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AquaCal vs Gulfstream Heat Pump: Which is the Better Brand?

  • 9 min read

Heating your pool allows you to enjoy it to the fullest, spending more time out in the sun relaxing with loved ones or even taking solo dips. Of all the ways you can warm your pool, an electric pool heat pump is the most cost-effective. 

But with so many different brands and models at your fingertips, it can feel overwhelming trying to choose the right one. Today, we’ll compare and contrast AquaCal vs Gulfstream heat pump models to help you feel confident investing in the superior manufacturer.

Each is a great solution, and as it turns out, we carry both here at Outdoor Direct! That being said, the best heat pump pool heater is that of AquaCal without a doubt. More specifically, the AquaCal HeatWave SuperQuiet Pool Heater.

It’s the most sophisticated, efficient model on the market. As the name suggests, it’s whisper-quiet too so you won’t have to worry about noise getting in the way of the fun.

Make no mistake though, Gulfstream heat pumps have their place as well. These are a great budget-friendly option that still offers advanced technology and plenty of efficiency to keep your bills low.

The best way to know for sure which pool heat pump is right for you? Get in touch today for a personalized recommendation or take our quiz below! We’ll help you make the right choice.

Still not sure which heat pump is right for you?

Overview of AquaCal Heat Pumps

AquaCal is a leading manufacturer of swimming pool and spa heat pumps. The company was founded in 1981 and is headquartered in St. Petersburg, Florida. This means the products are manufactured in the USA and support is never far away!

Over the past four decades and counting, AquaCal has built a reputation for delivering reliable and energy-efficient heating solutions. There are two main series you should familiarize yourself with:

AquaCal HeatWave SuperQuiet Series

This series is provides powerful heating with minimal noise and energy use. These heat pumps are equipped with a patented ThermoLink Titanium Heat Exchanger, which ensures efficient heat transfer and long-lasting durability. 

Meanwhile, the corrosion-proof cabinet with AquaTop adds to the unit's resilience, protecting internal components from the elements. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Scroll Compressor: Offers quiet and efficient operation.
  • Microprocessor Controls: Provides a user-friendly interface with a digital display for easy monitoring and adjustments.
  • Off-Set Plumbing: Simplifies installation and maintenance.
  • PoolSync Ready: Allows control of the heat pump from a smartphone with the optional PoolSync WiFi Controller.
  • Hydraulic Design: Adds only 2 PSI at 45 gpm, increasing compatibility with two-speed and variable-speed pumps, enhancing efficiency.
  • Louvered Side Panels: Protects the evaporator coil while ensuring efficient airflow.

The HeatWave SuperQuiet series is ideal for pool owners looking for a high-performance, energy-efficient, and quiet heating solution. If you mean it when you say “I want the best pool heat pump”, look no further.

AquaCal TropiCal Series

On the other hand, the AquaCal TropiCal Heat Pumps are known for budget-friendly efficiency without sacrificing quality. 

These heat pumps are designed to provide reliable performance and energy efficiency, making them an excellent choice for a wide range of pool sizes. Key features include:

  • High Performance Titanium Heat Exchanger: The patented ThermoLink design ensures efficient heat transfer and long-lasting performance, preventing premature heat pump failure.
  • Corrosion and Fade Proof Cabinet: Made from impact-resistant material, the cabinet is designed to withstand harsh environments and maintain its appearance over time.
  • Easy to Use Control Panel: Simplifies operation, making it accessible even for those who are not technically inclined.
  • PoolSync Ready: Offers optional smartphone control with the PoolSync WiFi Controller for remote adjustments.
  • Energy Efficiency: Designed to consume less power compared to other heating methods, translating into lower monthly energy bills - although not quite as efficient as the HeatWave SuperQuiet.

Whether you need a small pool heat pump, commercial pool heat pump, pool heater cooler combo, or above ground pool heat pump, AquaCal is the most trusted brand on the market. Now, let’s introduce the other half of the AquaCal vs Gulfstream heat pump conversation.

Overview of Gulfstream Heat Pumps

Gulfstream is another Florida-based company that manufactures its heat pumps in North Fort Myers. This family-owned and operated business was founded in 1999, boasting 35 years of experience in the pool heating industry.

Known for their commitment to quality and innovation, Gulfstream heat pumps are designed to deliver top performance and efficiency, making them a trusted choice for pool owners. The key difference is they’re a bit cheaper than AquaCal units, which will be the key takeaway from this comparison. 

Gulfstream HE Series pool heat pumps utilize an optimized TXV (Thermal Expansion Valve) for R-410A refrigerant, enhancing heat output while reducing operational costs. They’re among the most efficient heat pumps in the world. Here are some of the most noteworthy features:

  • Titanium Heat Exchanger: Tifled titanium tubing in the heat exchangers ensures long-lasting durability and high efficiency.
  • AHRI Standards: All models in the HE Series have passed AHRI testing, meeting the stringent requirements of a 4.0 COP mandated by the state of Florida.
  • Intelligent Control and Design: Advanced control systems allow for precise temperature regulation and efficient operation.
  • Corrosion Resistance: The titanium heat exchanger and robust construction ensure the heat pumps withstand harsh environmental conditions, providing reliable performance for the long haul.

Gulfstream offers a lifetime warranty on the titanium heat exchanger, showcasing their confidence in the durability and longevity of their products. 

But is this the right solution for you, or should you go with AquaCal? Let’s put the two pumps side by side and see where each has an edge below.

AquaCal vs Gulfstream Heat Pump: Which is the Better Brand?

Be clear, both AquaCal and Gulfstream heat pumps can be a reliable investment that improves your swimming experience. It just comes down to what you’re looking for in a heater.

Do you want the best of the best and are you willing to pay for it? Go with AquaCal. 

Are you working with a tighter budget but don’t want to compromise on quality? Gulfstream is a great choice.

We’ll compare and contrast energy efficiency, build quality, technological features, cost, and more below to help you feel confident choosing the right heating solution. 

While it isn’t completely apples to apples, we’ll compare the AquaCal SQ166 to the Gulfstream HE125TA for as close a comparison as possible. 

Energy Efficiency

When it comes to how long it takes to heat pool and what it will cost you on your energy bill every month, both are very efficient. 

The AquaCal model has a COP rating of 5.6 whereas the Gulfstream model comes in with a COP rating of 5.7. There will be a negligible difference in energy savings here.

However, it’s worth noting that if energy efficiency matters to you, AquaCal does have an edge. Their top model offers a COP rating of 7.1! 

Further to that point, these AquaCal pumps are crafted with a ThermoLink Titanium Heat Exchanger that further enhances efficiency, COP ratings aside. Still, Gulfstream has a case for efficiency itself with its optimized TXV for R-410A refrigerant.

Build Quality and Durability

The build quality on AquaCal units is noticeably stronger than those of Gulfstream. They’re equipped with corrosion-proof cabinets and feature the AquaTop technology, which protects internal components from environmental damage.

Meanwhile, the ThermoLink Titanium Heat Exchanger and patented hydraulic design ensure long-term durability and reliable performance. So, how long does a pool heat pump last from AquaCal last? In some cases, 10-20 years!

On the other hand, Gulfstream heat pumps are constructed with a focus on durability as well. They’re made from titanium turbo heat exchangers and no-rust ABS cabinets. The use of rifled titanium tubing enhances their resistance to corrosion and wear even further.

Technological Features

This is where you’ll notice a big difference between an AquaCal vs Gulfstream heat pump - sophistication. 

AquaCal’s HeatWave SuperQuiet series includes advanced features such as microprocessor controls, off-set plumbing, and PoolSync compatibility for smartphone control. It has built-in wifi to facilitate control from anywhere.

Gulfstream heat pumps come with digital diagnostic LCD displays that provide clear and easy-to-read information but lack the ability to connect with wifi. Still, its intelligent control systems and super-quiet 8-pole Emerson fan motors enhance user experience and operational convenience.

Both the AquaCal SQ166 and Gulfstream HE125TA units can serve as heaters or chillers, which is a nice feature in areas that experience scorching summers.

Noise Levels

Noise is something you don’t think about until you have your pool heat pump installed and hear it running for the first time. As the name suggests, the AquaCal HeatWave SuperQuiet has an obvious edge here. This makes for a peaceful poolside experience.

That’s not to say the Gulfstream models are incredibly loud, but they’re certainly noisier than their AquaCal counterparts. Noise levels here can be as low as 56 decibels at full operation.

Ease of Installation and Maintenance

For what it’s worth, we actually do not recommend learning how to install a pool heat pump unless you have a background as an electrician. The process can be complex and missteps void your warranty, damage your unit, or worse - lead to injury.

With that precursor in mind, AquaCal units are designed with user-friendly installation features, including corrosion-proof cabinets and easy-to-access components. Should you ever need to reset your AquaCal heat pump, it’s quick and easy.

In contrast, Gulfstream heat pumps also feature intuitive controls and user-friendly interfaces, making installation and operation straightforward. The digital diagnostic display aids in quick troubleshooting.

Customer Support and Service

AquaCal offers robust customer support and service, backed by comprehensive warranties, including an extended 10-year warranty on the evaporator coil for AquaTop models. 

The brand has nearly a decade more of experience in the industry than Gulfstream, giving it an edge here just based on reputation alone.

Gulfstream also provides an industry-leading warranty, including a lifetime warranty on its titanium heat exchanger. Being a family-owned business, Gulfstream takes customer satisfaction and support seriously.

No matter which brand you go with, you won’t have to worry about being left on your own when you need help. This is especially true when you shop here at AquaCal, as we stand behind all the products we sell ourselves. 

Price and Value

You can’t deny the price tag discrepancies between AquaCal vs Gulfstream heat pumps at $6,262.00 and $4,495.00 respectively. However, you should never shop based on the cost of pool heat pump alone. Instead, ask yourself which option presents the better value.

AquaCal is an investment. The higher upfront cost is justified by efficiency, advanced features, and long-term savings on energy bills. In fact, you could recoup the upfront cost in energy savings alone within 3 years of ownership!

That being said, Gulfstream heat pumps are competitively priced, offering high efficiency and advanced features at a reasonable cost. This is an excellent budget-friendly option that still packs solid performance and dependability.

So, Should You Go With an AquaCal or Gulfstream Heat Pump?

As we touched on earlier, the choice between one of these solutions comes down to your budget and needs. 

If your priorities include advanced features, energy efficiency, quiet operation, and longevity, AquaCal might be the better choice. On the other hand, Gulfstream is a reliable, versatile, and cost-effective solution with strong customer support.

You can’t go wrong either way, and both brands are available right here at Outdoor Direct!

Still not sure which heat pump is right for you?

What About Other Brands Like Pentair or Hayward?

We’ve written similar comparisons with other manufacturers, such as AquaCal vs Hayward heat pump and AquaCal vs Pentair heat pump

However, you’ll find the same story in these - AquaCal is the #1 choice across the entire pool heat pump industry. You really can’t beat the performance that comes with more than four decades of experience in manufacturing pool heating solutions!

Whether You Want an AquaCal or Gulfstream Heat Pump, Outdoor Direct Has the Top Models at Unbeatable Prices!

When you shop with us you get the lowest prices on both AquaCal and Gulfstream, not just through the prices themselves but through our free shipping policy. You won’t have to pay sales tax, either!

We’re passionate about helping you enjoy the great outdoors more, whether it’s a camping trip or simply lounging around in the pool. That means our customer service is always on standby if you have any questions or concerns - from troubleshooting a pool heat pump not heating to sizing a pool heat pump.

Speaking of which, we have an intuitive quiz that can show you exactly which brand and model is right for you after you answer a few questions. Put all the guesswork of choosing your heating solution in the past by clicking below! 

Closing Thoughts on AquaCal vs Gulfstream Heat Pump

Choosing between AquaCal and Gulfstream heat pumps boils down to your specific needs. AquaCal offers energy efficiency, advanced features, and quiet operation, it’s truly the best of the best. Gulfstream is a reliable, cost-effective solution with strong warranties and support. 

Both brands provide excellent value and durability. Ultimately, your choice should align with your priorities, whether it's cutting-edge technology or an affordable option that still does its job well.

Find additional resources in our blog such as should I leave my pool heat pump on all the time, pool heat pump vs gas heater, how does a pool heat pump work, solar vs heat pump pool heater, how warm can a heat pump get a pool, and more. 

Otherwise, it’s time you took the first step towards enjoying your pool like never before. From the advanced sophistication of AquaCal to the budget-friendly performance of Gulfstream, the perfect pool heat pump is just a click away at Outdoor Direct!