House & Beyond is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
Don’t you hate it when the temperature starts going down at the end of the summer? That means the season of using your pool is ending, but what if you could extend it? If you acquire the best solar pool heater in the market, you can prolong the season for days and maybe even weeks. Our experts analyzed the currently available products and recommended the top-rated units below.
We left no stone unturned and focused on all the relevant features of solar pool heaters. For starters, we divided them into categories for in-ground and above-ground pools so that you can easily find the type that suits you. Our team also discussed the size and weight of the heating systems, as well as their capability to increase temperature. Also, we will discuss build quality and ease of installation. Do you want to learn more? Continue reading, and you will find what makes the best solar pool heaters!
More features: durable polypropylene, direct flow system
SmartPool is a reputable brand in the industry, and this product could be the best solar heater for an in-ground pool. The unit features panels made of high-quality polypropylene. The manufacturer selected super materials to maximize the system’s durability.
If you haven’t installed a pool heater before, you won’t appreciate the instructions included with this product. They are far from descriptive, so get ready to spend some time figuring out how things work. The good news is that there is mounting flexibility, and you can even place the product on the roof or a fence. Fortunately, it will be worthwhile once you see the performance of this heating system.
The product measures 4 x 20 feet and is capable of increasing the temperature for up to ten degrees. Thanks to that, you can extend the season for weeks, and not only days. The reinforced header promotes durability while the tube-on web design and the internal baffle maximize the unit’s performance. The direct flow system proved to be an efficient approach when it comes to increasing the temperature.
The product is a bit heavier than similar units, but it compensates that for additional stability and durability. Overall, this heater is a long-term investment that ensures you can continue relaxing in your pool even when the temps drop a bit.
More features: uses existing pool pump, installs on roof, rack, ground, or fence
Who says that a solar in-ground pool heater has to be expensive? SunHeater designed a product suitable for both types of pools – those above and in-ground. They did that while keeping the price considerably lower than for similar products, which makes this a budget-friendly deal.
The reason why the price tag is lower might be the size of this panel. It only comes with a single 2’ x 20’ panel that might not be the best choice for large pools. However, if you have a small pool in your backyard, this heater will do a great job of increasing the temperature.
The product is easy to install, and it utilizes the pump already placed on your pool. You can place the heater on different surfaces, such as grass, concrete, or even a fence.
The manufacturer pinpoints that the unit features a patented web design. Thanks to that, it collects most of the heat and can increase the temperature for up to ten degrees. While this might not be the best solar swimming pool heater for large pools out there, it is still a great choice for smaller ones.
What we liked:
A budget-friendly deal with an affordable price
The heater is easy to install with the existing pool pump
Versatile and suitable for installation on various surfaces
More features: durable construction, curved shape, adjustable legs, gradual heating, includes Intex adapters, 2 hoses, and clamps
GAME designed a durable and versatile solar water heater for a pool. The product is capable of heating both in-ground and above-ground pools and is compatible with Bestways, Intex, and units made by most other manufacturers.
The first thing you notice is that this heater is extremely light since it weighs less than 13 pounds. It features a curved shape that adds to the appearance of your backyard while saving a significant amount of space.
The manufacturer used top-quality materials that are capable of withstanding daily exposure to the sun and other environmental factors. The durability is impressive, and the same could be said for the product’s performance. It will increase the temperature for up to ten degrees, and make sure that lower temperatures don’t prevent you from spending time in the pool.
The heater’s legs are both foldable and adjustable. It will be easy to find the desired position, although the legs themselves could be sturdier. Despite that minor flaw, this solar pool heater is a wise investment. It can last for years while taking minimal space and ensuring the installation process is a piece of cake.
What we liked:
High-quality construction and impressive durability
Fantastic versatility and compatibility with different pool types
More features: durable polypropylene, universal system for square and round pools, comes with installation kit
Do you have a square or round pool in your backyard? It doesn’t matter because this is the best above-ground solar pool heater for both options. Thanks to the unique design and approach, this product can heat both types of pools well. It will also contribute to the aesthetic appearance.
SmartPool took the standard approach of using durable polypropylene to design panels that will raise the temperature. Since there are two panels in the box, the total product size is 4’ x 20.’ You will receive an installation kit with the product. The setting up process includes the filtration system of your pool, which simplifies everything.
The fact that the product is lighter than similar units will also make it easier to install. The panels weigh 18 pounds overall, and they are capable of increasing the temp for up to ten degrees. The performance will depend on the weather conditions, but the heater is capable of doing a decent job.
The product is not the most resistant to leaks. Its overall durability could be better, which is why you should pay attention to identify problems as soon as they appear. Despite that, the heater is a smart investment for keeping the fun going when the temperature goes down.
More features: durable polypropylene, 5-year limited warranty, installs using the existing filtration system
If you are looking for an affordable above-ground pool solar heater, SmartPool might have the right product for you. This system comes with 80 square feet of solar panels and is ready to heat a large surface.
The installation process is not the easiest one out there – it will take some time to set everything up properly. Once you start the system, you will see how efficient it is in heating your pool. It utilizes the standard approach of having a polypropylene heat collector to increase the heat. It depends on the location, but the product can raise the temperature for up to 15 degrees, which is impressive. The only downside is that you can hear a high-pitched whine while it is in operation. The sound won’t be annoying after you get used to it.
SmartPool offers a five-year warranty on the heater. The durability is admirable, especially if you consider this item features a real bargain deal. It is an excellent way to extend the summer season and continue enjoying your pool even when the temperatures start going down.
What we liked:
Fantastic efficiency and durable construction
A single pack can heat a large surface
Excellent value for the money
What could be better:
You can hear a high-pitched whine while running
Things to Consider
You are now familiar with the best options for the above-ground and in-ground pools. That doesn’t mean a lot because your main priority is to find a heating system that fits your pool and backyard. You want the performance to be optimal, while the design should also fit the area.
We prepared a detailed buying guide on solar pool heaters. We discuss the advantages of these products, as well as factors to keep in mind when choosing a suitable system. Don’t hesitate to read and use this information to find the best solar heater for your pool!
Benefits of solar pool heaters
Why would you even need the best solar heater for a pool? That is a good question, and here are the reasons why these products are useful:
Increased use of the pool – even if the water temperature goes down by a few degrees, it might be unbearable to spend time in the pool. But if you use a heating system, it increases the temperature for up to 10-15 degrees. That allows you to continue using the pool even if it gets a little cold outside.
Simple maintenance – there is work related to maintaining your pool. As long as you do that right, there will be minimal need to maintain the solar heating system. You don’t have to worry about fans or motors, which is why these heaters rarely break down.
Quiet performance – solar pool heaters are incredibly quiet, which means you can relax in the pool without listening to annoying noises.
Reduced energy bills – these heating systems use solar energy, which will ensure your utility bills are far lower than when using a standard pool heater.
Eco-friendly – these solutions are environmentally-friendly, which means you will show that you care about the planet by using them.
A long-term investment – these products should last for at least several years, and there are frequent cases when solar heaters come with a lifespan of over a decade.
How to pick the best solar heater for a pool?
Are you ready to learn how to pick the best solar swimming pool heater? It is not an easy job because you have to consider numerous features. The primary priority is determining your pool’s size and making sure that you pick a heating system big enough to deliver the expected results. You can’t neglect the quality of materials, as well as the capability of these products to increase the temperature. Ultimately, even the price can be a factor to consider. We described the most important features below to help you choose the most suitable heater!
The first thing you want to determine is the type of pool that you have. That can directly affect the choice of the solar water heater for a pool for your needs. You will usually have to choose between heating systems for in-ground or above-ground pools. Some are versatile, such as the SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater, but make sure to pick the system that suits your pool type.
Pools can have different shapes, such as:
The shape is important because it will affect the system size that you require for heating the pool. While we are talking about these specifics, always make sure to consider the roof orientation and the shading.
A solar pool heater needs to have access to direct sunlight. That might not be possible during the entire day, but you want the accessibility to be at the maximum. It is a factor to consider when choosing where you will place the solar panels. If you don’t’ have an alternative solution, pick a product that can be installed on the roof!
Size and weight
The next thing to determine is the heating system size that you need for the pool. The critical thing to note is that even the best solar heater for the above-ground pool won’t be able to heat it up if it is too small for its surface. That is why the heating system should cover at least 50% of your pool area.
The majority of heating systems come in panels that enable modular installation and connecting as many panels as you want. It makes the setup process easier, and it also gives you freedom in expanding the panels if necessary.
The standard single panel size is 4×20 feet, but you can also find 4×10, and even 2×10 panels available. Always remember the 50% rule about coverage, and feel free to use different panels to cover that area.
Apart from size, you also want to consider the weight of the heating system. If we are speaking of a single panel, it can be anywhere from 15 to 30 pounds. This is primarily important for transport and installation. For example, the Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System might be a bit heavier, but it offers additional sturdiness and stability.
Different setups offer various results, and this is the case with the solar pool heaters as some of them offer only about 5°F temperature increase, whereas others, such as the SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heater, can go up to 10°F and even more.
The process of heating water goes significantly slower if your pool is quite large. You must also keep in mind that these products are not that efficient on a cloudy day, so you will have to be patient to get the results you want.
When it comes to construction quality, most manufacturers agree that polypropylene is the preferred material. That is why the best solar heater for a pool you find in the market will probably use that compound for constructing the heating system.
The polypropylene is durable by default, but its longevity might vary. You also want to consider the quality of materials used for other parts. For example, a tube-on web design ensures that the system can maximize the heating potential and deliver consistent performance.
It is crucial that all components can endure frequent exposure to the sun – after all, the chances are you will keep them outside for months.
Depending on the construction quality and features, you could place the heaters on various surfaces. That includes right next to the pool, but also on the roof or on the fence, which is the case with the Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System.
While we are on the topic, please note that you should place the heaters in an indoor location during the winter. Regardless of their durability, it is better to avoid freezes to ensure optimal performance once the next pool season starts.
Ease of installation
Do you know a thing or two about pools and heating systems? Perhaps you have avid experience when it comes to DIY projects and assembling things? If the answer to at least one of the questions above is yes, you shouldn’t have any problems with installing these products.
If you follow the best solar pool heater reviews listed in this article, you will find that some units come with an installation kit. That makes products like the SmartPool S240U even more affordable in the long run. If the kit isn’t included, you will need to buy one separately, and that costs additional money.
Before you start installing your solar heating system, take a good look at the product manual. The instructions should be clear and understandable – you should know what to do every step of the way.
You should make sure that you have all the required parts and components, and determine where you plan to place the heaters. Once you have everything sorted out, it should be easy to install the system.
The good news is that solar pool heaters are more affordable than ever. These products are a long-term investment, which is something to consider when you purchase a heating system. They should last anywhere from two to ten years or more. Their cost can vary from $150 to $650 or more.
We divided the solar pool heating market into three pricing categories:
Affordable – these units will cost you less than $200, but you get plenty of value for the money. For example, the SunHeater S120U is versatile and suitable for both above and in-ground pools, even though it is available at this price range.
Medium price – the standard price for solar heating systems is from $200 to $300, and the Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System falls into that category. You will receive a product with a fantastic heating potential and high-quality construction.
Premium – the GAME SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater is priced over $300, but it brings additional bells and whistles. That includes a unique curved shape, adjustable positioning, and a small footprint.
Yes, absolutely, solar pool heaters are a great way of saving money for heating the pool. The reason is simple – these systems use solar energy to heat your pool. It is far more affordable than using a different heating system, and the odds are you will save significant money on utility bills. But it is not only about saving the money because solar pool heaters are also eco-friendly. As mentioned, they use solar energy, which minimizes the carbon footprint and shows that you care about the planet. If the environment is important to you, but you still want to enjoy a heated pool, solar heating systems are a smart investment.
The easiest way to see if the heating system fits your pool is to measure the pool’s dimensions. The general rule is that the heaters should cover at least 50% of the pool’s surface area. If you have a standard 18’ round pool, even a single 4×20 panel could cover you, although two would be optimal. But if you have a 30’ round pool, consider getting at least four panels of the 4×20 size. As for in-ground pools, a 16×32 pool will need 2-3 panels, while a 20-40 one could use 4-5 heaters of the 4×20 size.
The installation process will depend on your level of experience with these products and your overall DIY capabilities. In most cases, all it takes to install a solar pool heater is following the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Some heating systems use the existing filtration system, which makes your job easier. Before you purchase a heater, make sure that the installation kit is included. Some manufacturers sell these kits separately, which is why you should double-check before making a purchase. The heating system size will also affect the time it takes to install it, but the general rule is that it shouldn’t take a lot of time and effort.
That depends on multiple factors, but the important thing is that you have patience. The best solar pool heater panels should have the capability of increasing the water temperature by 10-15 degrees. However, it will probably take them several days to achieve that goal. The performance will depend on how hot it is outside. Also, you should always consider the relationship between the heater and the pool size. A big heater can heat a small pool quickly, but a small heating system will have problems with a large pool. You can use a cover for the pool to preserve some of the heat during the night.
The heating systems themselves do not require a lot of maintenance. However, they depend on how well you maintain the pool itself. That is why it is important to check your filtration system and other pool details for proper functioning. If they work well, the odds are the heating system can perform up to the standards, too. The experts recommend checking the collector on the solar heater occasionally. It should always be cool to the touch, and if it seems hot, something might be wrong. If there are harsh winters in your area, put the heating system in a safe indoor location during the winter.
Our extensive analysis confirmed that the Smartpool S601P should be your top choice if you need a solar heater for an in-ground pool. This product is durable and capable of increasing the temperature up to ten degrees. It utilizes a direct flow system to maximize heating potential.
The SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater can be a smart investment for those looking for bargain deals. Although you get only one panel, it does a great job of heating small pools. Thanks to the specific design, you can install it on various surfaces, including a fence.
Finally, the GAME SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater is a premium product that features a unique curved shape and takes minimal space in your backyard. This is the best solar pool heater if you need a system that adds to the appearance of your yard and provides consistent performance.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, so feel free to pick a unit that meets your specific expectations!