One of the best ways to feel like you are on a vacation without leaving your home is to build a swimming pool. It’s like being on a tropical getaway. However, it’s a different story during the winter months. You will end up shivering and uncomfortable. With this, it is best to invest in the best pool heater.
With a heater, the water’s temperature will heat up by a few degrees. This makes the cold more bearable, so you don’t have to fear to have a dip. However, take note that not all heaters are the same, especially in terms of their effectiveness and efficiency. Need help choosing the best pool heater? Keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll share.
Our Top Picks for the Best Pool Heater Reviews by Consumer Reports
In this section, we’ll talk about the top products that should be on your radar, as well as the top features that will make them exceptional.
Hayward H150FDN Universal H-Series 150,000 BTU Pool and Spa Heater, Natural Gas, Low Nox
Hayward is one of the most popular brands in the market for pool heaters, so you can be confident about the quality of this product. Along with the other models from the Universal H series, it is known for its superior performance and incredible energy efficiency.
One of the best features that you will find in this natural gas-powered heater is the Cupro Nickel Finn Plate Heat Exchanger. The material is known for being durable. With this, it is no longer surprising that it can resist corrosion that can be caused by saltwater.
The polymer header design, which is an exclusive technology, is another feature that you will love in this product. It protects the unit from external damages while also ensuring the best when it comes to efficiency.
Another thing that you will love in this heater is the forced draft combustion system. The latter provides a constantly moving air in the combustion chamber. This gets rid of the external factors that can negatively impact the efficiency of the heater. This also assures its consistent heating performance without being affected by outside variables.
Lastly, it will also be effortless to monitor the performance of this pool heater. There is a digital control panel that is easy to see and has intuitive controls. Aside from displaying the current temperature, it also shows diagnostic codes so that you can easily determine any problem and identify the best approach to solve the issue.
- Easy to install
- Heats the pool quickly
- Reasonable price
- Heat exchanger can be better
- Can be quite loud
Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series 150,000 BTU Pool and Spa Heater, Propane, Low Nox
Another product from Hayward, it is almost the same as the one mentioned above. The main difference, however, is that the main source of the power of this model is propane and not natural gas. Both are considered to be eco-friendly, so it isn’t hard to make a decision when it comes to their environmental impacts.
Speaking of the environment, it is also good to know that it has low NOx emissions. This allows it to be instrumental in promoting what is best when it comes to air quality.
The universal design, which is common in the series of Hayward products, makes it versatile and straightforward to install. Despite this, however, take note that it is designed for professional installation only.
There is no need to be concerned about the durability of this product. It has components that are built to withstand the test of time. Some of the high-quality parts that you will find in this product include a nickel heat exchanger, stainless steel burner, and silicon nitride hot surface igniter.
- Durable construction
- Consumes minimal propane
- Heats the pool quickly
- Can be prone to leaks
- Heat exchanger may easily crack
Raypak 406,000 BTU Digital Natural Gas Pool Heater
The integral Cupro nickel, which is one of the main components of this pool heater, is regarded for its durability. It allows the unit to withstand even the rashest conditions, which is also the reason why it provides the best bang for the buck.
To easily monitor the functionality of the heater, it is also a good thing that it comes with an LCD, which is complemented with a digital control for ease of use. Day or night, you can easily see the settings on the display.
It is also notable because of the smart microprocessor that comes with the unit. It allows intelligent functionality. It continuously monitors the operations of the unit and also provides smart diagnostics so that you will easily determine the cause of any problem.
With 406,000 BTU/hour, this is one option that is hard to match when it comes to power. The impressive performance will ensure that water in the pool will be hot by the time you jump in.
- Has a reliable digital thermometer
- Works quietly
- Durable construction
- Bulky and heavy
Pentair 460792 Stainless Steel MasterTemp Pool Heater
As you would expect from any powerful pool heater, there is no need to wait for a long time before the water is finally warm and comfortable for a swim. With 175,000 BTU output, you can be confident of its ability to heat pool water in an instant.
The manufacturer also claims that they have the best-in-class heating efficiency. So, you don’t have to worry even if you are using the pool heater often or for an extended period. It minimizes gas consumption. To be energy-efficient, one of the best features of the unit is its ability to automatically turn off when service is not needed.
This is also a good choice for those who are looking for an option that is good for the environment as it is certified to have low NOx emission.
It is also well-loved by many because of its durability. For instance, it is built to be tough enough to prevent rodent intrusion. It also has rust-proof exterior handles that can withstand external elements.
The enhanced LCD is another good feature. It has a rotating display to easily monitor the functions of the unit. It displays not only the current temperature, but it is also a diagnostic tool.
- Energy-efficient option for pool heating
- No long waiting time before pool heats up
- Plumbing fixtures are hard to connect
- Can be quite noisy
Fibropool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Pump
If you are looking for an affordable way to heat your swimming pool without compromising performance, this is one of the best products that should be on your list. This budget-friendly product won’t disappoint, as long as you know its limitation. Take note that the maximum output is only 20,000 BTU, so it is best only for small swimming pools. If you are looking for an effective way to heat your bathtub, this product can also be an exceptional choice. In warm weather, it can heat up to 7,500 gallons of water on average.
The simplicity of this model is one more thing that makes it a great alternative in your search for the best pool heater. You don’t need a helping hand from a professional to complete the installation. The manufacturer provides comprehensive instructions, so it can be a DIY task.
Lastly, it is also worth noting that it has a COP or Coefficient of Performance of 4.85. This gives it an edge over many of its competitors in terms of its heating efficiency.
- Low-cost heating
- Easy to install
- Great even for tubs
- Not for large pools
- Consumes a lot of power
Raypak 266,000 BTU Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Pool Heater
One of the well-loved features of this pool heater is the all-copper fin tube heat exchanger. It is made using one-piece extruded copper, which is also one of the reasons why it is praised by many people for its durability. It also optimizes the heat transfer for the incredible performance of this heater.
Speaking of construction, the stainless steel tube sheet is also notable, which is complemented with polymer headers. This prevents rust from entering the swimming pool.
The wind-resistant design is one more thing that makes this an impressive product. You no longer need fans to prevent drafting. Its design allows it to resist external elements that can speed up the wear of the unit.
Another exceptional feature of this model is the PolyTuf Textured Powder Coating. The cabinet is polyester-coated, which makes it corrosion-resistant. It has been through a 7-stage wash system to ensure the adherence of the material, which can guarantee its durability. It prevents rust for many years of dependable service.
Lastly, there is a thermostat that is controlled by a microprocessor, which is great in making sure of the accuracy of the temperature. This makes it more reliable regardless of the external conditions, including snow and wind.
- Operates quietly
- Requires minimal care and maintenance
- Heats pool quickly
- Poor customer support
- Only for small pools
Sta-Rite SR333NA Max-E-Therm Pool and Spa Heater, Natural Gas
While this may not be from a brand that is as popular as Hayward, you can be confident that the quality is second to none. It is considered the lightest heater in its class, which makes it easy to move around if you want to change its location. The durability is also impressive. One of the reasons for this is the structural integrity of the housing, which is rust-proof.
With 84% efficiency rating, the low operating cost of this heater is another benefit worth highlighting. It consumes minimal natural gas without compromising its heating performance.
The strategic position of the control panel is also a good thing. This allows you to easily monitor the temperature of the water. Programmability is also effortless, even if you are using the heater for the first time.
- Compact and lightweight
- Easy to install
- Rust-proof housing
- Short warranty period
Hayward H300FDN Universal H-Series 300,000 BTU Pool and Spa Heater, Natural Gas, Low NOx
This is another entry from Hayward, so you can be confident about its quality and performance. For those who used this product in the past, one thing that they love the most is its simplicity. From the installation to its operation, this pool heater does not require a lot on your end.
Like most of the pool heaters from Hayward, one of the notable features of this product is the standard Cupro Nickel Heat Exchanger. It is resilient even in aggressive water conditions. Even in salt-water, the heat exchanger is strong enough to resist corrosion.
Meanwhile, with the intuitive LED control panel, you can easily lock the desired temperature to keep the water warm while you are swimming. It has strategically positioned controls that will be easy for you to access when you have to change the default settings.
Lastly, it also has the innovative forced draft combustion system, similar to the Hayward pool heaters we have earlier mentioned in this short buying guide. It gets rid of external weather variables, including wind and snow, making sure that it heats water in the pool efficiently and effectively.
- High-quality construction
- Good for the environment
- Can be prone to gas leaks
- A bit noisy
The Different Types of Pool Heaters
Before we talk about the specific products we can recommend, let’s first look at the different types of pool heating methods available, as well as their respective pros and cons. This will make it easier to narrow down the choices for a top-rated pool heater.
Gas Pool Heaters
It is the traditional choice when it comes to home heating. It works in the same way as the gas water heaters you have in your shower. There is a combustion chamber and gas burns inside it. Heat passes through the copper coils, and in turn, this increases the temperature of water in the pool.
If you prefer to use gas pool heaters, there are two main options – natural gas or propane. Regardless of which one you choose, they are both known for being efficient. They heat the water quickly.
If you decide to go for this type of heating method, one of the most important is to choose one that is labeled as Low NOx, which is good for the environment. They have been tested by third-party agencies and proven to emit low emissions while heating the pool quickly.
- Quickly heats water in the pool
- Low initial cost
- Low emissions
- Expensive to use in the long run
- Lifespan can be short
Electric Pool Heaters
If you are looking for an eco-friendly alternative to gas, consider electric pool heaters. They take advantage of ambient temperature to make the water hot. Since there is no need to connect it to a gas line, the installation is also more straightforward.
The use of electric heaters is best only for small pools. It is not as powerful as its gas-powered counterparts. Therefore, when you use it for a large pool, it may end up being power-hungry, or worse, unable to heat the water at all.
- Easy to install
- Lasts through the years
- Low initial cost
- Best only for small pools or tubs
- Heats water slowly
Solar Pool Heaters
From the three types that are mentioned in this article, this is the best if you are looking for an eco-friendly option. It uses the energy of the sun, which is a renewable resource. The initial costs can be steep, but in the long run, the savings will be worth every dollar.
There are different types of solar pool heaters. However, if you have a large pool, the best ones are solar panels and solar blankets. Solar rings and domes may not be as powerful. Also, if you live in an area where the sun does not always shine, using solar heaters is not recommended.
If you are using solar panels for pool heating, you will have two main choices. The first one is an unglazed collector which comes with plastic or rubber panels. The second is a glazed collector that comes with copper tubing laid on an aluminum plate.
- Uses renewable energy
- Can last up to 20 years
- Inexpensive to operate
- High initial cost
- Needs a lot of direct sunlight
Choosing the Best Pool Heater
To help you narrow down the possibilities, this section talks about some of the most important factors you need to take into consideration.
Consider the Size of the Pool
One of the first things that you need to do is to consider the size of the pool. If it is large, obviously, you will need a more powerful pool heater. Otherwise, it will not deliver the heating requirements and may be ineffective. In some cases, especially if you opt for a solar heater, there is an option to combine multiple units for better heating performance. If the pool is small, however, you don’t need a powerful heater as you will just end up wasting energy.
Consider the Type of the Pool
Aside from the size, the type of swimming pool that you have is another crucial consideration. If you have an above ground swimming pool, you don’t need a heater with high power. You are good with most standard heaters, including the ones that are solar-powered. On the other hand, if you have an in-ground pool, especially if it is large, you will need a more powerful heater. In this case, most people opt for electric or gas pool heaters compared to their solar counterparts.
Identify the Heating Requirements of the Pool
After determining the size and type of the pool, you can now determine the heating requirements. With this, one of the most important considerations is the BTU of the heater. BTU stands for British Thermal Units. The higher the number, the more powerful the unit is. However, you don’t always need a high BTU especially if you only have a small swimming pool and if it does not get extremely cold from where you live. In the case of some models, especially the electric ones, the rating is based on horsepower or HP. A higher rating also corresponds to better heating performance.
Consider Ease of Installation and Operation
In most cases, you can install the heater on your own, especially if it is solar. Gas heaters, on the other hand, can be complicated. While the manufacturer provides detailed instructions on how to complete the installation, especially for novices, it can be an intimidating experience. Pay attention to what the manufacturer says. Some models require installation only by licensed technicians. If you fail to meet this requirement, the warranty will end up being invalid.
Aside from the effortless installation of the pool heater, it is also best to choose one that is straightforward to operate. It should have an easy-to-see display so that you can easily monitor the temperature. It should also be easy to set the temperature as you desire.
Consider Care and Maintenance
It is a burden to the owner of the unit if it requires a lot in terms of care and maintenance. Look for a pool heater that is effortless to clean. If you don’t pay attention to taking care of the heater, this can compromise the performance of the unit. Regular inspection of the heater is important. If there is any problem, deal with it as soon as possible. Otherwise, it only gets worse and can be costlier to repair.
Evaluate the Noise
As you try to decide which heater is best of your swimming pool, you must evaluate its noise. It is annoying to spend time in the pool while hearing a loud noise from the heater. One thing that makes the heater quiet is the case. This provides insulation from loud noise. If you are looking for a quiet pool heater, solar and electric heaters are two of the best options. Gas tends to be noisier than the two, although, the latter is the better option if power is a more important consideration than noise.
Decide Based on Climate
Another excellent way to narrow down your choices is to consider the climate from where you live. Some models of pool heaters rely on ambient temperature to heat water in the swimming pool. If you are using solar heaters, on the other hand, you need the sun to capture the energy needed by the heater to warm water in the pool. The climate in your place will also dictate the energy requirements and heating performance of the pool heater.
Go Beyond Price
It is tempting to choose one product only because it is cheap. However, that should not be the case if you want a high-performing swimming pool heater. Be ready to spend more if performance is more important compared to price. It will be worth every dollar. To be sure, read reviews and learn from the real-life experiences of other people so that your money will not go to waste.
Look for a Pool Heater with Extended Warranty
This is important if you want to have peace of mind. Most products come with a standard one-year warranty. However, because the lifespan of pool heaters should be more than one year, it is best to choose one that comes with longer warranty coverage. Within this period, it is covered under defects. The manufacturer will provide not only free repairs but also a free replacement of defective parts. It is important to read the terms and conditions from the manufacturer to prevent the warranty from being void.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Pool Heater
Before we conclude this short buying guide, allow us to leave you with some tips on how to maximize the benefits of your pool heater.
- Pay attention to its proper installation. The failure to follow the instructions from the manufacturer can lead to inefficient performance of the heater.
- It is not enough that you have a reliable pool heater. It also helps to ensure the chemical balance in the water. Otherwise, the swimming pool will be unhealthy. Worse, it can also cause external damages to the heater, including rust and corrosion.
- Regularly inspect the casing of the heater. Any visible damage can speed up the wear and affect heating performance. There is also a higher risk of electric shock if the heater has visible damages.
- If you are unsure of how to complete the installation, it is best to leave the job to the pros. They know better. Also, as earlier mentioned, the warranty may be rendered invalid if you do not hire a licensed technician to install the pool heater.
Make pool time more fun and comfortable with the right heater! Consider the options mentioned above for the best pool heater and you can never go wrong. From their performance to durability, these heaters can provide the best value for the money. Even when it is winter, there is no reason to be scared to take a plunge!