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Best Solar Pool Heater in 2020 – Reviewed

If you are fortunate enough to live in a sunny climate, there is a lot that can be done to prolonge the number of days you can use your pool. This is only if you purchase the right products, including a quality solar pool heater. They might not heat the pool up to near bubbling levels but they can do more than take the edge off, which is why they have become popular products.

However, you still need to know what to look for as they aren’t all made equal. With a whole list of products ranging from those designed for above ground pools to full home systems for larger pools, the following list is the best solar pool heaters. With something for every budget, most common pool sizes, and beyond, there is no reason why you can’t be enjoying yours even when the summer is fading.

Quick Summary of Best Solar Pool Heater

 Editor’s Choice 
Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools  (review)
 Best For Different Sized Pools 
SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heaters  (review)
 Most Versatile 
Heliocol Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel 4′ x 10′ 6 – HC-40  (review)
 Easiest To Use 
SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater 2 by 20-Feet, Black  (review)
 Best Value 
Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System for In Ground Pool  (review)

Reviews

Editor’s Choice: Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

With everything needed to make the most of the sun, this solar pool heater for an above ground pool is more powerful than it looks. It includes everything from the mounting caps to the 4′ x 20′ Solar Collectors needed to generate the heat for the pool water. It is used with the pool pump to move water through the heater, pushing the warmer water back into the pool.When set up correctly, it is best used between 10 am and 4 pm which are the peak sunlight hours and should be tilted at 10 to 30 degrees to get optimal rays. They can be mounted on the ground or a rack or even a roof and still generate the heat needed to make a pool more comfortable.

PROS:

  • Includes everything bar the grounds spikes if installing in the ground
  • Good value
  • Can be mounted on a rack or roof
  • Doesn’t slow pool circulation
CONS:

(none)

Best For Different Sized Pools: SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heaters

For many people, this is the best solar pool heater and the cost-effective and low maintenance method makes it easy to see why. By moving water through the panel tube, it uses the sun’s warmth to heat the water before returning it to the pool. It is this process that allows it to raise the temperature by around 6 – 10 degrees F, making sure there are more days and weeks to be enjoyed poolside.It can be hooked up to an existing filtration system, making it easy to install and comes with all the hardware needed to get going including hose clamps and end caps. The polypropylene pack includes two 2 x 20 panels that can work in aa variety of pools of either 31′ round, or 18’ x 36’.

PROS:

  • Low maintenance
  • Uses current filtration system
  • Comes with all hardware
  • Increases temperature by 6 – 10 degrees F
CONS:

  • Other products can raise the temperature a little higher

Most Versatile: Heliocol Swimming Pool Solar Heating Panel 4′ x 10′ 6 – HC-40

The tube method used in this product ensures there is no risk of evaporation which could otherwise lead to a damaged roof. Instead, it transfers the water in and out via a tube, heating each panel individually to deliver warm water back into the pool. The header is sturdily constructed over every tube to make it more durable for a strong and reliable connection.Each individual tube opens into the header which takes away a lot of the pressure, protecting the pool pump and taking a lot of the strain off of the working components. The mounting sleds keep everything in place so even when there is expansion and contraction, there is no risk of any parts moving and causing wear and tear on the roof or wherever else it is installed. The panels are clamped together in a unique way so that there is no need for a rubber hose or metal clamp during installation.

PROS:

  • Resistant to lifting in high winds
  • Sturdy construction
  • Easy to install
  • Round tubes capture added heat
CONS:

  • Can be a bit pricey for some

Easiest To Use: SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater 2 by 20-Feet, Black

One of the easier products to install, SunHeater has made a 2 x 20 ft panel that can be used in both in-ground and above ground pools. They can be fixed onto a roof, rack, a fence, or even on the ground at an angle to capture the sun’s rays and use it to heat the water. Its web design has actually been patented and it is this that gives it maximum exposure to the rays.It is one of the easiest products to get on with since it can be hooked up to an existing pool pump and can raise the temp by around 6 – 10 degrees F. Made in the USA, this solar pool heater can be used on any shaped pool, adding extra weeks of enjoyment at the end or the start of the season.

PROS:

  • 2 x 20 ft panel
  • Can be fixed in multiple places
  • Patented web design provides maximum exposure
  • Raised the temperature by 6 – 10 degrees F
CONS:

  • Not as durable as some of the other options

Best Value: Smartpool S601P SunHeater Solar Heating System for In Ground Pool

A good option for anyone seeking a solar pool heater for an in-ground pool, this polypropylene paneled option uses a direct flow system to increase the temperature in the water. This means that each heating tube uses one header hole to make it more effective. It requires 80 sq ft. of heating panels to do the job properly but after the initial outlay, it will. save lots on energy bills.The panels can increase the temperature by up to 15 degrees and can be mounted on a roof to get the maximum sun exposure. The bigger the pool, the more panels needed to make the pool water warm enough to enjoy a swim and prolong those summer days even as the temperature starts to drop.

PROS:

  • Can increase water temperature by 15 degrees
  • Direct flow system
  • Can be installed on a roof
CONS:

  • Requires 80 sq ft to be most effective

Solar Pool Heater Guide

When you buy a quality solar pool heater, you know that your pool is ready for you. The warm water can be very inviting and these neat devices extend the number of days you can use your pool well beyond the summer months.

The problem is you need to know what to look for. The sub-par products will land you in hot water, and not in a good way. To make sure this is an investment that pays off, we have created the following buyer’s guide.

By the end of it, you’ll know what makes the best solar pool heaters so much better than the low-quality options/

What To Look For In A Solar Pool Heater

Suitability

The type of pool you are looking to heat will impact the type of solar pool heater you should buy. An above-ground pool only needs a compact exchange heater or sheets.

With an exchange heater, the pool needs to be relatively close to the house to ensure it can work. Also, consider the size of your pool as some products are better suited to smaller pools as they don’t have such a great output.

Ease Of Installation

How skilled are you at DIY? Unless you get an expert to install your exchange heater, it might be best to invest in something easier such as a surface heater.

Temperature Range

Your solar pool heater is only going to be as good as the amount of heat it can generate. However, it might struggle if you live in a climate that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight.

If you are in an area that has long summers or pleasant weather at other times, it isn’t going to take a lot for it to work.

Durability

The build quality and the materials are going to go a long way towards making a solar pool heater worth buying or not.  This will affect how much use you get out of it before it can’t do its job of heating the pool anymore.

Warranty

The more you spend, the more this will put your mind at rest. when you buy a solar pool heater with a lengthy warranty, it can feel like a risk-free purchase. These products are not immune to the odd failing so it is important to make sure the product you have your eye on comes with some sort of warranty, the longer the better!

Value

There is no better value than buying a product that actually works but when it comes to value, it is always a good idea to spend whatever you feel comfortable with. Bear in mind that you generally get more use out of the products that are known for making solar pool heaters using quality materials.

Another thing to remember is that a solar pool heater might cost more initially compared to other types, but within a few years, the savings to your bills will mean they pay for themselves and become a shrew investment.

How to Winterize A Solar Pool Heater?

Although it is nice to be able to take a swim in the colder months, it is not a good idea to leave the solar pool heater all winter. This will not only cost you a lot as it struggles to generate enough heat from the scarce sunlight it gets, but it will also take longer to do so.

Drain the pipe circulation system so it isn’t running continually and you can also switch the solar system to bypass mode. this might be different depending on the model so it is a good idea to check the manual of the product you buy to make sure you get it right.

How Many Degrees Does A Solar Pool Heater Provide?

These products have a decent range and heat a pool by around 10 – 20 degrees F depending on the product. The main influence on this is the weather as warmer weather will make it easier to reach the max increase whilst low light conditions will mean it could struggle to reach the minimum.

Solar Pool Heater Vs Electric

There are plus points to both that make them worth considering but let’s start with the cost of running each one. In general, electric heaters costs more to run but the initial outlay is not going to be as much.

Over time, you will save money with a solar pool heater. If you are interested in being environmentally friendly then a solar pool heater wins every time.

An electric heater does heat your pool fast but a solar option will give you a steady amount of heat and can work continuously depending on where you live and the weather conditions.

How Much Does A Solar Pool Heater Cost?

Although there are some budget options out there that won’t cost you as much, a quality solar pool heating system can cost around $3,000 and above.

This is for the full system although you might have to pay extra to get an expert to install it. If you are confident in your installation skills then you can save a few dollars.

Are Solar Pool Heaters Worth It?

They are often considered the most reliable as there are less intricate parts that can break compared to other types of heaters. Also, they only take a few hours to install and set up is generally less intrusive to the pool. there is no plumbing required so no one is going to be digging up your backyard to get any pipes in place.

Also, solar pool heaters are known for being low maintenance. There isn’t a lot that goes wrong with them compared to other types. You also get a lot of use out of them as they can heat the pool all year round, without adding a lot to your bills.

In general, most solar pool heaters pay for themselves within 1-3 years. This is compared to the money you will spend on other types of pool heaters that are costly to run.

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