Most people do not attempt to integrate an entire heating system into a small home pool, so the most optimal alternative to get warm swimming water in the winter is to use the best solar pool heaters. It is both environmentally-friendly and inexpensive.
Since protecting the environment is currently a global trend, this pool heating method and other accessories such as solar pool covers are more preferred than those that consume electricity. Users can make use of sunlight to create heating power for their pools.
Therefore, a solar pool heater that is cost-effective produces no greenhouse gases and requires low maintenance would be ideal for home pools. This article contains a full list of the most recommended solar pool heaters and other relevant information.
Table of Contents
- What Are Solar Pool Heaters?
- My Top Picks
- Comparison Chart
- The 13 Best Solar Pool Heaters Reviews
- How to Pick the Right Solar Pool Heater?
- Types of Solar Pool Heating Systems
- How to Install Solar Pool Heater?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Swim Network Overview
What Are Solar Pool Heaters?
A solar pool heater warms up the pool water to certain degrees with pure solar heat instead of using up a great deal of electricity and cost pool owners much in their bills. It enables DIY installation with simple steps and is removable for storage afterward.
This useful heating tool from the sun is invented to allow people to swim like normal in cold weather conditions. Your children can still splash around without catching a fever as the water temperature has been raised for a maximum rate of 10°C more.
A solar pool heater is either connectible with existing pool heat pumps or its pump to circulate water through it and return to the pool after being heated. A pool filter is responsible for making pool water purified before it reaches the solar heater.
See Also: Top 15 Best Winter Pool Covers
My Top Picks
After a thorough process of current market research, I have evaluated and come to the decision that these following tools are the real best solar pool heaters in 2023.
- Best Overall: XtremepowerUS 28″x20′
“Weatherproof material optimizes heat transfer, needs low maintenance.”
- Best Budget: Intex
“Bypass valve included, 1m square surface raises maximum 5 degrees.”
- Best for Above Ground Pool: XtremepowerUS 90105 Panels
“Also operates in spas, quick-connect design, place in multiple locations.”
- Best for Inground Pools: Smartpool S601P
“Direct flow system, liquid heat shield included, can be mounted on roofs.”
- Best for Large Pools: Game 4714 SolarPro Contour
“No electric connection, adaptable with Intex pools, excludes the bypass.”
- Best Value for the Money: Fafco Solar Bear
“Mounted on a rack, 2-inch headers contains an integral bypass valve.”
- Best Durable: Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Panels
“Placed at 45° angle, continuous heat drawing, durable polyolefin panel.”
- Best for Small Pools: Kokido Keops
“Includes integrated rack, comfortable temperature, lowers heating cost.”
The first and foremost rule in shopping for the best solar pool heaters is to know which kind of swimming pool constructions that these heaters suit with. Aside from that are a few other essential criteria to compare among different pool heating tools.
|Solar Pool Heaters||Dimensions (inches)||Weight (lbs)||Warranty||Adaptable To|
|XtremepowerUS 28"x20' - Best Overall|
|240 x 28 x 3||15||-||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|XtremepowerUS 90105 Panels - Best for Above Ground Pool||120 x 24 x 5||14.33||-||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|Smartpool S601P - Best for Inground Pools||48 x 1 x 240||29||4 years||In-ground pools|
|Game 4714 SolarPro Contour - Best for Large Pools||28 x 11 x 28||16.98||1 year||Above ground pools|
|Fafco Solar Bear - Best Value for the Money||55 x 15 x 15||40||10 years||Above ground pools|
|Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Panels - Best Durable||24 x 240||-||5 years||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|Kokido Keops - Best for Small Pools||23.6 x 11.4 x 23.6||14.42||-||Above ground pools|
|Intex - Best Budget||47.3 x 47.3 x 0.5||5.3||-||Above ground pools|
|SunQuest 2-2'x20' Panels - Best to Increase Highest Degree||47.2 x 13.8 x 1.2||28||5 years||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|Solar Sun Rings Floating - Best Inflatable Pool Heater||13.9 x 9.6 x 4.1||7.89||2 years||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|SunHeater S120U Universal||120 x 27.5 x 16||18||4 years||Above ground & in-ground pools|
|Sunsolar - Best With LiquidHeat Bottle||24 x 240||14||-||Above ground pools|
|SunQuest 2-2x12' Panels||24 x 144||30||-||Above ground & in-ground pools|
The 13 Best Solar Pool Heaters Reviews
Swimming season would last for the entire year when having the best solar pool heaters around to capture sunlight and use it to warm up the water. Underneath is a tailor-made list of detailed reviews related to each of these beautiful solar heaters.
1. XtremepowerUS 28″x20′
(Best Overall – Editor’s Choice)
Each solar heater from the brand XtremepowerUS is a durable panel that is made out of flexible polypropylene and suits for both kinds of home pools. This high-grade material is proven to survive through a series of different harsh weather conditions.
The solar panel is constructed from tubes, which provide a larger surface area for the heat transition process from the sun to pools. Moreover, XtremepowerUS offers instructions on how to run these pipes with a diverter valve for motors higher than 5HP.
With some extra help from the pool pump and filter system, pool owners would get a warm touch of circulated water coming out of this solar heater. Since these panels do not produce greenhouse gases, users are doing a favor to the general environment.
- It is a flexible polypropylene panel.
- It endures severe weather impacts.
- Its tube texture allows more space.
- It can be used with a diverter valve.
- It produces no greenhouse gases.
- Design for hard PVC systems.
See Also: 15 Best Pool Thermometers
2. XtremepowerUS 90105 Panels
(Best for Above Ground Pool)
The solar pool heater from XtremepowerUS is connectible with most standard pool pumps, and it would enable water circulation whenever the pump is operated. This brand is also famous for producing a series of premium weatherproof heater panels.
Usually, this panel can increase the pool water temperature from at least 10 to 15°F, and I commend it for raising up to 6° in two consecutive days under partial sun. Besides the ground, people are fond of mounting the heater on cabanas.
There are clear suggestions from its manufacturer for both kinds of pools in different shapes to best apply the solar panel. It offers the right simple installation thanks to the quick connect structure. Its user manual is made in civilized understandable English.
- It functions alongside with a pump.
- The panel material is weatherproof.
- Its temperature rise is considerable.
- It works well with both pool designs.
- The structure is easy to assemble.
- It is too restrictive of the water flow.
3. Smartpool S601P
(Best for Inground Pools)
The Smartpool solar heating panel can keep pool water warm with a direct flow operation because it has one separate header hole for each tube. 80 square feet of this panel performs best in most in-ground pools and can also be mounted on roofs.
It would increase the pool water temperature for at least 4 to 6°C in no time. There is a liquid heat shield bottle that comes along, and it locks in the warmth through limiting water evaporation. You can choose to purchase a pack of this solar heater from 1 to 4.
- It can deliver a direct flow system.
- It is mountable on all house roofs.
- It increases the max of 6°C of pool water.
- The heat shield bottle is available.
- It offers options in multiple packs.
- The instructions are not descriptive.
4. Game 4714 SolarPro Contour
(Best for Large Pools)
This contour dome construction is not accessible on the market of solar pool heaters; however, it is capable of warming up an above ground pool with up to 10,000 gallons of water. In around 6 days, the solar heater can increase 5°F of water temperature.
Its foldable legs make it easier for pool owners to place the GAME solar heater on the ground and store it. This particular design delivers the least restrictive flow of water and does not require to be connected with any source of gas or electricity to operate.
- It deals with pools up to 10,000 gals.
- It raises max 5°F of water in a week.
- The legs are convenient for storage.
- It does not restrict the flow of water.
- The plastic hose connection is weak.
5. Fafco Solar Bear
(Best Value for the Money)
Because the solar pool heater from the brand Fafco is a large panel, it can be placed on the ground or a nearby rack and roofs as wished. With unobstructed sunlight between the period of 10 AM to 4 PM, this pool heater delivers optimal heating.
The polyethylene material is claimed to be UV-stabilized so that this panel can retain its high endurance through multiple seasons under the intense sun. Its headers have an XL measurement of 2 inches in order to prevent slowed down circulation in pools.
Fafco recommends its users to tilt the solar heating panel 10 to 30° to the South for a strengthened performance in warming up the pool water. It is applicable to swimming pools up to 17,000 gallons and includes a built-in bypass valve to regulate the water.
- It can be mounted in various areas.
- It works best within a specific time.
- Its material serves long-term use.
- The 2-inch headers are in XL size.
- The bypass valve is attached to it.
- It does not include hoses or clamps.
6. Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Panels
Each Sun2Solar package comprises one solar heating panel in the size of 2’x20,’ but pool owners can feel free to add extra heaters if required. Its construction of tubes is useful in expanding the surface area and creates better heat transfer to the water.
Black polyolefin is the primary material applied to build this lightweight solar heater. It is a delightful thing to know that the panel does not produce even the slightest amount of greenhouse gas. A provided bypass valve helps users to control the water flow as wished.
The panel should be angled at 45° on the ground directly towards the sun to collect a maximum amount of heat with recommended support from a solar cover. Even when it passes sun hours, this solar heater still draws enough heat to prolong pool heating.
- Its structure enables a larger surface.
- The polyolefin material is lightweight.
- It has a valve to dial in the water flow.
- It can operate best with a solar cover.
- It keeps drawing heat after sundown.
- Lacks lots of the following hardware.
7. Kokido Keops
(Best for Small Pools)
This brand Kokido decides to manufacture a dome solar heater for supporting users to swim like normal in colder periods throughout a year. Other than the 4-foot hoses, there are supplied clamps made from stainless steel to keep the solar dome in place.
It is agreeable for most people that this environmental-friendly method of heating is more beneficial than gas and electrical heaters, not to mention significant cost reduction. With a durable cover for protection, it can be stored in a safe way when not in use.
- It allows swimming in cold seasons.
- Its clamps are from stainless steel.
- It dramatically lowers heating costs.
- The cover is for protective storage.
- Water is warmer than water out.
The famous brand Intex has manufactured this solar pool heater in the form of a black UV-stabilized PVC mat. Its 11-feet square surface is said to work best with above ground pools up to 8000 gallons. The price is a bargain at such a low rate.
This heater mat is connectable with a diverse series of Intex filter pumps. A bypass switch is available for pool owners to stop the water from flowing through the carpet. Depending on the weather condition, it can increase the water temperature from 3 to 5°C.
- It is a heater mat made from PVC.
- It can operate in 8000-gallon pools.
- Its price is a perfect one.
- Uses a switch to control water flow.
- It increases the max of 5°C of pool water.
- May spring leaks along the seams.
9. SunQuest 2-2’x20′ Panels
(Best to Increase Highest Degree)
The DIY installation of this SunQuest solar pool panel, together with its accessories set, usually takes around 30 minutes, excluding the need for professional help. I find out that it can increase the temperature up to 10°C with a hot water touch.
Although this pool heater is a panel, it comes as a neat roll that is as flexible as a heating mat. Its XL 2-inch OD headers guarantee the best water circulation to lessen pressure on connected pumps. The solar heater is adaptable to both pool designs.
- It takes 30 minutes for DIY assembly.
- The highest temperature is 10°C.
- It has high flexibility as a heater mat.
- The headers create water circulation.
- Several tubes are thinner than others.
10. Solar Sun Rings Floating
(Best Inflatable Pool Heater)
Being a passive tool to provide additional heat for swimming pools, this solar pool heater is built in the shape of an inflatable ring made from vinyl. When inflated to the max, it is measured at 60 inches and enables strong UV resistance to avoid quick deterioration.
Buying options for a single pack or up to 20 pieces are all available online for the Solar Sun Rings heating ring. It functions with two vinyl layers to successfully bring solar heat to the pool water. This ring is also said to reduce heat evaporation in the pool.
- It is an inflatable solar ring from vinyl.
- The material is highly resistant to UV.
- It is sold in different pack quantities.
- It can reduce heat evaporation.
- It needs reinstalling when using pools.
11. SunHeater S120U Universal
Similar to a majority of other solar heating panels, this pool heater from the brand SunHeater requires minimum effort to install for both above ground and in-ground pools. The solar panel can take advantage of existing standard pool pumps to work.
Special web design with multiple pipes is applied to manufacture this solar panel to ensure it gains the most significant amount of exposure to sunlight. Its owners can try mounting the heater on nearby fences to raise from 6 to 10°F for the water.
- It allows DIY assembly right at home.
- It connects with existing pool pumps.
- The patented web design is effective.
- It increases water temp at least 6°F.
- It might cause the pool filter to work worse.
(Best With LiquidHeat Bottle)
The brand Sunsolar is much confident that their solar pool heater contains a lot more tubes within a panel than most other manufacturers on the market. Pool owners do not have to purchase an extra pump because this panel works with existing standard ones.
By consuming a natural, free power source from the sun, this pool heater eliminates a stack of gas and electricity bills with air pollution for surrounding areas. The system circulates and warms up the water through this panel and returns it to the pool.
To maintain the collected heat inside the pool overnight, this package offers a bottle of 310ml LiquidHeat to work as a powerful and effective solar blanket for the water. This entire Sunsolar solar heater set can meet a bunch of heating needs.
- It is built from a more significant panel number.
- It connects with existing pool pumps.
- It is more effective than gas heaters.
- Its system operates simply.
- It carries a solar blanket liquid bottle.
- No defections have been found so far.
13. SunQuest 2-2’x12′
For a long time, the brand SunQuest has been famous for equipping their solar pool heaters with a unique MAX-FLOW design and XL 2-inch headers to enable the best water circulation. This feature is useful in reducing back pressure put on pool pumps.
It arrives in two identical heating panels, and the complete system can be installed in half an hour by users themselves right at home. By raising the temperature up to 10°C for the pool water, its owners can swim in there even in cold seasons.
- It strengthens pool water circulation.
- The headers are built in an XL size.
- It is set up completely in 30 minutes.
- It increases the max of 10°C for the water.
- Its interior threads are unsealed well.
How to Pick the Right Solar Pool Heater?
A solar pool heater uses a natural fresh power source, which is undoubtedly a win-win selection for both humans and the environment. Here are several necessary details that I think are worth considering when purchasing these solar heaters in different sizes or designs.
1. Increased Temperature
Each solar pool heater on the market works differently. Therefore, their users need to understand how much water temperature can be raised and how long it takes for the solar heater to warm a pool up thoroughly.
Usually, water is heated from at least 3 to a maximum of 10°C. It takes a few days to a week to reach the highest temperature as it cannot rocket straight up. There are other factors from the heater itself or surrounding environments that contribute to this process.
2. UV-Stabilized Material
The most common materials applied to build solar pool heaters are PVC, polypropylene, vinyl, and polyolefin. A handful of brands choose to use these to manufacture solar heaters due to their high endurance and durability.
A UV-stabilized material for a solar pool heater should enable it to absorb sunlight regularly but does not deteriorate (panel, dome) or get torn apart (mat, ring).
With unreliable material and construction, the solar heater stands a high chance of being ruined and starts degrading over time through extended direct UV exposure. Not to mention the possibilities of constant leakage caused by thin, flimsy materials.
3. Bypass Valve/Switch
A bypass valve/switch is not essential as some solar heaters do not require it, but it is still good to have. It helps to direct the water flow as needed. This valve is included for free in the heater pack and often integrated for best control.
Using such a valve/switch enables users to dial in the flow rate and send the water across the pool heater. You can obstruct it from running through solar panels/mats when not in use with this valve. Plus, it supports setting up and removing the heater afterward.
Types of Solar Pool Heating Systems
All solar pool heaters consume the same solar energy for eco-friendly and low-cost pool heating in cold weather. However, they distinguish from each other in their main constructions and operation, so I hope you can opt for the most suitable solar heater.
1. Heating Panel
Without any concerns, the panel form is the most popular design of multiple tube structure for solar pool heaters. Its pool heating process involves the connected pool pumps and filtration to circulate the water before it reaches this solar panel.
Usually, a reel system or a valve handle would be available to help install or remove a sequel of large heating panels. Other than laying it on the ground, users can mount it on rooftops, racks, cabanas, and sheds. A heating panel works well with both pool designs.
This pool heater will continue to draw solar heat for warming up pools during sunsets and extend swimming sessions. Afterward, roll the heating panel in and wrap it up for storage. Just be careful not to put much weight on this surface and damage its pipes.
2. Heating Mat
This solar mat is much alike in comparison to a heating panel, but it is far softer and even more flexible to put away as a neat roll. The good news is that it also works like a dream for both above ground and in-ground pool designs at home.
Connection points are available on a heater mat for a suitable hose and filter pump to merge with. Like the bypass valve, it includes a built-in switch to control the water flow. The mat is positionable in versatile areas without requiring complex assembly.
When this solar heating mat is in operation, professionals do not recommend to sit on or touch it with bare skin under direct sunlight to avoid getting burned by the heat.
3. Heating Dome
Another popular solar heater design is the dome, which is made in a small and compact size that is convenient to place in different spaces. It will produce a “greenhouse” effect for better heat transfer from this dome to the pool water.
Differs from the two pool heaters mentioned above, its large tubes allow less restrictive water flow back to above ground pools. Consequently, this solar dome cuts back the waiting time to reach for the maximum rate of possible temperature rise successfully.
In terms of the following accessories for a celestial heating dome, it would often come with foldable legs and a convenient rack to alter it into a suitable angle for the most considerable sun exposure. The curve heater performs almost the same, but it is another design.
4. Heating Ring
Last but not least is a solar ring that is lightweight and inflatable. This is seen as a passive device; therefore, the heating efficiency would not be as high as other heater designs above. Nonetheless, it is offered in multiple packs for purchase.
The upper layer of the heating ring leads sunlight to its bottom, where 50% of these UV rays are absorbed and converted into heat. While the remaining part of sunlight filters through this heater into the water, which is pure solar power to make it warmer.
Unfortunately, this pool heater ring is possible to allow water heat to escape at night, so users might want to add extra insulation, for example, a solar blanket to keep it.
How to Install Solar Pool Heater?
Similar to auto pool cleaners, solar pool heaters can be set up by the pool owners themselves with simple user manuals. I would like to introduce the main fundamental steps to properly install a stable solar pool heater in the backyard to your advantage.
- Assemble the solar collectors and determine the right position. The collectors are responsible for a great mission of generating solar heat to warm up pool water, so they have to be installed correctly. They should be as close to the pool as possible.
- Consider the overall solar array size needed. This calculation is roughly estimated by professional companies to cover 60 to 100% of the pool surface area in different directions. So far, the most economical choice is a southern roofline for this heating panel.
- Set up the general framework. Metal rails on house roofs hold the collector frame, and they should be secured by durable fasteners to keep the whole system in place. Most pool heater packs do not include such hardware, so they are bought separately.
- Mount the collectors in and start running the pipes in between. Different styles of collectors determine how the system is going to be assembled, such as a flat plate or evacuated tube. The boilers combine multiple panels for a larger surface for water flow.
- Operate the plumbing system. The plumbing system directs pool water through the collectors and transfers it back to pools after being heated. Since a majority of pools contain PVC loops connecting to the filter, this installation process relies significantly on it.
- Try fitting all the pipes and install the bypass valve. Check carefully whether all of the pipes are in place with a firm connection for a stable heating system. A bypass valve allows users to control the passage closing and opening for water to flow as wished.
- Finish assembling and test for the results. That is the complete guide to set up a solar heater for your swimming pools. You should run it on both sunny and cold days to compare the effectiveness, but make sure there are no hidden leaks before this.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions about solar pool heaters.
How Much Does a Solar Pool Heater Cost to Install?
The average cost to install a pool heater is around $2,000, but professional technicians can assemble this eco-friendly kind of heater for a considerably low price from $150. This is a bargain since the solar heater itself is already inexpensive.
Nevertheless, almost all solar pool heater packages would provide their users with descriptive instruction manuals to set up this device on their own. It often takes less than an hour to finish installing a solar heater, so you can also choose this way.
Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?
Yes, they do. It has been tested and confirmed by a large number of users that solar pool heaters perform their best in warm weather. Long hours of consistent direct exposure to the sun is ideal for these devices to raise the water temperature.
What Size Solar Pool Heater Do I Need?
To select the correct size of solar pool heaters, it depends mainly on the orientation of your house roof and the swimming pool size. In most situations, the pool might require more than one solar heater to increase its water temperature indeed.
I can see that a lot of online shopping websites offer consultancy for their buyers to purchase the suitable size and quantity of solar pool heaters to heat up their pools in cold weather. New users should ask and follow professional advice about the sizing.
How Warm Does a Solar Heated Pool Get?
A robust and reliable solar heater can warm pools up to the maximum rate of 10°C or 15°F above unheated pools. However, the local weather also plays a significant role in deciding whether that temperature is reachable or not, as being said above.
Do Solar Pool Heaters Work in Winter?
Yes, without a doubt, but with less heat generated in cold conditions. We need to accept that they are not as active during this season; thus, you should get some extra help from a solar cover or even a solar blanket for them all to heat up the pool.
Swim Network Overview
Using solar pool heaters is an excellent choice to defeat other heaters with gas and electricity consumption. This heater can both save money and the environment while extending the fun time in swimming pools. Trust me; you will never regret buying it.
For pool owners with low-budget, they should go for the Intex. An excellent inflatable solar pool ring has to be the unit from Solar Sun Rings. And I think it is great to install the GAME 4714 SolarPro Contour for large pools.
In case you are not content with the presented best solar polar heaters, I expect my buying guide and tips to be helpful.
Feel free to express personal opinions in the comment section below. Also, I would be so thankful to see this article being shared to Facebook & Twitter for your friends and family to learn about this heating method.