The Most Efficient Pool Heater For Small To Large Pools: We Help You Find Out

Kenneth Wilson

Nobody wants to swim in a cold pool, it’s just not enjoyable. The problem most pool owners face is keeping their pool heated without spending a fortune in the process. Pool heaters are known for being expensive to buy and operate. However, we are here to help you find the most efficient pool heater possible.

What’s the most Efficient Heater Money can Buy?

The most efficient pool heater will always be a natural gas option. These pool heaters heat up quicker and cost less to run than electric options. If you own a small pool, an electric or solar pool heater can be efficient and work for your situation. But, electric and solar will never be as efficient as a gas-powered pool heater.

Types of Pool Heaters

There are different types of pool heaters, some more efficient than others. It all depends on your needs, and whether or not you live in an area that suffers from cold winters. You have the option of purchasing a solar, electric, or gas-powered heater to keep your swimming pool water warm.

Let’s take a look at the three types of heaters and go over the pros and cons to help you make the right decision.

Electric Pool Heaters

In Florida, where swimming pools are extremely common, you will notice most pool heaters running off of electricity. Some are more efficient than others, and it depends on the size of your swimming pool.

For a small to medium size pool - electric heaters are a great option. It’s not the most efficient, but if you live in a warm area, it will only be used on an as-needed basis. It doesn’t cost much to heat a small pool, and an electric heater has a long lifespan with low maintenance costs.

How efficient is an electric pool heater? Expect to pay $400-$600 per month if you keep it running daily.

Pros and Cons of Electric Pool Heaters


  • Low maintenance costs
  • Very long lifespan
  • Easy and affordable to have installed


  • Expensive to heat a large swimming pool or run full time
  • They’re more affordable than electric heaters

Gas Pool Heaters

The quickest way to heat your swimming pool is by using a gas heater. It’s also the most efficient way to get the job done. It’s similar to how efficient and quick a gas heater in your home will keep you warm in the winter. When it comes to using a gas pool heater, you can quickly warm up the pool and then turn it off to prevent using too much natural gas or propane. Keep in mind, the cost of running a gas pool heater will vary as gas prices change.

A gas heater will be the most efficient option for those of you who own a large pool or want to heat a big commercial pool. In fact, it’s the most realistic way to keep a large commercial swimming pool warm. It’s also worth noting that gas heaters are the least environmentally friendly option of the three, as they do produce emissions.

How efficient is a gas pool heater? Expect to pay around $200-$450 per month if you run the heater full time. If gas prices go up, then so will the cost to run your gas heater.

Pros and Cons of Gas Pool Heaters


  • They’re more affordable than electric heaters
  • They heat up pools a lot quicker than solar and electric types
  • Most efficient option


  • Harder to install - may need a professional to set it up for you
  • Gas piped are required
  • May require more maintenance than other types
  • Gas heaters produce emissions

Solar Pool Heaters

Solar pool heaters aren’t going to heat up your pool quickly, nor will they work in the winter if it gets cold where you live. For those who live in states like Florida that stay warm all year, solar pool heaters can be a good option.

As you can tell from the name, solar heaters get their energy from the sun and use that energy to heat your pool. They won’t make a cold pool warm in 30 minutes, but they will work well if used in warm climates that don’t require a lot of heating. Many solar pool heaters will last more than 5 years, and since they require no pipes or power cables, they’re incredibly easy to install.

How efficient is a solar pool heater? Since they get their energy from the sun, there are no monthly costs to run a solar heater. However, they’re not efficient for warming up a large pool, and they’re not capable of warming up a pool when the sun isn’t out. A solar pool heater may be efficient for heating up a small backyard pool, but that’s it.

Pros and Cons of Solar Pool Heaters


  • The easiest type of pool heater to install
  • Little to no maintenance - and absolutely no maintenance costs
  • No fuel required
  • No electricity required


  • Very slow heating time
  • Only effective when the sun is bright and it’s already warm outside
  • Not a realistic choice for anyone with a medium to large-sized pool


We’ve gone through the pros and cons of each type of pool heater to help you make the right decision for your specific needs. Even though gas pool heaters are more efficient, it doesn’t mean they’re the best option for you. Gas pool heaters do produce emissions, and some people prefer a more environmentally friendly option.

Solar pool heaters can be great for those who own a small backyard pool and live in a warm climate. Since they cost absolutely nothing to run, they can be very efficient in some situations. Electric heaters are not all created equal, and some are more efficient than others. It’s important to shop around and find the best pool heater for your needs. (Related: What Size Of Pool Heater Do I Need? (And How To Calculate It))

Kenneth Wilson
September 15, 2021

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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