Find the Best Pool Heater – A Buyer’s Guide

Pool heaters allow you to get the most out of your backyard pool. The best pool heater will keep the water warm even on cool days or evenings when water temperatures drop to uncomfortable levels. They provide heat on demand and when you need it most. Before you purchase your new pool heater, you should first understand what types of heaters are available and how to choose the right one for your pool.

Types of Pool Heaters

There are several different types of pool heaters, and each one has their own set of pros and cons. Before you can select a heater, you first need to determine what type will work best for your pool and in your environment.

Electric Resistance Heaters

As you may have guessed, an electric resistance heater uses electrical currents to generate heat. These currents heat up a resister inside of the unit. Whenever water washes over the resister, it heats up the water, the resister cools back down, and the cycle begins again.

Because this type of heater uses large amounts of electricity, it’s generally used to heat up small therapy pools or portable spas. Electric resistance heaters are usually inexpensive to purchase with most models costing under $2,000. They are also an environmentally-friendly option as the heater doesn’t generate fumes. Although they’re inexpensive to purchase, these heaters are typically very expensive to operate and install.

Heat Pumps

A heat pump is similar to an electrical resistance pump. It uses electricity to transfer the heat to your swimming pool. There are two types of heat pumps: Air-source and water-source (geothermal). A water-source pump will transfer heat from the water, while an air-source pump will transfer heat from the air.

Heat pumps can be expensive to purchase, but they come with inexpensive operating costs. They’re energy efficient, environmentally-friendly and can last up to 20 years. The biggest downfall with this type of heater is that it heats the pool water slowly.

Gas Heaters

A gas heater uses either gas or propane to generate heat. The gas burns inside of a combustion chamber inside of the unit. When water passes through the unit, the copper coils inside are heated up along with the water. Gas heaters were the most widely used pool heaters at one time, but are on the decline thanks to the advent of solar heaters and heat pumps.

Gas heaters are inexpensive to purchase, but they can be expensive to operate. They are not energy efficient, not environmentally-friendly and most units last less than 10 years. On the bright side, a gas heater heats up the pool water quickly.

Solar Heaters

A solar heater will use solar energy to transfer the heat from the sun to the water in your pool. Solar panels collect heat from the sun, and the pool pump then pushes the water through the heater’s circulation system and the solar panels themselves. The water is heated as it passes through the solar panels.

Solar heaters are generally the most expensive type of pool heater to purchase, but they require no additional monthly costs. They’re energy efficient, environmentally-friendly and can last several decades.

Although there are several advantages to a solar heater, there are some things that need to be considered as well. On cloudy days, the heater may not be efficient enough to heat the water. Solar panels must also be installed either on top of your roof or on your lawn. If your home does not receive enough sunlight, the heater will not produce enough heat.

How to Choose the Right Heater for Your Pool

Choosing the right heater for your pool can be a challenge. For most people, their budget winds up being the deciding factor. However, you need to consider all of your options and weigh the pros and cons of each heater before making a purchase.

Aside from your budget, the most important things to consider are:

  • Your location and climate – If you live in an area that does not receive an abundance of sunshine, a solar heater may not be the best option for you. However, you can still install a backup auxiliary heater to ensure that your pool stays heated at all times.
  • Your pool type – If you have a large pool, an electric resistance heater may not be the best option. In this case, a heat pump or solar heater would probably be the most cost efficient and energy efficient option. A gas heater or an electric resistance heater will work best with a smaller pool or a portable spa.
  • Your usage – If you only use your pool during the summer, an electric heater is a great option. If you live in an off-grid location, a gas heater may be your only option.

Best Pool Heater Reviews

Swim Time NS6022 SolarPro

The Swim Time NS6022 SolarPro is a solar dome heater designed for above ground pools. The great thing about this heater is that it’s so easy to install. It doesn’t require a gas or electrical connection and comes with all of the connectors you need to install your heater quickly, including:

  • 2 Flexible hoses
  • A 60ft hose for optimal solar heat transfer
  • A protective cover
  • 2 clamps
  • Free bypass kit

The NS6022 SolarPro features a space saving design and works perfectly with SwimTime pools and other above ground pools.


The XtremepowerUS heater is a solar panel heating system designed for both above ground and inground swimming pools. The panels hook up to your pool’s filter and pump system to heat the water using natural solar energy.

With the XtremepowerUS, you receive:

  • 2 x 20’ solar collector – Each roll is 24 inches by 20 feet long
  • Hardware to connect the collector to your pump

The only additional hardware you will need to purchase is a hose to connect the outlet to the pool itself. The XtremepowerUS solar heating system is capable of raising water temperatures 11 to 15 degrees.

Hayward H150FDN

If you’re looking for a natural gas pool heater, the Hayward H150FDN is one of the best units on the market. Made in the USA, this heater uses a polymer header to make the unit more energy efficient and resistant to erosion. The Hayward H150FDN features a 150,000 BTU output and is designed for pools with a 540 surface area.

The unit features a forced draft system that moves air at a precise rate continuously through the combustion chamber. This unique system eliminates outside weather variables that would otherwise effect the efficiency of the heater. The Hayward H150FDN also features an LED control panel with digital temperature display and diagnostics to quickly identify any issues with the heater.

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