The 6 Best Solar Pool Heaters (+ a Bonus Option)

If you want my quick answer, I think the Smartpool SunHeater Solar Heating System is the best value on the market. You can check out my thoughts on that model and more below.

Unless you live in a place with warm temperatures year-round, you will have a limited pool season due to low winter temperatures. Using a pool heater is the best way to combat the weather and expand the season.

There are many heaters options on the market, and one of the more energy-efficient and eco-friendly options is solar pool heaters.
For non-solar options, check out my guide on the best pool heaters. Alright, let's dive into my top picks.

Solar Pool Heaters: My Top Picks


Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System

⭐ Best for Inground Pools

Research Score: 4.7 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 5
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Heats the water even more than advertised
  • Affordable
  • Accessories are readily available

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Doesn’t come with an installation kit
  • Potential defective parts
  • Flat plate solar heater
  • Roof or rack mount
  • 2 x 2 feet by 20 feet panels
  • Works with pumps up to 1.5 HP
  • For both inground and above-ground pools

Research Notes

The Smart Pool SunHeater Solar Heating System is a great solar pool heater for inground and above ground pool owners. It uses polypropylene materials and features 80 square feet of panels. Each panel array is four feet wide by 20 feet long.

You can mount this solar heater on a roof or on a rack. Unfortunately, the installation kit is sold separately, but with the kit, you should be able to follow the instructions to properly install the panels. This Smart Pool SunHeater is able to heat up a pool by more than 10 degrees in some circumstances.

Heating Strength

The Smart Pool SunHeater Solar Heating System can raise your pool temperature by up to 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit. I have found that it does an excellent job at heating, and it will often increase water temperatures by much more than 10 degrees on sunny days. But at the end of the day, it all depends on your location and how much sun the heater gets each day.

Climate Needs

As with most other solar pool heaters, the more sun the better! The Smart Pool SunHeater Solar Heating System can be roof mounted or rack mounted, giving you the option to pick the best spot in order to get the most sun on your property. If you live in an overly cloudy area, it’s best to look elsewhere, as this pool heater will run only if it gets a proper amount of sun each day.

Durability

This solar pool heater is flexible but durable. It uses polypropylene materials, making it strong and resistant to moisture and degradation. Installed properly, you can be sure these panels will last you years.

Installation

If you have never installed a solar heater before, don’t expect an easy task. Putting the panels on the roof is the easy part; the issue is the plumbing. If you have some basic DIY knowledge, you may be able to get away with installing these panels yourself, but many testers have had to hire a plumber to do the final touches. Unfortunately, the installation kit is sold separately, but once you have the kit, the manual is easy enough to follow.

Price

The Smart Pool SunHeater Solar Heating System is a great solar pool heater for the price. You get a quality product that will heat your pool water time and time again with the help of the sun. Solar pool heaters, in general, will save you tons of money in the long run as there are essentially no running costs.

Notes From Other Testers

This solar pool heater is rated at 4.2 out of 5 stars, with almost 80% of testers rating it 4 or 5 stars. Testers praise the Smart Pool SunHeater Solar Heating System for providing them with a cheap way to heat up their pools. Most testers experience their pool waters rising by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unfortunately, it seems that some testers have had negative experiences with receiving faulty products from the company. So, ensure you properly inspect all pieces that come with this pool heater so that you can get replacement parts - just in case!

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System

⭐ Best for Above Ground Pools

Research Score: 4.5 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 5
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Can support stronger pumps
  • Versatile installation
  • Excellent durability and construction

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Rack for mounting sold separately
  • Connections need to be purchased separately
  • Flat plate solar heater
  • Ground or rack mount
  • 4 feet by 20 feet panel
  • Works with any pump
  • For above ground pools

Research Notes

The Fafco Solar Bear is a great solar pool heater that can heat your above ground pool up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, which is no small feat! In doing so, this solar heater will extend your swimming season by up to a couple of months. This solar heater comes with various mounting options, so you can pick the one that works best for you, depending on what would get the most sun.

The Solar Bear comes with extra-large tubes, so it can work with any pump. No need to buy another pool pump to support this solar heater! With that said, although this product comes highly rated, keep in mind that you’ll need to buy connections separately in order to connect your pool to the Solar Bear.

Heating Strength

The Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System features extra-large tubes to allow for your full pump strength to run through it. The heater provides an increase in water temperature of 5 to 10 degrees, so you’ll be able to extend your swimming pool season to the spring and fall with no issues.

Climate Needs

As with most solar pool heaters, you’ll get the optimal performance if your heater gets full sun for at least six to eight hours daily. The Fafco Solar Bear can be installed on the ground or on a rack to get the most sun possible during the day in order to heat your pool.

Durability

The materials used to make the panel is U.V. stabilized polyethylene. This is a tough product that isn’t going to quickly break down or suffer damage. It should last you multiple seasons and yield great results.

Installation

The Fafco Solar Bear is incredibly easy to install. Simply unroll the panel, connect the pool filter outlet to the system inlet, and join the system outlet to the pool inlet. For most pool owners with some level of DIY knowledge, this solar heater should be installed in around half an hour. Just note that connections must be purchased separately.

Price

This solar pool heater is a great bang for your buck for any above ground pool owner - even Intex pool owners. Although the upfront cost is more than reasonable, I have had to dock off one point as connections need to be bought separately.

Notes From Other Testers

All in all, the Fafco Solar Bear rates pretty highly with other testers, averaging a score of 4.2 out of 5 stars. This rating is out of almost 500 reviews, with more than 75% of all reviewers rating this product 4 or 5 stars. This solar pool heater rates particularly highly for comfort and value for money. Testers love that this heater is able to heat up their pool by up to 10 degrees, thereby extending the swimming pool season by a couple of months. However, some testers had issues with installation as the correct connections need to be bought separately.

XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Solar Panel Heating System

⭐ Best Roof Installed Solar Panel Heating System

Research Score: 4.15 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 4
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 3
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Easy installation
  • Simple to roll up and store
  • Slim profile on your roof

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Quality issues with unevenness
  • May not fare well in extreme climates
  • Flat plate solar heater
  • Roof or rack mount
  • 2 x 2 feet by 20 feet panels
  • Works with pumps up to 1.5 HP
  • For both inground and above ground pools

Research Notes

The XtremepowerUS solar heater is a great option for above ground pool owners looking for a budget solution to heating up their pools. This is my pick for the best roof-installed solar panel heating system because it is easy to install. The product uses polypropylene and has a panel tube construction.

These panels can handle up to 1.5 HP pumps, so if you have anything stronger, you’ll need a diverter. For the price, the lack of durability is not a huge surprise. Many testers have complained of the panels breaking down under the sun. But this solar heater can still be a great, affordable option if you live in milder climates.

Heating Strength

When you buy the XtremepowerUS solar pool heater, you’ll get two 2-foot by 20-foot panels. They can handle up to 1.5 HP pumps. You will need a diverter if you have a larger pump to avoid damage to the heater tubes. The panels do a decent job at raising pool temperatures, with some testers reporting temperatures rising up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Climate Needs

The XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System should raise your water temperature to 10 degrees but results will vary. It depends on how much sun your panel can get each day as to how much it can raise the water temperature.

Durability

I have found that the XtremepowerUS solar heater does not have U.V. protection, so it breaks down in the intense sun if you live in an extreme environment. If you’re looking for a quality product that will last you years, it may be better to look elsewhere. However, many testers have used this solar heater for years, so as long as you don’t live somewhere with intense sun, this product’s lack of durability shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Installation

This solar heater features easy connections to make it easier to install for even those with little to no DIY knowledge. However, be careful if you end up installing the panels on the roof!

Price

For a solar pool heating system, the price of the XtremepowerUS solar heater can’t be beaten. For the quality of the product you get, the price is more than fair. At just over $100, this solar heater can heat up your above ground pool.

Notes From Other Testers

The XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System has an average rating of 3.9 out of 5. Testers especially like the comfort and value for money for this product. For the price, testers love that this solar heater does a great job of heating up pools by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and even more in some rare cases.

However, on the flip side, the durability is lacking in this product and testers have had issues with quality control with unevenness. Testers living in extreme sun climates have also complained about the product breaking down under the sun, leading to leaking and other issues.

SunHeater Pool Heating System

⭐ Best Board Mounting Option

Research Score: 4.45 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 5
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Exceeds expectations on increasing water temperature
  • Doesn’t get brittle in intense sun
  • Easy to install

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Susceptible to leaks
  • Flat plate solar heater
  • Roof, fence, or rack mount
  • 2 x 2 feet by 20 feet panels
  • Works with any pump
  • For both inground and above-ground pools

Research Notes

The SunHeater Pool Heating System is my choice for the best board mounting option. It gives you some flexibility if you don’t have roof space or don’t want to mount your heater on the roof. It also allows you to ensure you get the best possible sun exposure. The biggest advantage you get with this solar heater is the heating strength. This pool heater has been tested to raise water temperatures by even up to 20 degrees Fahrenheit in some cases!

However, although its fiberglass-reinforced over-molded header provides some durability, some testers have had issues with the product leaking upon installation or over time.

Heating Strength

The SunHeater Pool Heating System comes with 2 2-by-20-foot polypropylene panels that soak up the sun’s rays to heat your pool water. It can raise your pool water temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit, but in some cases, these panels have been reported by some testers to have raised their pool water temperatures by 20 degrees! This solar pool heater can be used on both inground and above ground pools and has flexible installation options. You can install the panels on the roof, fence, or rack and pick the sunniest area for the best results.

Climate Needs

Just as with other solar heaters, if the panels are exposed to a decent amount of sun each day, your pool water will significantly increase in temperature in just a couple of days. The SunHeater Pool Heating System rates highly with other testers with its ability to heat up pool water with a few hours of sun exposure per day.

Durability

This heater uses a tube-web-tube design, which makes it unique. The design style helps to increase the amount of heat it can capture and provides flexibility that keeps the panels from breaking down over the season. It also adds durability with its fiberglass-reinforced over-molded header. However, some testers have complained about the lack of durability in the product over time with pinhole leaks.

Installation

These panels are relatively easy to install. To make things even easier, consider purchasing the separate install kit. In fact, testers love that the SunHeater solar pool heater is easy to assemble, rating it a 5 out of 5 stars. This heater uses your existing filtration system, so no need to purchase a separate pump to run your pool water through the solar heater.

Price

This solar pool heating system is more highly priced than some other options on the market. However, for the quality of the panels you get, the price is quite fair. These panels can heat up your pool by up to 20 degrees in some instances, and you really get your money’s worth by saving money on any pool heater running costs.

Notes From Other Testers

The SunHeater Pool Heating System has an average rating of 3.7 stars out of almost 500 reviews from all over the world. While most testers are happy with the quality of the product and its ability to heat up pool water above expectations, other testers have had issues with leaking. The company could do with some quality control to ensure all of its products are leak-free.

GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

⭐ Best Curved Option

Research Score: 3.65 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 3
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 3
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Very easy to install
  • Large tubes for more water flow
  • Doesn’t take up much space

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Requires full sun most of the day to provide heat
  • The legs aren’t as robust as the rest of the unit
  • Flat plate solar heater
  • Freestanding
  • 56 inches by 44.88 inches
  • Works with pumps up to 1.5 HP
  • For above ground pools and most inground pools

Research Notes

If you want something a little different, the GAME SolarPro Curve Solar Pool Heater is a one-panel curved heater that sits on built-in legs. Its curved design allows it to maximize the heat it can collect. This is a great, compact solar heater option for above ground pools in particular. But this solar heater can also be used for most inground pools too. However, don’t expect this pool heater to heat up your pool immediately. This is a gradual heater, meaning it will heat the water in an 8,000 gallon pool by around 5 degrees in 4 days.

The price is fair when it comes to this product, but the lack of durability is a bit disappointing. But if you can get over the fact that the legs are prone to break, this compact solar heater can really make a difference in heating up your pool.

Heating Strength

The GAME SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater is the perfect solar heater for those that don’t mind a gradual rise in pool temperatures. Unlike other types of pool heaters, solar heaters take more time to heat pool water. The SolarPRO Curve can increase your pool temperature by 5 degrees in 4 days for an 8,000 gallon pool. It is by no means the fastest performing solar heater out there, but it does the job if speed isn’t your priority.

Climate Needs

The SolarPRO Curve has a unique curved shape that maximizes heat collection from the sun. It also features adjustable legs that come in handy so you can set it up for maximum sun exposure. The clear cover on top of the panel locks in the heat that is absorbed to gradually heat up your pool water. However, despite all of these cool features, this solar heater does require all day sun in order to heat up your pool.

Durability

This above ground solar pool heater is designed with high-quality materials that have been tested to hold up against frequent exposure to U.V. rays and other outdoor elements. Most testers have reported that this product lasts an average of a couple of years. In particular, there are quality issues with the legs. Unfortunately, the legs are not as durable as the rest of the unit. However, this can be an easy fix for DIY-savvy pool owners.

Installation

The SolarPRO Curve rates particularly highly for easy assembly and easy installation. It is incredibly easy to install - even for those that aren’t familiar with heater installation. Just make sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely.

Price

For a solar pool heater, the SolarPRO Curve is decently priced. Although it certainly packs value, I have had to dock off one point due to the lack of durability, which should be a given at this price point.

Notes From Other Testers

The SolarPRO Curve averages a 3.6 out of 5 from more than 1,000 reviews. More than 50% of testers are happy with the product, rating it 4 or 5 stars. Testers especially like that this product is easy to assemble and install. Most testers are happy that this unit runs as advertised, being able to heat their pools by a few degrees in just 3 to 4 days. However, other testers are unhappy with the quality of the product and its lack of durability.

GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex

⭐ Best Compact Solar Pool Heater

Research Score: 3.9 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 3
  • Climate Needs: 3
  • Durability: 4
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Easy to install
  • Durable design
  • Space-saving

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Must have full sun most of the day for heating effects
  • Leaks due to weak connections
  • Dome-shaped flat plate solar heater
  • Freestanding
  • 28 inches by 11 inches by 28 inches
  • Works with pumps up to 1.5 HP
  • For above ground pools

Research Notes

The GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex is my pick for the best compact solar pool heater. It has a unique dome shape, which uses the greenhouse effect to raise the heat containment. It offers an increase in water temperatures of five degrees in six days, and it is easy to install.

It is certainly not the most powerful solar pool heater, but if heating strength is not your priority, this can be a great option for your above ground pool. However, if you’re looking for a more powerful system that can actually heat up your pool by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more, it may be best to look elsewhere.

Heating Strength

This dome-shaped, compact solar pool heater works for pools up to 10,000 gallons. So, if you have a larger above ground pool, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The heating strength for this product is not as strong as your traditional panel solar heaters, but it still does the job. It has a unique dome shape, which uses the greenhouse effect to raise the heat containment. It offers an increase in water temperatures of five degrees in six days.

Climate Needs

The SolarPRO Contour should be kept in a very sunny area. If the heater does not have sun exposure for most of the day, it will likely not produce results. Most other testers have also reported that without all day sun, this compact solar heater does not produce the desired results.

Durability

This unit is relatively durable. You shouldn’t have issues with the legs breaking. Many testers have successfully kept the unit running for several years, which is a testament to the durability of this product. However, there are some critical reviews of the product that have had more negative experiences when it comes to the durability of the product.

Installation

The SolarPRO Contour is a compact solar heater that is easy to install. There is no need to climb up to your roof to install this unit. Simply sit it near your pool and connect the hoses to your system. Using the manufacturer’s instructions, anyone with basic DIY knowledge should be able to get this system up and running in no time.

Price

For the price, this compact little solar heater does the job of heating up an above ground pool by a few degrees. It works as described and heats well for the price.

Notes From Other Testers

GAME’s SolarPRO Contour averages a rating of 3.2 stars out of 5. Most other testers are satisfied with the product and the value. It effectively heats pools up - albeit slowly. Though it does the job, some testers have had issues with the unit leaking or developing a leak due to the weak connections.

Sun2Solar Blue Solar Cover

⭐ Best Solar Cover

Research Score: 4.35 out of 5

  • Heating Strength: 4
  • Climate Needs: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Easy to cut to size
  • Simple to use
  • Keeps your pool clean and warm

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Bubbles may separate from the cover over time
  • Solar blanket
  • Comes in various sizes from 4 feet x 8 feet to 30 feet x 50 feet
  • No pump connection needed
  • For both inground and above ground pools

Research Notes

The last pick on my list is not a typical solar pool heater, but it does produce similar results. The best solar cover choice is the Sun2Solar Blue Solar Cover. It is a rectangular cover featuring air bubbles that trap the heat. This solar cover comes in a variety of different sizes, so you can buy one to fit your specific pool.

You should note that pool covers generally last about two years. That’s the industry average. This pool cover tends to only last one season, especially in areas with intense sun. If you think a cover is a better fit for you, read my guide on the best solar pool covers or a liquid solar cover might be a good option for you.

Heating Strength

This solar blanket is not a replacement for a solar pool heater. Its main job is not to heat your pool but to retain the heat - especially when heat escapes overnight. However, The Sun2Solar Blue Solar Cover can still raise pool temperatures by a few degrees. On sunny days, it can even raise your pool water temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit, making the performance of this blanket comparable to some solar pool heater units.

Climate Needs

In order to actually heat your pool, this solar blanket needs exposure to the sun. The air bubbles help to capture the sun’s heat and transfer it to the pool. But if you are only looking to use this solar blanket to retain the heat, the sun is not necessary.

Durability

The Sun2Solar Blue Solar Cover is a durable material that will last you a couple of years before replacement. At 8 mils of thickness, this solar cover is not the most durable blanket on the market but it still can last you a pool season or two before the bubbles separate from the cover. That said, the solar cover is still made with good quality plastic that will not easily tear, even when you cut it to size.

Installation

Installing this solar blanket could not be any easier. Simply cut the solar blanket to size and lay it on top of your pool to heat and retain the heat of your pool water.

Price

As solar heaters go, this solar blanket is an incredibly cost-effective option. The quality of the blanket itself is quite high as well, which is a nice surprise considering a budget price tag.

Notes From Other Testers

The Sun2Solar Blue Solar Blanket boasts over 7,000 reviews from all over the world. On average, it has a rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars, with almost 80% of reviews giving it 4 or 5 stars. Testers are happy with this solar blanket’s ability to retain heat and to even heat up the water, given the right conditions. For most testers, this product is a worthwhile investment that can be used in conjunction with a proper solar heater for best results. Critical reviews commented on the durability of the product not being as high as expected.

Recap: The Best Solar Pool Heaters

How They Compare

Heating Strength and Price Comparison

I created a scatterplot of my scores for heating strength and price of each heater to create a visual that shows their relative value. The Smartpool SunHeater Solar Heating System is a clear value-for-dollar winner.

Climate Needs Comparison

  1. Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System: 4
  2. Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System: 4
  3. XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Solar Panel Heating System: 4
  4. SunHeater Pool Heating System: 4
  5. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater: 4
  6. GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex: 3

Apart from the compact GAME option for Intex pools, all of my top picks are pretty even on climate needs.

Durability Comparison

  1. Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System: 5
  2. Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System: 5
  3. SunHeater Pool Heating System: 4
  4. GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex: 4
  5. XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Solar Panel Heating System: 3
  6. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater: 3

Smartpool and Fafco really shine on durability. GAME and XtremepowerUS struggled a bit due to some extreme weather and leakage concerns that I have.

Installation Comparison

  1. SunHeater Pool Heating System: 5
  2. GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex: 5
  3. XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Solar Panel Heating System: 5
  4. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater: 5
  5. Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System: 4
  6. Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System: 4

All of my top picks are relatively easy to install. As expected, some of the more durable options take longer to set up.

Other Solar Pool Heaters Researched

  • Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater - I didn't love the performance of this budget option.
  • vidaXL Pool Solar Heating Panel - This model is out of stock just about everywhere.
  • Poolmaster 59026 Slim LINE AG Pool Solar Heater - GAME is a better option for this type of solar heater model.
  • SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater - The panels don't lay flat, and this model is super expensive.
  • Doheny’s Solar Pool Heater - Heating performance was really poor when I tested this heater.

My Research Criteria

Below are the criteria I used to make my choices for my list of best solar pool heaters. It mainly consisted of five major factors:

  • Heating strength
  • Climate needs
  • Durability
  • Installation
  • Price

Heating Strength & Performance

Heating strength is crucial to choosing the right solar heater. Solar pool heater performance is measured in British thermal units per square foot per day or Btu/ft² per day. But for the purposes of your research, just look for how quickly the system can heat up certain square footage of a pool and do the math for your own setup. For some people, an increase of five degrees is enough, and I have some heaters on my list that average that. However, I also catered to those of you who need more heat with heaters that can increase temperatures up to 20 degrees.

Everyone’s needs are a bit different when buying a solar pool heater. You should always look for a heater that you can install in the way you want and that can handle the size of your pool. Don’t forget to also consider the overall heating strength, durability, and any special features the heater has. Also, you will need to learn how solar heaters work before your purchase one.

If you want a full in-depth analysis of the cost of this kind of equipment, you can check out my article, which has the full cost breakdown of solar pool heaters.

Heating performance accounted for 30% of the overall score for each product.

Climate Needs

Climate needs refer to how much sun you get. Some of the heaters on my list do better with less sun than others. I have a few that require a full day of sun to increase your water temperature even minimally, so keep that in mind as you shop. Make sure the installation option you choose will allow you to take full advantage of the sun, whether that’s on the roof or mounted on a board next to your pool.

Climate needs made up 15% of the total score.

Durability

Durability is essential because you want to get the best possible heater for your money. Solar pool heaters will often have a short life span because of the intensity of heat and the sun rays they are subject to every day during the season. However, the best solar pool heaters will have U.V. protection and other design features to help make them stronger and handle extreme conditions.

Durability made up 20% of the overall product score.

Installation

Some solar pool heaters are easier to install than others. Ease of installation is a huge selling point for many pool owners as it cuts down on any labor costs of hiring a pool professional to install the solar pool heater. While installing solar pool heaters for above ground pools can generally be done by a layman with some DIY knowledge, installation of solar pool heaters for inground pools can be confusing.

I took a look at how easy it is to install each solar pool heater and rated them accordingly. Of course, the instruction manual that comes with each product played a big part in my decision as well. Manuals with clear instructions and diagrams definitely help cut down on installation time.

Installation took up 15% of each product’s total score.

Price

You can’t avoid price when you make a big purchase like a solar pool heater. As a whole, solar pool heaters are very cost effective, as they will help you save money in the long run as there are essentially no running costs. However, the upfront costs of solar pool heaters can range from cheaper solar blankets to expensive roof-mounted panels - more, if you have a larger pool. The upfront cost is definitely a big part to consider when purchasing a solar pool heater, as not everyone will have the same budget. And just as importantly, I considered the price compared to the value you get in the quality of the product.

Price accounted for 20% of the overall score.

What Else To Consider

Besides the five categories above, there are some other things to consider when choosing the best solar pool heater for you.

Size

When it comes to size, you need to match your pool heater to the size of your pool. You may need to buy multiple panels if you have a larger pool. However, keep in mind that this will increase the amount of space you need for installation. For most solar panel installations, I recommend getting a solar collector set that is roughly 60-70% of your pool’s surface area, which should keep everything fairly well heated. If you don’t know the size of your pool, use my pool volume calculator.

Also, keep in mind that inground pools and above ground pools typically use two separate types of solar collectors. For above ground pools, it is pretty easy to stash your solar panels right next to your pool wall. However, for inground pools, that’s not typically an option because of how much it obstructs your pool deck, so a better option is away from the pool or on your roof.

Pump Compatibility

Many solar pool heaters nowadays can work with any size pump, but some heaters still have a limit to what horsepower is needed for the water to properly pump into the panels to be heated. I’ve looked at a variety of different solar pool heaters that can work with any kind of pump and others that can only work up to a 1.5 HP pump. Make sure to do your due diligence and properly research if a certain solar pool heater will work with the pump that’s already in your pool. Failure to do so may result in you having to buy a whole new pump as well!

Other Types of Heaters

Solar pool heaters aren’t for everybody. They rely on sunlight to heat the pool water. So, if you live in an overly cloudy and rainy area, a solar pool heater will simply not do the trick. To work properly, you want to make sure you have at least 6-8 hours of unobstructed sunlight onto your panels. If this won’t be a possibility for you due to your climate or the placement of your house, it would be wise to look at purchasing a different type of heater.

Gas heaters and electric heaters are the two alternatives. If you are serious about conserving energy, however, you can pair one of these heaters up with a solar blanket.

Questions? Drop me a line, and I’ll be happy to help in any way I can!

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Participation in these programs helps us keep the lights on at PoolResearch.com and in no way impacts my research process or editorial opinions.

Scroll to Top