Imagine if you could warm up your swimming pool with solar panels that heat the water easily and effectively.
You wouldn’t have to worry about it being too chilly to swim. By purchasing a solar pool heating system, you can make that fantasy a reality.
How do solar heating systems work?
Solar heating systems make use of solar panels. The pool water gets pumped into the system so that it can be warmed up and then pumped back into the pool.
You might wonder which solar pool heater is best for your pool, but we’ve done the work for you.
Read on to discover the best solar pool heater: cheap and easy way to heat up your pool.
We’ve also featured four alternative products so you can find the best solar pool heater to fit your budget and lifestyle.
Our Top Picks For The Best Solar Pool Heater
Best Overall Winner: Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System for In Ground Pool
What makes this solar pool heater the best on our list? You can simply place it next to the pool or on the roof of your house and enjoy the benefit of having a warm swimming pool whenever you like!
Direct flow system
Polypropylene heat collector
- This solar heating system ensures your pool water will remain warm with the use of a heat collector that’s made out of polypropylene. This is good because polypropylene is a type of thermal plastic that is resistant to wear and tear, scaling, and chemicals, so it’s highly durable.
- This solar heater contains solar panels that are 80 square feet in size, so it’s more than sufficient to heat many swimming pools with an in- ground design.
- How much will it warm your pool? This solar pool heater will increase your pool’s temperature to between six and 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This heater makes use of a direct flow system. This means that the pool pump sends water into the tubes directly.
- The system comes with in-built wind vents. These help to maintain the temperature even when the weather is windy.
- An interlocking channel ensures that the panels can be connected easily while also achieving better flexibility when mounting them.
- The installation kit you need to install this solar heater system is sold separately.
- Some people who have purchased this heating system have reported that it needs to be unrolled before you can install it. However, it’s not easy to do so because the material is very stiff.
- You want to have solar panels that are easy to install so that you don’t have to feel stressed out, and this solar heating system is very lightweight which makes installation easier to do, in spite of the drawback we mentioned earlier. It only weighs 29 pounds.
- The system has a fibreglass reinforced over-molded header. This further helps to make it durable.
This pool heating system costs around $240. It’s perfect for medium to large pools and especially great if you want to put it on the roof! It will give your home a sleek and trendy appearance.
Runner-Up: Fafco Solar cub Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools
One of the best features about this solar heating system for pools is that it’s really versatile. But that’s just one good reason why you should purchase it for your pool.
- Polyethylene construction
- Temperature increase of up to 10 degrees
- There are various options for mounting this solar heating system: you can do so on the ground, roof, or make use of a rack, so it’s very versatile.
- You get most things you need to install this solar heating system in the pack: the solar collector, the barb connections, the mounting caps and mounting bases, mounting straps, valve handle, and rubber tube plugs.
- The system is made out of polyethylene that’s resistant to the harsh UV rays so it won’t experience wear and tear. This ensures the product will last a long time.
- It makes use of two-inch headers. These help to transfer the heat in the most efficient way possible.
- You can turn on the heating system whenever you like by simply making use of a bypass valve.
- For ground installation of this heating system you will require extra items. These include a flexible hose and ground spikes.
- Some people who have purchased this solar heating system have reported that the fittings leaked, which is especially problematic when installed on the roof.
- Another drawback of which you should be aware is that you have to take the solar heating system down at the end of the season and store it away for the winter. However, this is done to keep the system safe and maintain its durability, and many solar heating systems require this to be done.
- In order to make the most of this solar heating system, you need to ensure that it’s tilted about 10 to 30 degrees to the south. Then you can enjoy lovely warm water.
- Installing this solar heating system is quite easy, thanks to the detailed instructions in the user manual that are sure to assist you during the process.
- This solar heating system has been said to increase the temperature of your swimming pool by between five and 10 degrees, and Amazon reviews of the product have reported that it can increase the swimming season by up to two months.
This Fafco pool heating system costs around $270. It’s got excellent features to help you warm up your swimming pool, while being pretty easy to install, which is a bonus if you don’t have experience with solar heating systems.
After reviewing two of the best solar pool heaters, let’s move on to three alternative products that are highly rated and will interest you with their features. Let’s start with one that’s budget-friendly.
Alternative 1: Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool
This solar heating system is a mat, which is perfect for heating 8,000-gallon or less pools. Here’s everything you need to know about this solar pool heater.
- Direct pump connectivity
- Compatible with many pumps
- This Intex solar heater offers a simple hook up installation. It’s compatible with filter pumps that have a flow rate that’s less than 2500 gallons per hour.
- Although it’s small, this mat will increase the temperature of your swimming pool by up to nine degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t that far off from other solar pool heating systems.
- It makes use of direct pump connectivity. The solar mat has a horizontal tube design that’s really easy to use – once you hook it up to the pumps, you can start heating up your pool.
- This solar heating mat will take around an hour or so to heat up properly.
- One of its biggest drawbacks is that it can only work with Intex swimming pool pumps. This can make it impractical to use for many people, which is a pity.
- This solar heating mat is both small and compact, which makes it unobtrusive when put out on the ground.
- You can also join it to other Intex mats if you want to increase your solar power, which is a bonus if you already own an Intex mat.
This Intex solar heating mat costs around $85. While it’s not the most powerful swimming pool heating solution, it certainly can be enough to heat your pool, such as if you have a small pool that you want to heat by a few degrees without complicated installation.
Alternative 2: GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater
This Game solar pool heater can be used for above-ground as well as in-ground swimming pools.
- Innovative curved design
- Adjustable legs
- This solar pool heater increases the pool’s temperature by five degrees. One of the most interesting features about it is that it has been designed in a curved shape to increase its heat collecting potential.
- It makes use of threaded ports. These make it more versatile when it comes to choosing plumbing options because you can easily connect it to many types of pools with the use of adapters that you can purchase at the hardware store. It also comes with Intex adapters in the pack.
- It comes with adjustable as well as foldable legs. This is a fantastic feature because it enables the most exposure to the sun to be achieved.
- While this swimming pool heater system is said to be easy to install, you might require additional hoses depending on your pool.
- You do need to ensure that this solar pool heating system has all-day sun otherwise it won’t heat correctly.
- The system comes with a clear cover that locks in the heat.
The Game solar pool heater is currently unavailable on Amazon. You can find it at other online stores, such as Walmart, where you can expect to pay around $150 for it.
Alternative 3: SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater
This SunHeater solar pool heater is compatible with lots of pools, while being a solid choice if you want to make use of its innovative features to warm up your pool.
- Black polyethylene
- Patented web design
- This solar pool heater is easy to install for in-ground or above-ground pools. You can install it in a variety of places, such as on a rack, fence, or roof.
- It’s made of black polyethylene that effectively absorbs the sun’s heat.
- It’s really easy to install because it simply makes use of your existing pool pump, which is another convenience linked to purchasing this solar pool heating product.
- It’s convenient because it stays out of the way once it’s installed. For example, you can put it on its side against your above-ground pool where it will catch the sun’s rays without obstructing the area around the pool or being an eyesore.
- This product has been said to negatively impact the functioning of some people’s pool pumps. The company needs to investigate this as it’s still a mystery as to why it happens. However, it doesn’t affect every pool pump.
- It requires lots of direct sunlight in order to work. This means you might need to install it on the grass, roof, or build a stand for it. If it gets a bit of shade, it won’t give you the results you want, so it can feel a bit high maintenance. If you live in an area where you don’t receive that much sun, this product might not be the best choice for you.
- It makes use of a patented web design so that the heater gets the most exposure to the sun.
- By using this solar heating system you can easily increase your pool’s temperature by up to 10 degrees.
This solar pool heating system costs around $190. If you want to install a solar heating pool system that’s easy to install and use, this one is a must for you.
Solar Pool Heater FAQ
After reading our solar pool heater reviews, you now have a better idea about the best solar pool heaters you can find on the market, and why they’re worth your time and money, but you might still want some information about solar pool heaters.
With that in mind, here are some common questions regarding solar pool heaters so you can install them easily and start enjoying them right away.
Are they complicated to install?
Solar pool heaters don’t have to be difficult to install.
One of the reasons for this is that your pool system already has most of the elements you need, such as a pump, filter, and controller, as well as PVC pipes that direct the flow of water.
So, when you install a solar pool filter, you just need to break the PVC line and redirect it by running hoses to the solar collector panel.
This is basically what absorbs the sun’s heat, so you should try to position it in an area that gets the most direct sunlight. Good ideas are to put it on the ground in direct sunlight or on your roof.
Now, it’s important to know that your solar pool heater system has a heating component (which is the solar collector we’ve already mentioned) and the plumbing that’s required for it to work.
Once the collectors are mounted and installed, you’ll need to connect pipes to your pool’s pump as well as filter so that the pool water can move through the solar collectors, become warmer, and then get pumped back into your pool.
It’s worth noting that an in-ground solar pool heater will be a little more time-consuming to install as compared to an above-ground heater because you’ll obviously need to do some plumbing.
You might also have a higher number of solar panels that need to be connected in order for the heater to work.
As we’ve seen in this article, there are some above-ground solar pool heating systems that are really easy and convenient to use without the fuss.
An example is the Intex mat that can easily be put next to your pool to heat it up.
To install an above-ground solar heater, you’ll need to make sure you choose a location in your garden that will receive a minimum of six hours of sunlight every day.
Once you’ve settled on the perfect spot, you can connect the pump’s return hose into the inlet of the solar panel so that you can make water flow into the heater.
Then, connect this return hose from the solar panel outlet to the pool wall return so that the water will be warmed up by the heater and then flow back into the swimming pool, as In The Swim explains.
Do I need to use a pump?
A solar heater will need to be connected to your swimming pool pump to ensure that the pool’s water can be circulated through the heating system and become hotter as a result of moving through it.
This is why your pool pump is an essential part of the heating system!
In order for your pool’s water to be heated effectively, it needs to be directed to the solar heating system’s solar collectors.
When water moves through these collectors, it will be warmed up by the heat that the collectors have absorbed from the sun.
Then, the water can return to the pool and feel much warmer than it was before.
Can it heat the pool in winter?
Chances are that one of the biggest reasons why you want to install a pool solar heater is to make your pool nice and warm during the colder months.
If this is your main goal, then there are some important things to know about using solar pool heaters.
When you’re considering using your pool heater all through the cold months, it’s important to check the specifications of your specific heater.
Bear in mind that some solar pool heating systems require you to disconnect them and store them indoors for the winter.
An example is Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools that we featured in our reviews.
Doing this is important to prevent the solar heater from suffering damage in the cold winter months, and it’s something that quite a few solar systems will require you to do in order to maintain their quality.
Now that that’s out of the way, if you want to heat your pool through the winter you need to take your region’s weather into account.
As we’ve seen in our reviews of solar pool heaters, these products tend to warm up your pool by a few degrees.
So, if your region is warm throughout the year, a solar heating system will absorb lots of sun on a regular basis and this can be used to provide heat to your pool all through the year.
However, even if you use your solar pool heater during winter, such as if you live in a sunny region, you should invest in a pool blanket.
This is an essential item that can prevent the swimming pool water from experiencing a lot of evaporation, which can cause its temperature to take a dive during the winter months.
Solar blankets don’t only maintain the heat of the water but they also give your pool a bit of heat if there’s a lot of daily sunshine that they can absorb.
You love swimming but when the weather cools down it can force you to have to avoid using your swimming pool.
Investing in a solar pool heater system can change all that! It will extend the time that you have to enjoy your pool so that the swimming season doesn’t have to end.
If you’re interested in purchasing a solar pool heater, you’ll probably find one that tickles your fancy in our reviews of the best solar pool heater models on the market.
We’ve rated them according to their features, benefits, drawbacks and cost, so you can find the best one for your pool and lifestyle.