Best Solar Pool Heaters Reviews & Ratings For 2023
There are several ways of relieving the stress and pressure after a hard day’s work at the office. All of them, however, pale in comparison to the level of relaxation and healing capabilities a swimming pool offers. Changing the seasons is one of Mother Nature’s strongest fortes, and when she decides to wrap up the swimming season, she robes you and your loved ones of one of the best pleasures. With a little help though, you won’t have to cringe your teeth and clench your fists whenever you gather enough courage to plunge into the cold waters. Solar pool heaters are an eco-friendly, affordable and effective way of raising the pool temperatures by a few degrees to let you extend the swimming season by a few more months.
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The performance of solar pool heaters is patently not comparable to that of their electric or gas-powered counterparts. However, where they cede in fast performance, they more than make up for in reliability, ease of use, pocket-friendly running costs, affordability, versatility, and near zero maintenance costs.
In addition to minimizing carbon footprint, pool heaters are also capable of raising the pool temperature by some significant degrees to allow you enjoy a comfortable, relaxing and warm swim. After researching and analyzing an endless list of solar panels, we’ve dutifully put together a list of ten of the best ones. The aim is to remove the time and effort away from the otherwise nerve-wreaking, energy-draining, and mundane task of combing through the Internet comparing hundreds of different units with one another to find your knight in shining armour.
10 Best Solar Pool Heaters
1. Fafco Solar Bear System for Above-Ground Pools
While being large has obvious advantages, it also presents some problems. First off, it makes the solar heater considerably bulky, not necessarily heavy, which makes it a little hard finding adequate space to set it up. The bulkiness can be a hindrance if you don't have enough space to work with. However, if you don't have space constraints, installing it is pretty straightforward and quick. The package comes with all the accessories you need to install it quickly and effectively. You get the 4 feet by 20 feet extra-large solar collector, two 6-foot long 1.5-inch diam hoses with 4 clamps, an integral bypass valve and a couple of other accessories.
Its working is a little different from the vast majority of solar heaters on the market. Instead of the conventional heat transfer, it works by pumping water through the solar heater before sucking it back out. The included oversized 2-inch headers guarantee maximum circulation for uniform and quick circulation of the water. Since it uses the concentrated power of the sun, its performance can vary all through the day. In most cases, it reaches optimal performance between 10 am and 4 pm if the season and latitude allow it. One way of ensuring optimal performance is by aiming or installing it south at a 30-degree angle to maximize exposure to the heat of the sun. As for installation, you have the discretion of choosing the ground, the rack, or the roof, among other suitable surfaces.
If you’re out here searching for an affordable, high-performance, and easy-to-use option, look no further than this option. In spite of its bulky size, it nonetheless features a heavy-duty and long-lasting construction quality and works efficiently and smoothly provided the installation is done right. If you want to extend the swimming season and keep the pool comfortable and sufficiently toasty, all without breaking the bank, we cannot recommend the Fafco Solar Bear enough. Plus, you get a generous 10-year warranty to cater for the repair or replacement of parts and components that malfunction as a result’s of the manufacturer’s use of defective or low-quality materials or a shoddy manufacturing process. That’s without a doubt hard to beat.
- Features a heavy-duty and long-lasting UV resistant build
- Using it is a cinch
- Boasts high-performance
- Comes with all accessories for quick and easy installation
- Eco-friendly as it only relies on the energy of the sun
- Comes with a generous 120-month warranty
- Prone to minor leaks
2. SunQuest 2 -2' x 20' System
Another reason that makes it the preference of environmentally-conscious users is the ease of installation. Even if you’re a novice, the process should not take you more than half an hour. It’s incredibly simple and straightforward. Why spend thousands of dollars on an electric or gas-powered pool heater when you can get similar performance at a fraction of the price and without harming the environment?
The superiority of the performance is not in doubt. It’s compatibility with both in-ground and above-ground swimming pools, for one, makes it one of the most versatile and economical options currently on the market. Such universal compatibility does not limit your choices. With regards to performance, the machine features the convenient Max-Flow design and comes with 2-inch OD headers that together significantly enhance the circulation of water. The design similarly minimizes pressure on the pump, and if the user takes the time to use it in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, it can provide several years of trouble-free and smooth performance.
Depending on the prevailing weather conditions, it is capable of raising the temperature of the pool by up to 10 degrees. The performance is not comparable to using an electric heater but at its price and considering that it does not lead to environmental degradation, it's a worthy compromise. The reliable and superior performance effectively bring to an end the days of letting Mother Nature dictate the swimming season or have to grind your teeth together and clench your fists before plunging in, in full anticipation of chilling waters.
There is a multitude of very convincing reasons to help us support the assertion that the 2 -2` x 20`system is one of the best pool heaters on the market. If it's not an ability to effectively and quickly raise water temperature by up to 10 degrees, it's the ease of installation. Additional reasons include the fastidious construction quality, unyielding dependability, and cost-effectiveness. The heavy-duty UV-resistant design will provide you with several years of stress-free and flawless performance. And to cap it all off, you don't have to break the bank to afford it.
- Easily and quickly raises pool temperature by up to 10-degrees
- Very compatible with water pumps
- Very easy to maintain
- Sports Max-Flo design that increases circulation of water
- Compatible with both in-ground and above-ground swimming pools
- Installing it on the roof requires skill
- Not ideal for pools larger than 15 square feet
3. GAME 4512 SolarPro
Raising the water temperature in your pool from cold to toasty does not have to be time-consuming and frustrating. The GAME 4512 takes away all the time and effort from the exercise, leaving you with a peace of mind to enjoy a relaxing and refreshing swim in toasty waters. In ideal situations, the heater easily raises the temperature of up to 10,000 gallons of pool water in a few days. The unique curved shape of the heater, combined with the foldability and adjustability of the legs, provides for maximum exposure to the sun. Consequently, the solar panels still get to capture the heat from the sun even its position during the day. The design, therefore, spares the headache of having to move it around the yard to increase exposure constantly.
According to the manufacturer, it takes the GAME 4512 just seven days to raise the temperature of the swimming pool by 5-degree. It might not sound like much but considering that the solar heater does not use any gas or electricity – meaning that it’s an eco-friendly option – it’s performance is more than impressive. It manages the fete by using a protective cover for trapping heat from the sun before transferring the heat to the water as it passes through. And if your pool is large, the design of the model allows for the connection of more than one unit to another, allowing for the quick heating of the water.
In closing, we'd like to reiterate that it is a compact, energy-efficient, affordable, and eco-friendly pool heater that enables you to increase the temperature of your pool to extend the swimming season. In spite of being passive, lightweight and compact, it's capable of raising the temperature by 5-degrees in just seven days. Additional reasons that make it worth considering are the ease of installation, the durability of its construction, and of course, the remarkable performance. At this price range, it never gets better.
- Sports a unique curved design for enhanced heat absorption
- Features a compact and lightweight design
- Installs easily and quickly
- Ideal for use with above-ground pools
- Effectively harnesses the power of the sun for optimal performance
- A little bulky
4. SmartPool SunHeater-Solar Heating System
For pool owners living in sunny regions, it is a better and more affordable alternative to gas-powered and electric pool heaters. To ensure effective and quick performance, it comes with several black polyethylene panels joined together to increase their surface area and therefore trap more solar energy. Considering their sheer volume and number, they ensure maximum exposure to the sun and therefore collect as much heat as possible during the day. Together with the two threaded-elbow adapters, the result is an effortless and quick rise in the temperature by up to 10 degrees in just 12 hours, making it possible for you to enjoy the cool yet warm water all during the day. Of course, the performance depends on latitude and other whatnots, and for optimal performance, it's highly recommended that one starts using itm between 10 am and 4 pm.
Another unique selling point is the high-quality construction. The panels are themselves constructed using industrial-grade polyethylene material that enables them to stand the test of time, in addition to enhancing their performance. The other components feature similarly heavy-duty construction necessary for withstanding the rigors that come with constant exposure to the sun. And since they’re constructed in the United States, longevity is a guarantee considering the high standards the products have to meet before they’re availed for general public consumption. And to sweeten the deal,it comes with a generous warranty to cater for the repair or replacement of defective or malfunctioning parts and components. If that assurance does not give you the peace of mind to use it with confidence, nothing will. It’s also indicative of the brand’s confidence in the quality and durability of their product.
Lastly,it is a simple DIY installation, like most other heaters on our list. With a paltry weight of 10 pounds, it is the lightest solar heater on our list and possibly the entire industry. However, its measurements come at 288 inches by 1.5 inches by 24 inches, which are a little on the bulky side. If you have sufficient space by the pool on top of the roof, the measurements should not present much of a problem though. And you have everything you need to make all the connections. The delivery package has the end caps, stainless steel hose clamps, Teflon tape, and hoses if you want to connect more than one collector.
If you're looking for durability, high-performance, ease of use, and affordability in a heater, look no further than the SmartPool SunHeater-Solar Heating System. The machine is an epitome of all these features and qualities and so much more. It's eco-friendly, easy to run and maintain, and installs quickly and with relative ease on several surfaces including but not limited to the roof, shed, cabana, rack, and even the ground. Plus, it's an affordable alternative that's compatible with the vast majority of existing pool pumps. At its price, it's quite a steal.
- It’s an easy and straightforward DIY installation
- Features a cost-effective price tag
- High-performance option
- Features durable and sturdy construction
- Works both as a pool heater and cooler
- The delivery package does not come with the diverter
8. XtremepowerUS Inground /Pool Solar Panel
While most options come with one bulky sheet of solar collector, the XtremepowerUS comes with two each measuring 20 feet by 28 feet, bringing the aggregate to an impressive 40 inches total. The large surface area ensures maximum exposure to sunshine and their sensitivity to light in solely responsible for the exceptional performance of the heater. Place them at the right angle, 30-degrees facing South for most states, and watch the pool temperature rise quickly from frigid to warm in just a couple of minutes.
Irrespective of where you install them, there are a few guidelines you need to keep in mind. They work optimally with oval pools measuring 24 feet in length by 12 feet in width. Round pools should not exceed 18 feet to achieve the same level of performance and efficiency. If your pool is bigger, it would be prudent to invest in an additional option to experience any significant change in water temperature. With everything as advertised, all that’s left is blowing up a float, popping on a bathing suit and hit the waters.
The XtremepowerUS is a tried, tested and proven high-performance heater that raises the temperature of a 3000-gallon pool by up to 15-degrees in just a few days. Nevertheless, it's cost-effective, the installation process is a breeze, thanks to its compatibility with in-ground and above-ground pools and the existing pool's pump and filter system. The construction quality is remarkable, and it can withstand heavy-use in multiple environmental settings. We recommend it on the strength of its performance, longevity, and ease of use.
- Compatible with existing pool’s pump
- Comes with a pocket-friendly price tag
- Installation is both easy and quick
- The large surface area provides for quick heating of the pool
- Raises temperature to between 10 and 15 degrees easily and with speed
- Not ideal for large pools
- Requires diverter kit for optimal performance
6. Solar Sun Rings SSR-1
Its design and working are very different from what we've covered so far. Rather than using solar panels like most solar heaters, the product comes with two heavy-duty and durable sheets of UV-resistant vinyl that you use to cover up the pool. The first layer is see-through, and it works by holding as much insulating air as possible while simultaneously focusing the light from the sun on the blue layer beneath it. The work of the blue layer is to absorb as much 50 percent of the heat from the first layer and transfers the remaining 50 percent to the water for deep water heating purposes.
The other features that stand out are the ease of using and its compatibility with virtually all poor types and surfaces. With a mere weight of 1 pound and 60-inch diameter, installing and removing or turning them over after the water reaches a desirable temperature does not take much effort or time. And as mentioned earlier, the two layers of the solar heater feature heavy-duty, durable construction using industrial-grade vinyl. Consequently, they are capable of withstanding the mid-afternoon scorching heat of the sun without tearing or wearing as quickly as do units made from cheap, low-quality materials. With proper installation, the Solar Sun Rings SSR-1 can easily provide up to 21000 British thermal units in a day, which makes them very effective.
For pool owners looking for the convenience, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency of solar heaters, we highly recommend taking a second and serious look at the Solar Sun Rings SSR-1. Clearly, its performance is not comparable to that of an electric or gas-powered pool heater. However, in light of its eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and ability to raise the temperature of the pool to sufficiently toasty temperature levels, it is a worthy compromise.
- Provides effective and quick pool heating performance
- Installation and uninstallation is both quick and simple
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Ideal for both in-ground and above-ground pools
- Easy to use
- Prone to dirt
- Wind wobbles it easily
7. Kokido Keops K835CBX/RV
The solar dome pool heater harnesses the energy of the sun to effectively raise the temperature of your swimming pool within just a few minutes. The fast performance means you won't spend the better part of the day pacing impatiently by the poolside occasionally touching the water to gauge whether or not it's warm enough for a comfortable swim. And in case your pool is particularly large, the design allows for joining more than one, thereby allowing you to cut down the time and effort it takes to raise the pool temperature. However, being a solar-powered model, its performance is not at par with electric and gas pool heaters. Consequently, it is recommended for use in pools with up to 6,000 gallons of water. Anything significantly more and you won’t notice any difference in temperature changes.
All rational swimming pool owners want value for their money and therefore make a point of settling for nothing less than a high-performance, innovative, easy to use, and affordable option. Luckily, the Kokido Keops heater is all those things and so much more. It has a small, lightweight and portable design, and it's an eco-friendly alternative that harnesses the power of the sun to raise the temperature by a few degree quickly. In spite of the remarkable performance, the heater features a surprisingly low price tag. And its compatibility with the vast majority of above-ground pools makes for quick and effortless installation. It's totally worth buying.
- Comes with a budget-friendly price tag
- It has a small and lightweight design
- Comes with all necessary accessories for quick and straightforward installation
- You need several solar panels for effective heating
5. Intex Solar Mat for Above Ground Pools
It features a tried and tested design that ensures efficient and quick performance all around the year. The mat comes with several panels that ensure maximum exposure to the sun at any given time of the day. Couple this with the patented construction and innovative technology and you have a heater capable of generating extra heat irrespective of the intensity of the sun or its position.
Its performance might not hold a candle to electric and gas-powered heaters, but the Intex Mat is capable of effortlessly raising the pool temperature by a range of between 3 and 5 degrees, depending on the prevailing weather conditions.
Setting it up requires minimal effort, if any, and time on your part. It hooks up pretty quickly to the existing filter pump. However, ensure the pump's flow rate does not exceed 2500 gallons per hour as this could compromise the performance of the heater. You don't have to go out of your way to purchase the vital accessories required for installation as they come with the delivery package. You get the 1-1/4-inch hose attachment points, one adapter A and another one adapter B, the connecting hose, and lastly a bypass valve. The connection and set up process might sound complex and time-consuming but it's actually not. And in case you find it daunting, you can always refer back to the user manual that clearly outlines all the steps in easy-to-understand English – We're assuming you understand English because otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this, right?
In spite of its diminutive physical attributes and its laughable price tag, its performance is surprisingly remarkable. You don't have to believe. A quick check online quickly reveals that the heater strikes a special chord with many pool owners from various parts of the country, going by the number of rave reviews and praises it receives. Aside from being cost-effective, it also has the advantage of being easy to install, offering the user superior performance for a product in its price range, and being durable. If you want to raise the temperature of your pool by a few degrees to extend the swimming season without leaving a big hole in your pocket, the Intex Solar Heater Mat comes highly recommended.
- Comes with a pocket-friendly price tag
- It’s lightweight and compact
- Works like a charm with virtually all Intex above-ground pools
- The design allows for quick and easy joining of more than one unit
- Energy-efficient and environmentally friendly
- Not as effective as high-end options
- Only compatible with Intex pools
9. SunCOIL SC-DOME
The sunCOIL SC-DOME is patently a high-performance option that packs all the instrumental features to provide quick and effortless heating of the pool, allowing you to extend the swimming season without incurring huge electricity bills. It features the innovative dome solar design that works much like a car window on a hot day. It captures, magnifies then channels the heat via the inner black coil, a process that efficiently and quickly raises the temperature of your pool by up to 15-degrees within a couple of hours. The performance and efficiency are guaranteed, thanks to its professional design. It works like a charm, or champ, with virtually all above-ground and Intex-style soft-sided pools. You can use the foldable legs to achieve perfect angling towards the sun, thereby guaranteeing optimal performance all through the day.
In all, the sunCOIL SC-DOME might not hold a candle to the more powerful gas-powered and electric pool heaters, but it's an eco-friendly alternative that lets you raise the pool temperature by up to 10 degrees without using gas or gasoline. The minimal footprint makes an eco-friendly choice that also easy to install, easy to use, and very pocket-friendly. The lightweight and compact design and foldable legs make for easy and quick installation. To this add the generous 60-month warranty that guarantees that the manufacturer will repair or replace all malfunctions or defective parts and components.
- Has a space-saving design
- Angles easily for maximum exposure to the sun
- Guarantees exceptionally high performance
- Plastic dome design enhances heat absorption and pool heating
- Easy to join with additional units
- Comes with a 60-month warranty
- Prone to leakage
- Not compatible with in-ground pools
10. Doheny's Above Ground Pool Heating
Its simplistic and humdrum appearance aside, it boasts several innovative and energy-saving features that the vast majority of options lack. For instance, it works by passing water through its special panels that store all the green energy it collects from the sun. the quick and effortless transfer of the heat from the panels to the water allows the temperatures to rise quickly and with ease, thereby providing you with a warm and toasty waters even when the swimming season has come to an end. The Doheny’s system might lacks the almost instant water heating capability of gas-powered and electric models but it nonetheless closely rivals it, but without the attendant exorbitant costs.
Installing it is also one of the easiest things to do. You don’t need any previous experience with solar heaters or an engineering degree, obviously. Senior citizens might find it a little difficult bringing all the different parts to work harmoniously and in tandem, which might justify their seeking professional assistance. However, the manufacturer also generously provides the user with a comprehensive quick user guide to walk them through all the different procedures. Even though you have total discretion of choosing an installation that best suits you, we highly recommend hiring a professional to ensure all the different components work without any hiccups. It might be costly but it will spare you the headache and frustration of trying to figure out the components that don’t work exactly as intended.
Whether you decide to go at it yourself or seek professional assistance, it will also provide you with superior performance long after the swimming season has come to an end. It comes highly recommended for users who have a keen eye for efficiency and value and resent the idea of throwing their hard-earned money on cheap, off-brand models that won’t last more than a year. And while its performance does not come close to rivalling that of electric and gas-powered models on the market, it’s not all gloom for the Doheny’s system. It can raise the temperature by at least 10-degrees on a good day, effectively raising the temperature from frigid to warm every day of the week. The heater also has the advantage of running with minimal noise and very smoothly. Since it draws heat from the sun, running costs are very minimal. It’s also eco-friendly.
- Features a pocket-friendly design
- Spots high-quality, durable construction
- Works efficiently, irrespective of water temperature
- Very energy-efficient
- Comes with a long warranty
- DIY installation is a little tricky
- Not ideal for big pools
Criteria for Choosing the Best Solar Pool Heaters
Size of the Pool
Pools come in different sizes and shapes. Compared to smaller pools, bigger and deeper pools will need some significant heat to raise the temperature to comfortable and warm levels. As a result, you may need to invest in several, powerful heaters to achieve the same performance as a small pool paired with one, standard sized heater. And for particularly big pools, you may need to look into the possibility of buying a large and semi-permanent heater. On the other hand, if the pool is small, a small and portable option will suffice.
Ease of Installation
The vast majority of pools are either above-ground or in-ground installations. You need to keep this point in mind when shopping around for a heater as it can be the difference between effortless and quick installation and a time-consuming, energy-draining experience. The mounting location will depend on the type of installation you go for. Also, depending on the number of solar panels you decide to join together, the installation process can either be easy or quite complex. If you’re not technically savvy, it will be necessary to seek the services of a professional installer to ensure everything works as advertised or intended. It’ll incur you more money, but in the end, you’ll have a solar pool system that works like a charm, enabling you and your loved one extend the swimming season by several months.
High-end solar heaters cost a considerable amount of money, and it would be a waste if they were to stop working after just a few weeks. One safe way of guarding your investment is getting a heater with a considerably long warranty. In the event the system stops working as a result of the manufacturer’s use of defective or poor quality materials or a shoddy manufacturing process, the manufacturer will incur the cost of repair or replacement of the part. The warranty also gives you the confidence and peace of mind you need to work without any worries.
Ease of Use
A heater should be enough in design to make using it a cinch. The delivery package needs to have all the accessories you need to make all the connections without a hassle. Like we mentioned above, though, if the installation is complex, it would be prudent to get a professional to get it done quickly and properly, so you don’t run the risk of voiding your warranty by damaging anything. While on the topic of ease of use, consider the weight issue. Most options are bulky as they seek to maximum exposure to the sun. If it’s too large, it will definitely be problematic lugging it to and from the poolside, unless you have it installed semi-permanently or permanently on the roof. The heater should also be lightweight and compact enough that manoeuvring it around the pool is not a problem. Neither should be servicing when the time comes.
Harnessing the heat from the sun to heat up the swimming pool is a rigorous activity. If you settle for a cheap, off-brand unit from the market, chances are high it will wear and tear quickly. What you need is a heavy-duty heater made from industrial-grade and high-quality materials that are capable of withstanding the task. Similarly, it needs to be resistant to UV rays of the sun. Additional qualities are resistance to rust and corrosion given their constant exposure to water that may at times have a high chlorine concentration.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is it necessary that I install my solar heater in a particular direction?
A: It’s not a mandatory requirement that your heater faces any one direction. However, irrespective of where the heaters are facing, ensure the direction aids in the optimal performance of the heater. There should be no objects or distractors in the direct path of the sun. Nevertheless, if your solar is not heavy or bulky, you can try facing it southwards at a 30-degree angle.
Q: Do heaters have any advantages over their gas-powered and electric counterparts?
A: Aside from performance, solar heaters have a multitude of benefits over their gas-powered and electric counterparts. For one, they are a lot cheaper and much easier to use. The installation process is a breeze and doesn’t require the involvement of a professional, at least for most of them. Also, they are eco-friendly and very economical to run and maintain.
If you took the time to read through this guide, you are now be armed to the teeth with the most accurate and relevant information to help you confidently make an informed decision. Our list features the very best of solar pool heaters, and they all have the high-end features and capabilities that swimming pool owners crave. They are lightweight and compact, high-performance, easy to use and install, and they don’t leave your pockets with a gaping hole. When the swimming season is over, you don’t have to drain your pool and sit passively in wait for the winter again. These heaters will enable you to extend the swimming season by a couple more months at a pocket-friendly cost.