7 Best Above Ground Pool Heater Reviews

solar panels for above ground swimming pools

Above ground pools are not one of the latest innovations, but their functionality and usability has been enhanced with the ability to add pool heaters.  Heaters are used to regulate the temperature of the pool. Therefore, you will gain more use and enjoyment out of your pool.

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What Is the Best Above Ground Pool Heater on the Market?

Quick Pick List of The Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

1. Our Solar Pool Heater Pick – GAME 4721 Solar Pool Heater

2. Our Electric Pool Heater Pick FibroPool FH120 Swimming Pool Heater

3. Our Gas Pool Heater Pick – Hayward W3H200FDN Pool and Spa Heater

What Is An Above Ground Pool Heater?

Above ground, pool heaters are the swimming pool heaters that are exclusively used for heating the pool water. They are available in various types and they use different heating principles to ensure the pool is warm. This allows people to have incredible swimming experience irrespective of weather conditions.

above ground pool

Heating Options for Above Ground Swimming Pool

These pool heaters use different heating options. The first one is the gas-powered heater. The gas is combusted to generate heat which will be transferred to the water as it passes by the combustion chamber. The other option is the electric heat pump which warms the water by extracting heat from the air. The last option is the solar panel heating system that works by collecting sunlight thermal energy which will be used to heat the water.

Types of Above Ground Pool Heaters

Solar-Powered Pool Heater

This is a popular heater that is powered using solar energy and it can be the best choice especially for an outdoor pool. The collector is placed on the roof or yard area where it can get much of the sunlight.  The water is pumped to pass through the panel. This is where the heat is absorbed as if flows back to the pool.

Gas heater

This type uses either natural gas or propane to generate heat that will be used in heating the water. If propane is used then the heater will be known as a propane pool heater. The pool will be heated when water flows in a jacketed combustion chamber. In the combustion chamber, the gas produces heat which is transferred to the water as it is passes through.

Electric Heater

This type uses electricity to generate heat in the water. Think of a heat pump that you may have to heat your home, the electric pool heater pulls heat out of the air and transfers it to the water.

Wood Heaters

This is yet another option that is used in heating the pool. Firewood is used as a source of heat. Water is heated and pumped back to the pool. This would be like if you are heating your home’s hot water with fire. It would have its own coil near the wood box to absorb heat into the water.

24 ft round above ground pool heater

Factors to Consider Before Buying Pool Heater

Type of Heater

The type of heater is very important when choosing a pool. You can choose a wood-burning heater, gas, electric, or a solar-powered heater. If you are living in an area where you experience lots of sunlight, a solar-powered pool heater will be the most viable option.

On the other hand, if you’re living in a temperate region you would consider having a gas or electric pool heater because they provide the most heat output. Another example is if you have an outdoor wood stove, you may consider a water loop to heat your pool.

Pool Heater Brands

There are lots of different brands available in the market which can make it difficult to choose. However, some brands are more popular than others based on the size, shape and heating capacity. Before you decide on any brand you should ensure it is trustworthy and it has received mostly positive customer reviews.

Heating capacity

The main purpose of this aboveground heater is to ensure the water is heated effectively. Therefore you need to consider heating capacity which is usually measured in the British thermal unit. Therefore the higher the heating capacity the more effective the heater. You might have to pay more for heaters with higher BTU ratings but it is worth it.

Your Heater Budget

The amount of money that you have allocated to spend on your water pool heater is very important. However, before you come up with a budget ensure you have considered other viable factors so that you spend your money on the right heater.

Best Above Ground Pool Heaters Reviews of 2021

For those living in hot areas, you may not appreciate or even bother about pool heaters since you enjoy a warmer climate.  You have longer seasons and can keep your pools in comfortable, warm temperatures throughout the year without heaters being installed.

A pool heater is always in high demand in colder climates, or those places experiencing seasonal changes throughout the year. Heaters are essential in these places since it extends the swimming season and your water comfortable.

As a pool owner, you need to get what fits your needs of course. A pool heater that serves you and your family providing satisfaction. Here is the list of the best pool heaters you need for your season.

1. Our Solar Pool Heater Pick – Sun Heater S120U Solar Pool Heater

best solar heater for above ground pool

Save your cash by avoiding electricity bills all while enjoying relaxation and comfort within your above ground pool. Sun heater S120 universal solar pool heater is an economical pool heater using solar energy to heat the pool water. The heater is designed with a solar heat-absorbing black polyethylene panel for its efficiency and effectiveness.

The water entering the panel through the series of tubes joining the other heating tubes inside the panel are designed to maximize thermal transfer economically.  This pool heater is claimed making a rise of 6 to 10 degrees F temperature.

AS A NOTE: That means water going into the panel will raise 6 to 10 degrees F (3 to 6 Celsius) For example; 50F water will exit the solar panel at 56F to 60F.  This also is dependent on the sun directness and clouds of course.

The heater installation is very easy, and you can do it yourself. Using this heater is very economical since it helps you save electric or gas power that you could have used with other style pool heaters. The system is easy to use, and no control panels are required for controlling the system. Thanks to its effectiveness and low costs.

One advantage of a solar pool heater like this one is the ability to mount it anywhere.  You can mount it on a fence, along the side of the pool (like in the picture), on a shed roof, anywhere the foot print of the panel has room to be.

  • The heater is affordable.
  • It is eco-friendly.
  • Installation is easy and versatile
  • It utilizes renewable energy.
  • Requires a 20ft x 4 ft area to lay it out.
  • It requires good weather and sun power
spaceRequires 20ft one direction, best on oblong pools, roof, or along fence2-1/2
priceReasonable compared to heating gallons rating4
gallonsBest used on pools of 10,000 gallons or so4
Solar Powered, 100% efficient when sunny4-1/2
design qualityit is plastic, it can kink, strip, and require extra hardware2-1/2
assembly installationLaying out the 20ft length from a roll can be tricky, works better when hot, need 2 people2 stars
powerSolar, pool pump makes water flow and heat4-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average3-1/2

2. Solar Heater for Above Ground Pool – GAME 4721 Solar Pool Heater

swimming pool heaters for above ground pools

This is another popular solar pool heater gaining its popularity day by day. It is the most cost-effective pool heater aiming at greenhouse gas reduction. It is among the most loved heater that is built with quality to ensure is long term service on above the ground pools.

This solar heater has greater versatility in finding areas to mount or place the heater and utilize it.  The smaller size allows for greater versatility for pool sizes as well. So, smaller pools can benefit from adding one or two of these panels.

The adjustable legs allow you to angle towards the sun if needed, and they can be place in the mulch area.  The cool thing about solar is the fact you only need to plumb the lines, no gas line, or electric lines need ran.

  • It is very efficient
  • More versatile for installation areas
  • More versatile for various pool sizes
  • Installation is straight forward
  • This is rigid, and can not contour to sloped surface as easy
spaceNice size panels with legs for tilting4-1/2
pricea little more expensive, but easier install and function3-1/2
gallonsNeed a panel for every 1500 gallons on average3-1/2
Solar Powered, 100% efficient when sunny5 stars
design qualityit is plastic, careful on the threaded areas, good otherwise4
assembly installationeasy in flower beds or roof. May require extra parts4
powerSolar, pool pump makes water flow and heat4-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average4

3. Small Above Ground Pool Heater – Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above Ground

above ground pools

Goplus stardom is a well designed above the ground pool heater. It features a bypass kit with distinct features from the other solar heaters. This amazing heater is a compact heater with its minima footprint and suitable for pool owners who want a south-facing heater.

It is a circular heater with a diameter of 9″ or (23 cm) with a coil piping system inside its transparent enclosure with a dome shape encapsulation.  The dome shape is designed to provide a greenhouse effect and increase the surface area for heating pool water in its small surface area.

This heater can raise the temperature of the water by 5 degrees, which seems to be less than as compared to solar heaters, but you can have two in connection for larger pools to reach sufficient heat rise output.

  • It minimizes space
  • It comes with simplistic cool design
  • It is cost-effective
  • Easy to dasiey chain extra heaters for larger pools
  • best solar heater for small pools
  • will not heat on a cloudy day
  • The connection is semi prone to leakage
spacerequires minimal space compared to most solar pool heaters4
pricecost is higher than other solar heaters, but install is easier3-1/2
gallonsOne heater per size of 2500 gallons on average4
Solar Powered, 100% efficient when sunny5 stars
design qualityit is plastic, but allows better flow3-1/2
assembly installationinstallation is easy compared to some solar style. Hose in, hose out4-1/2
powerSolar, pool pump makes water flow and heat4-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average4

4. Solar Panels For Above Ground Pools – Smartpool WWS421P Sunheater Solar Pool Heaters

electric pool heaters for above ground pools

This is the most economical solar panel for heating pools with sunlight. This heater is able to raise the temperature of water by 6 to 10 degrees under normal conditions utilizing its premium design. The solar heater heats the pool water to an equivalent of a gas powered heater in good direct sunlight.

This is a kit of 2 pcs 2 ft x 20 ft panels. so, together it takes up 4ft x 20 ft, or 2 ft x 80 ft.  It is only for larger above ground pools 20,000 gallons in sunny climates, about 15,000 gallons in more northern less sun climates.

  • It is made from quality and long-lasting polypropylene.
  • It comes with two-headed elbow adapters.
  • It features its direct flow system.
  • The instant temperature rises from 6 to 10 degrees.
  • Installation kit sold separate
  • Large area needed
  • More difficult to install than other panels (the plastic tries to stay coiled)
  • Requires at least a 1/2HP pump (preferably 1HP)
spaceRequires 20ft one direction, best on oblong pools, roof, or along fence2-1/2
priceReasonable for the size of pool claimed to heat4
gallonsBest used on pools of 15,000 gallons or so3-1/2
Solar Powered, 100% efficient when sunny4-1/2
design qualityit is plastic, it can kink, strip, and require extra hardware2-1/2
assembly installationLaying out the 20ft length from a roll can be tricky, works better when hot, need 2 people min.2 stars
powerSolar, pool pump makes water flow and heat4-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average3-1/2

5. Above Ground Pool Solar Heating System – Sun2Solar Ground Mounted Heating Solar System

above ground pool pump

This solar panel kit features two solar panels measuring 2’ x 20’ used along with in both in-ground and above ground pools. The panels also feature black polyolefin, which is lightweight and very flexible to guard it against UV light and absorb solar heat. It comes with its outstanding 5-year warranty.

They come in small size but most efficient. This panel is able to increase the temperature by 10 degrees in a normal situations.  Like above, this solar kit requires a 20 foot  or 40 foot  area to lay it out. Mainly for larger pools again, over 15,000 gallons.

It can can serve as cost-efficient as opposed to powered means, like gas or electric. It is easy to install and maintain because it is a little more flexible than the other panels.  Plus. it comes with a five-year warranty.

  • It is reasonably priced
  • It is easier to install.
  • It comes with a number of sizes.
  • It boasts a 5-year warranty.
  • Roof install kit is extra
  • It may require a separate hardware purchase
  • It is not super compatible with high horsepower pumps (because the material is flexible)
spaceRequires 20ft one direction, best on oblong pools, roof, or along fence2-1/2
priceReasonable for the size of pool claimed to heat4
gallonsBest used on pools of 15,000 gallons or so3-1/2
Solar Powered, 100% efficient when sunny4-1/2
design qualityit is plastic, it can kink, strip, and require extra hardware2-1/2
assembly installationLaying out the 20ft length from a roll can be tricky, works better when hot, need 2 people min.2 stars
powerSolar, pool pump makes water flow and heat4-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average3-1/2

6. Our Electric Pool Heater Pick – FibroPool FH120 Swimming Pool Heat Pump

above ground pool heat pump

This is an electric heater that is ideal for ground and above ground pools. It utilizes a 120V electric supply source for its heating.

This heater comes with its 8 feet power cable US normal 110V plug, which is a standard wall outlet 3 prong cord.  Depending on your install site, you may need to run a heavier cord, or an extra line to the installation site.  This depends on the distance, size wire and size of your pool pump.

The US standard is 12 gauge which carries 20 amps, however the average GFI outlet is good for 15 amps.  SO just saying how many amps is your pool pump?  This heater will add 10A to your electrical needs.

This is one of the best cost-effective water heaters that operate under any climatic condition.

  • Good for inground or above-ground pools
  • It can heat the pool faster
  • Its operation is cost-effective.
  • Takes less room than solar panels
  • It should be connected to the GFCI outlet.
  • Only recommended for pools up to 7,500 gallons
  • Makes noise (but not much louder than the pump itself)
spacerequires little space, slim design4-1/2
pricevery reasonable for a heat pump style heater4
gallonsBest used on pools of 7,500 gallons or less4
We calculated about 87% efficiency4
design qualityquality is good, simple design4
assembly installationinstallation is easy, only need to connect lines and plug into a 120VAC GFCI4-1/2
powerElectric powered, 120VAC, 10A draw3-1/2
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average4

7. Our Gas Pool Heater Pick- Hayward Universal H-Series Pool and Spa Heater

Hayward pool heaters

These Hayward heaters are gas powered, the particular one pictured is natural gas.  They provide steady even heating of a pool.  Above ground pools typically don’t need a lot of heat assistance in the summer months due to the sides of the pool are exposed to the ambient air temperatures. Of course this means you may need a pool heater in early and late season!

Hayward offers many sizes to accommodate many size pools, from 150,000 BTUs to 400,000 BTUs. Which means, 18,000 to 48,000 gallons of pool water heating range available.

The pool heater is a little noisey compared to say a solar pool heater, however, you can not really tell it is running over the pump running anyway.

  • It heats up the pool water quickly
  • Great for longevity
  • Probably best for shaded yards
  • Could be cheaper to run than electric
  • Some noise possible, best if placed away from sitting areas
spacetakes up little space, not an eye sore4
priceexpensive for an above ground pool2-1/2
gallonsBest used on pools of 18,000 gallons or so3
82.7% efficient4
design qualitywent through a spell of quality issues with leaks, hopefully fixed now3
assembly installationstraight forward and easy install, if a new heater install, the gas line is the hardest part3-1/2
powernatural gas powered4
RecommendedOverall Rounded Average3-1/2

Can You Put an Above Ground Heater In a Pool?

Above ground, pool heaters are very essential especially when it comes to heating the water. This is entirely based on the fact that swimming in warm water is more enjoyable. Swimming in cold water may predispose you to some respiratory complications.

That said, installation is typically straight forward, but may require the need of a plumber or electrician for connecting the electrical and or gas lines. These are two areas you do not want gas leaks or electrical faults around water!

Therefore, you do have various types to choose from depending on your preference. The most important thing is to consider the efficiency of the pool heater when you are assuming the quality.

Ways to Heat Above Ground Pool

What Is the Best Way to Heat Above Ground Pool?

Buying a pool heater is the best option that you have to heat the above ground pool. You are provided with several options that make it easy on your side to choose which one will suit your needs. This heater will help you to extend your swimming period especially if you live in a colder area.

You can use a solar heater because it is one of the less expensive options. However, you need that sun light!

You do only need to have good sunlight (on average 6 hours plus) in your Spring and Fall seasons with a solar pool heater.  This means if a tree shades it in the summer as an example, you typically do not need a heater in full blown summer season anyway. This is because you want to bring the temperature up to swim temps and extend swim temps by using a heater. 

Can You Put the Heater In an Intex Pool?

Intex electric pool heater can be used for Intex pools. All you need to do is to connect it to the pool and switch it on because it is an automatic heating system. It is an option but your pool will be heated within a very short time.

Intex also has a solar panel version, not the best in our opinion, but it is small about 47″ x 47″ so great for the smaller above ground pools.  Check it out by clicking here to learn more about it.

How Long Does Above Ground Pool Heater Last?

If properly maintained a pool heater should last for more than 10 years. The duration of an above ground pool heater depends on the general maintenance and how it is used.

above ground pool heater for winter

How Fast Is the Heating Process of Above Ground Pool Heaters?

This depends on the type of pool heater because some like electric and gas heaters produce a higher output which heats the water quickly. Most of them have higher BTU ratings. To learn more about how long it takes to heat your pool, check this article out.

Solar heaters raise the temp  on average 5 degrees Fahrenheit, but are sized for gallons that flow through them.  So, a 10,000 gallon pool pumps at 15GPM which means it takes 11 hours to change all the water out. On average your pool would raise 25 degrees Fahrenheit in 5 days.  So on extremely sunny days it could reduce it in half and cloudy days extend it by 2X.

Gas and Electric pool heaters are based on BTU output and efficiency. Also, they can heat 24 hours a day, and not 12 hours a day like solar.  Based on the same 10,000 gallon pool size, it would require a 80,000BTU heater with an average 85% efficiency.

How Are Solar Blankets Effective?

Swimming pool solar blankets are very effective especially if you’re using a solar heater. The primary function is to ensure that there is a reduction in evaporation which saves on energy. Additionally, it prevents possible accidents by protecting pets and children from drowning in the pool. Well, there are various pool covers that you can find in the market but it is important to ensure that it can be able to retain the pool temperature especially at night.

Using solar energy is a cost-effective way but some other environmental factors such as wind and evaporation should be taken note of. The solar blankets are high energy efficient sheets that are wrapped on the pool surface to trap their energy. You don’t have to place it on the sides because some models are designed to float on the water surface.

Above Ground Pool Heaters Installation

What Size of Above Ground Heater Do I Need?

Sizing above ground heater is a complicated process in which you require some guidance. Typically, the size of the heater depends on the volume of your pool. That is because the higher the volume of the water to be heated the bigger the size of the heater. The volume can be calculated using a formulated to determine the volume of the water contained by the above ground pool. Additionally, the water temperature that you want to swim is also important. This is because people have different preferences on the kind of water temperature.

Cold areas may require bigger heaters because the temperature normally drops low especially at night. Other environmental factors like ambient temperature play a key role in determining the size of the heater. Therefore you should put into consideration all these factors to ensure you get the appropriate size.

Other Types of Residential Heaters You May Need:

What Cost is Required to Heat an Above Ground Pool?

The cost of heating an above ground pool depends on various factors. First, the energy required to heat the pool. Some other types like gas and electricity can be quite expensive because you will require higher energy output which will translate to electricity bills. Additionally, the temperature at which the pool should be heated is also another factor that contributes to the overall cost of heating the pool. Therefore, the average cost is between $1500 to $3000 depending on the preferred water temperature.

This amount can change during cold weather because you will entirely depend on the above-ground pull it is to extend your swimming period.


Above ground, pool heaters ensure you get the best swimming experience irrespective of the weather condition. This allows you to extend your swimming season. Therefore you can choose based on the various types available such as wood, solar, electric and gas. The most important thing is to ensure you get the right quality that heats the pool quickly, easy to install and environmentally friendly.

Top 3 Best Above Ground Solar Pool Heaters

Recommended Above Ground Pool Heaters

best solar heater for above ground pool

swimming pool heaters for above ground pools

above ground pool pump


David: Penn State-educated Mechanical Engineer and Business-savvy Fluid Dynamics Specialist. Balances family plumbing business support with a thriving engineering career at a top, undisclosed company. (they want it that way) I help Will with plumbing and HVAC needs on his Real Estate.

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