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.
- BEST FOR: In-ground pools that are used regularly and benefit from maintaining an ideal consistent temperature. Non-corrosive design makes it durable...
- ECONOMICAL HEATING: Using the surrounding air to heat the pool, HeatPro is more economical than propane, natural gas and electric heaters for...
- UNPARALLELED DURABILITY: Ultra Gold corrosion-resistant technology provides unparalleled durability, even in harsh coastal environments.
- CORROSION RESISTANT: Titanium heat exchanger ensures maximum heat transfer and provides excellent salt water and chemical corrosion resistance....
- TRUSTED BRAND: With over 80 years of experience, Hayward is an industry leader in manufacturing advanced pool equipment.
- 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)
Raypack Natural Gas Pool Heater
⭐ Best Gas Heater
Raypack is a very well known brand in the pool equipment industry and their 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.
The pilot light is very safe and easy to operate and the unit heats up very quickly and consistently. In my experience, this unit will increase your pool’s temperature about one degree per hour for a mid-sized inground pool. This Raypack heater is also very durable with a copper heat exchanger that is corrosion resistant.
I also really like the compatibility of this heater. It has a bypass valve that can adjust to a wide variety of flow rates and pool pumps, no matter what size you have.
- Part Number: 009217
- Model Number: P-R266A-EN-C
- LCD digital display provides accurate temperature
- Monitors operational status as well as service diagnostics
- PLEASE NOTE: Item is unable to be shipped to state of California
- 266K BTU
- LCD display
- Diagnostic readouts
- Adjustable bypass valve
- One-year warranty
- Compact and space-saving
- Quiet operation (once it starts up)
- Inexpensive to operate
- Weather resistant
- Only a one-year warranty
Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater
⭐ Best Quiet and Efficient Heater
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.
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. If you’re looking to save money, this unit is also incredibly energy efficient.
Overall, the power output is ideal for small to mid-size pools and spas. If you have a larger pool more than 15,000 gallons, though, the energy output might not be what you need.
- GREAT FOR SMALLER POOLS: Natural gas heater boasts 125,000 BTUs, designed for smaller bodies of water up to 15,000 gallons
- COMPACT AND EFFICIENT: Compact design with 82-percent efficiency as compared to larger pool heaters; Quiet operation makes sure not to impose on...
- THOUGHTFUL, USER-FRIENDLY DESIGN:: Rotating digital display allows for any installation rotation and is easy to read; User-friendly indicator lights...
- SAFETY FEATURES: Water pressure and stack flue sensor for overheat prevention, auto shut-off when the temperature exceeds factory limits, and manual...
- SPECIFICATIONS: Voltage: 120/240V; Intake/discharge plumbing: 1.5-inch; 0.75-inch gas line up to 50 feet from source (not included); Dimensions (L x W...
- Natural gas heater
- 125K 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
Happybuy 3KW 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.
- Smart Thermostat: The thermostat comes with a temperature probe, which can sensitively sense the temperature of the pool water. The heating can...
- Secure & Reliable: If the temperature of the water or thermostat housing exceeds 60°C (140°F), the high-temperature protection device will...
- Durable Material: The inner tank of the thermostat is stainless steel, and it has a long service life without rust. Internal use of international...
- Simple Operation: The internal circulation of the water heater is smooth, with no scum. It is easy to disassemble. After the correct installation, the...
- Multiple Usages: Water heater operation is fully automatic and easy to use.Need to be equipped with a circulating water pump about 550W, and the water...
- Electric heater
- For pools less than 2CBM
- Manual reset switch
- Thermostat control
- Supremely lightweight at under 5 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
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. For more solar recommendations, read my full guide on solar pool heaters.
- 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, panels are Hand cut and may not be identical...
- 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
Recap: The Best Pool Heaters
- Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium 140,000 BTU Heat Pump: Best electric heater
- Raypack Natural Gas Pool Heater: Best gas heater
- Pentair MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater: Best quiet and efficient heater
- Happybuy 3KW 220V Electric Pool Heater: Best for small pools
- XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System: Best solar pool heater
- FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump: Best lightweight heater
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.
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