Heat Pump Pool Heating and the BTU Ratings Myth

The main purpose of a pool heater is to heat the pool, especially in the critical first and last months of the pool heating season. Did you know that as much as 70% of the pool heating load occurs during the first and last month of the pool season (when evening/overnight air temperatures often drop below 50 degrees)? A BTU rating at three Florida test points test (chosen for the Florida Building Code) is not indicative of how the heater will perform over a full range of operating conditions (real life pool heating) and therefore it does not convey to the consumer or the pool dealer a true comparative measure. Keep in mind that these Florida test points are rarely if ever seen outside of south Florida. It does not tell you how effectively a pool heater will heat a pool during the first and last month of your pool heating season. All heat pumps rated at 110,000 BTUs at 80 degree air temp, 80 degree water temp and 80% humidity are not created equal and do not perform equally. In fact their performance, relative to each other, throughout the full range of operating conditions you will encounter may vary by as much as 20-40% and more.

We feel it is imperative that our pool heaters work effectively down to 40 degrees. This unique design philosophy allows us to work for a full range of operating conditions. The net effect is more heat input into the pool during the critical first and last 30 days of the pool season. Our design criteria insures our customers the best performing heat pump on the market in real life pool heating conditions.

Rating at 80 degree water/80 degree air/80% humidity

Based on BTU ratings, the average consumer or pool dealer might conclude that these units are essentially the same in performance, with Brand Y the most favorable. But a more in depth analysis that takes into account the air temperature at which the heater turns off in the field (the critical first and last 30 days of the season when most pool heating takes place) reveals that Aqua Comfort is far and away the best choice. It could be late February in Phoenix, April in North Carolina, early May in Baltimore or St. Louis or mid-May in New England or the Midwest. With average daily overnight temperatures in the mid to upper 40’s, Brand X and Brand Y cannot put heat in overnight while Aqua Comfort does. The net effect:

Brand X puts about 1,600,000 BTUS into the pool daily (heating 15 hours, off 9 hours)
Brand Y puts 1,400,000 BTUs into the pool daily (heating 13 hours, off 11 hours)
Aqua Comfort puts over 2,000,000 BTUs into the pool daily (heating 24 hours).

BTU-chart-2 Aqua Comfort is clearly the choice when overall performance is the criteria, not test points chosen for the Florida Building Code. You don’t purchase an automobile based only on their MPG ratings, why choose your pool heater that way?

Optimizing performance in a test lab does not insure in field performance when the pool owner wants and needs it, only that they will get a certain performance at a point when they probably don’t need it. Since most heat pump manufacturers sell the vast majority of their pool heaters in south Florida they concentrate only on optimizing their performance at the Florida Building Code points. To optimize their performance some use heat exchangers that are not UL safety rated, not designed for in floor cleaning systems and fail prematurely. They lose performance at flow rates other than the design points (many lose efficiency when paired with variable speed pumps), and they sacrifice quality for performance (our units are TUV certified for safety and quality manufacturing practices). We achieve our performance during the critical heating time by insuring that our pool heaters operate at a full range of outside air temperatures and flow rate conditions and through the use of quality components and superior engineering.

When choosing a heat pump pool heater, do not be swayed by performance at test points at conditions you will rarely if ever encounter. Consider how the heat pump you choose will operate in real life conditions. If you do, we are sure that Aqua Comfort will be the correct choice.

Over 100,000 happy and satisfied Aqua Comfort pool owners agree that Aqua Comfort delivers performance that outperforms the competition.