The Best Swimming Pool Heaters of Every Type

If you want my quick answer, I think the Hayward HeatPro Heat Pump below is the best pool heater for most people. You can find out more about that heater and my other top picks below.

Have you ever jumped into your swimming pool just to find that it is bitterly cold? It isn’t the most pleasant experience, trust me. If you want to get the most out of your pool throughout the year and avoid swimming in shivering water, you need a pool heater. In this article, I will go over the best pool heaters available—and how to find the right one for your needs.

My Top Picks For The 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

Research Score: 4.7 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 5
  • Durability: 5
  • Energy Usage: 5
  • Installation: 3
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Operates quietly
  • Provides 140K BTU of heat
  • Resistant to weathering and environmental conditions

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Very heavy at 250 pounds
  • The user manual is lacking (and only available online)
  • Electric pool heater
  • Output of 140K BTU
  • For inground pools
  • Weighs 250 lbs

Research Notes

With corrosion-resistant and durable materials, Hayward’s HP21404T HeatPro Titanium heat pump is one of my top picks for the best pool heaters. Its heating efficiency and performance are undeniable, and I like that, despite the power of the machine, it still manages to operate quietly while raising the pool’s water temperature.

One disadvantage of this high-performing heat pump is its weight. At 250 pounds, it can make delivery and installation that much more difficult. But thankfully, once the HeatPro is installed, this pool heater is built to handle any and all environmental conditions and pool sizes.

Heating Performance

The Hayward HeatPro uses a titanium heat exchanger that is specifically designed for durability. It is an electric heat pump that has an impressive output of 140,000 BTU. Just a few hours after turning on the heat pump, this product is able to heat up a pool to a nice, warm 85 degrees or warmer. Larger pools may require more time for the heat pump to fully heat up the water, but it certainly still delivers in terms of performance.

Durability

The Hayward HeatPro uses Ultra Gold corrosion-resistant technology to provide durability, even in coastal environments. The UV-resistant body of the pool heater is resistant to corrosion and deterioration. Even inside the heat pump is built for durability. The titanium heat exchanger works hard on exchanging heat with the added ability to resist both salt water and chemical corrosion. At 250 lbs, it’s no surprise how well-built this model is.

Energy Usage

This Hayward heat pump uses electricity to heat the pool’s water, so naturally, pool owners would be curious to know just how much energy this product uses. Thankfully, the Hayward HeatPro is actually quite energy efficient. It will certainly raise your energy bills, but it won’t increase them exponentially or even to a noticeable point.

Expect a slight jump in your bills, but you may be surprised at how little energy this powerful machine uses.

Installation

The actual product box doesn’t include the user manual for the Hayward product, but you can easily find a copy online to help you install this pool heater. Once you download the manual, the instructions are easy enough to follow. But you will need to hire an electrician to do the wiring unless that is something you are already comfortable doing.

Installation is not simply related to how easy it is to install the product with its wires and plumbing. The weight should also be taken into account here as since the product will need to be moved around quite a bit during installation, it’s not something I can ignore.

The Hayward HeatPro weighs 250-pounds which is not an insignificant figure. I would highly recommend having another person to help you lift and move this hefty heat pump in order to properly install it. Thankfully, once it’s installed, you shouldn’t find any reason to move it again.

Price

For an electric pool heater, the price is quite reasonable. Especially for the quality of the product that you will get, I would say this is a great price for those looking for a high-functioning pool heater from a world-renowned company. And even though this is an electric heater, the cost of running this product is not as high as one would have guessed.

Notes From Other Testers

The Hayward HeatPro comes highly rated by many testers around the United States. This product has a rating of 4.4 stars out of 5 from more than 150 reviews. In particular, this heat pump rates highly for easy to install, easy to use, and value for money, rating at 4.6, 4.5, and 4.1 respectively. Most testers are very satisfied with the heating performance of the HeatPro and quiet running noise. However, there are also some critical reviews from testers that have had less positive experiences. These criticisms seem to mostly lie around the fact that warranty and customer service with Hayward are not up to par.

Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater

⭐ Best Gas Heater

Research Score: 4.15 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 5
  • Durability: 4
  • Energy Usage: 3
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 4

What’s Great:

  • Relatively inexpensive to operate
  • Weather resistant
  • Can be used for inground and above ground pools

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Only a one-year warranty
  • Unable to be shipped to California
  • Natural gas pool heater
  • Output of 266K BTU
  • For inground and above ground pools
  • Weighs 210 lbs

Research Notes

Raypak is a very well-known brand in the pool equipment industry and its heaters are some of the best on the market. Their natural gas pool heater is no exception and puts out 266,000 BTU, which is enough energy for most inground and above ground pools. The compact size is also a nice plus so you should be able to tuck it away out of sight.

In my experience, this unit will increase your pool’s temperature by about one degree per hour for a mid-sized inground pool. This Raypak heater is also very durable with a copper heat exchanger that is corrosion resistant. However, it must be mentioned that although most testers are happy with the product, some testers have complained about the heat exchanger breaking down after just a year or two of use.

Heating Performance

The Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater boasts the ability to put out 266,000 BTU, which is no small feat. This means this compact heater is able to heat up almost any kind of pool, both inground and above ground. This gas heater features a digital thermostat that can help you set the temperature you want. Once you’ve done that, simply sit and wait for your pool water to heat up. For an average-sized pool, expect this Raypak product to heat your pool up at roughly 1 degree per hour.

Durability

The Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater has a corrosion-resistant cabinet made of galvanized metal. It is built to withstand all weather conditions and its space-age material means that it won’t retain residual heat. This pool heater is pretty hefty, at 210 pounds, so you won’t be likely to see this product get knocked over by any kind of wind. With that said, although the durability of the product seems great, I have had to dock off one point as some testers have complained about the quality of the copper fin tube heat exchanger.

Energy Usage

Gas heaters are not known to be energy efficient. At the cost of being able to heat up your pool quickly, you may need to pay some more to run this product compared to other energy types. But it’s worth noting that testers have reported that this particular product from Raypak seems to be more energy-efficient than some other gas heaters on the market. That said, don’t expect it to save you money in the long run. If you already have a gas heater, you shouldn’t expect too much of a difference in terms of running costs.

Installation

The Raypak pool heater comes with detailed instructions that are easy to follow. In particular, if you are replacing an older gas heater, you will find installation a breeze as you can simply connect the gas lines to this new pool heater. However, on the other hand, if you are switching to this gas heater from another type, it may be best to call a professional to help with installation and dealing with the gas lines.

Price

This Raypak product is competitively priced, being at the lower end when it comes to gas heaters. But even though there are plenty of higher-priced gas heater options, this Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater does not lack when it comes to heating performance and durability. For the price that you get, it’s quite a steal! Just keep in mind that there are running costs when it comes to this heater. Thankfully, the running costs are not as much as you may expect as this heater is very efficient, with a quicker water heat up time.

Notes From Other Testers

The Raypak Natural Gas Heater has a 4.3-star rating out of almost 130 reviews. 81% of the testers have rated this product 4 or 5 stars, so it is definitely one to keep an eye on. Testers are mostly happy with this product and its ability to heat up their pools in no time. The user-friendly design is also praised by these testers as the pool heater is not only easy to install but also easy to use. An issue some testers seem to have with the product is with its heat exchanger. Some testers have reported the heat exchanger breaking down after just a couple of years of use.

Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater

⭐ Best Quiet and Efficient Heater

Research Score: 4.35 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Energy Usage: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Heats quickly
  • Operates quietly
  • Can handle high-capacity pools

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Requires natural gas line access
  • May not be a good fit for larger pools
  • Natural gas pool heater
  • Output of 125k BTU
  • For smaller pools
  • Weighs 80 lbs

Research Notes

If you’re in the market for a quiet gas heater, Pentair’s MasterTemp is an excellent option. It puts out 125,000 BTU of heating power using natural gas. Pentair’s heating unit heats up quickly and has a built-in digital display. If you’re looking to save money, this unit is also incredibly energy efficient. At such a competitive price point, this MasterTemp is definitely a great choice for those looking to go the natural gas route. Just be mindful that this model will not be fit for larger pools or homes with no natural gas line access.

Heating Performance

The Pentair MasterTemp pool heater puts out 125,000 BTU of heating power using natural gas. It is suitable for small pools up to 15,000 gallons. This pool and spa heater also features a user-friendly digital display and indicator lights for system operation and monitoring. Once you install this heater, it will be quick to heat up your pool using natural gas. And as a plus, during operation, this pool heater is quiet, ensuring no disturbance to the swimmers or the peace of the backyard. The only downside is that this heater is not powerful enough for larger pools.

Durability

The body of the Pentair MasterTemp is built with corrosion and UV-resistant materials for durability. The safety features that are installed in the product also help to ensure that the heater doesn’t overheat and shuts off when necessary. Though not as durable as other heavier models on the market, this Pentair product is still quite sturdy for usual wear and tear.

Energy Usage

Despite the fact that the MasterTemp is a natural gas heater, it still does a great job when it comes to energy efficiency and energy usage. Being a smaller machine, this Pentair product has 82% efficiency compared to larger pool heaters. This pool heater is also certified for low nitrogen oxide emissions.

Installation

When it comes to installation, 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. However, if you do have one ready at hand, installation is pretty easy, and the product comes with a handy manual which you can also find online. Just make sure to install it correctly, otherwise, you may void your warranty. If in any doubt, contact a professional.

Price

This Pentair MasterTemp is a pretty affordable gas heater that is perfect for smaller pools. Not only is the upfront cost on the lower end of the spectrum, but running costs are low as well. Due to the 82% energy efficiency, you can expect to pay a lot less on gas than you would with a larger gas heater.

Notes From Other Testers

The MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater has a 4 out of 5-star rating on Amazon out of 16 reviews. And if you look at the Pentair website, other testers have rated this product a 4.7 out of 5 stars out of 13 reviews. 89% of reviewers would recommend this pool heater to others. Testers seem to be happy with the pool heater’s ability to heat up a small pool in relatively no time. Other positives of this product are the quiet operation and cheaper running costs. On the other hand, some testers have had issues with faulty products or product parts.

Happybuy 3KW 220V Electric Pool Heater

⭐ Best for Small Pools

Research Score: 3.95 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 4
  • Durability: 2
  • Energy Usage: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Supremely lightweight at under 5 pounds
  • Easy to move/set up
  • Safety shutoff ideal for spas

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Not for outdoor use; needs a weather-proof covering
  • Metric fittings can pose compatibility problems
  • Can only be used for pools and spas up to 528 gallons
  • Electric pool heater
  • Maximum temperature setting is 104 degrees
  • For smaller indoor pools and spas
  • Weighs 5 lbs

Research Notes

Happybuy’s lightweight electric heater might be the best solution for heating small pools, spas, and even bathtubs. If your pool is up to 528 gallons, you don’t need a powerful machine, and this electric heater suits just fine. You can set the temperature up to a warm 104 degrees, and there is even a safety feature that shuts off the pool if it gets too hot. Though the durability of this product can be lacking, at this low price, it’s not too surprising.

Heating Performance

The Happybuy Electric Pool Heater is a great little heater for small pools and spas. The smart thermostat helps this electric heater to heat the pool water to the desired temperature, which can range from roughly 68 degrees to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. And if the water temperature exceeds 140 degrees, the safety feature means that this pool heater will automatically shut off. For the price and size of the machine, this Happybuy product does a decent job of heating up a small pool. But if you have a pool of more than 528 gallons, this heater will not be powerful enough.

Durability

Being a very small machine weighing only 5 pounds, it doesn’t really come as a surprise that the durability is lacking in this product. Couple that with the fact that this is a very inexpensive pool heater and you have a product that is decent but not very long-lasting. That said, the inner tank of this pool heater’s thermostat is made of stainless steel, which helps to prevent rust. Make sure to not use this Happybuy heater in saltwater, acidic water, or basic water. This heater should also not be used in rain or windy conditions, as it is not weatherproofed.

Energy Usage

The Happybuy Pool Heater runs on electricity. At 3 KW per hour, expect your electric bill to rise a bit, but since it is a small machine it shouldn’t be noticeable. As long as you follow the guidelines and make sure to use this electric heater for pools and spas under 528 gallons, you shouldn’t see too much energy usage.

Installation

This electric heater is a fairly simple machine that is easy to install. However, you may want to hire an electrician to handle the wiring if you aren’t sure of how to do it correctly.

Price

The quality of product you get for such a low price is a steal. Not only is the electric heater itself a good value, but the running costs are on the low end as well. If you have a small indoor pool or spa, the Happybuy Electric Pool Heater is great value for money.

Notes From Other Testers

This product rates a 3.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon out of almost 60 reviews. Although not the most powerful machine, it certainly does the job for a smaller pool. Many testers are happy that at such a low price, this heater is able to heat up their pools in just a few short hours. Unfortunately, there are some negative reviews with testers having the complete opposite experience with the product not working at all. If you do have this issue, make sure to read the instructions and slow down your water flow as this heater will not kick in otherwise.

XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System

⭐ Best Solar Pool Heater

Research Score: 4.35 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 4
  • Durability: 4
  • Energy Usage: 5
  • Installation: 4
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Uses solar power only, so it’s energy-efficient with no utility cost
  • Can place it on your roof or on the pool deck

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Might need a diverter kit for pumps above 0.5 HP
  • Solar pool heater
  • Can raise temperatures up to 15 degrees
  • For inground and above ground pools
  • Weighs 15 lbs

Research Notes

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 that uses your existing pool pump system to circulate the water for heating. For larger pools, you will likely need multiple panels. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to heat pools during cloudy, overcast days. But in return, you get a cheap pool heater with zero running costs.

Heating Performance

With these solar panels, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to purchase the right amount of panels depending on the size of your pool. For a smaller pool, one panel may be enough to heat up your pool. But if your pool measures 16 by 32, for example, you may need to purchase two or three. Once you’ve determined the correct number of panels for your pool, this XtremepowerUS does a great job at heating a pool - though you can’t control the temperature with a thermostat.

However, with that said, solar heaters are not as effective as other types of heaters as they have a few restrictions, such as inability to work properly on cloudy days. If you are located somewhere that’s sunny, this may not be cause for concern.

Durability

These solar panels by XtremepowerUS are made from extremely high-grade materials that will last through all types of weather. Each panel is made of flexible and durable polypropylene. Simply install them on your roof, and you won’t need to worry about them breaking down or leaking with usual wear and tear. However, it is worth mentioning that some testers have complained about panels slowly breaking down from exposure to the sun, so durability can be a bit lacking with this product compared to more expensive alternatives.

Energy Usage

These solar panels are a win when it comes to energy usage. Unlike other types of heaters, these panels use the sun’s energy to heat up water. They produce no greenhouse gasses and they will heat up your pool at no expense to the environment or your energy bill.

Installation

Installation for the XtremepowerUS solar panels is fairly straightforward. However, if you are not comfortable at heights, I would recommend hiring a professional to install these panels for you. As you will be doing most of the work off the ground, it is imperative that you are comfortable on a ladder and on a roof. That is unless you decide to install these panels on a sunny part of your backyard instead! You may also need a diverter kit for pumps above .5 HP.

Price

These panels by XtremepowerUS are not too expensive, and you can easily add one or two more depending on the size of your pool. These panels are incredibly cost-effective as on top of the low price of the panels, there are no running costs to consider either!

Notes From Other Testers

The XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System has a rating of 4 out of 5 stars from more than 250 reviews. This product rates highly in particular for comfort and value for money. Testers like that these panels are a cheap and simple way to heat up a pool. This product is able to raise pool water temperatures up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit! However, on the flip side, some testers have had issues with the quality and durability of the product.

FibroPool FH120 Above Ground Swimming Pool Heat Pump

⭐ Best Lightweight Heater

Research Score: 4.7 out of 5

  • Heating Performance: 4
  • Durability: 5
  • Energy Usage: 5
  • Installation: 5
  • Price: 5

What’s Great:

  • Runs quietly
  • High COP/efficiency

Limitations & What Needs Improvement:

  • Not suitable for larger pools
  • Below average customer support
  • Electric pool heater
  • Maximum temperature setting is 99 degrees with an output of 20k BTU
  • For above ground pools
  • Weighs 75 lbs

Research Notes

As far as full-size pool heaters go, FibroPool’s FH120 is both lightweight and powerful. It has a 20,000 BTU per hour heating capacity and can serve pools up to 7,500 gallons. I appreciate the quiet operation and durability of the product as well. The FH120 is an energy-efficient heat pump that is a great option for small to medium-sized above ground pools. Unfortunately, the company’s customer support seems to be lacking, and hopefully something that will be improved upon soon!

Heating Performance

At 20,000 BTU, the FibroPool FH120 Heat Pump is suitable for above ground pools up to 7,500 gallons. This electric pool heater is able to extend your swimming season and can even function in colder weather down to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Many testers have reported that they have seen temperatures rise up to 15 - 20 degrees over the first few days of installation.

20k BTU is not as impressive as other models on the market, but it just means it will take longer to initially heat up the pool and shouldn’t affect the day-to-day of the heater once it’s been installed. That said, if you have a large above ground pool, you would be better off looking for another pool heater.

Durability

The FibroPool FH120 is made of an all-metal, enamel-coated case. This helps it to withstand both pool chemicals and extreme weather. Its titanium heat exchanger is another point in its favor when it comes to durability. Titanium is a strong material that is highly durable and resistant to corrosion, making it suitable for saltwater pools as well.

Energy Usage

This heat pump is an energy-efficient model with a COP of 4.81. To put it simply, for every dollar of electricity, this product will output around 4.81x the heat. In monetary terms, expect an average of about 16 cents per hour to run the FibroPool FH120. Compared to many other pool heating products, the FH120 does a great job at conserving energy while not compromising its heating performance.

Installation

The FH120 is touted to be easy to install, helped by the fact that it weighs just 75 pounds. In fact, the manufacturers boast that its quick installation shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes. You won’t even feel the need to think about hiring an electrician or plumber to put this product together. However, I think the manufacturer’s directions that come with the product could be a bit more clear for novices that have never plumbed before.

Price

The FibroPool FH120 is priced more than fairly for the quality of the product you get. Buying an electric pool heater is never going to be cheap, but this product lies on the cheaper end of the spectrum. On top of that, due to its high COP, your energy bills will not rise too much either.

Notes From Other Testers

Testers really like the FibroPool FH120, rating it a 4.2 out of 5 stars from almost 250 reviews. Testers rate this product highly for easy installation, value for money, and comfort. This product does a great job of heating above ground pools for testers around the United States. But other testers have had a negative experience, particularly with FibroPool’s customer support.

Recap: Best Pool Heaters

How They Compare

Heating Performance and Price Comparison

I created a scatterplot chart comparing heating performance and price for each of my top picks so you can see which pool heaters give you the best value for your money. As you can see, the Hayward HeatPro Titanium Heat Pump is a really good value.

Durability Comparison

  1. Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump - 5
  2. FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump - 5
  3. Raypack Natural Gas Pool Heater - 4
  4. Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater - 4
  5. XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System - 4
  6. Happybuy 3KW 220V Electric Pool Heater - 2

Hayward and FibroPool heaters were standouts in terms of durability.

Energy Usage Comparison

  1. Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump - 5
  2. FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump - 5
  3. Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater - 5
  4. XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System - 5
  5. Happybuy 3KW 220V Electric Pool Heater - 5
  6. Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater - 3

All of the heaters in my top picks performed really well in energy-efficiency tests, except for Raypak.

Installation Comparison

  1. FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump - 5
  2. Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater - 4
  3. XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System - 4
  4. Happybuy 3KW 220V Electric Pool Heater - 4
  5. Raypak Natural Gas Pool Heater - 4
  6. Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump - 3

The Hayward HeatPro was a bit more complicated to install than my other top picks. FibroPool was exceptionally easy to set up.

Other Notable Pool Heaters Researched

  • Hayward Universal H-Series Pool and Spa Heater - This is a reliable option from Hayward, but I found the HeatPro model performed better in my heat performance tests.
  • Ecosmart US SMART POOL Tankless Pool Heater - I didn't love the energy efficiency of this heater. Their customer support is also sub-par.
  • AquaCal SQ120R HeatWave SuperQuiet Pool Heat Pump - The chiller feature is unnecessary for many pool owners and jacks up the price.
  • Smartpool Solar Pool Heating System - XtremepowerUS performed better when I tested heat performance vs. this model.

My Research Criteria

So, how did I determine the best pool heater options in each category? Here are the research criteria I established to filter through the best heaters for your home pool.

Heating Performance

Heating performance is obviously the most important thing to consider when it comes to your pool heater. For this reason, this section takes up the highest percentage block at 30% in determining the overall score of the pool heaters above.

The ability of the heater to heat up a pool to the desired temperature is absolutely critical. Of course, the actual performance will depend on the type of pool heater, but I have not pitted a gas heater against a solar heater, as that rating would not be fair. Instead, the focus is on how well a pool heater is able to heat up the pool (and how warm) based on the type of the heater.

Heating capacity and BTU ratings are also important here. But more on this below.

Product Construction, Weight, and Durability

Overall durability accounted for 20% of the overall score of each product.
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.

Energy Usage

Energy usage made up 15% of the overall score. 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.

To really understand what heater you need, read my guide on sizing your pool heater. I also wrote about the average costs of various pool heaters for folks who want a breakdown by heater type.

Installation

Installation makes up 15% of each product’s score. Of course, the overall ease of installation will play a big part in deciding the scores for the products above. Things like plumbing, electrical wires, and other more technical aspects of installation that may be difficult for the usual layman to tackle had to be taken into consideration as well.

Another small but important point to consider is the weight of the product. The weight of the product may play a part in durability as I’ve mentioned above, but it also makes an appearance here. The heavier the pool heater, the more difficult it is to install. After all, not everyone can lift a 300-pound heater with ease.

Price

Price is one of the most important criteria to consider, so it takes up 20% of the overall score. Most pool owners, when deciding on what to get, will have a specific budget in mind. Prices will vary, especially according to what kind of pool heater you pick.

For example, a gas heater will be the cheapest option, ranging from $1,300 to $6,300. Electric heaters are middling, ranging from $1,200 to $7,700. And finally, solar heaters will be the most expensive to purchase initially. The average price range for these solar heaters is between $2,300 and $9,600.

On top of the initial purchase price, another cost to consider is the running costs. Gas heaters will generally cost the most to run, followed by electric, and then solar. If possible, try to purchase a pool heater that is energy-efficient in order to cut down on running costs.

What Else to Consider

Here are a couple of other things to consider when it comes to picking the best swimming pool heater for you.

Heating Capacity

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.

Energy Type

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.

Natural Gas

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

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.

Electricity

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 are 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

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.

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