Gas vs. Electric Pool Heaters: What is the Difference and Which One is Better?

Gas and electric pool heaters are two common options for year-round swimming pool heating. But, which one is better, you would ask?

Here we compare gas vs. electric pool heaters to find the most cost-effective and worry-free solution for your home. We will see the differences, advantages and disadvantages and various benefits each heaters can deliver.

Gas vs. electric pool heaters: How they work

How electric pool heaters work

Ecosmart pool heaterEcoSmart pool heater

Typical electric pool heaters are designed to use heating elements (resistors) to heat the pool water and circulation pumps to move water into the pool and back. They are also equipped with thermostats allowing users to set and control the temperature.

As they require a lot of energy for heating, they are mainly used for smaller pools, hot tubs, and spas.

A better option for homeowners is an electric heat pump which is much more efficient, so it can reduce your energy bills significantly.

How gas pool heaters work

Hayward H250FDN Universal H-Series gas pool heaterHayward gas pool heater

Gas pool heaters are designed to use natural gas or propane and generate a lot of heat - BTUs.

They use a gas burner and combustion chamber to heat the pool water and a pump to circulate that water to the pool and back.

They also have thermostats to control the temperature.

This is one of the most popular options for pool heating because it is fast and efficient, even in cold climates.

Gas vs. electric pool heaters: Pros and cons

Electric pool heaters

Heating pools with electric pool heaters do not depend on the weather conditions or the season. As long as they are properly installed and receive regular maintenance, they will last longer and ensure reliable operation.

These pool heaters are the best for use in smaller pools, hot tubs, and spas.

Advantages of electric pool heaters

  • Affordable
  • Clean
  • High efficiency
  • Very reliable
  • Small
  • No venting required

Disadvantages of electric pool heaters

  • Not recommended for larger pools due to higher operating costs
  • Slow response
  • More complicate installation
  • It might require changes in your electrical panel due to high amperage and heavy-duty wiring

Gas pool heaters

Gas pool heaters are the most popular type among homeowners. Due to their powerful gas burners, they can heat water fast and effectively in any weather condition or climate.

Natural gas pool heaters are ideal for large pools and occasional use when a large amount of energy is needed in a short amount of time.

Advantages of gas pool heaters

  • Powerful
  • They can use natural gas and propane
  • Quick response
  • Ideal for larger pools
  • Efficient
  • Affordable
  • Small footprint

Disadvantages of gas pool heaters

  • Heating pools with propane gas is expensive
  • Gas is not available everywhere as electricity
  • They require some maintenance and cleaning
  • Most models are not eco-friendly (low NOx models are)
  • Shorter lifespan

Comparing costs of gas pool heater vs. electric

Initial cost

According to the experts, the cost of a standard gas pool heater ranges from $1,000 to $4,500, while electric resistance models can cost you between $500 and $5,000. The cost depends on the unit size, quality, and available features.

Expect to pay up to $1500 for the gas installation and up to $1000 for the electric hookup.

Cost of operation

In the long run, electric pool water heaters consume less energy than propane gas models but more than natural gas options.

An average operating cost of an electric heater is around $400 a month, $300 for natural gas models, and $500 for the propane type, making it the most expensive.

While it is hard to predict the operating costs even in the near future, always use energy efficiency when selecting a pool heater. Higher, the better.

Also, note that electric resistance heating is the least economical option for homeowners.

Life expectancy

Electric pool heaters can last long, from 10 to 20 years, while the gas type has the shortest life span of 5 to 10 years.

In general, gas pool heaters tend to wear out faster and may require frequent servicing and maintenance.

The life expectancy of either pool heater depends on several factors, including element quality, usage, water chemistry, location, etc.

And if you want to extend the life of your pool heater, do the following:

  • Maintain the PH level as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Clean the pool regularly.
  • Perform regular maintenance.
  • Check the filter for the proper work.
  • Fix the issues on time.


Energy efficiencies of both electric and advanced gas pool heaters are over 90% resulting in greater savings and lower energy loss.

Comparing best electric and gas pool heaters

EcoSmart SMART POOL Tankless Heater 27kW

If you are looking for a small and compact electric device that can heat your new or existing pool at a precise temperature, this EcoSmart model is what you need.

EcoSmart Smart Pool is small and easy to install, and it works at 110 and 240 volts, making it useful for various applications.

Hayward H400FDN

The Hayward H400FDN is an energy-efficient and high-performance gas pool heater that offers top-notch features. It comes with a Cupro-nickel heat exchanger, superior salt water and corrosion resistance, and a low NOx gas emission.

It works with both natural gas and propane and can deliver up to 400,000 BTU of power with over 80% thermal efficiency.

This versatile and eco-friendly unit is recommended for reliable and cost-effective water heating in large pools and small spas.

So which one should I buy, gas or electric pool heater?

There are many reasons to buy a gas pool heater. So as the electric type.

Both types heat pools year-round, so that you can use them more often. Even if you live in a cold climate and want to extend your swimming season.

If the gas option is too expensive for you, natural gas is not available, and propane isn't convenient, then an electric pool heater is a right choice for you.

But, if you need fast heating and plan to use a pool occasionally, then gas pool heaters are better.

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