Top 10 Best Solar Pool Heaters for Above Ground Pool Reviews

For many people, the pool is a perfect way to relax and escape the heat of a summer day. Unfortunately, falls come all too soon, robbing you of one of the life’s greatest pleasures.

Don’t let the changing seasons prevent you from getting in the pool. If you can never get enough time in the pool, it’s time you considered buying a pool heater.

There are several different types of pool heaters, but solar heaters are one of the best kinds, especially in sunny climates. Because they draw their energy from the sun, they’re not going to increase your energy bill either.

Solar pool heaters aren’t right for every situation, but for most people, a solar pool heater is just what you need to make your swimming experience more enjoyable all year long.

Things to Consider

Solar pool heaters vary dramatically in both cost and performance. If you want to make sure you get the right solar heater for your family, here are some things you should consider before you buy.

5. Temperature

One of the big, important factors is how much of a difference in temperature you’re looking for. Your average solar heater will raise the temperature by about five to ten degrees. Some high-end models can raise it up to 15, but you’re not going to get much more than that out of a solar collector.

4. Size

Because solar pool heaters rely on energy from the sun to heat your pool, some models take up quite a bit of space. If you have limited room in your yard, or are concerned with how the heater will look, these are things to take into consideration.

3. Installation

Just how easy is it to put your solar heater to work? Installation can be a hassle, and if you have to hire a professional to help, that can be a lot of money. Fortunately, heaters for above-ground pools are typically much easier to install than in-ground pools, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

2. Warranty

Most solar heaters cot well over a hundred dollars. Some models are several hundred dollars. If the solar panels break or the pump goes out, your investment is useless. Try to buy heaters that cover their units with a warranty.

1. Price

Although there are some budget solar heaters, you can expect to pay at least $100 for your heater. Higher prices typically mean a greater difference in temperature, but you should make sure your investment is worth it.

EDITORS PICK

Trying to pick the best of anything is seldom an easy task, but here it is. We believe the best solar heater is the GAME 4512 SolarPro XD1 Solar Pool Heater. It’s much more compact than your typical pool, and it’s less expensive as well.

GAME SolarPro Solar Pool Heater with Adapter Uses solar power to minimize your electric bill.

Designed for any size above ground pool without additional adapters.

 Increases water temperature by about five degrees.

Easy to install.

Smaller and more compact than standard solar panels.

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Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $25

10. Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool

Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming PoolWhen it comes to solar heaters, there aren’t a lot of budget options out there. The Intex Solar Heater Mat is not the best solar heater on the market, but it is by far the most affordable.

The mat itself is fairly small, much smaller than a solar panel, and measures 47 x 47 inches, or just under 4 feet. It’s easy to install and is compatible with filter pumps up to ½ HP. It’s designed to work with a pool up to 8000 gallons, or approximately 24 feet in circumference.

As far as effectiveness goes, it’s pretty minimal. Depending on the weather, it’s rated to raise the temperature in your pool by three to five degrees. It’s not much, and some people may not even notice the difference. Still, it’s hardly expensive, and if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, this might be your best bet.

Pros:

  • Works with up to 8000 gallons of water
  • Doesn’t take up a lot of space
  • Much less expensive than other models

Cons:

  • Only increases temperature by 3 to 5 degrees
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Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $150

9. GAME 4512 SolarPro XD1 Solar Pool Heater with Adapter

GAME SolarPro Solar Pool Heater with AdapterYou may remember the Game 4512 SolarPro XD1 from the editor’s pick. Regarding overall performance, it isn’t the best solar heater, but it’s the best one you’ll get in this price range. It’s also much smaller, and thus less conspicuous, than other similar solar heaters.

Although it doesn’t require bulky solar panels, the SolarPro XD1 still channels heat from the sun into your pool. It’s easy to connect with the pump, doesn’t require any additional adapters, and it raises the temperature of the water between five and seven degrees. If that doesn’t sound like much, keep in mind that many solar heaters twice the cost only add about 10 degrees. That makes the SolarPro XD1 one of the more cost-effective units on the market.

Like the Intex Solar Heater Mat, the SolarPro XD1 is suitable for a pool up to 8000 gallons. However, the heater’s effectiveness can be doubled by using a bypass kit and adding a second heater. This can be used to get higher temperatures or to heat a larger pool. Either way, it’s hard to argue with the XD1. It’s simply a workhorse.

Pros:

  • Works with up to 8000 gallons of water
  • More space-efficient that solar panels
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results

Cons:

  • Only increases temperature by 5 to 7 degrees
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8. Doheny’s Above Ground Solar Heating Systems

Dohenys Above Ground Solar Heating SystemsThe first two solar heaters on this list were relatively small and compact. Doheny’s above-ground solar heating system is anything but. It measures 2.5 feet tall and 20 feet long, so it’s hardly discreet. But its large size does have its advantages.

There are several things going for this solar panel heating system. First, it’s easy to install, and hooking it up to your water pump system is a cinch. Second, it works both passively and immediately. Since it is a solar panel, you don’t have to do anything. It simply works, and no maintenance is required. The solar panel increases the temperature of your pool an average of ten degrees, and possibly as much as 15 degrees.

There are a couple of shortcomings, however. First of all, the solar panel is quite large, so it takes up a lot of space. It does not with a mounting kit either, so one is required. Despite these inconveniences, this is a very nice solar heater, unlike a lot of solar heaters, does not require adapters. As a result, it uses no electricity and requires no maintenance. Not bad.

Pros:

  • Heats water up to 15 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance

Cons:

  • It takes up a lot of space
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Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $200

7. GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

GAME SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool HeaterThe GAME 4721 SolarPRO curved pool heater uses a different design aesthetic than the GAME 4512 SolarPRO XD1. Thanks to its curved design, it maximizes the heat output, sending the extra heat directly into your pool.

One of the challenges of a solar heater is that they’re only as effective as the amount of sunlight they receive. As the sun moves across the sky, the light hitting the solar heaters changes, minimizing its effectiveness. Because the DAME 4721 is curved, it absorbs light from the sun for a longer period and from different places in the sky.

Even better, this particular solar heater is made with a material that helps to maximize sunlight absorption while also minimizing the impacts of winds on the surface, helping to keep the heating as high as possible. The GAME 4721 has threaded ports for compatibility with more plumbing systems. It has two hoses, stainless steel clamps, and raises the water temperature five degrees in as many days.

Pros:

  • Curved design receives more sunlight
  • Durable plastic cover limits cooling winds
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results

Cons:

  • Only increases temperature by 5 degrees
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6. sunCOIL SC-DOME Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

sunCOIL SCDOME Solar Heater for Above Ground PoolsUnlike some solar pool heaters, the sunCOIL SC-Dome solar heater comes with all the kits you need to set it up and get it running with your water pump. A purchase of the sunCOIL includes not just the heater and connection hoses, but also a complete connection kit and diverter valve kit.

There are several things that the SC-Dome does right. For one, the heater is mounted on folding legs. This allows you to readjust the position of the heater to maximize its collection efficiency. The pool heater is also designed with a clear dome that works to trap the heat from the sun, like a greenhouse or a car window. This allows the heater to collect more heat and transfer it to your pool.

There are a couple of downsides. The kits have a lot of pieces, and connecting the heater to your pool isn’t as easy as some other units. Also, while the legs allow you to adjust the heater towards the sun, having to do that manually can be frustrating. However, like many heaters, this can also be daisy chained with another unit, making it more effective. The sunCOIL is protected by a five-year warranty.

Pros:

  • Plastic dome maximizes sunlight
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results
  • Backed by five-year warranty

Cons:

  • Requires a lot of manual adjustment
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5. 1-2’X20′ SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool HeaterThis 2-foot by 20-foot SunQuest Solar Pool Heater is similar to the Doheny solar heater in a lot of ways. It is similarly large and bulky, but thanks to its larger size, it is also able to generate more heat for the pool.

There are a lot of things about this pool heater that works well. For example, it has two-inch OD headers that work to improve the circulation of your water. Not only does this put less pressure on your pump, but it also helps to increase the water temperature evenly. The SunQuest is compatible with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is designed for easy installation without a lot of fuss.

It also raises the water temperature as well as the Doheny solar heater, typically up to 10 degrees but possibly slightly more. Like the aforementioned solar heater, its main problem is its size. Measuring 20 feet long, this is hardly a compact solar heater. However, depending on the placement of your pool, they can be installed in your room and connected to the pool, resulting in a cleaner design.

Pros:

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance

Cons:

  • It takes up a lot of space
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Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $250

4. 2-2’X20′ SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

Best SunQuest Solar Swimming PoolThis 2 ft x 20 ft SunQuest pool heater is the same solar heating unit as the one I just reviewed. The only difference is, this is a set of two solar panel units, which makes this not only an excellent value but a truly efficient pool heater.

There are two-inch OD headers that connect with your pump work to improve the circulation of your water. This relieves some of the back pressure on your pump and helps to raise the water temperature uniformly. The SunQuest is compatible with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is designed for easy installation without a lot of fuss. Because there are two solar panels in this set, they provide powerful results even to very large pools.

Although these heaters are designed to raise water temperature by 10 degrees, connecting both units to a smaller pool might produce even greater heat. The real problem here is the size. These are large heaters, and without a roof mount, they take up an awful lot of space.

Pros:

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance

Cons:

  • It takes up a lot of space
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3. GAME 4513 SolarPro XD2 – Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools

GAME SolarPro Solar Heater for Above Ground PoolsI reviewed the GAME 4512 SolarPro XD1 in the beginning of the article. The Game 4513 SolarPro XD2 is a larger, more powerful version of the same solar pool heater. The 4513 pretty much doubles the output of the 4512, raising the temperature of the water up to 10 degrees over the span of a week.

The 4512 XD1, the 4513 doesn’t require any additional adapters, and you don’t need any gas or electricity for it to work. You simply need a water pump and, possibly, a bypass kit for more powerful pumps. (Water pumps over 1 HP require a bypass kit.) It raises the temperature of the water by 10 degrees, and it can be used in conjunction with another unit for even better results. \

The SolarPro XD2 is suitable for a pool up to 16000 gallons, roughly double the efficiency of the XD1. With a bypass kit and a second unit, you can increase the heaters effectiveness, using it for larger pools or warmer temperatures.

Pros:

  • Works with up to 16000 gallons of water
  • More space-efficient that solar panels
  • Can be paired with another unit for better results

Cons:

  • Bypass kit not included
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Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $300

2. 2-2’X20′ SunQuest Solar Pool Heater with Diverter

SunQuest Solar Pool HeaterBy adding a roof mount and diverter, the SunQuest pool heater system becomes one of the best solar heaters on the market. Almost certainly the most efficient and effective, and the most attractive once they’re installed.

Two-inch OD headers connect with your pump work to improve the circulation of your water, taking some of the back pressure of your pump. The SunQuest is compatible with both in-ground and above-ground pools and is designed for easy installation. Mounting the solar heaters to the roof can be challenging, though, and you may need professional help to do it right.

These heaters are designed to raise water temperature by 10 degrees, and thanks to the roof mount, they don’t create a lot of unsightly clutter by your pool. This makes them an ideal pool heater for anyone who wants to keep your home looking clean and inviting.

Pros:

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance

Cons:

  • Roof mounting can be tricky
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    Best Solar Heaters for Above Ground Pools Under $400

1. Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above Ground PoolsLast but not least, we have the Fafco Solar Bear economy heating system. Measuring 4 ft x 20 ft, this is the largest solar heater on this list. It’s also one of the most powerful and effective.

Like all other solar heaters of its size, it is bulky and finding a good place to set it up can be a challenge. But it delivers performance where it needs to. This solar heater includes two 6 foot long 1.5-inch hoses with clamps, an integral bypass valve, and all of the hardware necessary for installation. The solar heater also works differently than all the others. The pool pumps water through the solar heater and backs out again, heating up the pool in this way rather than a standard transfer of heat.

The solar heater works best between 10 am and 4 pm, although that can change depending on the season and your latitude. For best results, aim the solar heater south at a 30-degree angle. The solar heater can be mounted on the ground, on a rack or even on your roof, so there are plenty of ways to set it up.

Pros:

  • Heats water up to 10 degrees
  • Connects easily to water pumps
  • Requires no maintenance

Cons:

  • It takes up a lot of space
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Conclusion

There’s a lot of good solar heaters on the market, and none of them is perfect. The most effective heaters are also the largest and the bulkiest. However, the smaller and less efficient heaters can often be paired up to heat more water and provide better results. The choice is yours.