Buying a pool heat pump is an excellent investment for any pool owner because it is directly responsible for heating your pool while being environmentally friendly. Most owners will also find that pool heat pumps tend to pay for themselves over maybe a year or so, after which it helps them save money. Should you require the pump to be maintained, there are many professionals that can install and fix pool heat pumps when the time comes. That said, pool heat pump installation isn’t rocket science, and those with a bit of skill can install it independently.
We often advise that homeowners invest in the services of a professional installer. That way, you can be sure that nothing will go wrong. Suffice to say that incorrect installation can void the warranty of your otherwise brand-new pool heat pump, so why risk it? You also need to remember that the exact installation procedure will vary depending on the manufacturer, so you will want to refer to the owner’s manual or instructions for exact installation steps.
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General Pool Heat Pump Installation Tips
As someone who has made the wise decision of switching to an eco-friendly heat pump, it is worth mentioning that this device can last for more than 10 years if it’s taken care of. Moreover, it maximizes the energy consumed from the electrical outlet, offering the highest efficiency of any other type of pool heater. In other words, it consumes far less electricity.
We strongly recommend that homeowners hire a certified professional or an electrician to install the device because there is the inherent danger of crossed wires and short circuits if doing it yourself. A big part of ensuring that the pool heater runs optimally and without incident is hooking up the wires correctly.
To properly install a heat pump, ensure that the pool is connected to a separate electrical subpanel (see also ‘How To Install A Subpanel/ How To Install Main Lug‘). This subpanel can be installed near the main breaker panel. You will also want to install a switch near the unit so that it can be shut off instantly if necessary.
Secondly, before installing a pool heat pump, make sure you have the proper electrical connections. These pumps require a dedicated circuit with a 30 or 50-amp breaker. Most in-ground pools already have a subpanel with 100-amp service, so adding a thirty or forty-amp breaker to your existing panel will make the installation easier. You will also need the proper breaker size, wire, sturdy conduit, and connectors for the heat pump.
When installing a heat pump, allow plenty of space for the heat pump to circulate fresh air into the pool. This will ensure maximum efficiency. Ideally, you will want to install the heater on ground level or near the filter, as this will help improve overall operating efficiency.
Connecting a New Pool Heat Pump to an Existing Plumbing System
You will want to start by measuring the existing pipework. Measure it to make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the new heat pump. Then, purchase the right-sized elbows and connectors. Connect the new heat pump after the pool filtration system and other pool equipment. Ensure the existing pipework is the right diameter for the unit’s water flow.
You must also make sure that you have enough space to access the unit during service. Generally, the recommended clearance is around 6 inches, if not more, above the heat pump. Also, the floor space needs to be big enough to install the unit. Having tight or small floor space makes accessing the heat pump’s control panel difficult.
Next, you need to determine the water flow rate. The heat pump’s water flow rate is primarily the amount of water flowing through the pipes. If the pipes are blocked, cold air will be recirculated, and the heater will not work as efficiently. You will want to check to see if the water flow rate is not obstructed.
Finally, the new heat pump should be installed outside, making it easier for the unit to suck in the fresh air. The fan should not be obstructed by a wall or something else because any obstruction will reduce the system’s performance. Also, keep in mind that the farther the heat pump is from the pool, the less effective it will be.
Choosing the Best Location For a Pool Heat Pump
One of the keys to correctly installing a heat pump for your swimming pool is choosing the right location. Heat pumps can be a great way to keep the water warm even on those cold winter days. However, it would help to consider where the heat pump should be physically located.
You should also choose a well-ventilated location to ensure maximum air circulation.
Whether you have purchased a newer compact unit or a bulky unit, how it draws heat remains the same. Ideally, the heat pump should have access to direct sunlight. In other words, it shouldn’t be installed in a closed area where the sun does not shine. One way to make sure that the unit gets enough sunlight is to install it to the East or West of your home, in the open.
Troubleshooting Your Pool Heat Pump After Installation
After installing the pool heat pump, you need to ensure it is working. To do this, measure the temperature of the pool water. It can be difficult and time-consuming to check the temperature of the entire pool manually, but you can sample different parts of the pool. Ideally, the entire pool should be around the same average temperature.
Water On and Under the Pump
If you find water around the heat pump, don’t be alarmed as it may be the condensation as a result of the heating process. However, if there is a lot of water coming out of the heat pump, you will want to have a professional take a look.
Low Outside Temperature
The other common problem with pool heat pumps has to do with low outside temperatures. If the temperature is too low, the evaporator coil can freeze and prevent the heat pump from working properly. If the evaporator is full of ice, the heat pump will have to wait until the ice melts. Besides, there could be other reasons for low airflow that need to be professionally investigated.
Strange noises indicate that the heat pump may not be working properly. There could be several reasons for this, including faulty wiring, low water flow, faulty bearings, etc. Also, check the temperature setting of the heater.
The Pool Heat Pump Does Not Turn On
If the pool heat pump is not running or turning on, it could be a wiring issue or a faulty power source. You could have faulty wiring caused by corroded connections. These can be complicated issues to troubleshoot, so it is worth calling a technician.
Strange Puddles Near The Pool Heat Pump
If you notice puddles around the heat pump, you need to check the filtration system. Start by checking the water flow from the heat pump to see if it is not impeded by dirt or debris. If there is debris obstructing the normal flow of water, then you might want to turn off the pump and clean it. If that does not fix the problem, call a professional to troubleshoot the issue.
Cost of Installing a Pool Heat Pump
The costs involved with installing a pool heat pump depend on which model you choose. If it is a gas heater, for instance, that will require specialized utility lines, whereas a solar pool heat pump will only need access to direct sunlight.
A pool heat pump unit draws warm air from the surrounding atmosphere and transfers it into the pool’s water. The heated water then jets back into the pool via a regular inlet pipe. The process reduces energy costs because ambient air is warmer, which means the heat pump will work less. This also means that a pool heat pump is cheaper to run in the long term. However, installing a pool heat pump is also more affordable than a gas heat pump since it does not require running a line from the utility or shuffling propane tanks.
A heat pump can also be used to maintain the temperature of a swimming pool during the winter since it can be set up to use electricity from a PV solar blanket converted to heat.
Most pool heat pumps are designed to be low-maintenance, and they can operate across a wide range of temperatures. When installed correctly, they can also save on energy and money.
When investing in a pool heat pump, the important thing to keep in mind is to buy a unit that comes backed by a warranty. The little extra you pay will help save you money in the long term. Also, by hiring a professional to install the pool heat pump, you ensure that it lasts a long time despite the installation costing more than doing it yourself.
Best Way to Run A Pool Heat Pump
After initially installing the pool heat pump, you will want to run it for 72 hours straight during the warmest time of the month if possible. This will help the pool get to its required or your desired temperature. If you also have a solar cover or a blanket, as it is called, cover your pool with it. After running the heat pump for a while, you will notice condensation around the equipment pad, which is perfectly normal.
Running it for 72 hours straight will also help determine if the pump is functioning correctly. If there are issues, the pump can be returned under warranty.
Check If It Is Running Optimally
After you have the unit running in heating mode for a while, you should check that the air is being exhausted from the top of the unit. If the air is cooler than the ambient air, it is working fine. If you notice that the heat pump is still running, even when the water pump is turned off, turn off the heater and call a professional or the device’s manufacturer.
Most pool heat pumps are designed to shut down if the temperature reaches below 50 degrees Fahrenheit and then start up again once the temperature rises. Though there are models that will go well below 50 degrees if they have a built-in hot Freon defrost system.
It is possible to improve the heat pump’s performance by using a solar blanket that traps the heat inside the pool during cool days. If you live in an area that freezes over, a solar blanket may be imperative to maintaining your pool’s usable temperature.
The decision to take on a pool heat pump installation on your own or hire a professional is personal. However, since you’ve spent a lot of money on a pool heat pump, it is worth not risking voiding the warranty by incorrect installation and calling a professional instead.
A professional can help you save a great deal of time, money, and frustration in the long term. If anything, you are guaranteed years of trouble-free service life and lots of fun in the pool.