8 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters – Reviewed by MyWaterPool

The fact that you’ve landed on this page means that you are either looking to replace your existing above ground pool heater or planning to get a new one altogether. Either way, picking the right heating solution for your pool could save you a lot of money, both in the short, and the long run. With this article, we are sure that you’ll find the best heater for your above ground pool in no time!

Let’s begin with a small story.

After a pleasantly cool night, You gather the energy to get out of the warm blanket and leave the bed.

You make yourself some coffee and while you’re sipping on it, you look out the window.

The weather looks especially pleasant. You immediately look at your pool and think to yourself, “Wow, wouldn’t it be fun to relax in the pool with the family”.

So, you walk over to the pool, and to get a feel of the temperature, you dip your finger into the water – Yikes!

It’s so cold that you wouldn’t dare dip another finger in it and the very thought of putting your entire self into the cold pool sends a chill down your spine!

And with that, you substitute the pool time with a hot shower in the bathroom instead.

As a person who showers with hot water throughout the year, the very thought of getting into a cold pool is daunting to me. And I like my pool just like my shower – nice and warm.

If you’re somewhat like me, hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll be able to find the right heater for your pool and enjoy your pool sessions for an extended season!

Comparison Table

ImageNameCategoryLink Type
Blue Wave Solar BlanketSolarAmazon
Fafco Solar Bear HeaterSolarAmazon
Sun2Solar Solar CoverSolarAmazon
SunQuest Solar Pool HeaterSolarAmazon
Intex Solar Heater MatSolarAmazon
Hayward W3H150FDPGasAmazon
Hayward W3HP21104TElectricAmazon
FibroPool FH055ElectricAmazon

Quick Recommendations

In a hurry? Here are my top picks from each category of heaters.

CategoryMy Pick
SolarFafco Solar Bear
Electric (Heat Pump)FibroPool FH055
GasHayward W3H150FDP

Best Heaters for Above Ground Pools

Blue Wave NS105 8-mil Solar Blanket

We are starting the list with the most affordable yet effective solution available for heating your above ground pool – A solar blanket by BlueWave.

This solar cover is made of insulating thermal cells also called bubbles. These cells help in retaining the warmth even after the sun is gone.

Thanks to the UV-Protected polymer design, this cover can withstand the harsh sun rays for years and is immune from the deterioration caused by the chemicals present in the pool.

Talking about its heating capability, This cover can increase the pool temperature by 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit in the span of a few days. What’s even better is that you don’t have to spend a dime in the heating process!

Pros

  • Works well
  • Cost Effective
  • Easy to install
  • Long lasting

Cons

  • Needs good sunlight to work.

Conclusion

If you live in a warm area that gets good sun and the temperature does not drop too drastically in the evening, this could be a nice pick.


Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System – Best Solar Option

Second, on the list is another solar heating solution offered by Fafco. But unlike the previous product, which is a cover, this is a solar heater.

It comes with a 4′ x 20′ Wide Solar Collector which must be placed in an open space with un-blocked sunlight.

With the help of a pump, the cold pool water flows through the collector, which is sitting in the sun, and thus gets heated.

At its best, this solar heater is capable of raising the water temperature by 5-7 degrees F each day.

What makes this solar heater unique is the presence of an On/Off switch on the heater’s body. If the weather is cloudy, you can turn the handle and switch the heater off.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • No utility expense
  • 10 Years Warranty

Cons

  • Might require extra parts during installation.

Conclusion

A great option for someone who requires a bit more heating compared to a solar cover without spending a lot. It’s a long-lasting solar heater that requires very low annual maintenance and comes with a long warranty.


Sun2Solar Blue/Clear Round/Rectangle Solar Cover

Similar to the BlueWave offering, this solar cover by Sun2Solar is a reasonably priced heating solution for your pool.

It is available in both rectangular and circular shapes with two color options.

What sets this cover apart is that it can be customized (cut with scissors) to fit your pool without voiding the warranty.

Pros

  • Zero operating cost
  • Decent heating

Cons

  • Not the highest of build quality.

Conclusion

This solar cover by Sun2Solar is a good alternative to the BlueWave Offering. It provided comparable results with the flexibility of trimming it your pool’s size.


SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

This is an easy-to-install solar heater capable of increasing your pool’s water temperature by up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unlike the previous solar heater mentioned in the list, the container of this heater is a flexible mat. This makes the installation of the heater easier in tight spaces.

This heater is compatible with most pumps provided the pump has around 1 1/2 HP.

Pros

  • Cost-effective solution.
  • Decent heating

Cons

  • Direct dependence on sunlight

Conclusion

This is a very capable solar heater that can easily heat the pool by 5-10 degrees. If you do buy it, I would suggest you pay a little extra and get the Add-on kit with it. It’ll save you a few trips to Lowes 😉


Intex Solar Heater Mat

A simple solar solution for your heating requirements from one of the most popular brands in the pool industry.

This solar mat connects in between your pool and the pump. The water goes through the hot mat absorbing the heat and ends up in your pool at the perfect temperature.

Depending on the size of your pool, you might need more than one of these mats to heat up the pool water. But don’t worry, these mats fall on the more affordable side of things and won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

Pros

  • Eco-friendly.
  • Cost-effective solution.

Cons

  • Dependence on sunlight
  • Minor leakage problem in some units.

Conclusion

A simple and affordable solution that is perfect for small to medium sized pools. Although some people have complained about leaking problems,  it doesn’t decrease the value of this product a whole lot, as those things can be fixed easily with some adhesive.


Hayward W3H150FDP – A Heating Beast!

Hayward H250FDN Universal H-Series

If you live in a colder region where the solar options recommended above will not suffice, this could be a viable solution for you!

The Hayward W3H150FDP has been the favorite choice amongst pool owners looking for a propane-powered pool heater.

Under ideal conditions, this heater is capable of raising the water temperature by over 2 degrees every hour! That is at least 2.5 to 4 times faster than the solar options!

This propane-powered heater doesn’t come cheap though. The cost is at least 3 times more than your average solar solution. Plus you’ll have to pay for the propane you burn using it.

Pros

  • High performance.
  • No dependence on external factors.
  • A great solution for colder regions.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Higher maintenance cost.

Conclusion

If the solar options are not adequate enough for your needs, this is a great alternate solution for you. The heating capacity and time are incomparable with the other options. Although a bit expensive, the build quality of this heater is really good and should easily last you a decade.


Hayward W3HP21104T Pool Heat Pump – Heating Moster!

Another fantastic solution for folks who need more punch as compared to a solar heater.

The Hayward W3HP21104T is a widely used electric heat pump in residential properties.

This electric heat pump for above ground pools provides excellent resistance against corrosion, caused by salt water, and chemicals while maintaining the idle water temperature. And it does all that with minimum noise!

This heater runs on electricity rather than propane which makes it more eco-friendly and energy-efficient.

It is more than capable to heat a medium to large-sized above ground pool and maintain that temperature.

However, all these features come at a price. A quite hefty one!

Pros

  • High performance.
  • Electic solution.
  • No dependence on external factors.
  • A great solution for colder regions.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Higher maintenance cost.

Conclusion

If you are in search of a high-performance heater, do not want the hassles of a gas-based heater, and don’t mind paying a good amount of money for it, then this is the heater for you.


FibroPool FH055 Pool Heat Pump – Bang for the buck!

The FibroPool FH055 is a comparatively more affordable heat pump that suits great for small to medium above ground pools.

There aren’t many bells and whistles on this heater but it does not mean that it’s a bad option.

It’s got a sleek and rugged design with convenient controls but most importantly, it gets the job done!

This is one of the quietest heat pumps available in the market.

Pros

  • Good performance.
  • No dependence on external factors.
  • More affordable.

Cons

  • Goes out of stock really soon.

Conclusion

A perfect solution for someone looking for a decent heat pump for which they won’t have to break the bank. It’s sleek and simple and does its job well.

H2 – Choosing the Best above ground pool heater – The Ultimate Buying Guide

With a range of options available from a dozen different brands, choosing the right heater for your above ground pool can be an exhausting task.

To make the selection process more challenging, there are quite a few different types of heating methods available.

But don’t worry! We’ve performed hours of research on your behalf to bring you this guide so you can choose the best kind of heater for your above ground pool with confidence.

Now, this might not be the most interesting topic out there, but it sure is an important one.

Let’s begin by laying down all the different kinds of heaters that are available on the market:

  • Solar heaters
  • Solar Covers
  • Electric heaters
  • Gas heaters
  • Wood heaters (For the sake of completeness)

Now, let’s take a brief look into each of the above-mentioned heater categories.

Solar Heaters

With millions of Americans switching to solar systems to heat the water used in their household, solar heaters have been growing in popularity over the years. After all, green energy is the future.

As the name suggests, solar pool heaters use the energy from the sun to heat the pool. Since solar energy is available free of cost, solar heaters are the most efficient heating solution available with the lowest (almost zero) annual operating cost!

Although cheaper in the long-run, you’ll have to spend more money upfront to buy a solar heater and the various components required to set it up (If you decide to go for a sturdy and glazed collector).

However, because you’re saving on the fuel/electricity charges, this heater provides a payback of between 2-6 years.

If you do not want to spend a lot on a high-end solar heater, you’d be pleased to know that there are a lot of budget-friendly options available too! Although these might not be as durable or efficient as the higher-end heaters, they do however offer great performance for the price.

If you live in a place that gets decent sunlight and don’t mind the high initial price, a solar heater is a perfect choice for you!

Price range (excluding installation): $1,000 – $5,000

Solar Covers

Evaporation of the pool water is the biggest source of energy (heat) loss in pools. The higher the rate of evaporation, the colder your pool becomes.

A solar cover — also called a solar blanket — is a plastic/vinyl sheet that is spread on top of the pool to minimizes the loss of heat due to evaporation.

Like solar heaters, solar covers are dependent on the sunlight to heat, or rather, preserve the heat of the pool. But compared to a solar heater, a solar cover is much more pocket-friendly and does not require any extra components.

These come in two variants:

Cheaper Plastic covers.

Slightly more expensive but very durable Vinyl cover.

I would always recommend choosing a vinyl cover instead of a plastic one as vinyl covers last much longer and there isn’t a lot of difference in their prices.

If you live in a place that gets good sunlight during the day and the temperature does not drop significantly in the evening, a solar cover might just be the best solution for you!

Price range (excluding installation): $150 – $800

Electric heaters

If you live in a place that does not get enough sun during the day and the evenings are especially cold, the solar option mentioned above would not be a good choice. In this case, you’ll have to rely on external sources of energy – Electricity or Gas.

An electric heater uses electricity to heat the water. Hence it can be used in any season or climate without any external dependency.

There are two types of electric heaters:

First is the tankless electric pool water heater

The second one is an electric pool heat pump.

A tankless water heater is much like the heater that you use in the bathroom. The heat is generated from a heating element present inside the heater.

These are less expensive initially but are not energy efficient and can cost 6-7 times more than a heat pump in operational cost.

A heat pump, on the other hand, collects the heat from the surrounding air – with the help of a compressor – and transfers it to the pool water.

Compared to tankless water heaters, heat pumps are much more environmentally friendly and efficient. They have low annual operating costs and can last you a decade!

The only shortcoming of a heat pump is that the surrounding air temperature should at least be 45 ºF for it to work efficiently. However, this does not mean that they do not work in colder temperatures!

They will work at any temperature, but the efficiency of the heat pump comes down with a decrease in the temperature.

Price range (excluding installation): $1,000 – $10,000

Gas heaters

Gas heaters are the most popular heating solution amongst pool owners as they are comparatively faster than the fastest than others and can work throughout the year.

These heaters run either on natural gas or liquid propane which are used in the combustion chamber to produce heat.

Gas heaters are notorious for their high annual operating costs and low energy efficiency. They also need to be refilled regularly with either natural gas or propane.

Why are these such a popular choice despite the above-mentioned drawbacks?

Gas heaters are a popular choice amongst those who live in a relatively warm place, do not use their pool frequently, and only require heating their pools for short periods. In this scenario, the low energy efficiency of this heater does not make much of an impact on the costs.

Price range (excluding installation): $900 – $5,500

The Best Above Ground Pool Heaters – Frequently Asked Questions

What type of heater should I buy for my above ground pool?


This is by far the most common question that I get asked when it comes to pool heaters. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer to this question just like there’s no one size fits all.

There are a bunch of factors that work together to decide the best heating solution for your needs.
The most important of which is your geographical location.

Do you live in a place that gets decent sunlight (which reaches your pool) and remains quite warm during the summers?

If so, then you probably wouldn’t require heating the pool water a lot and could just get a solar cover for your pool and see if it meets your requirements. This would be the most cost-effective solution in your case.

If you live somewhere cold but get decent sunlight during the day, then you could get your self a solar heater along with a solar cover. This would be the most cost-effective and energy-efficient solution. You can use the solar heater during the daytime to heat the water and then cover the pool with a solar cover to retain the water heat for later use.

If you live in a place that remains cold and does not get enough sunlight during the day, then the solar options might not be enough for your needs.

In such cases, you have two options: a heat pump or a gas heater.

If you don’t use the pool very frequently and have a gas line at home (or access to propane gas), then a gas heater would be a good choice. It’ll heat the pool quickly and won’t cost you a lot.

If you do use the pool quite often, then a heat pump might be the best choice for you. It may be a bit heavy on the pocket in the short-term, but it is a very good long-term solution with low operation and maintenance costs.

I would also suggest getting a solar cover along with the heater to retain the water temperature for a longer period and thus reduce your heating costs

How much does an above ground pool heater cost?

As I mentioned previously, the cost of the heater will depend on the type of heater that you plan to get. But below is a rough estimate of the prices of various heaters:

Note: These prices do not include the installation charges.

CategoryPrice Range
Solar Covers$100 – $1000
Solar heaters$1,000 – $5,000
Electric heat pumps$1,500 – $10,000
Gas heaters$1,500 – $6,000

How does an above ground pool heater work?

The heating mechanism depends on the type of heater in question.

A solar heater works by converting the energy from the sun into heat.

A heat pump, with the help of a compressor, takes the heat from the surrounding air and transfers it into the water.

A gas heater has a combustion chamber present in it. This is where the gases are burned to produce heat which is then used to heat the water.

What size above ground pool heater do I need?

The size of your heater depends on the size and volume of your pool. The higher the size of your pool, the larger capacity heater you’ll require.

Take a look at the below table to get an estimate of the heater capacity with varying pool sizes.

BTUGallonsSquare Feet
100,000 – 200,0001,000 – 10,000300
200,000 – 300,00010,000 – 20,000500
300,000 – 400,00020,000 – 40,000800
400,000+40,000 – 80,0001200

Electric vs Gas heaters, what’s the difference?

If you’re short on budget and don’t use your pool often, then a gas heater might be a good option.

If a high upfront cost is not an issue, then I would recommend going with an electric heat pump. Electric heat pumps offer a great long term value, with tiny annual maintenance costs and high energy efficiency.

Are heaters safe for Intex pools?

Most heaters are safe and work well with Intex pools. However, some of these options might just be overkill given the comparatively smaller size of Intex pools.

My suggestion would be to get a solar cover for your Intex pool (if sunlight isn’t an issue) and see if it’s enough for your requirements. If it does not meet your requirements, then you can go a level up and get a small heating thermostat or a solar heater depending on your requirement.

Do solar heaters work well for above ground pools?

Yes, a solar heater can work brilliantly well, provided they get enough sunlight. These may not be the right choice for you if you do not get sufficient sun during the day.

Are above ground pool heaters worth it?

It depends on your personal preference. I’m one of those who almost always prefers having warm water in their pool. So for me, a pool heater was a no-brainer and absolutely worth it!

If you’re worried about the cost, I would suggest you test the waters (pun intended) with a solar cover. Not only do they help preserve the heat in the water, but they also conserve water and reduce the pool’s chemical consumption.

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