Best Solar Pool Heater

If you have a home swimming pool, you are familiar with this scene: it’s the first really warm day of the year and your family are longing to jump in the pool, but the water is still freezing. A solar pool heater can help you solve the problem of pool seasons that are limited by too-cold water on otherwise warm days.

The reason your pool remains cold even when it warms outside is because air warms up much faster than water. That means that early in the spring you may have a few warm days–maybe even one you’d consider hot. But you still keep your pool closed, because the water feels like it’s nearly freezing. Or, perhaps you do open up the pool and brave the cold, but a relaxing swim becomes an uncomfortable trial until you get accustomed to the cold water.

But there’s no need for any of that. A quality solar pool heater will help you capture the sun’s rays and move that heat into the water of your swimming pool. This can increase your pool’s temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit or more. No more jumping in the pool and being covered with goosebumps. Your pool can be open earlier in the spring, and later into the fall with clean, green solar pool heating to make the water comfortable and relaxing.

And the best part of solar pool heaters is that once you’ve purchased a solar pool heating system, you don’t have to pay for the energy it generates. Unlike costly and polluting natural gas pool heaters, solar powered models don’t give off emissions. There’s no fuel to buy, or utility bills to pay. Simply the clean, natural heat of the sun converted into warmer water allowing you to relax in your pool all season long.

There are many options for solar pool heating, and it can be hard to decide among the many products on the market. We have collected some of the best solar pool heaters around and reviewed them so that you can make your decision with ease.

Our solar pool heater reviews focus on the quality, ease of installation, and affordability of each solar pool heating system. We hope our solar pool heater reviews help you make the best decision for your pool.

Most Popular

SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

Editor's Pick

Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Heating Solar Panel System

Best Value

Smartpool S601P SunHeater

The Best Solar Pool Heaters for 2020

1. SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

The SunQuest solar pool heating system has some of the best online ratings, and it’s easy to see why. The system has generously sized panels for maximum heat transfer and includes most of the materials that you will need for installation all in one kit.

The SunQuest system is comprised of 2’x12” panels and you can buy kits with various numbers of panels based on the volume of your pool. You can increase your pool’s temperature up to 10° Fahrenheit for a more comfortable swimming experience with these panels.

This solar pool heating kit includes a MAX-FLOW system, which helps to reduce strain on your pump, and a straightforward installation system. It will provide both inground and above ground pool solar heating, so you can use it no matter your pool type.

The SunQuest system installs on your roof with an included kit, the only thing you need is 1 ½” rigid PVC pipe that runs from the roof to your pool. A separate kit is also available to convert the system to run on 2” pipe if that’s what you already have set up with your pool pump.

All other installation materials are included, and so you can easily be enjoying a warmer, more comfortable pool experience in a matter of days. Though it is on the costly side, it’s one of the best solar pool heaters available, and the savings in heating and additional use of the pool can be well worth the cost.

  • Generous surface area panels
  • Can buy in many kit sizes for larger or smaller pools
  • Easy installation kit included
  • One of the most expensive systems

2. XtremepowerUS Swimming Pool Solar Heating System

The XtremepowerUS brand of solar pool heating system is one of the most frequently purchased on Amazon due to its accessible price and simple construction. It comes in near the top of our solar pool heater reviews because of its popularity, affordability, and versatility.

This system connects to your pool’s pump system and can be placed on the ground or roof to collect the sun’s rays and convert them to warm water for your pool. It functions for both inground and above ground pools, so it will work for many consumers regardless of their pool setup.

The XtremepowerUS system has a 40 square foot area and can increase your pool’s temperature up to 15° Fahrenheit. It can be purchased either with or without a diverter kit to regulate the flow of water into the heating apparatus. Based on consumer recommendations, most pool owners will want to include the diverter kit in their purchase.

Consumer’s have positive reviews of the system once installed, but there are some complaints about the included tubing not having a tight seal at connections, and needing regular maintenance to plug leaks.

  • Can heat your pool up to 15°F with no energy costs
  • Simple construction and installation
  • Large surface area
  • Some consumers encountered leaks in the couplings and tubing

3. Smartpool S601P SunHeater

The Smartpool SunHeater has a direct flow system which allows more water movement through each heating tube. It can raise the temperature of your pool 6°-10° Fahrenheit.

The SunHeater has a 4’x20’ polypropylene heat collecting system for 80 square feet of solar heat collection. Your pool’s existing pump moves water from your pool into the pool heater’s flow system. The heat collected from the sun warms the water as it flows through, and then it’s returned via pressure and gravity back to the pump and into your pool.

The Smartpool solar pool heater works with both inground pools, or above ground pools. And it can be placed on a roof, fence, or even on the ground. This gives it a lot of versatility and allows it to be a viable option for most consumers regardless of their pool type or size.

However, keep in mind that the Smartpool system kits available for purchase online typically include only the heating apparatus. The installation kit and hookup materials are an item that needs to be purchased separately.

  • Wide surface area of 80 square feet per panel
  • Temperature increases of up to 10°F
  • Installation kit sold separately
  • Installation instructions are minimal

4. Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Heating Solar Panel System

The Sun2Solar brand solar pool heating system offers you a longer pool season by increasing your pool’s heat by 10° Fahrenheit. This system is designed to be mounted on the ground, though separate roof mounting systems are available.

It will provide solar heat for above ground and inground swimming pools. It is made out of polyolefin panels that are 2’x20” each. Two panels are included in the system for a generous 80 square feet of solar heat collection.

The kit comes with included hardware, including a bypass valve that acts as a diverter to keep the water flow at a slow and steady pace for maximum heating potential.

  • Large 80 square foot area per kit
  • Includes most needed hardware
  • Up to 10°F temperature increase with no energy costs
  • Installation kit sold separately
  • Some consumers had problems with hose and coupling leaks

5. SunCOIL Solar Heater

The SunCOIL system is a unique coiled design made expressly as an above ground pool solar heater. This is one of the best solar pool heaters if you have very limited space in your yard or deck to place a heater because of its compact coiled design.

It has a surface area of just under 6 feet square, but it contains a clear, heat retaining window (think of how well your car’s windshield holds in heat in the summer) and a special coiled, rather than lined system of tubing. This allows a long length of tubing to fit into a limited space and helps to heat the water that flows through. The water then returns to your pool for a more comfortable swim experience even in the spring and fall.

The SunCOIL solar heating system has folding, positionable legs so that you can change the position of your heater to match the sun’s angle. This allows you to get the best possible warming with the device.

It also includes a connection kit and a diverter kit which helps maintain proper flow for maximum heating power. And, if you have a larger pool or greater heating needs, you can connect multiple units for additional heating power.

  • Smaller size is convenient for limited spaces
  • Domed window helps retain heat to maximize warming
  • Installation materials included with purchase
  • Cannot heat as well as the best solar pool heaters due to limited size
  • Designed to give solar heat for above ground pools, may not work well with an inground pool

How do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

There are many different types of solar pool heater, but they generally all work on the same principle of solar thermal energy. That is, they capture the sun’s heat and put it to work for you in your pool, much like these solar water heaters.

Unlike the solar panels that power electronics, or that you install on your roof to help lower your electricity costs, solar thermal energy takes the light of the sun and converts it to heat, rather than electricity. The solar thermal pool heating system couples with your pool’s existing pump and filtration system, and a solar pool cover if you have it, to move water through it. The water picks up the heat and gets warmer (a little bit like a tankless water heater) and it’s pumped back into the pool.

Keep in mind that when water is pumped up to the panels (using a solar pool pump or more conventional pump), it is being heated by sunlight. It’s best to set your pool on a timer, because after dark having water filter into your solar panel system will not heat it, and will actually diminish your pool’s ability to retain the heat it has gained. (Combine your solar pool heater with solar sun squares to help avoid heat loss.)

If you already have a gas or electricity powered pool heater, or even a floating solar pool heater, you can use solar powered pool heating instead, or in addition. The solar pool heating can be added to the system in such a way that it is heated by the solar thermal panels before it goes to the conventional heater. This will lower the amount of energy needed by the gas heater to bring the water up to your desired temperature.

Of course, if you don’t have an existing pool heater, or if you want to switch your existing heater out for a solar pool heating, the solar heaters will work fine all on their own.

Our main recommendation for installing a solar pool heater is that you choose the one that works best with your pool system and site.

Ask yourself a few of the following questions to narrow down your choices as you look over our solar pool heater reviews for the right product for you.

What Solar Pool Heater Options Work With My Pool?

One of the biggest differences is between above ground and inground pools. Solar pool heaters for inground pools will often work for above ground pools and vice versa, just like solar sun rings. But pay close attention to the construction of the system, and consider what will work best for your specific pool type.

Most inground solar pool heaters are designed to be placed on the roof of your home or pool house nearest to your pool pump. PVC piping runs from the roof to the pump, and then underground to your pool return jets.

Above ground heaters are often designed to sit at an angle on the side of your pool where your pump is located. For best results, though, we suggest that you install the panels so they are south-facing, which typically provides the longest exposure to the sun, and in turn the most heat.

How Many Panels should I purchase?

But what if your pool is particularly large, or small? Just how large of a panel, or panels, do you need?

Generally, the rule of thumb is that you should buy enough panels to equal 75% to 100% of your pool’s surface area to get the advertised heating benefits. So if you have a 200 square foot pool, you would want 150-200 square feet of solar panels to get the most heating available.

Some systems may be more efficient than others depending upon their design, and you can go with a smaller surface area. No matter how large or small the panels you purchase, you will see heating benefits, but they may be more modest than what a fully stocked system is capable of.

What other costs should I consider?

Most systems come with installation and diverter kits, but not all. Carefully check the list of items included in the product to see if you have everything you need. It’s likely that you will need to purchase some amount of PVC pipe to run from the heater to your pump, especially if you’re placing it on your roof.

If you are replacing a standard pool heater, you may have much of the materials you need already on hand. Of course, you may need longer pipes if your new heating system will be roof mounted, but most of the other piping will be able to interface with your existing pump system.

You should also check for mounting materials. Whether you are putting your heating panels on your roof or the ground, you will want to make sure they are held fast so that they stay in place and do their work. Again, most systems will include the necessary installation materials, but always double check before beginning installation.

You may also consider whether you want to install the product yourself or have someone hired to install it. Having a professional installer may give you peace of mind that the job is done right, especially if you are not someone who is fond of home improvement projects. However, there is the additional cost to consider. Don’t be afraid to get a quote from a qualified pool technician or other installer.

Enjoying your Solar Pool Heating System

Once you’ve read our solar pool heater reviews and considered the pros and cons of each heating system, it’s time to make your selection. Once you have selected the right system for your pool, get ready to splash and play in comfort. Don’t forget to grab some floating pool lights for aesthetics, and a solar pool ionizer for hygiene though! Solar heat for swimming pools lets you dive in to fun and relaxation with no increased energy bills or pollution. Only clean, grean, and warm.

A solar pool heater brings you ease and comfort. No more goosebumps, no more kids complaining the water is too cold. It’s nearly summer, so dive right in!