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Whether you have an in-ground or above-ground pool, keeping it warm enough for swimming is essential. If you live in a climate where it is warm and sunny all day, it can still take several days for your pool to heat from direct sunlight alone. Solar pool covers can help heat and maintain the heat, but the best and quickest way to get your pool up to the right temperature is with a pool heater.
Types of Pool Heaters and How They Work
There are three main types of pool heaters available:
- Gas Pool Heaters
- Electric Pool Heaters
- Solar Pool Heaters
Gas Pool Heaters
Gas pool heaters are some of the most efficient out of the bunch. These use natural gas or propane to heat your pool. The fuel powers a combustion chamber that heats up the water as it passes through the gas heater. If your house has a natural gas connection, you may be able to take advantage of a natural gas heater. If not, you’ll most likely need to purchase a propane tank like the one you would use to heat your gas grill. Gas pool heaters are a great option if you live in a colder northern climate due to their speed and efficiency.
Electric Pool Heaters
These essentially work like a tankless water heater — the water flows through the heater as electricity heats the water. These can be rather small, but they can be a heavy burden on your electricity bill, and they require the installation of a 220V outlet. Electric pool heaters are best used in warmer climates and for in-ground or above-ground pools.
Solar Pool Heaters
If you are looking for a cost-effective way to heat an above-ground pool, this is it. These are great for warm weather climates and areas that have access to at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. Depending on the size of your pool, an additional pump may be required to push the water through the panels. Solar pool heaters are far more cost-effective and better for the environment than an electric pool heater or gas pool heater but are slower to heat water and not ideal for in-ground pools.
How Much Do Pool Heaters Cost
Any way you shake it, pool heaters are rather pricey. Gas and electric pool heaters can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the size of your pool and where you live. Solar panels are by far the cheapest way to heat your pool and start at a few hundred dollars, but depending on the size of your pool, you may need additional panels and a pump to heat it up. All the extra panels and pumps quickly start to add up.
What Else To Consider Before Buying a Pool Heater
The size of your pool, whether it is in-ground or above-ground, your location and budget should all be factored in when deciding which pool heater is best for you. Remember:
- Gas Pool Heaters — best for colder climates, bigger pools, quick heating, expensive
- Electric Pool Heaters — best for warmer climates, both in-ground and above-ground pools, expensive
- Solar Pool Heaters — environmentally friendly, best for above-ground pools, cost-effective
The Best Pool Heaters
Whether you’re itching to go swimming for the first time this season, or looking to extend the swimming season a few more months, you’ll find the best pool heaters currently available below.
1. Hayward W3H200FDN Universal H-Series Pool Heater
Depending on your needs, this pool heater comes in 150K BTU to 400K BTU and ranges from $2,299.99 to over $5,000. What makes this pool heater so reliable is the durable cupro nickel heater exchanger that provides protection against unbalanced water chemistry that can cause corrosion. It also meets low NOx air quality standards for areas that have those restrictions.
2. Raypak 206K BTU Natural Gas Swimming Pool Heater
Ranging from 206K BTU to 406K BTU and from $2,269 to $5,599, this natural gas pool heater provides a lot of variety depending on the size of your pool and where you live. This pool heater makes heating your pool a low maintenance process thanks to the LCD and temperature setting mechanism. When the pool temperature dips below the desired setting, the heater kicks on automatically. And, it heats pools quickly with a single copper tube heat exchanger that makes the heating process efficient.
3. Hayward HeatPro Electric Heat Pump
This Hayward pool heater warms water quickly, but most importantly, it does so quietly. The compressor cover and carefully designed fan blades ensure that when the pool heater kicks on, your family and your friends can still enjoy some fun and conversation without having to scream over top of the heater. Even at 140K BTU, it can raise the temperature of a pool upwards of 15 degrees in a day or two, which can extend the swimming season deep into the fall months.
Read more: The Best Pool Vacuum Cleaners
4. Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters
You accomplish three things with the Smart Pool Solar Pool Heaters: heat your pool, save money and protect the environment. Pool heaters can cost thousands of dollars, but the Smart Pool Solar Heaters costs only $250 for 80 square feet of panels. Depending on the size of your pool, and your climate, you may need to purchase additional panels to sufficiently heat your pool. And it works with both in-ground and above-ground pools.