Electric vs gas pool heaters. Which one is better, and why? Here they are, compared in 5 categories.

Enjoying a refreshing afternoon swim in the pool can turn a bad day into your week’s highlight. You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who does not have a fond childhood memory in a swimming pool.

That being said, what happens when it’s cold outside, and you want to do a couple of laps? Are you doomed to freeze?

Certainly not! This is where pool heaters come in.

These heating solutions are great for keeping your pool at the right temperature, and making every swimming session, a pleasant experience. However, as it happens with many household appliances, one option is always better at getting the job done, than the other.

There are many pool heater models out there, but today I want us to focus on comparing electric vs gas versions.

Whether you want to get into the world of pool-heating, or simply need a replacement for your old unit, it’s crucial that you know what to look for. And I want to help you with that.

Below, you’ll find a clear comparison between the two, so you can have a clear idea of what each one gets right, and where they need to improve.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Pros and Cons

You’d be surprised at how two models of the same appliance can differ so much. Let’s start off with the advantages and disadvantages of electric versions.

Pros

  • Cheaper to run than gas heaters
  • Better for extended use
  • Environmentally friendly (when compared to gas heaters)

Cons

  • Slower water heating

Having thoroughly inspected the virtues and flaws of electric models, let’s move on to their gas counterparts.

Pros

  • Faster water heating
  • Low installation costs

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan than electric heaters (if neglected)
  • Pollution
  • Highly dependent on gas costs

Delving Into the Specifics

Ok, so now you know what each model gets right, and where they go wrong or could do better. It’s time to look into 5 more specific aspects that you should keep in mind before pulling the trigger on either one.

These are:

  1. Heating power
  2. Lifespan
  3. Price
  4. Running costs
  5. Environmental impact

#1 Heating Efficiency

Home pool heating unit with swimming pool in background
Gas heaters heat faster, but that does not necessarily translate into heating efficiency

This is one of the first things people consider, and it makes total sense. After all, you’re buying this appliance as a heating solution, so you don’t want to be waiting for hours before you can swim.

Both gas and electric pool heaters get the job done perfectly; however, gas models are quicker to heat the water. If you’re not a patient person, you’ll love the short waiting times this model can provide you with.

That being said, not everything’s peachy. While you’ll get faster heating with gas, you’ll also waste more energy.

Let me explain.

Imagine you’re pouring a glass of water from a jar, and into a cup. If all the water that leaves the jar ends up in the cup, you’ll have 100% efficiency. But if a single droplet falls outside the cup, you have 99% efficiency, and so on.

While gas heating works great, not all the gas that is consumed is used to heat the pool. Some of it is lost in the process, and released into the environment, which is not very eco-friendly, but we’ll get to that.

The problem with decreased heating efficiency is that, you’re basically paying for fractions of gas you’re not using.

This is not the case for electric heaters, as almost 100% of the electricity consumed as energy is transformed into heat energy, resulting in less waste. The more efficient your pool heater is, the less energy it will need to heat the water to your desired temperature.

#2 Lifespan

You’ll be glad to learn that, in this area, both appliances should last about the same.

Most manufacturers claim that their models can provide you with faithful, uninterrupted service for anywhere between 8 and 11 years, which is not too bad if you ask me.

That being said, nothing will define how long an appliance lasts as much as the maintenance you give it, and whether you neglect it.  The average lifespan of your unit could be 100 years, but if you fail to care for it, you’ll be lucky if it makes it past the 2-year mark.

Gas heaters are a lot harder to maintain than their electric counterparts, as they rely on propane tanks and a gas line to ensure adequate gas flow throughout the entire unit. This can be a problem for people who are forgetful or dislike giving a machine maintenance, as it’s necessary to avoid malfunctions.

Electric models, on the other hand, are highly independent. All they need is a steady power source they can draw electricity from.

If you know you’re likely to forget cleaning your gas heater’s internal components or replacing the gas canister when needed, go electric. It’s much simpler to have the latter last longer without having to do too much on your end.

#3 Price

hundred dollar bills fanned out in a wooden surface
Research and find out how much each appliance cost

Just as it happens with any other household appliance, you can find both gas and electric pool heaters in every price range. If you’re only looking for a basic solution, you can find either model for about $1,200. And if you want as many extra bells and whistles as possible, you can find a unit upwards of $5,000.

The massive price difference is not only based on extra features, but also on the size of the pool a model can heat. Larger pools need larger heaters, which are, logically, much more expensive.

However, if your pool is relatively small, you can likely get away with the cheaper models and get the results you want.

That being said, the price tag is not the only thing you should consider before making your decision. You must also always take into account what you’ll have to pay to heat your pool.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, we’ll talk about that in the next point.

#4 Running Costs

The price of electricity where you live could be an important factor to consider before buying

A lot of people make the mistake of only looking at an appliance’s price tag when purchasing it. This is a big mistake that I want to help you avoid repeating.

Whenever shopping for a new pool heating solution, it is of the utmost importance that you also consider the collateral costs that running your new unit entails. You could find the most amazing electric heater on sale, but if the Kilowatt per hour price in your area is very high, you’ll end up paying a fortune to run it.

The same goes for gas heaters. While gas prices are regulated and should not differ too much between locations, this energy source is prone to sudden price increases as a result of world events, and transportation issues in the supply chain.

Something you won’t be affected as much by if you go electric.

#5 Environmental Impact

Creative concept of saving money and ecology
If you love green solutions, choose something that doesn’t promote contamination

Last but definitely not least, is the environmental impact each model has.

On paper, neither energy source is very eco-friendly, but there’s definitely a big difference between them in terms of how much each one pollutes.

On the one hand, we have gas heaters. As discussed earlier, since these are not 100% efficient, some of the gas used to heat your pool will inevitably escape into the environment, which can cause severe pollution.

Electric models, on the other hand, are a little less contaminating. Although the power plants where electricity is generated certainly do create massive CO2 clouds and concentrations, the amount of pollutants released by this method is much smaller than the one for gas heaters.

Sadly, a lot of people fail to consider this factor, but it’s a crucial element that should not be taken lightly when making a decision. Excessive amounts of CO2 in your home’s environment can be detrimental to your health, and even life-threatening.

If you want to avoid the possibility of dangerous gas leaks and want to protect the environment from further pollution, go electric. You’ll save a lot of money, avoid having to replace canisters, and eliminate any dangers of intoxication. 

Which One Is Best for You?

If I told you there’s a single answer to this question, I’d be lying.

The right heater for you will be that which solves the most problems and makes your life easier. If you live in an area where electricity is very expensive, go for gas. And if you don’t want to be at the mercy of gas market price changes, gas leaks, or neglect-related malfunctions, then electric is your best bet.

Remember that, what works for some people might not work as well for you. Choosing the right pool heater can be a trial and error process, so don’t lose hope, and remain patient.

If you know someone who owns either model, talk to them and ask what their experience has been. After all, word of mouth can’t be beat.

And while I’ve tried to provide you with useful information to drive your decision, this should not be your only source. Going to online marketplaces and checking out the customer reviews can also help you get a clearer idea of what to expect.

At the end of the day, it will all come down to your specific situation and user habits.

Conclusion

Having a myriad of options can sound like a good thing. But sometimes, it can also be overwhelming, and a double-edged sword.

Deciding between getting an electric and a gas pool heater is tough, as each model boasts different features, and has specific flaws. Luckily, as I hope you’ve learned in this piece, some aspects are more important than others, and this should help drive your decision.

Analyze your situation and ask yourself, “Am I willing to give regular maintenance to my new heater?”. This, along with some other personal questions, should help you make the right choice.

Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful, you’ll be glad to hear that we have several similar resources below! Why not check them all out?

I wish you all the best!