How to size swimming pool heaters

Written by emily patterson
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How to size swimming pool heaters
The right size pool heater can extend the season for enjoying your swimming pool. (boy in a swimming pool image by Wimbledon from

Selecting the right size for a gas or heat pump pool heater depends on such factors as the pool's surface area, the desired temperature of the pool water in relation to the average air temperatures, wind exposure, and average wind speed. However, you can estimate the size of swimming pool heater you'll need simply based on temperature and pool area.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Decide the average water temperature you want for your pool.

  2. 2

    Find out the average air temperature for the coldest month of the pool season in your local area. Your local extension office will be able to help you locate that information.

  3. 3

    Calculate the temperature rise that the pool heater will need to achieve by subtracting the average air temperature from step 2 from your desired water temperature from step 1. For example, if the average air temperature in your coldest swimming month is 10 degrees C and your desired water temperature is 23.9 degrees C, the temperature rise is -3.89 degrees C.

  4. 4

    Measure the width and length of the pool. Multiply the two numbers together to calculate the surface area of the pool. For example, if your pool is 40 feet long and 18 feet wide, the surface area is 720 square feet.

  5. 5

    Determine the BTU per hour required to maintain the desired temperature by multiplying the pool area by the temperature rise by a factor of 12. Continuing the example, multiply 25 times 720 times 12 to get 216,000 BTU.

Tips and warnings

  • A solar cover will greatly reduce the evaporation of warmed water and reduce energy use required to maintain your pool's water temperature.

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