If you are looking for an eco-friendly source of power, solar is hard to beat. With this, in recent years, it is no longer surprising that it is a popular alternative to electric and gas-powered pool heaters. Solar heaters are economical to use in the long run since it uses the energy it harnesses from the sun. It heats the pool and makes it comfortable without high utility bills.
Whether you have an above ground or in-ground swimming pool, solar heaters are promising. They use either coils or panels, which trap the heat from the sun. It converts this energy to make the pool water warm.
Looking for the best solar pool heater? Keep on reading this short buying guide and we’ll talk about the best options to consider.
Our Top Picks for the Best Solar Pool Heater Reviews by Consumer Reports
To make your search easier, below is a rundown of the top products to consider and the features that make them stand out from many of its competitors.
SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater
Opening our list is a solar pool heater with a length of 20 feet and a width of 2 feet. This is larger than most of the solar pool heaters. If you have a big swimming pool, you will also love how you can combine multiple units to improve its heating efficiency.
One of the best features of this solar pool heater is the web design of the panels. Exclusively developed by the manufacturer, this improves exposure to the rays of the sun. This way, it absorbs optimal heat.
The versatility of this heater is also notable. You have a variety of options when it comes to its installation. You can install it on the ground, roof, fence, or rack, among other places. Just make sure to position it in such a way that it is facing the sun.
Speaking of versatility, you will also love how the heater is designed for both in-ground and above ground installation. It does not compromise its functionality regardless of the type of pool where you will use it.
Lastly, as the manufacturer claims, using this solar pool heater will raise the temperature of the water by 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Easy to put together
- Works even for saltwater pool
- Uses the existing pump of your pool
- Flimsy construction
- Can be prone to leaks
Game 4714 SolarPro Contour Solar Pool Heater
Small but terrible – this is one of the best ways to describe this solar pool heater. It may come in a small packaging, but it is good enough to heat pools with over 10,000 gallons of water. If you have a larger pool, you will need multiple heaters. However, it should be pointed out that this is exclusive to Intex swimming pools.
The unique dome shape of this pool heater is also one of its best assets. This is different from the product mentioned above that comes with solar panels. It has a raised dome with a clear cover. Inside the dome, there are coils, which are the ones that absorb the heat. The clarity of the dome is a good thing as it maximizes the absorption rate of the heat and energy of the sun.
We also love how it comes with a raised leg. This will let you adjust the position of the solar heater to optimize its absorption rate. You can easily change its position depending on where the sun is.
To use this heater, you will need a pump, which should have a capacity of 1.5 HP. For the flow rate, on the other hand, it can handle up to 19 GPM.
- Compact and lightweight
- Adjustable angle
- Not as powerful as leading competitors
- Only for Intex pools
Kokido Keops Solar Dome Above-Ground Swimming Pool Heater
This is another dome-shaped solar pool heater similar to the design of the product that has been mentioned above. It is also compact and space-efficient, so it is best to limit its use only in small swimming pools. Otherwise, you will need to combine several units so that they can produce the heat the pool needs.
Similar to the product above, there is also a clear dome that allows the coils to be more efficient in trapping the heat from the sun. because of this, you can expect it to heat water in the swimming pool by up to five degrees Fahrenheit.
You will also love how this product can deliver excellent value for the money. It already comes with the main accessories that you will need for its assembly, including stainless steel clamps, hoses, and fittings.
As s bonus, the heater comes with a protective case that will keep it safe and sound during storage. This will help to get rid of dirt and dust that can speed up wear.
- Comes with accessories you will need
- You might need several units
- Hoses are flimsy
GoPlus Solar Dome Above Ground Swimming Pool Heater
This is another product similar to the ones previously mentioned above. It has a clear dome top with coils inside that trap the heat it absorbs. The clear dome is a plus because it maximizes the absorption of heat.
As it is common with this type of solar heaters, it also comes with an adjustable leg. This is a good thing because you can level it on various surfaces. Because you can adjust the position of the heater, you can optimize its ability to absorb heat. You can change the position depending on the direction where the heat of the sun is coming from.
Like other pool heaters at its size, this is not good for large swimming pools. The good thing is that you can combine several heaters to improve its heating capacity. The more heaters are used, the warmer the pool water gets without the need to wait for a long time.
- Comes with a protective case
- Clear dome top
- Adjustable position
- Quality of hoses can be better
- Can reduce filter’s water flow
SunQuest Solar Pool Panel System
This is another product that is guaranteed to deliver excellent value for every dollar you will spend. It is affordable, yet there are already two panels that are included in the kit. These panels have a length of 20 feet and width of 2 feet. Based on the technical specifications from the manufacturer, it is good for 16 to 24-foot round pool.
The efficiency of the panels is one thing that the manufacturer takes pride of. It can produce up to 80,000 BTU. This will heat the temperature of the pool water by up to 10 degrees. This makes it a better alternative to gas heaters, especially if you are looking for an eco-friendly option.
- Easy to assemble and use
- Comes with two solar panels
- Can be quite flimsy
- Prone to leaks
SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater Complete System with Roof Kits
This is from the same manufacturer as the solar panel mentioned above. The main difference, however, is that it is smaller since the length is only 12 feet while the width is also 2 feet. However, there are four panels in on kit. When combined, their heating efficiency is incredible.
One more thing that you will love in this product is that it comes with everything that you will need to complete the assembly. The installation is also quite straightforward. It has a DIY kit, which includes connectors.
The manufacturer claims that their product is made using professional-quality materials that will ensure longevity. However, based on the experiences shared by some of its users, this does not seem to be the case, especially how it can be prone to leaks. We suggest that you pay attention to proper care and maintenance to keep it working at its best for a long time.
- Has everything you need for installation
- Excellent customer service
- Heats swimming pool quickly
- Some components are flimsy
- Can be prone to leaks
Solar Pool Heaters: The Good and The Bad
Many of you are probably wondering if solar pool heaters are great or if you should look for an alternative. With that, to start this guide, let us talk about some of the good and bad things about solar heaters.
Solar Energy is Free: If you think of the long-term costs of using a pool heater, solar is the way to go. There is no need to spend on electricity or gas. It uses free energy from the sun, so you don’t have to worry about your utility bills.
Eco-Friendly: For those who are looking for a way to do their part in promoting what is best for the environment, solar pool heaters are great because they use renewable energy. There are no toxic emissions that can harm the environment.
Operates Quietly: If you are looking for a pool heater that does not generate loud and annoying noise, solar is the way to go. It does not come with a noisy motor.
Requires Minimal Maintenance: Another reason to love solar pool heaters is that they do not require a lot on your end when it comes to care and maintenance. In fact, it does not require any maintenance at all.
Easy to Install: You don’t need technical expertise to complete the installation of solar pool heaters. Especially those that have a clear dome, the installation can be accomplished in an instant without compromising its performance.
High Initial Cost: One of the common problems with solar pool heaters is that the initial price is high, which is one of the reasons why many people hesitate. Nonetheless, if you think of the long-term benefits, you will realize that the savings will outweigh the cost.
Heating Capacity can be Minimal: Another issue with solar pool heaters is that their heating capacity may not be as powerful as those that use electricity or gas. With this, it is best to limit its use to small pools. Otherwise, you have to combine multiple units to unlock the best heating performance.
No Energy When It is Not Sunny: Solar pool heaters are dependent on the sun. Therefore, if it is cloudy or if you live in an area that does not get a lot of sun, the performance can be underwhelming.
Takes a While to Heat: This is not for impatient users. With solar pool heaters, you have to wait before the water is heated. This can even take days. This is unlike in the case of their counterparts that can heat water in almost an instant.
Types of Solar Pool Heaters
As you decide which one is best to buy, it is important to be familiar with the various types of solar pool heaters on the market. They are different in terms of their performance, so find one that is most suitable for your needs.
This is a traditional option when it comes to heating water in the pool. It looks like the traditional solar panels you can find in the roof of many homes. It is rectangular and has photovoltaic cells, which are the ones that absorb and trap the energy of the sun. They are often large and you have the option to combine several units if you want it to generate more heat.
It is exactly what the name says. It looks like a blanket or a cover. This covers the water in the pool and absorbs heat from the sun. this is traditionally cheaper compared to the other types of solar heaters you will find in the market. If you decide to go for this, color is one of the most important considerations. Whether you choose transparent or opaque will have an impact on the absorption of energy from the sun and the heating capacity. This type of heater is also favored by many because it prevents the evaporation of water.
Solar Sun Rings
If you have a small pool, this can be a good choice. As the name implies, they are in the form of rings. The circular solar-powered heaters are left floating in the pool. You will need several units if you have a bigger pool. Like with solar blankets, this is also great in the prevention of evaporation.
This is easy to recognize from its construction. It has a clear plastic dome on the top. Inside the dome, there are coils. These are the ones that absorb the heat from the sun and transforms it into heat to make the pool warm. This is good if you have a small swimming pool. Otherwise, you will need to combine several units. This is also a good option if you are looking for a compact and lightweight pool heater.
Essential Factors to Consider
To help you narrow down your choice and come up with an intelligent decision, this section talks about some of the most important considerations in your search for the best solar pool heater.
One of the first things you need to do is to consider the size of the solar heating system that you will need. If you have a large pool, you will need a large heater. If the heater is small, you can consider using several units to improve the heating capacity, but this will translate to additional expenses because you have to buy more.
The size of the solar heater will also depend on the size of the pool, collector efficiency, solar resource, climate, and average temperature that you want for the pool once it heats up.
It is also important to consider the amount of solar energy that is available from where you live. If there is an abundant solar resource, it is unlikely that you have to worry about it. The problem enters the picture when you do not get enough sun from where you live. This will make it harder to the solar pool heaters to do their job, so you have to consider those that are more efficient.
Type of Pool
Aside from the size of the solar pool heater, it is also important that you consider the type of the swimming pool where you will use it. For instance, whether you have an in-ground or above ground pool will dictate what product is the better option for you. Especially in the case of small solar pool heaters, they are designed only for above ground pools. In-ground pools are traditionally larger, so you have to choose a more powerful heater.
Type of Solar Collector
This is one of the most important parts of the solar pool heater as this dictates the ability of the unit to absorb and trap heat. Unglazed collectors are made of plastic or rubber. Glazed collectors, on the other hand, are made of copper tubing with aluminum plate. Glazed collectors are more expensive but also more durable.
The easiest way to determine the durability of the solar pool heater is to look at the materials it uses. It should be made using premium materials that can withstand the time, which is also why you should not hesitate to spend more if this means that you will enjoy longevity. The good thing about solar pool heaters is that most of them can withstand years of use.
One of the best things about solar pool heaters is that they do not require professional installation. With this, you can assemble the unit on its own. However, this can be frustrating, so consider how easy it is to get the heater ready before you can finally use it. Read reviews from other users and learn from their real-life experiences.
The standard warranty that is offered by most manufacturers is one-year. If possible, choose a product that comes with a longer warranty coverage. This way, you can have peace of mind as this is also proof of how much the manufacturer believes in the quality of their product.
Tips When Using Solar Pool Heaters
Before we end this brief buying guide, allow us to leave you with tips on how to make the most out of your solar pool heaters:
- Install the heater at the right position. The most important is for it to trap the heat of the sun, so it should be positioned somewhere it can directly absorb the sun’s energy. For versatility, it is also good to choose a heater that is easy to change the position.
- Pay attention to the care and maintenance of your solar pool heaters to make it last through the years. Check the instructions from the manufacturer and follow what they are saying to ensure top-notch functionality.
- Trim trees around the pool area if you want the water to be warmer. This is one of the easiest solutions to prevent the water from being cold in addition to the work of the solar pool heater. Plus, when you get rid of the shade, the rays of the sun will easily reach the solar heater.
- Install solar heaters in areas that are hard to reach either of humans or animals. This way, you are minimizing the possible damages.
- Improve the chemical balance of the pool. For instance, you might want to consider adding more chlorine, especially now that you will be using the swimming pool more frequently since the water is warm and comfortable.
- If you live in a place where it is extremely cold or when it is the peak of winter, solar pool heaters may not be sufficient. It is best to use gas or electric heaters instead since they are more powerful. Besides, the sun may be quite shy from where you live, and hence, there will be lack of heat that the solar heater can absorb and use for warming your pool.
In sum, the best solar pool heater is a must-have. It provides an eco-friendly and economical way to heat the pool so that you can use it even during the winter months. Gone were the days when you despise a dip in the pool once the temperature starts to drop. With this type of heater, you can make the most out of your swimming pool at home and have a lot of fun.