Heater for DIY stock tank Pool

  • Last Post 09 December 2017
Scooterb posted this 22 November 2017

We are two pool/spa neophytes, living just North of San Francisco, who have been working on creating a stock tank pool in our backyard. We were are seeking to integrate a heater to into our set up to permit year round use and are trying to figure out what is simplest and most economical path forward given our current set up.   Regarding our project as it stands now:

  • 10' Stock Tank, approximately 1,200 gallons 
  • We have integrated a combo sand/saltwater pump and filter from intex, Click the link for exact model. 
  • We have electricity to the pool site
  • Pool water is salt chlorinated
  • We have Natural Gas in the house but it is FAR from the pool location so not really practical or economical to extend back that far.
  • We have a solar cover, and are considering a spa cover when we finally get the water warm.

We have pretty much discarded the idea of wood fired because we don't want to be hassling with stoking a fire everyday, so I am guessing we are looking at electric or propane? Ideally I would like to integrate a heater between the Sand/salt filter pump and the pool to take advantage of the inlets and outlets we have already installed on the pool vs having to add and seal a whole new set of inlets and outlets. Some questions we have been pondering:

  • Should we be looking at highest BTU SPA heaters or lowest BTU POOL heaters given the volume of water involved?
  • Should we be looking at electric driven or propane (not sure how much propane we would be talking, like how long would a typical BBQ propane tank last?)
  • I think given the salt water we would need cupro nickel heat exchanger vs. copper? 

Sorry for the lengthy post but trying to anticipate the questions you might have to give an informed response. I would greatly welcome any input/advice/ and specific model recommendations given our setup. We are feeling rather overwhelmed!   Thanks!   Scott

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Scooterb posted this 06 December 2017

Still hoping for some help on our dilemma. I am looking at electric spa heaters given the low volume of water involved but wondering if that will work?

In reasearching further one big concern is that the sand filter pump that we have is integrated with the salt water chlorinator, so we don't have the option to put the chlorinator AFTER the heater which I guess most units call for. Will this instantly kill our new heater?

The filter pump CAN be run without engaging the salt clorination system so wondering about the idea of installing a bypass valve after the chlorinator so we could run the filter pump ONLY when we are heating and then route the water around the heater when we are cleaning the water? Not ideal I realize but is this a reasonable work around assuming we were okay with babysitting the two processes independently? 

Is there someone at Inyo I could talk this through with?


marty8141 posted this 06 December 2017


Your set up seems similar to a spa. If you are going to add a heater the equipment should be separated. Pump, Filter, Heater, salt system. What are the dimensions of the tank? Also was is the desired water tem?. I can be reached at 708-525-6687.


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Scooterb posted this 09 December 2017

Hi Marty,

Many thanks for the reply. Our set up is probably closer to a spa then a pool, its a circular stock tank a little under 10' across and about 21" deep. I have calculated that we are holding about 1000 gallons of water. We would like the temp up to comfortable swimming temp doesn't need to be hot tub hot. We are primarily using the pool for daily water therapy for our older dog who is suffering from arthritis, though we may eventually get in too. 

Totally get the ideal set up you describe the challenge is we bought this pump:


This is an integrated unit so the pump/filter/salt system are all one unit. I CAN'T move the salt chlorinator after the heater. The best I can do is run the pump without the salt system on so wondering if I could rig up a bypass that would either divert the water around the heater when the salt system is on and through the heater when we want to heat the pool and have the chlorinator OFF. Is this something that will work or am I kidding myself?

I realize in hindsight we should have bought a Non-integrated unit but hind-sight is 20/20 and I have this system installed already. Trying to make the best of it in the near term and we can re-jigger later as needed.

Thanks Marty I very much welcome your input as well the input of anyone else on the forum.