Swimming in a cold pool is no fun, especially in the colder months. So, if you want to get the most out of your pool, you need a pool heater. Here we’ll look at the best pool heaters available—and how to find the right one for your needs.
Best Pool Heaters in Every Category
Here are the top six pool heaters for every need and pool size.
Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump
⭐ Best Electric Heater
With corrosion-resistant and durable materials, Hayward’s HP21404T HeatPro Titanium heat pump is our top pick for the best electric heater. Its heating efficiency is undeniable, and we like that it operates quietly to raise pool temperatures quickly.
Set the temperature you want, and the heater kicks on automatically to make it happen.
One potential pitfall is how heavy this unit is, weighing in at 250 pounds. Of course, this is only an issue at the time of delivery and installation. Once it’s in place, the heat pump can handle nearly any environmental condition or pool size all year round.
- Acoustic compressor cover and profiled fan blade ensures quiet operation and efficient performance
- Ultra-Gold corrosion resistant evaporator fin for extreme durability
- Titanium heat exchanger designed for maximum heat transfer, efficiency and reliability
- Durable injection molded UV-resistant body panels that are impervious to rust and deterioration
- Round Design - Easily fits through gates and takes up less space on equipment pad
- Electric heater
- Titanium heat exchanger, which is more reliable than cupro nickel
- Injection-molded UV-resistant body panels
- 140K BTU
- Electronic temperature control
- Operates quietly
- Provides 140K BTU of heat
- Resistant to weathering and environmental conditions
- Very heavy at 250 pounds
- The user manual is lacking (and only available online)
Happybuy 11KW 220V Electric Pool Heater
⭐ Best for Small Pools
Happybuy’s electric heater might be the best solution for heating small pools. It can handle pools below five cubic meters in size, per the manufacturer, which translates to about 1,300 gallons of water. If you have a spa that needs a new heater, or a smaller pool, this handy and portable unit can help.
At under 17 pounds, it’s easy to maneuver, and the thermostat control (plus an automatic shutoff past 140 degrees Fahrenheit) is straightforward.
Keep in mind, however, that Happybuy’s unit uses metric measurements (conversions here are ours), including on their fittings. Therefore, you might need to source the appropriate fittings before you can install the heater.
- Electric heater
- For pools less than 5CBM
- Manual reset switch
- Thermostat control
- Supremely lightweight at under 17 pounds
- Easy to move/set up
- Safety shutoff ideal for spas
- Not for outdoor use; needs a weather-proof covering
- Metric fittings can pose compatibility problems
Pentair 460735 MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater
⭐ Best Gas Heater
If you’re in the market for a gas heater, Pentair’s MasterTemp is an excellent option. It puts out 300,000 BTU of heating power using natural gas.
Of course, an existing natural gas line with easy access is preferable. If you don’t have an existing line that’s convenient, you may want to choose an electric or alternative energy heater instead.
Pentair’s unit holds a certification of low nitrogen oxide emissions, which answers consumers’ safety concerns. It also heats up quickly and has a built-in digital display.
Overall, the power output is ideal for larger pools and spas. If you have a smaller pool, though, the energy output might be excessive – and expensive.
- 300K BTU propane gas high performance heater
- Heats up fast so no long waits before enjoying your pool or spa
- Best-in-class energy efficiency
- Manual gas shut-off when service is required
- MasterTemp is certified for low NOx emission and outperforms industry standards; Measures 36-inch length by 30-inch height by 25-inch width
- Natural gas heater
- 300K BTU
- Low nitrogen oxide emissions
- Rotating digital display
- Heats quickly
- Operates quietly
- Can handle high-capacity pools
- Requires natural gas line access
- May not be a good fit for smaller pools
XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System
⭐ Best Solar Pool Heater
If energy usage is a concern, XtremepowerUS’s solar heater might be the perfect fit for your pool. Each kit comes with a single panel (rolled up) that uses your existing pool pump system to circulate the water for heating.
For larger pools, you will likely need multiple panels, and the sets interconnect. Whether you lay the panels flat on your lawn, pool deck, or affix them to the roof, wherever they receive direct sunlight, they’ll warm the pool water.
Of course, you won’t be able to heat pools in winter when there’s a lot of cloud cover, so that’s one potential drawback in comparison with other energy sources.
- XtremepowerUS Panels are built from extremely high-grade materials that are proven to last in all types of weather
- Pools pump and filter system circulates pool water through the SOLAR PANELS when it is heated & then returned to your pool. Once installed, these...
- System is designed to be used on above-ground or in-ground pools. Each kit is made of - 2' x 20'ft panels. Each panel is made of lightweight,...
- Quantity of these solar panels needed is dependent on the pool size and the location, which may estimate by some websites.
- Diverter kit may be required for pumps 1.5hp and greater. Sold separately under item number B01FNE41HA
- Solar-powered heating system
- One 28 inch by 20-foot polypropylene solar panel tube
- Compatible with in- and above-ground pools
- Uses solar power only, so it’s energy efficient with no utilities cost
- Can place on your roof or on the pool deck
- Easy to set up (stretch them out and connect to pool inlets/outlets)
- Might need a diverter kit for pumps above .5 HP
- You may need an extra kit depending on your heating needs
- Does not work without a pump connected
FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump
⭐ Best Lightweight Heater
As far as full-size pool heaters go, FibroPool’s FH 200 is both lightweight and powerful. It has a 20,000 BTU per hour heating capacity and can serve pools up to 7,500 gallons. Yet it weighs under 100 pounds, which helps ease the installation process.
Quiet operation is another highlight that we appreciate, plus the fact that the heater automatically shuts off when your pump powers down. We don’t necessarily appreciate the marketing toward spas—FibroPool says it’s suitable for all hot tubs—as the maximum temperature setting is 99 degrees.
However, overall, the heater delivers enough warmth for standard pools to keep operating through multiple seasons. And, it has a ‘best in class’ COP rating—a measure of overall performance and cost savings.
- 4.85 COP. Best in its class
- 20,000 Btu/Hr heating capacity
- Suitable for pools up to 7,500 gallons in coastal climates
- Suitable for ALL Hot Tubs
- 240 Volts- 60 HZ American Voltage
- 20K BTU
- For pools under 7,500 gallons
- Maximum temperature setting is 99 degrees
- Runs quietly
- High COP/efficiency
- Plumbing adapters are not a standard size
Sta-Rite SR400LP Max-E-Therm Pool and Spa Heater
⭐ Best for Low Operating Costs
Because heating a pool can use a lot of energy, many pool owners are focused on low operating costs. The good news is that Sta-Rite’s propane heater provides excellent efficiency that can save you on energy costs.
The unit has an 84 percent efficiency rating and may even reduce your energy usage in comparison with your current heater. With a weather-resistant enclosure and LED controls, it’s both rugged and functional.
One drawback that’s a bit of a bummer is that this unit isn’t compatible with remote/Wi-Fi enabled Sta-Rite products (such as energy panels you can control from inside your home). Of course, that’s a minor complaint for most folks.
- Lightweight - Lightest heater in its class
- Compact Design - Ideal for retro-fit installation
- Lower operating costs - 84% efficiency rating - rated 1st in its class for highest energy efficiency
- Rustproof Housing Sleek, matte black enclosure is made of Dura-Glass - an exclusive Sta-Rite material that handles the heat and weathers the elements
- Custom or Retrofit - Direct-connects to Sta-Rite System:3 Mod Media filter or easily fits other systems
- 84 percent efficiency rating
- Dura-glass enclosure to resist heat/elements
- Propane heat
- 400K BTU
- LED temperature readout and controls
- Temperature safety lockout
- Compact and space-saving
- Quiet operation (once it starts up)
- Inexpensive to operate
- Not compatible with all Sta-Rite system components
- Noisy upon startup
Recap: The Best Pool Heaters
- Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump: Best electric heater
- Happybuy 11KW 220V Electric Pool Heater: Best for small pools
- Pentair 460736 MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater: Best gas heater
- XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System: Best solar pool heater
- FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump: Best lightweight heater
- Sta-Rite SR400LP Max-E-Therm Pool And Spa Heater: Best for low operating costs
Our Research Criteria
So, how did we determine the best pool heater options in each category? Here are the research criteria we established to filter through the best heaters for your home pool.
Pool heaters typically use one of four energy sources: natural gas, propane, electricity, or solar power. Each type has benefits and drawbacks, so we’ve listed the best picks for each category to help guide your purchasing decision. Here’s more on which types we’ve recommended.
For some consumers who don’t already have a gas line running in the appropriate place, adding a gas heater isn’t a good fit. But if you have easy access to natural gas, it can be a simple way to connect your heater.
Especially for larger inground pools, a natural gas pool heater is effective and quick at warming the water.
Propane pool heaters are similar to natural gas models, but propane can be an even better deal for consumers. Many propane heaters also offer high efficiency, which could save you more on energy costs.
Electric-power pool heaters are the most common option, but as convenient as they are, there can be drawbacks. Some types you can plug in, which is handy for storage and winterizing. But other types use hard-wiring into your home’s electrical grid, which may require an electrician to install and service.
Some units use a lot of electricity, which can substantially increase your household’s energy costs.
Solar power is a helpful heating option for homes with ample sunlight for most of the day (and year). It’s an easily renewable energy source, and all you need to do is connect the pipes and pump and start circulating sun-warmed water.
Of course, in areas without direct sunlight, a solar power heater isn’t the most efficient. Plus, some panels won’t stand up to weathering year after year.
The type of energy your heater uses is the primary factor that determines your usage. Still, some pool heaters are more efficient than others, regardless of their power source. We’ve recommended heaters with optimal energy ratings to help save you money on your pool heating costs.
When you’re shopping for a pool heater, you’ll notice a BTU rating on most products. But what does this mean in terms of how large a pool the heater can handle? The calculations can become complicated, but there’s a formula for determining how much heat your pool needs to reach the ideal temperature.
For an inground pool, first calculate the surface area of the pool. Then, determine how much of a temperature rise you need. Take the desired temperature and subtract the ambient temperature to figure this out.
Next, you’ll multiply the surface area of your pool by the temperature rise. Finally, multiply that figure by 12 to calculate the BTU per hour output you need. The final number tells you the heater output you need to achieve the desired temperature increase in 24 hours.
Calculating the exact BTU level is nearly impossible, given temperature fluctuations and wind chill factors. But in general, this formula will help you figure out the heating capacity that’s ideal for your pool and temperature preference.
Product Construction and Weight
Depending on the type of pool you have, the weight and construction of your pool heater might be significant. Whether it’s in- or above-ground, indoors or outdoors, your pool might be compatible with one heater type and not another.
If your pool is a permanent installation and you can install the heater in a protected area, weight might not matter—except to your delivery crew. Weatherization features won’t be relevant, either.
If, however, you want to heat a temporary pool or move your heater indoors at night or during the off-season, weight does matter. Pool heaters range from under 20 pounds to over 200, and we’ve listed a range of sizes and configurations to serve each pool owner’s needs.
Weatherproofing is also significant if your heater must reside outdoors. After all, the harsh sun and other extreme weather conditions can shorten the life of your pool heater.
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 our research process or editorial opinions.