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Is There Such a Thing As a Wood Burning Pool Heater?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Believe it or not, gas, electricity and oil do not have the market cornered when it comes to heating water. There is indeed such a thing as a wood burning pool heater. The fuel source may sound antiquated or unnecessarily frugal, but the technology is exceptionally modern.

When one thinks of a wood burning stove, the idea of a potbelly or a cast-iron fireplace connected to a chimney may come to mind. In reality, a wood burning water heater can be placed outdoors in its own protective shed. Wood is fed into a centralized iron box which generates radiant heat. A secondary compartment surrounds this heat-generating stove in a closed system of pipes and holding tanks. Unheated water circulates around the central stove, absorbing the radiant heat.

This heated water can then be circulated through the inflow and outflow systems of a standard in-ground pool or hot tub or radiant heating system. Additional wood can be added periodically to maintain or increase the ambient water temperature. Once the fire in the wood burning pool heater is extinguished, the circulating water cools down. Unlike a conventional electric or gas water heater, there is no reserve supply of heated water in a wood burning model.

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Unlike a high-pressure boiler system, a wood burning pool heater does not require special training to operate safely. The heated water may become boiling hot, but it will not form into dangerous levels of steam. The heated water is circulated through a forced pump system, much like the radiator system of an automobile. Cooler water returns to the hottest part of the system and keeps it from overheating.

Wood burning pool heaters are especially popular in colder climates where firewood is already available in abundance. Instead of tapping into the same electrical or gas water heating system the rest of the house uses, homeowners can simply fire up a separate water heating source in its own protective housing. After stoking the fire and adding several long-burning logs or special wood pellets, owners can enjoy the benefits of a heated pool without adding to their utility bill or taking hot water from other users.

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Discuss this Article

anon337170
Post 18

Looking for plans to build my own as well. Anyone out there know of any?

anon244722
Post 17

I am thinking of purchasing a wood stove heater from Wood Stove Pools.

We live in PA and are looking for a long term cheaper method of heating the pool (18x36 in-ground with an 8.5 foot deep end).

Does anyone have any experience with their products (good or bad)? We'd like to make an informed decision.

anon220547
Post 16

I agree that wood stove could be a bit inconvenient to have to constantly feed a fire.

JohnC
Post 15

@muscianwife: I have a wood pool heater and it’s not a problem to feed it wood. I only feed it with a big log or two three times a day during the cold season and the water has a fairly constant temperature. The burning chamber in a wood pool heater is much bigger than a burning stove for heating up a room. So you can have much more wood in it at the same time.

rlp17
Post 13

@Gardenias - You are right and that is probably what I meant. When you think about it, however, how many people are going to want to get out of their pool, head over to the wood shed, grab a log or two for the wood burning fireplace, and stoke a fire?

I suppose it is a matter of personal preference and how accessible the wood is in the area. Personally, I think it would be a hassle but then if it saved me a great deal of money on my energy bill, I might be inclined to change my mind. To each their own.

Gardenias
Post 12

@muscianwife - I think your concern has to do more with convenience than efficiency. You state yourself that it would definitely be possible to heat a pool this way and in many places wood burning logs are abundant and inexpensive. Now I will agree that it could be a bit inconvenient to have to constantly feed a fire, I don't believe one could argue against the efficiency of such a design.

muscianwife
Post 11

As much as I love the concept that this article discusses, I just can't see wood burning furnaces for a pool being very efficient.

I have a wood burning stove in my home, and while it is wonderful for radiating heat on very cold days, the idea of having to constantly feed a fire to maintain a steady water temperature seems like it could be more of a hassle than it's worth. I know my heater in my home gets very, very hot, so I have no doubt that it would be possible to heat a pool with the radiant heat.

However, I also know that the hotter the stove burns, the more often we have to feed the fire. Just a thought.

anon130877
Post 7

Are there plans out there for this wood burning pool heater, I would like to build one myself. If there are not plans, do you recommend a company to install (we are located in NJ). Thanks M

anon116039
Post 5

Great article, I just picked up a wood stove pool heater this spring and it works awesome! Completely stainless steel.

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