Lawn & Garden

Best Solar Pool Heaters for Swimming Lovers

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Lea Kuscer Avatar
Lea Kuscer
11 February, 2020 • Updated 10 days ago
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For many people, a short swim in the pool is a perfect way to relax and escape the heat of a summer’s day. Unfortunately, fall comes too soon, making it harder for you to enjoy warm evenings in the pool.

Don’t let the changing seasons prevent you from going for a swim. If you can never get enough time in the pool during the summer, or if you would like to swim in any season, it’s time you considered buying a pool heater.

There are several different types of pool heaters, but solar heaters are one of the best kinds, especially in sunny climates. Because they draw their energy from the sun, they’re not going to increase your energy bill.

IN A HURRY? CHECK OUT OUR EDITOR’S CHOICE
SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater

You probably won’t need a solar pool heater during the summer. However, for most people, a solar pool heater is just what you need to make your swimming experience more enjoyable all year long.

Things to Consider

Solar pool heaters vary dramatically in both cost and performance. If you want to make sure you get the right solar heater for your family, here are some things you should consider before you buy.

1. Temperature

One of the big, important factors is how much of a difference in temperature you’re looking for. Your average solar heater will raise the temperature by about five to ten degrees. Some high-end models can raise it up to 15, but you’re not going to get much more than that out of a solar collector.

2. Size

Because solar pool heaters rely on energy from the sun to heat your pool, some models take up quite a bit of space. If you have limited room in your yard, or are concerned with how the heater will look, these are things to take into consideration.

3. Installation

Just how easy is it to put your solar heater to work? Installation can be a hassle, and if you have to hire a professional to help, that can be a lot of money. Fortunately, heaters for above-ground pools are typically much easier to install than in-ground pools, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

4. Warranty

Most solar heaters cot well over a hundred dollars. Some models are several hundred dollars. If the solar panels break or the pump goes out, your investment is useless. Try to buy heaters that cover their units with a warranty.

1. Price

Although there are some budget solar heaters, you can expect to pay at least $100 for your heater. Higher prices typically mean a greater difference in temperature, but you should make sure your investment is worth it.

QUICK OVERVIEW

The Best Solar Pool Heaters for Above Ground Pool


Products
Features
EDITOR’S PICK
3.6
80+
80+
  • Increases the temperature evenly
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Increases the temperature evenly
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
MOST REVIEWED
2.7
350+
350+
  • Curved design receives more sunlight
  • Durable plastic cover
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
  • Curved design receives more sunlight
  • Durable plastic cover
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200
TOP PICK
4.1
60+
60+
  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400
  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400
BUDGET PICK
3.6
10+
10+
  • Heats water up to 15 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $150
  • Heats water up to 15 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $150
BUDGET PICK
3.5
10+
10+
  • Compact
  • Hoses included
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100
  • Compact
  • Hoses included
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100
EDITOR’S PICK
SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater
Durable and reliable.

We believe the best solar heater is the SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater. It might not be as compact but it heats the temperature fast!

3.6
80+
80+
  • Increases the temperature evenly
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $100

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above Ground

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above Ground

Features

  • Compact
  • Hoses included
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $100

When it comes to solar heaters, there aren’t a lot of budget options out there. The Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater is not the best solar heater on the market, but it is by far the most affordable.

The dome heater fairly small, much smaller than a solar panel, and measures 22.5 x 22.5 x 8.5 inches. It’s easy to install and comes with hoses. It’s designed to heat up a pool of 4000 gallons in about 6 hours.

As far as effectiveness goes, it’s pretty minimal. Depending on the weather, it’s rated to raise the temperature in your pool by three to five degrees. It’s not much, and some people may not even notice the difference. Still, it isn’t expensive, and if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, this might be your best bet.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Easy setup
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Only increases temperature by 3 to 5 degrees

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $150

Kokido Keops Solar Dome Above Ground

Features

  • Compact
  • Includes protective cover
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $150

Regarding overall performance, Kokido Keops isn’t the best solar heater, but it’s the best one you’ll get in this price range. It’s also much smaller than other similar solar heaters.

Although it doesn’t require bulky solar panels, the Keops still channels heat from the sun into your pool. It’s easy to connect with the pump, it doesn’t require any additional adapters, and it raises the temperature of the water between five and seven degrees.

If that doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that many solar heaters twice the cost only add about 10 degrees. That makes the Keops one of the more cost-effective units on the market.

Like the Goplus Solar Dome, the Keops is suitable to heat up a pool of up to 4000 gallons. However, the heater’s effectiveness can be doubled by using a bypass kit and adding a second heater. It can be used to get higher temperatures or to heat a larger pool.

Pros
  • Compact
  • Easy setup
  • Cheap
Cons
  • Suited for smaller pools
  • Need to buy other parts

Doheny’s Above Ground Solar Heating Systems

Doheny's Above Ground Solar Heating Systems

Features

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $150

The first two solar heaters on this list were relatively small and compact. Doheny’s above-ground solar heating system is anything but. It measures 2.5 feet tall and 20 feet long, so it’s hardly discreet. But its large size does have its advantages.

There are several things going for this solar panel heating system. First, it’s easy to install, and hooking it up to your water pump system is a cinch. Second, it works both passively and immediately.

Since it is a solar panel, you don’t have to do anything. It simply works, and no maintenance is required. The solar panel increases the temperature of your pool an average of ten degrees, and possibly as much as 15 degrees.

There are a couple of shortcomings, however. First of all, the solar panel is quite large, so it takes up a lot of space. It does not with a mounting kit either, so one is required. Despite these inconveniences, this is a very nice solar heater, unlike a lot of solar heaters, does not require adapters. As a result, it uses no electricity and requires no maintenance. Not bad.

Pros
  • Heats water up to 15 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance
Cons
  • It takes up a lot of space

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $200

GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

Features

  • Curved design receives more sunlight
  • Comes with durable plastic cover
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

GAME 4721 SolarPRO curved pool heater uses a different design aesthetic than every other heater on our list. Thanks to its curved design, it maximizes the heat output, sending the extra heat directly into your pool.

One of the challenges of a solar heater is that they’re only as effective as the amount of sunlight they receive. As the sun moves across the sky, the light hitting the solar heaters changes, minimizing its effectiveness. Because the DAME 4721 is curved, it absorbs light from the sun for a longer period and from different places in the sky.

Even better, this particular solar heater is made with a material that helps to maximize sunlight absorption while also minimizing the impacts of winds on the surface, helping to keep the heating as high as possible.

The GAME 4721 has threaded ports for compatibility with more plumbing systems. It has two hoses, stainless steel clamps, and raises the water temperature five degrees in as many days.

Pros
  • Curved design receives more sunlight
  • Durable plastic cover limits cooling winds
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results
Cons
  • Only increases temperature by 5 degrees

sunCOIL SC-DOME Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

sunCOIL SC-DOME Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

Features

  • Comes with a complete kit
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

Unlike some solar pool heaters, the sunCOIL SC-Dome solar heater comes with all the kits you need to set it up and get it running with your water pump. A purchase of the sunCOIL includes not just the heater and connection hoses, but also a complete connection kit and diverter valve kit.

There are several things that the SC-Dome does right. For one, the heater is mounted on folding legs. This allows you to readjust the position of the heater to maximize its collection efficiency.

The pool heater is also designed with a clear dome that works to trap the heat from the sun, like a greenhouse or a car window. This allows the heater to collect more heat and transfer it to your pool.

There are a couple of downsides. The kits have a lot of pieces, and connecting the heater to your pool isn’t as easy as some other units. Also, while the legs allow you to adjust the heater towards the sun, having to do that manually can be frustrating.

However, like many heaters, this can also be daisy chained with another unit, making it more effective. The sunCOIL is protected by a five-year warranty.

Pros
  • Plastic dome maximizes sunlight
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results
  • Backed by five-year warranty
Cons
  • Requires a lot of manual adjustment

SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater

SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater

Features

  • Increases the temperature evenly
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

SmartPool S240U is similar to the Doheny solar heater in a lot of ways. It is similarly large and bulky, but thanks to its larger size, it is also able to generate more heat for the pool.

There are a lot of things about this pool heater that works well. Not only does it put less pressure on your pump, but it also helps to increase the water temperature evenly. The SmartPool is designed for easy installation without a lot of fuss.

It also raises the water temperature as well as the Doheny solar heater, typically up to 10 degrees but possibly slightly more. Like the aforementioned solar heater, its main problem is its size. It has 240 x 27.5 x 16 inches, so this is hardly a compact solar heater. However, depending on the placement of your pool, the heater can be installed where you find the space for it.

Pros
  • Heats up the pool quickly
  • Easy setup
  • Good for larger pools
Cons
  • Big
  • Need to buy other parts

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $250

2-2’X20′ SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

2-2'X20' SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

Features

  • Comes with a complete kit
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $200

This 2 ft x 20 ft SunQuest pool heater is the same solar heating unit as the one I just reviewed. The only difference is, this is a set of two solar panel units, which makes this not only an excellent value but a truly efficient pool heater.

There are two-inch OD headers that connect with your pump work to improve the circulation of your water. This relieves some of the back pressure on your pump and helps to raise the water temperature uniformly.

The SunQuest is compatible with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is designed for easy installation without a lot of fuss. Because there are two solar panels in this set, they provide powerful results even to very large pools.

Although these heaters are designed to raise water temperature by 10 degrees, connecting both units to a smaller pool might produce even greater heat. The real problem here is the size. These are large heaters, and without a roof mount, they take up an awful lot of space.

Pros
  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance
Cons
  • It takes up a lot of space

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $300

GAME 4513 SolarPro XD2 – Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

GAME 4513 SolarPro XD2 - Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

Features

  • Fast installation
  • Space saver
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

GAME 4513 SolarPro XD2 is a large and more powerful solar pool heater. The 4513 raises the temperature of the water in your pool for up to 10 degrees over the span of a week.

The 4513 doesn’t require any additional adapters, and you don’t need any gas or electricity for it to work. You simply need a water pump and, possibly, a bypass kit for more powerful pumps. (Water pumps over 1 HP require a bypass kit.) It raises the temperature of the water by 10 degrees, and it can be used in conjunction with another unit for even better results.

The SolarPro XD2 is suitable for a pool of up to 16000 gallons. With a bypass kit and a second unit, you can increase the effectiveness of the heater, using it for larger pools or warmer temperatures.

Pros
  • Works with up to 16000 gallons of water
  • More space-efficient that solar panels
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results
Cons
  • Bypass kit not included

2-2’X20′ SunQuest Solar Pool Heater with Diverter

2-2'X20' SunQuest Solar Pool Heater with Diverter

Features

  • 2″ OD headers
  • Fast installation
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $300

By adding a roof mount and diverter, the SunQuest pool heater system becomes one of the best solar heaters on the market. Almost certainly the most efficient and effective, and the most attractive once they’re installed.

Two-inch OD headers connect with your pump work to improve the circulation of your water, taking some of the back pressure of your pump. The SunQuest is compatible with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is designed for easy installation. Mounting the solar heaters to the roof can be challenging, though, and you may need professional help to do it right.

These heaters are designed to raise water temperature by 10 degrees, and thanks to the roof mount, they don’t create a lot of unsightly clutter by your pool. This makes them an ideal pool heater for anyone who wants to keep your home looking clean and inviting.

Pros
  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance
Cons
  • Roof mounting can be tricky

Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $400

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

Features

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • PRICE RANGE: Under $400

Last but not least, we have the Fafco Solar Bear economy heating system. Measuring 4 ft x 20 ft, this is the largest solar heater on this list. It’s also one of the most powerful and effective.

Like all other solar heaters of its size, it is bulky and finding a good place to set it up can be a challenge. But it delivers performance where it needs to. This solar heater includes two 6 foot long 1.5-inch hoses with clamps, an integral bypass valve, and all of the hardware necessary for installation.

The solar heater also works differently than all the others. The pool pumps water through the solar heater and backs out again, heating up the pool in this way rather than a standard transfer of heat.

The solar heater works best between 10 am and 4 pm, although that can change depending on the season and your latitude. For best results, aim the solar heater south at a 30-degree angle. The solar heater can be mounted on the ground, on a rack or even on your roof, so there are plenty of ways to set it up.

Pros
  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance
Cons
  • It takes up a lot of space

Conclusion

There’s a lot of good solar heaters on the market, and none of them is perfect. The most effective heaters are also the largest and the bulkiest. However, the smaller and less efficient heaters can often be paired up to heat more water and provide better results. The choice is yours.

Lea Kuscer Avatar
Written by
Lea Kuscer
Lea Kuscer is a marketing maniac enthusiastic about testing new products and gadgets. Her new mission is to share her passion with those who want to know which product is the best on the market.