The 5 Best Solar Pool Heaters for Inground & Above Ground Pools
A warm swimming pool is always more inviting and comfortable to use, and it allows you to swim any time you want. However, the idea of paying for gas or electricity to heat your pool sounds a little uneconomical.
The good news is that there is a more cost-effective option, which is investing in the best solar pool heater. These heaters rely on solar energy to heat your pool, and they are often also easier to install, and most will hardly require any maintenance.
Choosing the right solar pool heater can be a little complicated if you do not have prior experience with them. However, this guide should make things easier for you as we review some top picks to give you recommendations and tell you what to consider when buying one.
5 Best Solar Pool Heaters – Review
1. Best Overall: Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters
- Size: 4′ x 20′
- Warranty: 4 years
Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters takes our top overall spot. It is an efficient solar pool heater that significantly increases your water temperature, is easy to install, and is well-built.
With this heater, you can be sure of getting between 6 and 10°F increase in your water temperature within a short time, which is as good as it gets for these heaters. Also, it allows for more flexible mounting as you can have it on the roof, ground, or on a rack.
The actual installation is relatively straightforward, and it will make a fantastic weekend DIY project. There are no special tools that you will need as the installation kit should be enough. Also, the manufacturer provides some simple and easy-to-follow directions.
The solar pool heater comes with heavy-duty panels that include crush-proof fiberglass header pipes to ensure maximum durability. You will also not need to invest in a new pump as this one works well with your existing pool pump.
One gripe that some pool owners might have with this solar pool heater is that it does not come with the installation kit, and you have to buy it separately. However, given its relatively low price tag, you will still get an excellent deal.
- Relatively higher temperature rise
- Flexible mounting, including on roofs
- Easy to install on your own
- Heavy-duty header pipes
- Does not come with the installation kit
2. Best for Above Ground Pools: Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit
- Size: 4′ x 24′
- Warranty: 3 years
With a daily heat output of up to 148,000 BTUs, the Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit will be suitable for heating any above ground swimming pool. What’s more, the solar pool heater can work with any pool pump to ensure you never have to use compatibility charts.
When it comes to installation, this solar pool heater will give you an easy time as there is nothing much to do besides connecting it to your filter and pool inlet. You can have the solar pool heater ready to use in under 30 minutes.
Pool owners will also love the pre-plumbed 24-foot panel as it includes a built-in manual bypass to allow for easy on/off, which gives you more control over the heater operation.
You can also be sure of more flexibility when it comes to the setup. Besides just laying it flat on the ground, you can also mount the panels on a rack or even roof, depending on what you find most convenient.
The kit does not include connection hoses, meaning you have to buy them separately. However, the manufacturer clarifies this in the description to allow you to order them as you buy the solar pool heater.
- Produces enough heat to warm above ground pools
- Does not require any special pump
- Easy installation in just 30 minutes
- Allow for flexible setup
- Does not come with connection hoses
3. Best for Inground Pools: GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater
- Warranty: 90 days
If you have an inground swimming pool and are looking for a reliable solar pool heater that will help increase water temperature gradually, the GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO is a good buy.
The curved design of the solar panel maximizes heat collection, and the surface includes a transparent cover to lock it in, which makes the panel even more efficient. There are also some treaded plumbing ports on the panel that ensure maximum convenience by allowing for more versatile plumbing options.
Setting up the solar panel is also quick and easy as it includes some adjustable legs that will also allow for simple storage when not in use. Also, the solar panel uses some highly durable material to ensure you get many seasons of excellent service.
With this solar pool heater, you will get a 5°F temperature rise in 4 days, which is still suitable for gradual pool heating, and you can also add a bypass kit.
The 90-day warranty period seems relatively short, which is more so when you compare it to other models on our solar pool heater review. Nevertheless, the brand is famous for making well-built and highly durable products so that you can buy their heater with confidence.
- Maximum heat collection with a curved shape
- Versatile plumbing options
- Easy setup and storage
- Highly durable materials
- Short warranty period
4. SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater
- Size: 2′ x 20′
- Warranty: 4 years
Whether you have an above or inground swimming pool, SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater will work for you. Better still, the solar pool heater is also suitable for use with any pool pump type, meaning it is compatible with almost any pool out there.
One of its key highlights is the web design that will allow maximum exposure to the sun’s rays to ensure it collects more heat. With this solar pool heater, you can raise your water temperature by up to 10°F.
Installing this heater should also be straightforward as it is meant for DIY installation and should only take a few minutes to have it in place. Also, you get more flexibility, as you can mount it on the roof, rack, pool fence, or even just lay it on the ground.
This solar pool heater needs better instructions as the provided ones might not be handy for beginners. There are plenty of valuable resources online that you can use to figure things out, but overall this heater is relatively easy to install.
- Suitable for use with any pool type and pump
- Collects more heat thanks to the web design
- Can install on the ground, fence, roof, or rack
- Allows for simple DIY installation
- Needs better instructions
5. XtremepowerUS Pool Solar Panel Heating System
- Size: 2′ x 20′
You can be sure of using the XtremepowerUS Pool Solar Panel Heating System for many years to come as it has a highly durable build. The construction includes high-grade materials like polypropylene that will hold up well for many seasons.
Besides being durable, each of the panels is also lightweight and flexible enough. What’s more, the panels include tubes with larger surface areas to optimize the transfer of heat and hence make the heater even more efficient at heating the pool.
The solar pool heater will work well for both above and inground pools, and it also works with most filter pumps, meaning it will be adequate to use on any pool. When you install the heater, it will require little to zero maintenance, making it more convenient and cost-effective.
The tube ends seem quite delicate, but they should hold up well if you remember to coat them with a good lube. Lubrication minimizes the risk of breaking tabs when you connect or disconnect them.
- High-quality materials for maximum durability
- Allows for optimum heat transfer with larger tubes
- Ideal for most pool types
- Low to no maintenance is needed
- Delicate rube ends
How to Buy the Best Solar Pool Heater
1. Pool Size and Type
Your pool size and type have a massive impact on the solar pool heater that will work for you, and so they are one of the first things to consider when deciding what to buy.
When it comes to the pool size, it should be obvious that a larger pool will require a larger solar pool heater or at least something with the capacity to warm more water. Using a small floating heater on a massive pool does not make any significant difference and is a waste of money.
Most manufacturers make it clear the pool size their heater is meant for, so you should have an easy time determining what will work for you.
When it comes to the pool types, it is essential to know that some solar pool heaters only work well for inground pools while others are for above ground pools. Some models like the SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater can work for both types.
2. Sun Requirements
Since these heaters will rely on solar energy to heat your water, it is vital to consider the sun requirement of any model you want to buy to ensure it can work in your area.
Some models require a full day of sun to raise your water temperature, while other more efficient models need just a few hours of exposure to the sun. Therefore, consider how much sun you get where you live and choose a model that can be effective in your specific situation.
Also, make sure the solar pool heater you buy provides an appropriate installation to allow you to take maximum advantage of the sun you get.
3. Temperature Increase
Every manufacturer will provide an estimate of the temperature rise you will get with their solar pool heater. For example, the Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters will raise your water temperature by between 6 and 10 °F.
Therefore, when deciding what to buy, you should ensure it can deliver the temperature increase you want. However, remember you can only realize the temperature rise estimate if you use the solar pool heater on the right pool type and size.
4. Ease of Installation
A good solar pool heater is one that is easy to install to allow for DIY installation, so you do not have to spend more money by paying someone to do it for you.
Some types, such as the floating pool solar heaters, will not even need any installation, making them highly convenient.
However, if you are going for the large types that come with some massive solar panels that require mounting somewhere, you should be ready for some extra work. These types are more efficient at heating the pool, but they come with more work, as you also need to link them to other things like the pumps and filters.
A solar pool heater that offers greater flexibility by allowing you to mount it in different places like the roof, ground, pool fence, or rack is also an even better buy.
A warranty is crucial when choosing a solar pool heater as it gives you some assurance the model you get will serve you well for many years.
Remember that if you have no experience with a particular solar pool heater, it is hard to tell how well it holds up, but a good warranty should give you a reliable indication.
Typically, the models with a long warranty show that the manufacturer has confidence in the quality of their products. However, it is also crucial to make sure the company is known to honor the warranty terms if their solar pool heater develops issues within the specified period.
Solar pool heaters provide a simple, cost-effective, and low-maintenance option for heating your pool water to make it more comfortable and extend your swimming season.
If you are on the market for the best solar pool heater, the Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters is our top recommendation. This heater provides a high-temperature rise, flexible installation, and is also easy to set up.
The Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit is a good solution for heating water for those with an above-ground pool. On the other hand, the GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater is perfect for an inground pool.