One of the reasons why some people prefer swimming in a pool as opposed to ocean water is because swimming pools have more reliable and predictable temperature levels. However, with the cost of living going up, it’s becoming increasingly important to save on energy expenses and the pool heater is often the first thing to go for.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Nowadays, we have access to effective and eco-friendly solar pool heaters that will keep your pool water feeling pleasant all year round without burning a hole in your pocket with high energy bills.

Plus, we’ve gone the extra mile to put together a truly comprehensive guide with all the information you’ll need to find your ideal solar pool heater.

How Does a Solar Pool Heater Work?

Solar pool heaters are undoubtedly the most inexpensive pool heating mechanisms available out there, and they work just as well as any other heat pump. The only difference is that your solar pool heater will only work at full capacity when it’s hot out, otherwise its efficiency will significantly diminish when it’s overcast.

What to Consider Before Buying the Best Solar Pool Heater

As with any purchase, it’s important to make a few key considerations when you start shopping for a solar pool heater. Luckily for you, we’ve covered most of these in the list below to help you choose the best option for your needs.

  • Size of the Pool

Your pool size matters a great deal when you’re looking for a solar pool heater because it plays a huge role in how the heater operates. Basically, small to medium-sized pool heaters are more suited to small-sized pools while larger pools require a more powerful system, especially if they have a lot of depth.

  • Build Quality

The type of materials used in constructing the pool heater will also have an effect on its longevity and ability to do its job (which is to heat your pool). If you’re looking for a durable model that will last long then you should definitely consider purchasing one with a glass coating, which is a quality that you won’t find in other heaters.

  • Pool Functionality

It’s important to keep in mind the specific function of your pool as well when purchasing a solar pool heater. For example, some swimming pools are used for recreational purposes and typically do well with a solar pool heater that can deliver the right temperatures for this purpose. Other swimming pools are for sports and exercise, and will thus require a heater that provides reliable temperatures.

  • Solar Pool Heater Cost

Of course, you must also consider your budget and make sure that the pool heater you purchase is priced just right while offering good value for money.  You also have to keep in mind that you will get what you pay for since pricey solar heaters are usually the most effective, but you can still get good quality systems within a reasonable price range.

Top 10 Solar Pool Heaters Of 2018

Investing in a solar pool heater is a great way to guarantee that your pool water will feel balmy and pleasant every time you walk into the pool. That way, you can confidently dive in instead of cautiously tip-toeing in for fear of encountering cold water.

Below we’ve got a good selection of solar pool heaters that we’ve reviewed for you, along with their pros and cons so that it’s easier for you to choose the best option for your unique circumstances.

Heliocol Swimming Pool Solar Panel

Heliocol Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel 1' x 9.5' - HC-9.5
  • Original Manufacturers Panel
  • One-Piece Unibody Construction
  • Individual Tubes - open design resist lifting in high winds
  • Long lasting, maintenance-free system
  • Single Replacement Panel

The Heliocol Swimming Pool Solar Panel is considered to be one of the best pool heating systems on the market, and this is among both solar and non-solar models. Not only does it offer a beautiful modern aesthetic but it’s also incredibly durable and works great.

The Heliocol brand has invested a lot in the design of this system, including proprietary heat absorption technology which is complemented by a cutting-edge mounting system. All of this is contained in a discreet tube that doesn’t require any special expertise to install and will not take up a lot of space.

Pros

  • Nice modern and streamlined design
  • It’s super easy to set up and install
  • Single-piece construction
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Eco-friendly
  • Made by a well-known and respected brand

Cons

  • Those with larger pools might require additional panels for this system to work for them

Fafco Solar Pool Heating System

This easy-to-install unit from Fafco is known as the ‘Solar Bear’, and we think it has something to do with how warm it keeps pool water throughout the seasons. This is largely due to its 20 ft. solar panel, which has a surprisingly easy setup thanks to the lack of connectors.

The Solar Bear continues to impress with durable, UV-resistant construction that includes large 2-inch headers. Basically, this system is ideal for a medium to large-sized swimming pools. Not only is it made by a reputable company but it’s backed by a 10-year warranty as well.

So if you’re looking for an affordable and eco-friendly heating solution for your swimming pool, look no further than the Fafco solar heating system which as the name implies, is designed for above-ground swimming pools.

This system definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to quality, longevity, and ease of installation either.

Pros

  • Made with UV-resistant materials
  • Super durable and long lasting
  • It’s easy to install thanks to the lack of connectors
  • Backed by an impressive 10-year warranty!
  • It’s a green pool heating system

Cons

  • Some reviewers have complained of leaks when using this system
  • The oversized 20-inch panel needs a fair bit of space

GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve

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GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater for Intex & Bestway Above Ground and in Ground Pools (Includes Intex Adapters)
  • Unique Curved Shape maximizes heat. Heats 5 degrees Fahrenheit in 4 days
  • Durable construction with commercial grade collectors
  • Threaded ports for versatile plumbing options
  • Includes 2 hoses and stainless steel hose clamps
  • For in ground pools (Multiple units may be needed)

The SolarPRO Curve is an ideal option for those with a small above-ground swimming pool as it features a nice and compact design with smart technology that enables it to work in a matter of days.

You’ll notice during this time that your pool water will become warm, balmy and very pleasant to swim in.

Its streamlined curved design makes this solar heater very good for the environment and even better for your pocket. Say goodbye to skyrocketing heating bills as you enjoy the efficiency with which this system uses the sun’s energy to effortlessly heat your pool.

Part of what makes this pool heater so effective is the fact that it collects the sun’s energy at every stage of its ascent and descent across the sky, which enables it to increase the water temperature by 10 degrees within a couple of days.

The best part about this solar pool heater is that it’s very reasonably priced, very well-made and easy to install too, so you really do get a lot of bang for your buck with this one.

Pros

  • Small and compact design
  • Its curved shape makes it very efficient at collecting solar energy
  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for small to medium-sized above ground pools
  • Eco-friendly and very energy efficient

Cons

  • The only downside to its smaller size is the fact that it doesn’t provide the level of heat that you’d expect

SUNHEATER 2′ X 10′ Solar Heating System

SUNHEATER 2' X 10' Solar Heating Universal System
  • SmartPool: The hottest selling solar heater in the pool industry raises the pool water temperature up 10°F or more
  • With this simple do-it-yourself installation it uses your existing pool pump and has a tube on web design for maximum exposure to the sun's rays
  • With no fuel bills or expensive installation of equipment and connections this is an all around great solar heating system.
  • This system can also be used on soft-side pools like Intex.
  • Includes: 1- 2' x 10' panel 1- Installation kit 1- Set soft-sided pool adapters

With dimensions of 2’ by 10’, the SUNHEATER model lives up to its name, as it efficiently collects heat from the sun using a long panel which is connected to the tubes that warm up the water by up to 15 degrees in one go. The fact that it’s able to provide more or less the same level of heat consistently makes it a really good model for the money, plus it’s well-priced for the quality you get which is great.

It features a lightweight design that makes it fairly simple to install, whether you’re using it for an above-ground or in-ground pool.

SUNHEATER has made it even easier to install this product, as all you have to do is attach it to your existing pump so that it can start working to create a more pleasant ambiance in your pool to enjoy at any time of the day.

Sure, it may be a bit difficult to install this system on your own due to the intricacy of the design but it’s very efficient and affordable though.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly
  • Features interchangeable connectors
  • Offers great value for money
  • Versatile enough to work for both types of pools
  • Direct flow system
  • This system can increase temperatures

Cons

  • The panels are huge and will take up a lot of space
  • Installation requires professional help

Smartpool WWS601P Pool Heater

SmartPool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System for In Ground Pool
  • Keep your pool warm with a polypropylene heat collector. Direct Flow System - One Header Hole for Each Heating Tube
  • Solar heater features 80 square feet of solar panels
  • Pool accessory is perfect for heating any in-ground swimming pool
  • Panel array measures 4 feet wide x 20 feet long. Raises Pool Water Temperature 6-10°F (4-6°C)
  • Installation kit required (Sold Separately)

If you want a fast-acting solar pool heater that offers great value for money, then this Smartpool solar heater is for you. It features large panels that are so efficient at collecting the sun’s energy that it can increase your pool’s temperature by 10 to 15 degrees in less than 24 hours.

It’s also made to last with an eco-friendly design as it features solar panels that are connected to the pool pump through purpose-built tubes. Although it’s difficult to install, we’re definitely impressed with its stellar performance.

It also has interchangeable connectors that allow it to operate on above-ground pools as well as it does on in-ground pools, and the direct-flow system is easy to set up once you know how.

Pros

  • This system can increase your pool’s water temperature by up to 15 degrees in less than 24 hours
  • Operates passively
  • Versatile enough for above as well as in-ground pools
  • Features interchangeable connectors
  • Eco-friendly
  • Super-efficient and cost-effective

Cons

  • Not very easy to install
  • The panels are gigantic

Intex Solar Heater for Above Ground Swimming Pools

Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool, 47in X 47in
  • Eco-friendly solar technology increases temperature of the pool water by approx. 3 ~ 5 DegreeC (5 ~ 9 DegreeF) depending on weather condition.
  • Simple hook up, compatible with filter pump up to 1/2 hp or pump flow rate < 2500 gal/hr (9463 L/hr).
  • Suitable for above ground pools up to 8000 gal (30,280L). 1m sq (11ft sq) surface to absorb sun's rays.
  • 1 ¼" (32mm) hose attachment points, includes 1 adaptor A and 1 adaptor B for 1 ½" hose connection.
  • Includes: 0.5m (1 1/4" / 32mm diameter) connecting hose. Bypass valve. Dimensions: 1.2m X 1.2 m / 47 1/4in; X 47 1/4in.

Compact sized and thoughtfully designed, the Intex Solar Heater is designed for above-ground pools and works perfectly for small to medium-sized spaces.

It’s also quite small as it measures just 47 x 47 inches, which means that it won’t take up a lot of space after you’ve installed it and will discreetly stay out of sight. Because you can attach it to any Intex filler pump, this solar heater does an excellent job at warming pool water by up to 10 degrees and circulating it back into the pool quickly so that you experience nearly instant results.

With all that said, one has to keep in mind that the Intex Solar Heater will not provide the same amount and consistency of heat as the larger models featured in this list, but it’s super heap and still gets the job done when there’s full sunlight out.

Pros

  • Super affordable
  • Small and conveniently compact
  • Eco-friendly
  • Energy efficient
  • Works with a wide variety of Intex above-ground pools
  • Easy to install
  • Can generate extra heat by joining the mats together

Cons

  • Don’t expect this system to provide the same level of water heating capabilities offered by the larger models featured in this list
  • It only works with above-ground Intex pools

GAME 4714 SolarPRO

GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex
  • For pools up to 10,000 gallons, Solar Dome Heater creates "Green House" effect to increase heat transfer;No electric or gas connections
  • Water Capacity 1.5 gallon. Heats 5 degrees Fahrenheit in 6 days.
  • 1.5 HP Pump, upto 19 GPM flow rate
  • Injection molded, foldable legs
  • Adapters for Intex & Best way pools included

If looks and design are as important to you as the quality of construction and durability, then you might want to consider the GAME 4714 SolarPRO for Intex.

As the name implies this system is made for Intex pools only and features a small panel that’s able to heat up pool water quickly while keeping your carbon footprint low.

Its energy efficient design also includes curling tubes that enable it to collect a significant amount of the sun’s heat in a short amount of time. The dome shape makes it easy to install on your above-ground Intex pool.

You’ll also be glad to know that this soar pool heater is super easy to install and use, and this is in addition to its reasonable price tag. It’s definitely an ideal option for anyone who’s looking for an eco-friendly yet effective and affordable pool heater.

Pros

  • The small and lightweight design makes it easy to install
  • Very well priced
  • Super-efficient
  • Features a unique dome design
  • Easy to install and operate

Cons

  • While it works more than fine for smaller pools, this solar heater is not cut out for larger sizes
  • It’s made exclusively for Intex pools

XtremepowerUS 2′ X 20′ Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System

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XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System 28" X 20'
  • 28" x 20' Solar Collector
  • Each Roll 28" x 20 foot Long (40sq ft.)
  • Quick connect design for easy assembly
  • 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

This solar pool heater from XtremepowerUS is one of those rare finds that delivers on performance like a high-priced model while it comes at a ridiculously low price.

Measuring at 2ft by 20ft, the Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System is easy to install and has the ability to increase pool water temperatures by up to 15 degrees in just one day. Yep, you read that right, in just one day!

Apart from saving you money in energy bills, this system is literally one of the cheapest on the market and also one of the most on demand due to its efficiency at heating up pool water. Plus, it works for both above ground and in-ground pools with no problem.

The only hitch we could find with this pool is that it’s too small to effectively heat large-sized in-ground pools but you can always solve that problem by installing two of these instead of one. While the solar panel itself is quite large, it works really well when it comes to absorbing sunlight to be converted into heat for your pool.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Super easy to setup and install
  • It can increase water temperatures by 10 to 15 degrees in a short amount of time
  • Versatile enough to install on both above ground and in-ground pools with ease

Cons

  • If your pool measures at 80 square feet and above, then you’ll have to purchase more than one of these systems in order to get the job done right
  • It might require a diverter kit

Doheny Space Saver Collector

Doheny's 5' x 10' (Two 2.5 x 10 Panels) Space Saver Solar Heating Collector
  • Save Big Money On Utilities
  • Heats up to an Extra 15 Degrees
  • Easy Installation
  • Roof or Board Mounting Options

Keep your pool water warm all year round with the Space Saver Collector from Doheny. Its large panel works fast to heat up pool water in just one hour, and it’s able to maintain those warm water temperatures throughout.

Due to the panel’s large size, you might find that it takes up quite a bit of space but it’s well worth it when you consider how quickly it works and how efficient it is.

You’ll also love its beautiful design, which not only looks great but makes it super easy to install on your own as well, without the need for professional help. The design also comes with direct flow MAX-FLO that’s super-efficient when it comes to water circulation, thus saving you hundreds of dollars in heating bills.

All in all, the Doheny Heating Collector is an eco-friendly pool heating solution that’s designed to be installed in any type or size of pool. Plus, it’s backed by a 5-year warranty which says a lot about the manufacturer’s level of confidence in the construction quality and performance of this system.

Pros

  • Cost-effective
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to install
  • Works with all types of pools and pool pumps
  • Features MAX-FLO design
  • Can heat up your pool to 15 degrees in a super short amount of time

Cons

  • The panel is large and needs a lot of space

SmartPool Solar Heating System

SmartPool Universal Swimming Pool Solar Heating System - 4 x 20 Feet
  • NOTE: 4 x 20 foot panel comes as two 2 x 20 foot panels
  • Universal solar panels can be used on in ground or above ground pools
  • Universal Solar Heating Systems may raise pool temperature 6-10 degrees
  • Direct Flow System with patented Web Design tube construction optimizes heat transfer from the sun to your pool
  • Includes: Solar panels, end caps, pipe adapters, mounting kit, diverter valve kit and installation manual

As the name implies the SmartPool Solar Heating System is suitable for use on all types of swimming pools and pool pumps. It’s uniquely designed with an efficient heat-transferring tube and solar panel that work seamlessly together.

Installing it is so easy that you can literally do it on your own, and the result is perfect pool water temperature that stays consistently warm. While it may be a bit costly for your budget, you have to keep in mind that the SmartPool has a great track record and has proven technology to back up its performance.

It’s perfect for both in-ground and above-ground swimming pools and can be used with any pool pump. The dual 2×20 ft. is rather large but it’s well worth it when you consider the combined heating power provided by the black polyolefin construction.

This is complimented further by the heater’s direct flow water circulation which allows it to work fast. And because it’s suitable for all types of swimming pools it’s an ideal option for anyone that’s looking for quality, durability, and efficiency in their solar pool heater.

Pros

  • Incredibly easy to install
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Compatible with all types of swimming pools
  • Features direct flow design for efficient water circulation
  • Comes with all the tools needed for it to start working immediately

Cons

  • Those with large swimming pools may want to purchase at least two of these systems
  • The large solar panels require a lot of space

Conclusion

There’s no denying that solar-powered pool heaters are the best thing for swimming pool owners. Not only do they keep your pool nice and warm when the sun is out, but most of them are easy to install and come at an affordable price as well.

As you can see from our reviews above, there’s quite a wide variety of systems available for you to choose from, and if we were to recommend just one it would have to be the Doheny 4′ x 10′ Space Saver Solar Heating Collector. It’s a thoughtfully designed system with the ability to heat up your pool water by up to 15 degrees in a short amount of time. We also love how energy efficient and eco-friendly it is, which makes it an ideal option for the environmentally conscious consumer who wants to keep their carbon footprint low without breaking the bank. This system definitely ticks all the boxes for us and comes highly recommended for any pool owner.

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