Best Solar Pool Heater to Extend Your Swim Sessions

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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People with swimming pools may feel confined to only using them during the summer months. However, you can extend the swimming pool season if you get the best solar pool heater to increase the water temperature and take a warm dive even in the spring and autumn times of the year.

The best solar pool heater will help you save money on energy since getting an electric pool heater can be expensive. Additionally, the cost of running a gas pool heater is quite high. An eco-friendly option is necessary if you do not want an exorbitant heating bill.

Nevertheless, getting reliable solar pool heating systems is not as simple as buying the first product you find. We have covered the essential considerations you need to make before you settle on the best option. Also, check out our list of dependable alternatives to help you out.

5 Best Solar Pool Heaters

1. SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater

SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater 2 by...
  • Simple DIY installation; for in ground or above ground pools
  • Installs on roof, rack, ground or fence
  • Patented web design for maximum exposure to sun's rays
  • Uses existing pool pump
  • Raises pool water temperature 6-10 degrees F

If you require the best solar pool heater for the autumn and spring seasons, the SunHeater S120U can deliver. Whether you have an above-ground or inground pool, this product features the design to fit both settings.

This solar pool heater comprises flexible, lightweight black polypropylene 2 feet by 20 feet long solar collectors. Its tube construction creates a large surface area to maximize heat transfer. Thus, you can expect the pool temperature to rise by 6-10 degrees Fahrenheit, based on the solar irradiance figures in your area.

The SunHeater S120U is made from high-quality materials enhancing its durability even through challenging weather. Also, this product is compatible with most pool pumps.


  • The solar pool heater is easy to install.
  • You do not need to find a new pool pump to work with the heating system.
  • Its patented web design optimizes exposure to solar radiation.
  • You can decide to mount it on the roof, fence, ground or rack.


  • The heating panels take up a lot of space when installed.

2. Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters

Smart Pool S601 Inground Pool Solar Heating System,...
  • Keep your pool warm with a polypropylene heat collector. Direct...
  • 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...
  • Installation kit required (Sold Separately)

The best solar pool heater dedicated to in-ground pools is the Smart Pool S601. This product uses a direct flow system for guiding the water from the existing pool pump through the heater. Hence, the solar heating system can increase the pool water temperature between 4 and 6 degrees Celcius.

The solar collectors of the Smart Pool S601 measure 4 feet wide and 20 feet long. Additionally, each tube is designed to increase the surface area in contact with the water. This feature improves the efficiency of the solar collector in increasing the water temperature.

The Smart Pool S601 can be installed next to the pool or on the roof to save space. The fiberglass-reinforced header prolongs the life of the product. Also, the polypropylene material of the solar panels is durable enough to withstand high water pressure.


  • Solar panels are large for maximizing heat absorption.
  • It also works well for above-ground pools.
  • The solar panel heating system has wind vents for maintaining optimal functioning.
  • The fiberglass coating over the molded header makes the solar panels durable.


  • Installation requires the SK21 system kit. So, you cannot use the solar pool heater unless you buy it.
  • The solar panel heating system occupies 80 square feet when installed and takes up a lot of space.

3. Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool

Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool,...
  • Solar technology increases temperature of the pool water by...
  • Simple hook up, compatible with filter pump up to 1/2 HP or pump...
  • Suitable for above ground pools up to 8000 gal (30,280l)
  • Includes: 1 1/4 " (32mm) hose attachment points

If you have an above-ground pool and are pressed for space, the Intex Solar Heater Mat should be at the top of your list. This product features a compact design where each solar collector has an area of 47 by 47 inches. The size allows you to keep it discretely while saving plenty of space.

This Intext solar pool heater can warm pool water by approximately 3-5 degrees Celcius depending on the prevailing weather conditions. The product has a bypass valve that you attach to an Intex filler pump. Water flow through the system is quick, allowing you to heat your pool fast.


  • The product is easy to install.
  • It is ideal if you do not have a lot of space.
  • It is compatible with most Intex above-ground pools.
  • Getting an additional solar heating mat will help increase the pool's temperature.


  • You may need to buy up to six pool heating systems to achieve the same efficiency as larger models in making the pool warm.
  • It only works well on above-ground pools.

4. SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System

SunHeater Pool Heating System Two 2’ x 20’ Panels...
  • SOLAR POOL HEATER – The SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System...
  • EXTENDS POOL SEASON – Your pool’s pump pushes the water...
  • EASY TO INSTALL – This pool solar heater uses your existing...
  • TUBE ON WEB DESIGN – The tube-web-tube design allows the...
  • DIMENSIONS – The SunHeater Solar Pool Heater includes two 2’...

The SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System offers efficiency and cost-effectiveness in helping you raise the temperature of your pool. As the pump pushes water through the tubes, solar radiation will ensure you realize an increase of 6 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is easy to install the solar collectors since they come with 4 end caps, 6 stainless steel hose clamps, rubber connector hoses and 2 elbows. The SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System has two 20 foot panels for maximizing heat capture.


  • It is easy to install.
  • The price of the product is affordable.
  • It can be used on above-ground and in-ground pools.
  • It comes with numerous accessories.


  • It is not ideal for swimming pools larger than 80 square feet.

5. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater, Made for...
  • SOLAR POOL HEATER: The GAME SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater has...
  • DURABLE CONSTRUCTION: We’ve designed this above-ground solar...
  • UNIQUE CURVED SHAPE: The GAME solar pool heater has been...
  • ADJUSTABLE LEGS: This solar heater is compatible with Intex,...
  • THE PERFECT GRADUAL HEATER: This solar pool heater is not...

The innovative design of the GAME 4721- BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater aims to maximize heat capture for in-ground or above-ground swimming pools. The build of the product is complemented by the adjustable and foldable legs used to position the heater for maximum sunlight exposure. Also, its clear cover traps heat to boost the effectiveness.

The curved shape is ideal for people with little room to install a solar pool heater. Thus, you can take advantage of the increased area for sun exposure while overcoming the space constraints of installation.


  • The curving design enhances maximum sun exposure.
  • Adjustable legs allow you to position it for optimal sun exposure.
  • Its clear cover improves heat capture.


  • Its size hampers its heat collection.
  • It is not ideal for large pools.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Pool Heaters

a) Type of Pool

Solar pool heaters may be specially made to fit a specific pool, either an above-ground or in-ground pool. Admittedly, some manufacturers create products that are versatile enough for use in either case. However, it is critical to consider whether the product you want to buy matches the kind of swimming pool you have.

Moreover, solar pool heaters have caps for the water pressure they can handle from the pool pump. The type of swimming pool you have has a bearing on the power of the water pump.

You may need to figure out the horsepower capacity of the solar heater before making a purchase. Still, it may be advisable to get a bypass valve to lower the pressure to avoid damaging the solar heating system.

b) Where to Mount the Heater

Do you have an above-ground or in-ground swimming pool? Either way, you need to find enough space to allow the solar pool heaters to capture the sun's heat.

Depending on your purchase, you can get several solar panels that occupy about 40 to 80 square feet when completely open. It is beneficial to consider where you intend to install the solar-powered pool heaters.

Most solar pool heaters, especially ones that use panels, are more at home on the roof. The products are often lightweight and flexible to conform to the roof's shifting surfaces. Also, they are easy to install if you want to do a DIY project instead of seeking professional assistance.

If you have room to spare, you can lay the solar collector next to the swimming pool. While flat on the ground, these products are more efficient in capturing solar energy. This position allows the sun's rays to hit the whole system simultaneously and not at an angle.

Finally, some solar pool heating systems can be installed on a rack to save space. This mounting style also allows you to adjust the tilt angle to capture more heat to increase the pool water temperature.

Since the effectiveness of your pool heater is dependent on solar energy, you need to ensure that you install it where it will not be obstructed. Otherwise, you may not see the desired change in the pool temperature.

c) Pool and Solar Heater Size

The surface area of your ground swimming pool directly affects the area of your solar panel array. As a rule of thumb, you should buy a solar panel size that is at least 50% of the area your pool covers. Plus, the size of the solar pool heater you need depends on the solar energy available in your area, the dimensions of the pool and the desired swimming season.

Please take into consideration the number of times it is cloudy or rainy in your area. A solar pool heater does not function the same way as solar panels, which continue operation even when the cloud cover is thick. Consequently, it is beneficial to avoid shades if your backyard has trees when thinking about the right size to purchase.

Any pool heating system you want to buy comes with recommendations on the pool size that it can work on effectively. Thus, you may be forced to buy two or more devices to ensure you get the desired water temperature in the swimming pools.

Finally, it would be ideal if you did not disregard the depth of ground swimming pools as it determines the total volume of water to heat. Try to find pool solar panels that have the necessary power to fit your pool size.

d) Temperature Rise

Every solar pool heating system has a manufacturer's estimation of the temperature rise it can deliver. Of course, you can buy a product that promises to warm the pool to the desired level. However, if you do not consider your pool's size and weather conditions, you will not be satisfied.

Do you intend to use the swimming pool for recreation, sporting or exercise purposes? If you have more in mind than cooling off during a hot summer's day, you should get a solar pool heater that can deliver reliable temperatures.

e) Build Quality

The longevity of a solar panel heating system is an essential aspect to consider. Typically, most of these products are made from the same materials. However, some boast of glass coating in their headers that ensure you will not be repairing or buying a new one anytime soon.

Take note of the manufacturer warranty, which often ranges from 2 to 10 years. In most cases, more expensive solar pool heaters will have longer warranties. Thus, it would be best if you made a comparison between the price and the warranty you'll get before buying.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Best Solar Pool Heaters

1. Is solar pool heating worth it?

The cost of heating swimming pools using electric or gas-powered heaters can be overwhelming for most people. Solar-powered pool heaters have remarkably low operating costs and can be lifesavers, especially if you live in warm climates.

2. What is the best solar pool heater?

The best solar pool heater is the SunHeater S120U. This product utilizes a patented web design for maximizing heat capture from the sun. Also, the affordable heater is compatible with many pool pumps and its easy installation process makes it an ideal choice.

3. How many solar panels does it take to power a pool heater?

Admittedly, it is quite costly to use solar panels to power a pool heater. Moreover, the expenses increase with the size of your pool.

Figuring out the number of panels involves checking the wattage of the pool heater and the solar panels' effectiveness. For example, a 1000-watt heater running for 8 hours will need 8000 KWh each day. Thus, you will need 8 100-watt panels to supply the necessary power. 

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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