The 5 Best Solar Powered Pool Heaters Reviewed
Solar energy offers a passive way to heat water using panels, but it may take a little time to heat the pool, and it’s only effective when the sun is shining. While solar panels can help reduce the costs of heating your pool, they lose about 70% of their heat during the night, which means you will definitely need another heating system as well unless you live in a place with warm or hot heat year-round.
A solar heating system produces more energy to heat pool with more panels, which may cause a significant increase in the start-up cost of solar pool heating systems. You may want to consider more panels and take into account how much roof space you have for the solar panels. Solar heating does come with the benefit of low costs and a limited effect on the environment.
The technology is still relatively new and is only just becoming effective but with a lot of room for improvement. Yet, solar panels cost nothing after the initial cost, which is competitive with both gas and heat pump options.
We go over each unit in our pool heater roundup in detail below, but for those in a hurry here are the units we looked at:
Best Solar Powered Pool Heaters
We’ve compiled a list of the top heaters out there to save you even more money and time heating your pool. Save your time setting up the pool instead of researching as we did all the work for you. So based on features, price, and owner feedback here is our list of the best solar powered pool heaters:
If you have an above-ground swimming pool in your backyard, then you might want the Solar Blanket by Sungrabber. The price is right, and the ratings are even better, plus this comes with a liquid heat, which we will discuss in a minute. Another advantage of the solar blanket is it works with your existing pool pump to save you money.
One of the great advantages of a solar pool heater is the maintenance cost of zero dollars and zero cents. It’s a better option than a gas heater as you don’t need a gas line or gas bills or pollution. You also don’t have to worry about increasing your electricity bill. Instead, heat your pool with reliable heat from the sun for free after the initial cost of the blanket.
Next, the panel comes with a bottle of 310 ml of liquid heat. The system takes the water in your pol through the solar panels to allow solar energy to heat up the water to a respectable level with excellent circulation for maximum solar efficiency. If you have a large pool, add additional panels for more optimal heating capacity. You need panels to cover about half of the pool’s surface for optimal heating. Although, don’t put the panels on the pool!
Finally, this is a do-it-yourself project that shouldn’t require professional help to install if you follow the included instructions. The included panel weighs 14 pounds and measures 2 x 20 inches. Do note, the panels can rip, so keep children and animals off of them. Use the included liquid heat to retain the heat in your pool and only requires 4 ounces for every 20,000 gallons.
- Highest heating efficiency in the industry - Compatible with your existing pool pump
- Better than a gas heater - no gas line - no gas bills - no pollution
- Will quickly heat your pool with free, reliable heat from the sun - More Tubes per panel than other brands
- For best results for Sungrabber Pool Heaters, more than a single panel may be required. These are available in different quantities, (2 panels, 3 panels, 4 panels, etc.) with all the panel to panel attachments required to connect them together. With one single panel 20 ft of pipe/hose Min. is required (not Included)
- Includes a 310mL bottle of LiquidHeat Solar Blanket, to help keep the Heat in your Pool!
Enersol offers a kit with an easy-to-install solar pool heating panels. You can increase the temperature of your pool by up to 15 degrees without adding anything to your heating bill. Everything you need comes in the box, including a top mounting strap, cross over strap, 3 bolts, 2 clips, and 2 o-rings.
The versatile kit allows you to set up the solar panels anywhere the sun shines. It also uses solarprene rubber, which is completely resistant to pool chemicals as well as UV rays, extreme heat, and extreme cold. Like the last kit, this one uses the existing pool pump to send water into the panels to raise the water temperature. If you’re doesn’t heat up, you may need an extra kit or extra panels as you need the pool to cover half the space of the pool.
The kit includes one panel measuring 1 x 8 feet, but you may need several more panels depending on your pool size. These are priced right to purchase multiples. It also includes an 18-year-old limited warranty against defects. Place the tiles on a rack, the ground, or a roof. Works for both in-ground or above-ground pools and doesn’t require professional installation, but of course, you always have the option!
Lastly, if your in-ground pool measures 288 square feet, you will need between 18-27 boxes (or panels), and for a pool of 800 square feet, you will need between 50 to 75 panels. An above-ground pool measuring 254 square feet will need 16 to 24 boxes while one measuring up to 529 square feet will need between 30 to 50 panels, which significantly increases the price, but remember this is a one-time price.
- NOTE: Installation kit required for every panel purchased after the 1st one.
The Smartpool S601P SunHeater Heating System works for in-ground and works with your pool pump to pump water through the solar collectors to heat and return water to the pool. When you have the right amount of panels for your pool size and install them, the set can raise the pool temperature by ten to 15 degrees, which can extend the swimming season.
Collector panels will need to get full sun for at least 6 hours to raise the temperature of the pool, but a longer time will give even better heating. Tough polypropylene material is used for the panels to ensure they never corrode or scale, and the panels are reversible. This saves you money as you only pay the initial upfront cost of the panels. The panels also come with a 5-year limited warranty and install with just three easy steps.
You do have to purchase an installation kit separately for this 4 x 20-foot panel, which does increase the cost. The SK21 System Kit sold separately would allow you to install the panel and attach it to your pump with up to four panels, and it comes with all of the plumping tools needed. Also, the panels drain easily when you are ready to winterize your pool.
One panel ways 29 pounds and measures 48 x 1 x 240 inches. The panels can work with both in-ground or above-ground pools. Customers complained about the panels leaking and said they were fragile, and overall these offer mixed reviews. The problem is the technology still has kinks to work out with most brands as it’s a newer technology.
- Keep your pool warm with a polypropylene heat collector. Direct Flow System - One Header Hole for Each Heating Tube
- Solar heater features 80 square feet of solar panels
- Pool accessory is perfect for heating any in-ground swimming pool
- Panel array measures 4 feet wide x 20 feet long. Raises Pool Water Temperature 6-10°F (4-6°C)
- Installation kit required (Sold Separately)
SunQuest offers larger sets, so you buy once and you every part you need. You can purchase kits of 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, or 18 panels, each measuring 2 feet by 12 feet to capture free energy from the sun to heat your pool. While the upfront cost of this system costs a fair amount, you get everything needed to set up the panels on your roof, a dedicated rack, or the ground.
The system allows water to circulate through the panels and the pool water to warm the water up and return it back to the pool. With the best available professional-grade quality materials, you can save money compared to professional installation and their systems. It works with both in-ground or above-ground pools but you will need to buy a little piping to go from the panels to the pool. Don’t worry, the set comes with an easy to follow instruction manual to walk you through the simple DIY project.
A major benefit of this particular kid is the pandals come with standard connectors and built-in hoses to make your job all the easier. Also, the system works with your existing pool pump. The only complaint fo the set is they can leak just like other brands, and these may bubble instead of laying flat.
- SunQuest Solar panels are designed for both In-ground and Above-ground swimming pools
- MAX-FLOW design with 2" OD headers - better water circulation - less back pressure on your pump.
- Compatible with your existing pool pump.
- Increases pool water temperature up to 10 degrees.
- SunQuest is an easy do-it-yourself installation.
The XtremepowerUS offers a 2 by 10 feet solar panel for above-ground or in-ground pools. Sun heater panels allow water to flow through the tubes attached to your existing poop pump and into the panels to collect solar heat before returning the water to the pool. Use the system on the roof, shed, cabana, or a dedicated rack.
Like the other options above, this system can raise the temperature of your pool by up to 10 to 15 degrees if you have enough panels for the size of your pool. Installation works easily thanks to quick connection designs on the panels to make your life easier. Each panel uses extremely high-grade material proven to last through hard weather. Finally, Each kit contains one panel, 2 combination hose adapters, 2 O-rings, 2 end caps, a roll of teflon tape, and instructions, so you can make the choice if you can handle the project or would rather a professional set it up for you.
The company does offer some guidelines on how many panels you will need for your pool:
12 ft. x 24 ft. Oval (257 sq. ft): 1 panel
14 ft. x 28 ft. Oval (350 sq. ft): 1-2 panels
15 ft. x 30 ft. Oval (402 sq. ft): 2-3 panels
16 ft. x 32 ft. Oval (457 sq. ft): 2-3 panels
18 ft. x 33 ft. Oval (524 sq. ft): 3 panels
10 ft. Round: 1 panel
12 ft. Round: 1 panel
15 ft. Round: 1 panel
18 ft. Round: 1 panel
21 ft. Round: 1-2 panels
24 ft. Round: 2 panels
27 ft. Round: 2-3 panels
- Quantity of these solar panels needed is dependent on the pool size and the location, which may estimate by some websites.
- Each Roll 24" x 10 foot Long; 24" x 10' Solar Collector; Quick connect design for easy assembly
- XtremepowerUS Panels are built from extremely high-grade materials that are proven to last in all types of weather
- Quantity of these solar panels needed is dependent on the pool size and the location
- The system can be installed on the roof of your house, shed or cabana, mounted to a rack or simply placed on the ground.
What To Consider Before Purchasing A Solar Pool Heating System
Overall, solar panels, as they are now, tend to work better for above-ground pools, but as technology improves, so will our ability to harness the solar power of the sun. Until then, you will need to keep a few things in mind before deciding to purchase a solar pool heating system for your backyard pool.
In-ground pools are hard to heat with solar power than above-ground because the solar panels then need to constantly work against the temperature of the ground as well as the water in the pool.
If you live in a warmer climate, you may only need a little extra heat, which solar power can easily provide. For those in colder climates or more shaded climates, you may not get enough solar power to reach your desired heat from unpredictable sunlight. A leisure swimming pool should maintain a temperature of 88-90 degrees, those using the pool for exercises will only need to maintain a temperature of about 78 to 85 degrees, which is much easier to do with a solar-powered heater.
Installation & Warranty
The cost of hiring a professional significantly increases the price of the solar panels, and it would take longer for them to make up the money you spent for the set. You will also want to consider the warranty because it’s often how long an item will last. If something breaks after only a couple of years and there is no warranty, your investment might be completely useless unless you manage to fix it yourself.
Distance to Your Home
If your pool isn’t close enough to your house, you may need to put the solar panels on the ground, which creates more risk of them getting ruined. Too much distance can reduce the effectiveness of the exchange though you could make a dedicated wooden rack closer to your pool for the panels.
Questions about Solar Powered Pool Heaters
Here are answers to some common questions asked about solar powered pool heaters:
How do solar pool heating systems work?
Solar pool heating systems work by harnessing energy from the sun into a panel to prompt heat into the water with focused light before circulating the water back into the pool. Another option is a solar cover for a pool that would transfer energy into the top couple of layers of water. Use this in combination with your water pump to filter water, as well.
Hotter climates can use solar collectors to either heat or cool down a pool. Some systems use sensors and valves (either automatic or manual) to diver water through a collector until the temperature is greater than the pool temperature. When the temperature is the same as the collector’s wit will bypass the panels and return to the pool.
Mind you, solar energy is not quite as exact as electric or gas heat because the sun produces the heat. The sun constantly puts out heat, but the atmospheric conditions create variables that make it not as consistent as the other two options.
How many panels do I need?
The amount of panels needed depends on the size of your pool. Smaller above-ground pools may only need one or two panels. Larger in-ground pools might need up to 18 panel. Base the amount of panels you need on the size of your pool and cut it in half. If your pool is 500 square feet, you will need 250 square feet of panels.
What are the benefits of solar-powered pool heaters?
Solar-powered pool heaters come with five main benefits. First, solar-powered heaters can extend your swim season by keeping the water warmer longer. Second, it saves you money because you pay up front, but then you are free from electric or gas bills. This means the system can pay itself off in as little as two to seven years, depending on how many months a year you use your pool.
Next, solar power helps the environment as it’s a green way to warm your pool and allows you to reduce your carbon footprint. Not only is it the cleanest form of energy, but it also reduces emissions. Fourth, solar heaters do not require a lot of maintenance as they run cleanly and effectively for around 15 to 20 years. Some of the panels can even last for up to 30 years! Finally, solar heaters are the quietest heaters on the market as the son doesn’t make a lot of noise and still manage to raise the temperature of your pool by up to 10 to 15 degrees.
Here is a YouTube video showing a typical installation:
Wrapping Up Solar Powered Pool Heaters
The best solar powered pool heater is the SunQuest 10-2X10 Solar Swimming Pool Heater Complete System with Roof Kits as it comes with everything you will need to set up the system while also providing enough panels. You can pick the exact increment you will need to work with your pool. It’s also simple enough to set up that you will not need a professional unless you are very uncomfortable getting on the roof yourself.