar heater, it may not be as efficient in holding enough warmth from the sun to keep your pool warm while it’s cloudy.
Most professionals recommend starting your heater when the air temperature drops below 78°. It takes close to 24 hours to have your water temperature reach the heat you want, so it’s a good idea to have an eye on the weather beforehand.
Pros also recommend keeping your heater off when it’s not in use to increase your heater’s life and lower your energy costs. For swimmers living in southern states, you may not even need to turn on your heater during the summer.
Depending on the heater, your system should last between 5- 20 years with regular maintenance. Most landscape professionals recommend having your heater inspected and repaired once a year, sometimes bi-annually, depending on the type of pool.
Making sure your pool chemistry is correct can be vital in extending your heater’s life, and your pool company can perform these services simultaneously. Your typical pool service costs about $1,400 per year.
Swimming in your pool can be a relaxing retreat from your day-to-day life. But, if it’s too cold to swim in, it can turn a vacation into a nightmare. If you want to install a heater on your own, it will cost you around $221.54, plus time and effort.
If you decide to go with the recommended professional route, your pool heater installation cost should range between $1,700 and $4,300. Contact a local pool heating specialist today to prep your pool for winter.
Michelle Selzer contributed to this article.
Main Photo by: Bill Jacobus / Flickr / CC BY 2.0