Picture the scene: your swimsuit is on, your float is inflated and your cocktail is mixed. You’re ready for a day in the pool. But as you dip your toe in the water, you realize the pool water temperature is uncomfortably cold for a day of relaxation or pool-based entertainment. What’s the fix to this potential nightmare? Installing one of the best solar pool heaters would make your life a lot better.
What is a Solar Pool Heater?
At a basic level, solar pool heaters take the thermal heat from the sun and transfer it to the water in your pool for a more inviting pool temperature.
The most common design for these devices features a number of panels made of parallel pipes, although other shapes and designs are available. These pipes connect to your pool through systems of varying complexity and are filled with pool water. During the day, when the sun is shining, these pipes heat up and raise the temperature of the water inside. That water can then be moved back into your pool to raise the temperature of all your pool water to a more desirable level.
What Are the Benefits of Using a Solar Pool Heater?
The most obvious benefit to using a solar pool heater is that it heats up your swimming pool. On top of this, however, there are several other positives to having one of these handy devices connected to your setup. These include:
Reduced Energy Costs – The thermal heat from the sun is available at no cost. After the initial installation investment, you’ll enjoy free heating energy (as long as the sun is shining) to heat your pool, saving you significant money over installing an actual heater.
More Eco-Friendly – Because a solar pool heater runs off the sun’s rays, there’s no need for any additional fuel or power, except maybe an additional pump to move the water through when it’s reached the desired temperature. This is a far more eco-friendly approach to heating a swimming pool than designated pool heaters which can use large amounts of electricity in the heating process.
Low Maintenance – Once installed, these solar pool heating systems require very little maintenance. Some even include flow control valves and automated sensors which automatically move your pool water, so that your pool is constantly kept at a temperature chosen by you.
Extended Swimming Season – Adding a heating system to your pool offers swimmable temperatures earlier and later in the season, giving you an extended swimming season over non-heated swimming pools.
Which Solar Pool Heater is Right For Me?
Finding the right solar pool heater for your setup is dependent on a number of key factors. Most importantly, you’ll need to think about the size of your swimming pool. Then, consider what size heater is right for the amount of water in your pool. As you may have guessed, the more panels you have, the more heat is absorbed into the water. The key is balancing the two for correctly proportionate, and therefore effective, pool heating.
For smaller pools, smaller setups are more likely to suffice for raising the pool water to the desired temperature. For medium to large pools, heating the water may require doubling the number of panels and installing an automated system to manage your pool water flow in order to achieve sufficient heating.
Below, you’ll find seven of the best solar pool heaters to give your pool the boost of heat it needs to become a more comfortable swimming environment.
1. Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System
The Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System is a well-rounded answer to giving your pool water those difference-making degrees in temperature. It includes barb connectors, mounting caps, bases, straps, plugs and a valve handle, and it uses the existing pool pump as a power source to pass the water through the solar-heated tubes. Most users find that the device performs optimally when used between the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM and tilted between 10 and 30 degrees to the south. For greater convenience, the system can be installed either on the ground, a tilted rack or on a rooftop. However, be warned you need to acquire ground spikes and a flexible hose for a ground installation.
Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System
2. XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System
This XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System is constructed from high-grade polypropylene to withstand the rigors and weather of daily outdoor life. The kit includes two 20-foot panels which maximize the heat-absorbing surface area and can be used on above-ground or in-ground pools. The panels are also lightweight (when unfilled) and flexible for easier installation. Furthermore, they can be doubled or tripled up to accommodate pools with larger water volumes. Depending on the size of your pump, you may also need to buy an additional diverter.
XtremepowerUS Solar Panel Heating System
3. Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle Solar Cover
The Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle Solar Cover can be an alternative, or addition, to an out-of-the-water, pool heating device. It’s available in either clear or blue and comes in a range of rectangular sizes which can be cut to fit irregularly shaped pools. Each cover contains hundreds of tiny bubbles which help to transfer solar heat to the water. In addition, the cover minimizes evaporation from the pool and acts to retain existing heat by providing additional insulation.
Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle Solar Cover
4. SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater
BEST FOR ROOFS
If you’re looking for a system for mounting a pool heater on a roof, you may want to consider the SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater. It comes supplied with a roof/rack mounting kit for easier on-roof installation and can be connected to either in-ground or above-ground swimming pools. The included panel measures 2.2 by 12 feet, although different sizes are available. Furthermore, it sports a MAX-FLOW design which offers better circulation without putting additional pressure on your existing pool pump. When attached to a correctly sized pool, you can expect this do-it-yourself heating system to raise the temperature of the water by up to 10 degrees.
Read more: The Best Pool Vacuums
SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater
5. Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heater
With its parallel-bar arrangement, 80-square feet in coverage and individually fed collecting tubes, the Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heater is an efficient and versatile answer to heating your pool. Capable of a six to 10-degree temperature change, the panels are compatible with any kind of in-ground swimming pool and can be attached to additional panels to accommodate larger pools. In addition, the smart design allows for multi-surface installation, including roofs and fences, while the built-in vents maintain their integrity during windy conditions.
Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heater
6. SunQuest Solar Pool Panel System
By working with your existing pool pump, the SunQuest Solar Pool Panel System offers a convenient way to add an extra 10 degrees to your pool water. It can be used with either in-ground or above-ground pools and includes SunQuest’s MAX-FLOW design, which maximizes circulation while lessening the back pressure on the pump. This is a great DIY option that can easily be yard mounted temporarily and removed at the end of the swimming pool season.
SunQuest Solar Pool Panel System
7. SolarPoolSupply Universal Panel Replacement
If you’re looking for a replacement panel or simply want to add additional panels to an existing setup, the SolarPoolSupply Universal Panel Replacement could be the answer. They’re available in two different header sizes, ranging from 1.5 to two inches, at either 10 or 12 feet in length. The panels come with a five-year full guarantee and are constructed from a pre-compounded polypropylene which possesses a greater resistance to UV light for a far superior lifespan.