10 Best Solar Powered & Panel Heaters for Swimming Pools

solar heater for above ground swimming pool

The best solar pool heater will cost you a little more, but considering how much they can save on your electricity or gas bills, it is something you may want to consider. Depending where you live you can offset the initial expense after 2 – 4 years! Let’s get started on which ones have proven best. 

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What Is the Best Solar Pool Heater of 2021

Comparing the Best Solar Pool Heaters on the Market?

Photo Title Price Buy
SunHeater S120U Universal...image SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater 2 by 20-Feet $166.71 Check Latest Price
Smart Pool S601...image Smart Pool S601 Inground Pool Solar Heating System, Includes Two 2’ x 20’ Panels (80 sq. ft.) – Made of Durable Polypropylene, Raises Temperature Up to 15°F – S601P, Pack of 1, Black $225.14 Check Latest Price
SunQuest Solar Pool...image SunQuest 2-2'X10' Solar Swimming Pool Heater $356.34 Check Latest Price
GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO...image GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater $179.99 Check Latest Price
XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground...image XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System $119.95 Check Latest Price
XtremepowerUS 90105 4 XtremepowerUS 90105 4"-inch X 10'feet Spa Heater nground $104.95 Check Latest Price
SolarPoolSupply Highest Performing...image Highest Performing Design - Universal Solar Pool Heater Panel Replacement $495.00 Check Latest Price
SunHeater Pool Heating...image SunHeater Pool Heating System Two 2’ x 20’ Panels – Solar Heater for Inground and Aboveground Made of Durable Polypropylene, Raises Temperature, 6-10°F, S240U Black $207.14 Check Latest Price
Sun2Solar Ground Mounted...image Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Heating Solar Panel Check Latest Price
SunQuest Solar Swimming...image SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heaters (2' x 12', 6 Count, Complete System with Roof Kits) - Solar Hot Water Heater Panels w/Max-Flow Design - Swimming Pool Accessories for Above Ground Pools $1,119.52 Check Latest Price

Why Choose a Solar Pool Heater?

The solar pool heater will have an advantage over the pool heater with the natural gas or propane pump since it uses one of the most powerful renewable energy sources known to man, the sun. If you are lucky enough to live in a sunny area, the solar pool heater will be designed to capture optimal energy from the sun.

#1. Best Solar Pool Heater – SmartPool-S120U Solar Pool Heaters

solar pool heaters for above ground pools

The SmartPool-S120U heater is uniquely designed with an efficient web design to make the solar panel work efficient and flawlessly. Installing it is not that difficult either. While it may be somewhat expensive for your budget, remember that the SmartPool-S120U has a great reputation and has demonstrated the web technology to back up its heating claims. It adds on average 8F to your pool water temperature.

SmartPool-S120U is perfect swimming pools and can be used with any pool pump. The heater’s direct stream water circulation permits it to work fast. Also, because it’s suitable for a wide range of swimming pools, it’s a perfect option for anybody that’s looking for quality, durability, and efficiency in their solar pool heater.

We like it because it can be easily added to above ground pools as well as inground.  It can be mounted along a fence, or decking, or even along side of the pool. There is only one size, you just add more panels together for your size pool and geographic area.

  • Incredibly easy to install
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Compatible with a wide range of swimming pool pumps
  • Features direct stream design for efficient water circulation
  • The one size solar panel does require at least 20 feet of space.

#2. Solar Swimming Pool Heater – Smartpool SunHeater Solar Heating System for In Ground Pool

sunheater solar pool panels

The Smartpool SunHeater is one greater item that thought that it was easy to make our rundown and audit of the best heaters available. The Smartpool SunHeater can passively raise the pool’s temperature by as much as 15 degrees in less than a day.

The system uses a progression of tubes and panels, which are then associated with your pool pump. The large 80 square feet solar panels enables you to heat larger areas of water.

  • Up to 15 degrees F temperature increase in a day.
  • A DIY capable product
  • A direct stream system is easy to interface.
  • Passive activity with about zero running
  • Environmentally-friendly
  • Installation kit is an extra expense.
  • The panel size could be large 4ft x 20ft.
  • Only for inground pool use.

#3. Solar Pool Heaters for Above Ground Pools – SunQuest-2-2X10 Solar Swimming pool Heater

solar water heater for swimming pool

The SunQuest-2-2X10 collects heat in the collector, ensuring the water going through it gets most of the heat absorbed and captured. Yet, double up the number of collectors, or triple them, and you’ll have a warm pool in a one or two days dependent on your location and weather..

Installation is super easy. You needn’t bother with a mounting pack, and all installation accessories are included. In any case, depending on your pool layout, you may need to get a couple of additional items, for example, different pump connectors, and hoses.

  • Easy to set up.
  • Installation accessories included
  • Smaller length may benefit more users
  • No mounting is required.
  • Ideal for a wide range of pools
  • Curved design to maximize heating efficiency and mounting ease
  • Easy to deplete (drain) when not being used.
  • A bit pricey as compared to the same square footage.

#4. Solar Powered Heater – GAME-4721-BB Curve Pool Heater

solar pool heater panels for inground pools

If looks and design is essential to you, then this solar heater also has the quality of construction and durability. A rigid and greater protection form accidental leaks makes it one you should consider. The GAME-4721-BB is for a small pool or stack them so to speak for larger size pools. It is useful in both inground and above ground pools. The adjustable and foldable legs ensure it to be set for maximum exposure to the sun.

Its vitality-efficient design also incorporates twisting tubes that enable it to gather a significantly more of the sun’s heat in a short time period. This design helps increases the pool temperature by 5 degrees in just 4 days. The vaulted, or arched shape makes it easy to install on your above-ground pool. You’ll also be happy to realize that this pool heater is super easy to install and use, and comparatively a reasonable price tag. It’s a perfect option for any individual who’s looking for an eco-friendly yet effective and sturdy pool heater.

  • Easy to install
  • Very well priced compared to other rigid designs
  • Super-efficient for its space
  • Features a unique arched design
  • Great for small areas
  • Larger pools require additional units

#5. Most Efficient Solar Pool Heater – XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Heater System

best solar heater for above ground pool

The Xtreme power US Inground heater can be connected to any swimming pool. The number of panels you’ll need will depend upon the size of your swimming pool. That’s the minimal collector region important to warm your pool inside a reasonable measure of time.

Installation is a little more difficult because of the semi-rigid design. Also, you’ll have to purchase a rooftop/rack mounting system and probable additional accessories to interface the solar heater to the pool. In extra bright summer weather, the water can get too warm for your enjoyment without a diverter.

So you basically have a double pool heater or a cooler, if you take the time to install your panels in summer shade.

  • Compatible with most pool pumps.
  • Fast and efficient heating
  • It can perform double responsibility for heating and cooling.
  • Requires a fixed mounting of the heater
  • Additional accessories for plumbing

#6. Solar Thermal Pool Heater – XtremepowerUS Spa Heater Swimming Pool Heater

best solar heater for inground pool

Highlighting a similar design as above this stylish traditional solar panel rooftop system is smaller and great for spas or smaller above ground pools. This heaters design and technology enables it to absorb the sun with great efficiency – exploiting solar technology to bring your pool temperature up in under an hour, of course depending upon the size.

The installation of this Xtreme power US heater is basic and straightforward, and you’ll have the chance to install these panels on your home just as on sheds, utility buildings, and carports. It’s designed to last longer than most anything else available within its price range.

  • installation is a little difficult due to the semi-rigid design
  • Designed to last a considerable length of time
  • Works with just about any pool pump
  • Smaller foot print allows for a greater amount of use areas
  • best if mounted to a fixed surface (says can mount on ground but more difficult)
  • Usually require extra accessories for plumbing and mounting

#7. Best Solar Hot Water Heater For Pool – Solar Pool Supply Universal Pool heater Panel

solar pool heater installation

Solar Pool Supply is a solar panel designed to heat fast. It has multiple sizes to choose from to allow greater flexibility for your mounting area.

You’ll cherish its beautiful design, which looks great as well as makes it super easy to install all alone too, without the need for professional assistance. The direct stream Solar Pool Supply design is super-efficient with regards to water circulation, hence sparing you hundreds of dollars in additional heating bills.

With everything taken into account, the Solar Pool Supply solar heater is an eco-friendly pool heating panel that’s designed to be installed in any kind or size of the pool. Perhaps best of all, is its 5-year warranty, which says a great deal regarding the manufacturers degree of trust in the construction and quality of their product.

  • Cost-effective
  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to install
  • Works with a wide range of pools and pool pumps
  • Can heat up your pool to 15 degrees in a short measure of time
  • Multiple sizes to make installation easier
  • It does cost more as compared with just price alone

#8. Solar Panel Heater for Above Ground Pool – SmartPool-S240U Pool Solar Heater

passive solar pool heater

SmartPool-S240U is the same as the 120U mentioned above.  The difference is it comes in a 2-piece kit for larger pools.  All things considered, these are pretty amazing. The heat inside the chamber diminishes the danger of green mold growth.

SmartPool-S240U is perfect for larger swimming pools and can be used with any pool pump. The heater’s direct stream water circulation permits it to work fast. Also, because it’s suitable for a wide range of swimming pools, it’s a perfect option for anybody that’s looking for quality, durability, and efficiency in their solar pool heater.

We like it because it can be easily added to above ground pools as well as inground.  It can be mounted along a fence, or decking, or even along side of the pool. There is only one size, you just add more panels together for your size pool and geographic area.

However, the one size panel that you receive two of, means you need 4 feet x 20 feet, or 2 feet x 40 feet of available sun space.

  • Incredibly easy to install
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Compatible with a wide range of swimming pool pumps
  • Features direct stream design for efficient water circulation
  • The one size solar panel does require at least 20 feet of space.
  • It may require cleaning of the mesh to maintain effient heating.

#9. Solar Pool Heater Panels – Sun2Solar Inground Solar Panel System

solar panel pool heater cost

This solar pool heater from Sun2Solar Inground is one of those rare finds that conveys on execution like an extravagant model while it comes at an absurdly low price. Aside from setting aside your cash in vitality bills, this system is one of the cheapest available and also one of the most in-demand because of its efficiency at heating up the pool water.

The main hitch we could discover with this pool is that it’s too small to effectively heat large-sized in-ground pools; however, you can generally take care of that problem by installing two of these rather than one. While the solar panel itself is very large, it works truly well with regards to absorbing daylight to be changed over into heat for your pool.

  • Very affordable
  • Super easy to set up and install
  • It can heat water in a short measure of time.
  • Versatile enough to install on all pools
  • It may require a diverter unit.

#10. Solar Pool Heater with Kits – SunQuest-6-2X12 Swimming Pool Heater Complete System

solar powered swimming pool heater

This is only last because of its price tag, however it probably is the most versatile solar pool heater system you can get. The SunQuest-6-2X12 is a workhorse that will begin raising your pool temperature up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit in temperature rise.

The SunQuest-6-2X12 includes what would be extras in most panels. Also, they offer up the most size assortment. Meaning you have a pool shed roof size that most likely they have a kit to fit it!  Installation can seem to be up front because there are more parts, however a lot of the parts are a repetitive use.  Once you have one panel plumbed, you use the same parts on the next panel and etc.

So while this solar pool heater offers the most flexability for installation it is the most expensive, that is why it is last on the list.

  • Suitable for both in-ground and above-ground use
  • Up to 15 degrees temperature rise
  • Interchangeable connectors make adaptability easy
  • Comes with many parts that are extra on other systems
  • Broad range of sizes make it the most flexible for installation space
  • Although you get more, it is expensive compared to our other reviews
  • Kits are mostly for bigger size pools

Solar heated pools offer an effective way to apply solar energy to the cost of heating your pool.  Compared or even in conjunction with gas and electric heaters, solar energy heaters are the ideal process to heat water in a pool throughout the year. Your costs associated to heat your pool decreases sharply depending on your geographic area of course.

If you are only using solar pool heating panels to heat your pool, you will be able to start using your pool sooner, and maintain use longer each season. If you are using solar pool heating panels to offset energy cost associated with heating your pool with electric pool heaters, or gas powered pool heaters, well the panels pay for themselves from energy savings.

We all love swimming; the best way to get the most out of your swimming pool expense is to warm up your pool water so that you can swim comfortably, especially during cold days or early in the season when water is still very cold. There are various ways one can use to heat their pool water.

A solar pool heater is one of the ways you can use to heat your pool water in a cost-effective way; in fact, it is cheaper and more eco-friendly even compared to natural gas or electric heaters. Here are more buying guides on buying pool heaters.

solar panel pool heater cost

Is a Solar Pool Water Heater Worth It?

You might have just completed constructing your pool, and you are wondering if installing a solar pool heater is a worthy investment. Investing in a solar pool heater is the best decision you can ever make as your means of heating water in your pool. A solar pool heater is not just cost-effective means of heating water in your pool but also the best way to conserve the environment.

Most environmentalist is encouraging people to start considering solar energy as an alternative to nonrenewable sources of energy. You will end up saving money that you would have otherwise spent on paying electricity bills, especially for those people who stay in regions where there are inflated electricity rates.

When Should I Turn on My Solar Pool Heater?

A solar pool heater should not be left on year round. There are times when you should turn it off or the water will be too hot for you to swim in. Depending on the region you are living in, it is advisable to turn on (usually by use of a manual diverting valve) your solar heater about 2-3 weeks before the cold season is ending and as it is approaching.

In our area, Southern PA, that means about the 2nd week in May, and Labor Day Weekend.

What is A Solar Pool Heater, And How Do They Work?

A solar pool heater is a device that uses thermal energy coming from the sun to warm pool water, just like photovoltaic panels, this kind of solar heater is mounted on the roof or along a section of “not used” ground.

A solar pool heater consists of the following items,

  • Solar collector- a device where water is first circulated so that it can be heated by the sun
  • Filter- that helps to remove the unwanted material from the water before it is pumped to via the collector (you typically already have this)
  • Pump- which circulates water through the collector and filter, then back to your pool (you typically already have this)
  • Control valve- that diverts water to or away from the solar collector

Other types of water heaters for taking showers after the swim you may need:

How The Solar Pool Heater Works

The working of a solar pool heater is not complicated; water is first pumped to through the filter to remove the debris and then through the collectors where the water is heated before it is directed back to the pool. During hot periods and climates, these collectors can be used to cool down the water temperatures by circulating water through it at night.

Modern solar pool heaters come with an automatic valve that is used to divert to the collectors when the collector’s temperatures are higher than the pool temperature. When there is no temperature difference between the pool water and the collectors, water will simply bypass the collectors and return to your pool.

Solar pool collectors are not the same; they vary in terms of the material used to make them and sizes; you should choose one that is suitable for how you want to use it and the climate you live.

The Solar Heater In Above Ground And In-ground Pools

solar heater for above ground swimming pool

Pools can be either above the ground or in the ground; for each type, you will be required to have a different kind of solar heater installation. Sometimes we are forced to go for above the ground pool due to lack of enough space to build an in-ground pool, but all of them work the same, but the above the ground pools work differently, given their large volume to the surface area, they have the capabilities of staying warmer than the in-ground pools.

Installing above the ground solar water heater is a simple process that involves cutting the return hose and then connecting it to the hose ends of the bypass kit. This is done so as to reduce the flow rate to the solar panels.

Installing in-ground pool solar heater is a bit tricky one; it requires some advanced planning to enable placement of 20’ or 10’ long solar panels and PVC plumbing to allow the water to move in and out of the solar panels.

How Much Do These Solar Pool Heaters Raise the Temperature of Water In a Pool?

The only challenge you will have when you are using solar energy is the time of sun shine. This is not the case for gas or electric pool heaters. The amount of energy produced by the sun is always constant, but we have stuff that gets in the way, variables such as weather, atmospheric conditions (like forest fires miles away), and randomness in water chemistry means there’s no perfect way to tell or predict how hot water will get for you.

The amount of water to surface area is another factor that determines how effective the heater in use is. panel heaters on a Sunny day tend to raise water temperature by about 10 to 15 degrees, but sometimes it can be more on a hot day, and less on an slightly overcast day.

How Many BTU Pool Heaters Do I Need?

The number of BTUs required mainly depends on the amount of water in your pool, 1 BTU will raise one pound of water temperature by approximately 1 degree Fahrenheit, one gallon contains 8.33 pounds, this means that if your swimming pool holds 20000gallons, you will be demanded to use 166,000 BTU in order to increase water temperature by one degree. You can further divide this number by twenty-four if you want to find out the amount of BTU you will be required to raise the pool water temperature by 1 degree for more than 24 hours.

There are a lot of questions that a solar pool buyer will have to ask themselves apart from the normal ones of knowing who the manufacture is. It is always recommended to buy a bigger one, the bigger, the better, a larger solar heater will heat your water faster than a small one, for example, a 300k BTU is likely to heater your water twice as a 150k BTU heater, but it will also burn gas twice.

Options to Consider Before Buying Solar Pool Heaters

Purchasing a solar pool heater is not a simple task; there are a lot of things that you have to put in mind before you settle for one. Below are some of the things that may assist your need without the bigger task of solar pool heating panels. Solar Blankets, Solar Floaty’s, and small above ground pool solar heater helpers.

diy solar pool heater

The climate

If you are in a Sunny area, then solar pool heaters are an excellent choice for you. However, if you are in areas of less direct sunshine, adding a solar panel heater to the pool may not gain much? This is because by the time the sun gets to warming you are able to use the pool, or a powered heater will give a better outcome.

The pool size

This is another thing you need to look for when buying a solar pool heater. The size of your pool matters a lot, if you intend to heat huge pool heaters then it will be best if you go for a bigger solar heater, but if you have a small pool, a small solar pool heater will still work for you. What you need the pool fie is another thing you have to remember here.


Expensive models don’t always mean high quality as one that has better features and available at a lower price.

The Type of Your Pool

Is it above the ground or in-ground pool? If it is above the ground, then you don’t need to go for a bigger powerful one as is can easily heart up with s small heater or sheets.  Basically trying to say that the ambient temperature helps heat the sides of the pool.


This is very important to remember; you need to buy a solar pool heater that has good warranty terms because we there are a whole slew of things that can go wrong. Make sure you will be in a position to be compensated back in case something does go wrong or becomes faulty.

Pool Heater Installation

Buy from a seller that offers installation services if you do not believe you have DIY abilities.  Installation is not difficult on most solar pool heaters, however, you will need certain tools.  For example, a roof install will need a ladder.

Temperature and Functionality

If it is a leisure pool, then you need to keep it around 88 to 90 degrees, this may sound hot, but for water, it is not that hot, but if it in an exercise pool, then you have to get one to keep the water between 78 to 85 degrees.

How Much Should You Expect to Pay For a Top Solar Pool Heater?

A top solar pool heater goes for around 300$ and 1200$ plus installation. The price for solar pool heaters varies from one model to another. A top pool heater is a bit expensive, but this should not scare you away because, in the end, you will benefit from the high efficiency and low maintenance costs, which will save you a lot of money.

What Size Heaters Should You Buy?

It is advisable to have half of your pool size covered in solar panels. So, a 18ft x 24ft pool would be about a 10ft x 20ft array of panels. The surface area is the product of the width and length of your pool.

Different types of tankless water heaters:

Are Solar Pool Heaters Water Resistant?

Solar pool heaters are well encased to prevent the entry of water that can affect the functioning of solar panels.

solar pool heater cover

5 Tips for Taking Care of Your Swimming Pool Heater


Shut off your panel and drain your system before hard freezes; this is important to necessitate trouble-free performance during the normal times of the year when you will likely want to enjoy swimming with your family.

Touch test

This is another useful tip for maintaining your heater; you should always check your heating system to ensure it is working correctly. You can feel the temperature in the pipes, before and after the panel.

Regular maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential for your heater if you want to last longer and get value for your money.  This is mainly making sure your filter is always in good working order.

Use a pool blanket

A pool blanket is a useful extra to buy for your pool, and It allows the pool to retain the heat for a long time.  Think of it like your mom telling you to wear a hat, because you lose all your body heat out of your head. The surface of the pool is expose to the air here and will transfer its heat to the cooler air.

Maintain proper water flow rate

If you want your pool heater to function well, then you have to ensure the flow of water to your pool is constant. Otherwise, the heater will not work well.  Again this is mostly related to your filter functionality.

How to Install a Solar Pool Heater

Installing a solar pool heater is not a complicated process, follow this procedure
1. The first thing you have to do is to unbox your panels carefully and connect them together
2. Firmly secure the panels to your roof (or your planned location) using the provided hardware. Remember to attach the cross trap to hold down your panels in case of high winds.
3. Carefully cut the return pipe immediately after the filter and glue it on the check valve and the three-way diversion valve than is included in the solar heater control package.
4. On the opposite corner, connect another pipe directly opposite solar array, run it parallel to the top of the panels.
5. The next step is to run the exit pipe off the rack or roof towards the return line made in the third step.
6. Glue on one way valve before you connect the exit pipe into the return line so as to water from getting into the panel from the opposite direction.
7. The final step is to connect that exit pipe to the return line.

Types of Solar Pool Heaters

We have various kinds of solar pool heaters, they include;

1. Thermal solar collectors

This is the most used type of solar pool heaters. They are positioned on the roof, or sometimes they can be positioned nearer to your pool. It is the most affordable solar heater that is made from plastic or rubber matting. This type of heater is suitable for those people who live in a sunny and warm climate.

2. Evacuated tube collector

This is seen as the most efficient solar pool heater. Although it is more expensive than the first option, its working is efficient. It is more reliable in warming up your pool even in a colder climate.

Benefits of Solar Pool Heaters

Saves energy

A solar pool heater is the most effective way to reduce your electricity or gas consumption levels.

Helps the environment

Because solar is a renewable source of energy, by using solar energy, you will be conserving the environment from not using the other nonrenewable sources of energy.

Little maintenance

Because the heaters run efficiently, there will be no need to do regular maintenance.

You will enjoy the quiet.

They are the quietest heating options in the market right now.

Top 3 Best Solar Pool Heaters

Other Heaters You Will Need:

Will Montgomery

Will Montgomery: Electro-Mechanical Engineer, Serial Entrepreneur, and Real Estate Enthusiast. Met David at Penn State, where he earned a BS in Electro-Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Business. Expertly manages capital equipment manufacturing, refurbishing, and repair businesses, while exploring opportunities in real estate and advocating for practical heating solutions.

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