Our Top Picks

It’s summertime, and you know what that means, fun in the sun! Plunging into a warm swimming pool for an afternoon is probably one of the most refreshing things you could do, but what if you don’t want that experience to end? How do you keep your pool water at a comfortable temperature in times where it gets colder outside? Don’t you wish you could dive in October or even November? Doesn’t the thought of stepping into a warm pool during a cold fall, like a trip to the hot springs in a ski resort, fill your imagination with wonder?

Thankfully, there is a solution that you can apply to your home pool that will keep your water welcoming for months after the summer sunsets. These are solar pool heaters, and they’re the answer to all your problems.

By installing a solar pool heater, you’ll have an eco-friendly solution to keep your water warm year-round, and you’ll save significantly on energy costs as well. Solar pool heaters contain panels that collect energy from the sun, and use a system of pipes encircling the bottom of the pool to keep the water a comfortable and warm temperature.

These systems are famous for their ease of use and efficiency. You can set your temperature, let the panels do all the work, and focus on having a great pool day. These pool heaters don’t require storage tanks, they are extremely eco friendly, and most brands feature years of service. It’s time to dip your toes into the best solar pool heaters out there.

Our List of the 6 Best Solar Pool Heaters of 2020

HELIOCOL Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel

As one of the industry leaders in solar pool heating, the HELIOCOL Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel system is known as one of the best panels on the market, featuring a sleek design and producing highly efficient results. The heating system uses a single-piece design, making installation an easy process.

The manufacturer guarantees 12 years of service. Some users have reported that these systems have been working wonders since the 90s! It is what makes them the most trusted name in the business. If you are someone who just wants a quick and easy to use solution, this is the panel for you. There are many on the market like the FAFCO and Swimjoy brands, but HELIOCOL stands out through build quality, longevity, and because they provide a reliable system that will get the job done for years.

One advantage this system has is the uniform construction of the array. Keeping it in one piece ensures the strongest connection and maximum efficiency. Be aware, though, that this product may not be available in all areas due to manufacturer restrictions. Florida relegates the service in the panhandle area only. We recommend contacting the manufacturer and double-check to see if your area is one that is serviced by the company.

Pros

  • Functional design that looks good
  • One-piece construction makes it easy to handle
  • Stable and dependable build quality

Cons

  • Smaller than other systems
  • If buying on Amazon, it comes with mounting kits
  • Not available in certain regions
Check the price on Amazon

SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heaters

The SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heater is the number one best selling pool heater on Amazon, and with fast results and reliable service, there’s no wonder that it is. This panel features a tube on web design that can capture the most energy possible and make full use of all the space. The material of the panels is polypropylene, which utilizes your pools existing filtration system for easy setup.

Users have reported that the system is capable of heating pools up to 20 degrees more. The power your heating system draws from the sun will result in your water getting warmer, and the more that happens, the faster the heating system will work. What that means is that the more you use this system, the warmer your water will generally get. With this heating solution, you can extend your pool season by a few months.

As Smartpool has been in the solar heating game for quite a while, they also have many other products that are similar if the S240U doesn’t meet your needs. The Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System for In-Ground Pools is another recommended option that features a whopping 80 feet of panels and includes many of the same benefits. Each of these products has advantages over competitor brands like the FlowXtreme NS1002 by providing a huge amount of panels that cover larger sections, ensuring you probably won’t need to buy extras.

Pros

  • Fast heating
  • Easy to install
  • Multiple options for placement

Cons

  • Might need to buy equipment like pool pumps separately
  • Mounting bracket and stand not included
Check the price on Amazon

GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

This brand is on top of their game. The GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater is a small unit built especially for above ground pools packing large power into a compact form. It’s estimated to increase the temperature of a pool around 5 degrees in 4 days, per an 8000-gallon pool. Installation is easy, with no electricity required, and after set up, your pool will gradually begin to feel the warmth.

This heater stands out from the rest due to the unique curve shape and adjustability. It allows for maximum heat absorption and retention while keeping the design appealing at the same time. Compared to larger panel systems like the Fafco Solar Cub, this product is better suited if you don’t have an overly large area that needs covering.

Users have praised this solar heater for fast results and accommodating options for placement. For smaller pools, this is the ideal solution because you won’t need to invest in very many extra panels to get the maximum heat. If you have a larger pool, though, you’ll probably want to consider getting multiple and planning your placement very carefully.

Pros

  • Steady heat
  • Easy to transport and lightweight
  • Efficient for smaller setups

Cons

  • You’ll need to invest in a solar cover to prevent heat loss
  • Works with Intex/Bestway pools exclusively
Check the price on Amazon

Fafco Solar Cub Swimming Pool Solar Powered Heating System

The Fafco Solar Club Swimming Pool Solar Powered Heating System is well known for convenience and ease of operation, lacking complex looking connectors and featuring mounting options to make set up a breeze. As the description notes, this panel is 20 feet long, ensuring that you get a huge amount of coverage with just one panel. This system primarily supports above ground pools, so if you have Intex or Bestway pools, this solar system could be a great option.

Given the size of the panel, this will be most efficient with medium-sized pools.  One advantage this system has is the included warranty. Fafco will provide up to 10 years of service for their panel, which is an attractive addition.

When compared to other smaller systems like the GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO, users have mentioned that the panel gets large jobs done, heating their pools by several degrees throughout the warming up period. Therefore, if you want an easy solution that doesn’t require complex installation and can be moved around with ease despite the size, this is a great value and might be the option you take the plunge on.

Pros

  • Huge solar panel that comes in one unit
  • Durable and tough

Cons

  • Warranty for returns are only 30 days
Check the price on Amazon

FlowXtreme NS1002 Flat-Panel Pool Solar Heater

An impressive and competitive addition to the library of solar heaters is the FlowXtreme NS1002. Featuring an attractive and sleek flat panel display, this easy to use panel will guarantee you warmth in your water. This panel stands out by providing many useful additions adding to the value such as collapsable base legs, two installation hoses, and an adapter for use with soft-sided pools.

In comparison to other brands such as the GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO, this system is compatible with both inground and above ground pools. It’ll most likely be usable with whatever setup you currently own, a universal solution that’s more clear than other brands.

Since this is a smaller system, coming in at 41.4-in L x 28.8-In w x 20.5-in H, you may want to invest in multiple if you want your pool to be as warm as it can be. You can combine the panels with a bypass kit that will help you double the efficiency of your setup. Some users and reviewers have noted issues such as leaks on their systems. If selecting this product, be aware that it might be possible. However, the manufacturer does provide a one year warranty, so you can easily resolve this problem if you’re unlucky enough to encounter it.

Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Small enough that mobility is convenient

Cons

  • Users have noticed leaks
Check the price on Amazon

SwimJoy Premium Inground Solar Pool Heating System

If you want plenty of options and a panel system tailored directly to your needs, then you want to give the SwimJoy Inground Solar Pool Heating System a look. This solar system boasts a 40% increase in heating capacity, easy installation, and the best warranty in the business. What makes this product stand out compared to the rest are the purchasing options.

Compared to listing’s like the HELIOCOL Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel or Smartpool S240U, their product page features a massive list of panels in all kinds of sizes that saves you the trouble of calculating the needed square footage yourself. Need 350 feet covered? Just pick the option for 350 feet, and that’s it!

It can be insanely helpful, especially if this is your first time buying a system, and you’re not quite sure of the ins and outs. This manufacturer provides the option for up to 12 years of warranty service.

Another advantage this system has is the design. Beyond just looking sleek, the panels feature smaller gaps between collectors and are available in multiple sizes. Good looks don’t compromise build quality, though, as the uniform design of the tubes eliminates clogging and risk of leaks. It leads to a more rugged and durable system overall.

Pros

  • Easy to find the right size
  • Mounting system makes installation quick
  • Long warranty cycle

Cons

  • Returns have a restocking fee
  • Can not be mounted horizontally
Check the price on Amazon

How to Choose a Solar Pool Heater

There are a multitude of factors you should take into consideration to ensure you get the most out of your setup. These could include how large your pool is, how much you’re willing to spend, or how much sunlight you normally get. Luckily there are some general guidelines you can follow that can make your selection and buying process much smoother.

Most of the above mentioned solar panel heaters have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Still, overall they will get the job done without much worry or effort on your end. Any panel you choose will be a noticeable improvement over not having one at all, so here is a guide to selecting the panel that will give you the best bang for your buck.

Does it Get the Job Done?

How do these panels even work? Solar heaters have three main components, a filter, a panel, and a pump. With these three components and a dose of sunlight shining into a panel, a cycle begins that produces heat for water in a pool to utilize.

The process begins when a solar panel heater pumps water from a swimming pool into a filter. The filter will clear the water of any debris and impurities, and then direct the water into the panel. As the panel absorbs sunlight, it heats up, and the water traveling through the panel gets heated up as well. As the newly warmed water is pumped back into the pool, the entire swimming area is now much warmer.

The panels are the critical factor here as they determine how quickly and efficiently water is heated up and relayed back to the pool. Smaller pools will get away with smaller pool heaters, but for larger and deeper pools, you will require more panels and larger systems.

Depending on whether your pool is above ground or inground, that might determine which system you go for, as some only work for designated types. For example, the above mentioned Fafco Solar Cub Environmentally Friendly Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Powered Heating System is for above ground pools compatibility. Making sure that your pool is the right kind for the heater you want to get will prevent you from buying the wrong kind.

There are two main builds for solar pool heaters, glazed collectors and unglazed collectors. Glazed collectors are built from rubber or plastic and are typically more expensive than unglazed, which are on aluminum plates with tempered glass coatings. For the increased cost, you typically get more durable systems with glazed collectors.

What Size Do You Need

To calculate the right size of the system, you’ll need, check the surface area of your yard. Your solar system should be around 75% of the surface area of your yard, and that number increases the longer you want to keep your pool open. Up to 100% if you want to go all year round. For example, the average size of a swimming pool in the United States is 14×28 feet. For 100% surface area, 14 multiplied by 28 equals 392 square feet. Meaning your solar collector will need to be 392 square feet if you want a pool of that size to run year-round, and you’ll have to get a system with that surface area in mind.

What Are The Advantages?

Solar pool heaters have huge advantages when compared to other systems like gas or heat pumps. For one, they are extremely eco friendly and don’t waste any energy. Maintenance costs are nonfactors since solar panels require almost nothing to keep functioning. They will work efficiently for years, if not decades, after installation and are immune to factors like power outs. If panels are damaged, they can usually be replaced easily, most of the time, without having to replace the entire system.

Another advantage is that you can place them in a variety of convenient and out of the way locations. You can set them on your rooftop and forget all about them while they do their jobs without you having to worry about anything else. On top of that, they can make any area look a whole lot sleeker too.

Installation

Installing your solar heating system can be a constructive DIY project, though most brands provide an expert installation that will take care of everything on your behalf. Tons of factors like roof height, panel size, pool size, and efficiency are all taken into account by professionals when they set up your system, and some of those might be easy to miss if you try yourself.

It’s also safer when it comes to warranty eligibility. In the case that something gets damaged during installation going with a professional can resolve the problem without you having to pay extra. Liability during a complex set up can be a significant reason to go with the proper help. However, if you’re sure you know the ins and outs of solar panel installation, setting up your solar heating system can be something that you can do yourself.

After installing the solar panel, To connect it to the pool, the process differs depending on if you have an above-ground or in-ground pool. Generally, though, for the most part, you’ll need to disconnect the main hose in your pool and plumb it to the solar heater. Following that, add another hose from the heater to the return fitting on your pool. We recommend having experience in plumbing and DIY, but typically instructions are well detailed and laid out.

What Else You’ll Need

There are plenty of other items and accessories you can buy to ensure your panels are running as efficiently as they can be. For some systems, you can utilize a liquid heat shield. A bottle of this in your pool will help prevent water evaporation from keeping your pool warm. Another accessory is a reel system so you can apply, move, and fold up a solar blanket with ease.

These reels have cranks that you can use to adjust your distance manually. We recommend you invest in a solar cover for your system. These covers prevent heat from spilling out, making sure everything goes to your pool directly. To prevent leaks and damage, it’s usually wise to keep some Teflon tape and silicone sealant on hand to quickly patch up any holes. Accessories like these will make the adjustment and usability of your solar pool heaters far easier.

Frequently Asked Questions About Solar Pool Heaters

How much will a solar pool heater cost?

Typically, the price of your solar pool heater will depend on the size of your pool. The larger pool you have, the more panels you’ll need to heat all of it adequately. A rough estimate for an average size pool is around $3000-4000. Factors like your location will have large impacts on the price. Contacting manufacturers will help you receive quotes based on your setup. With those numbers, you can shop around.

What if my solar pool heater gets damaged?

There are easy ways to get your system back on track in the event of unfortunate damage. You can swap solar panels easily. You typically don’t have to replace the entire system because of one damaged panel. Save on costs by replacing one unit whenever needed. Most manufacturers offer long-standing warranties that cover damages and service for years after purchase. You can find replacement parts for pumps and wiring on their sites as well.

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