Electric pool heaters, also called electric resistance pool heaters, are entirely powered by electricity, which makes them more expensive to operate than electric heat pumps. Electric pool heaters and electric heat pumps are both powered by electricity, although that is where the similarities end.

Electric Pool Heaters

Electric pool heaters feature a simple design with a heating element, much like the one you might see on an electric stove or a space heater, and heats the water as it passes through the heater, the pump, and the filter system. They use electric resistance to superheat the heating element and are easy to install, set up, and operate, although not as energy efficient as gas heaters or electric heat pumps. Electric heaters are more suited for small aboveground pools, spas, or small inground pools with less than 15,000 gallons.

For swimming pools in some areas, it may not be accessible to install a gas line or propane tank, and an electric heater may be the only option. Pool owners looking for an energy-efficient pool heating option should know the difference between an electric pool heater and a pool heat pump and evaluate the pros and cons of each. Your climate will also dictate the most efficient type of pool heater, which could be gas or propane in chillier climates like Connecticut.

To learn more about the different types of pool heaters, the technology, cost-efficiency, and pros and cons of each type, check out our FREE Guide:

Navigating Heating Pool Technologies: A Comprehensive Guide

Difference between Electric Pool Heaters and Heat Pumps

An electric pool heater uses a heating element, as opposed to an electric heat pump which does not use a heating element but rather generates heat from the outside air. Electric pool heaters typically cost less than heat pumps, although they can cost up to five times more than a heat pump to operate.

Electric pool heaters are compact and simple to operate, although heat pumps provide higher efficiencies and much lower annual operating costs to maintain a constant temperature. Because an electric heat pump utilizes outside air, it is substantially cheaper to operate than an electric heater which is entirely powered by electricity and one of the most expensive types of heaters to operate.

Electric heat pumps operate most efficiently in warm weather when the air temperature is at least 50°F or above. The heating efficiency of a pool heat pump declines as the temperature drops. An electric heater with a heater coil can operate at any temperature and may be ideal for quick, intermittent heating of smaller pools and spas.

Electric pool heaters are nice for providing quick heat, although they are not ideal for maintaining constant heat. Electric heaters can heat pool water up quickly, although gas pool heaters will heat slightly faster than an electric pool heater under the same conditions.

Speaking with an experienced swimming pool heating expert will help you understand the best pool heating technology for your pool.

Pool Heater Consultation

Pros and Cons of Electric Pool Heaters

Electric pool heaters are typically only considered if a heat pump, gas, or propane are not a feasible choice and are ideal only for small pools or spas. It helps to know the pros and cons of electric pool heaters.


  • Operates on electricity with no gas required
  • Simple to install and operate
  • Low maintenance expenses
  • Average heating time


  • Costly to operate
  • Suitable only for small pools or spas
  • Requires electrical upgrade for installation

Pool Heater Consultation

The Swimming Pool Store offers pool heater consultations to help pool owners evaluate the most important factors in choosing the best pool heater for them. Important considerations include the climate in your location, the amount of sun exposure, and whether you want quick, intermittent heating or to maintain a constant temperature. No matter what type of pool heating technology is best for you, most pool owners should always use a solar cover. Using a solar cover helps to prevent evaporation and maintain warmer pool water.

The Swimming Pool Store has been providing knowledgeable, professional pool services in Connecticut for more than 50 years. We offer quality swimming pool products and services to get the most enjoyment out of your pool. Contact us with any questions and to learn more about all pool heating technologies, including electric pool heaters.