6 Best Pool Heaters — Prolong Your Swimming Season!

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Last updatedLast updated: May 18, 2021
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A pool is a great place to hang out in the summer, keeping you cool while giving you the exercise your body needs to stay healthy, plus they are a lot of fun. Unfortunately, the summer isn’t very long, so your pool can be too cold to swim in for most of the year. The best pool heater can help. These units warm up the water, allowing you to extend your pool season and can even keep it from cooling off too much on those chilly summer nights.

For this article, we’ve reviewed the top six pool heaters on the market. Our favorite is the FibroPool FH055. This electric heater works for in-ground and above-ground pools, has a durable housing, a titanium heat exchanger, 1.5-inch compression fittings, is easy to install, and heats the water quickly. We’ve also included solar, natural gas, and propane heaters, for in-ground or above-ground pools, so you can easily find the one you need.

When choosing a new pool heater, there are a few features to consider. The type is one since different heater types require different setups. The type and size of the pool it’s recommended for is another to be sure it heats the water efficiently. The warranty is also important since this will tell you what is covered and for how long if there is an issue with the unit. To help you pick the best pool heater for your home, we’ve created a comparison table with in-depth reviews for our chosen products. We also added a buying guide at the end to cover all the features these models include.

Top 6 Pool Heaters Review 2021

1.

Hayward W3H250FDPEditor’s Choice

Features
  • Type: propane
  • Recommended pool type: in-ground pools (up to 740 ft.)
  • Dimensions: 33 x 33 x 31 inches
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: 200,000 BTU; intuitive front control panel, corrosion protection

Hayward W3H250FDP is equipped with a State-of-the-art Finn Plate Heat Exchanger made of Cupro Nickel. This material is known for its durability which makes it resistant to corrosion from high flow rate, harsh chemistry conditions such as chlorine and salt-based environments like saltwater pools.

The header is designed with patented polymer to provide excellent hydraulic performance. This serves to protect the pool heater from the effects of erosion from a high flow rate. It also increases efficiency to save energy.

Another useful feature is the forced draft combustion system which maintains a precise rate as it moves air through the combustion chamber. This enables the unit to consistently heat water by limiting weather variables such as high wind that could affect its performance.

Hayward W3H250FDP is ideal for spas and in-ground pools with a maximum surface area of 750 feet where there is natural gas or areas where low NOx emission is required.

It comes with an intuitive LED control panel at the front of the unit that displays the digital temperature readout, the electronic ‘lock-out’ of temperature set-point, and diagnostics for service and maintenance. The screen is easy to read and it helps you to get your pool to your desired temperature.

The heater has a rating of 200,000 BTU.  It uses about 2.2 gallons of LP per hour of heating.

Why did it make our list?

  • Digital display
  • Low NOx emissions
  • Optimized for all weather conditions
  • Resists corrosion

What is not ideal about it?

  • Customer support could be more responsive
2.

VINGLI Solar Pool HeaterBest Solar Pool Heater

Features
  • Type: solar
  • Recommended pool type: above-ground pools
  • Dimensions: not specified
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: compact design, two foldable legs

If you are looking for an affordable pool heater that is also eco-friendly, then we recommend VINGLI Solar Pool Heater. It heats up water quickly and keeps it warm for a longer time if you use at least three of the heaters at the same time.

It features a rotatable high quality hose connector that prevents leakage. Installing the heater is easy and the hose mounts are user-friendly. Remember to turn the connector anticlockwise before you connect the hose.

This model has a small footprint that is convenient for storage, and two foldable legs at the base of the unit to position the heater’s coil in proper alignment with the sun to maximize efficiency. You can also optimize performance by removing the cover so the unit heats the water quickly.

This cover is designed as a dome that is placed over the coil to protect debris from getting into the base. It is secured to the base with a lockable tab and slot.

The heating process involves water from the swimming pool filter being pumped through the pipeline into the heater, and then the sun radiating it.

The solar heater comes with warranty of one year as well as an attractive 100% money back guarantee that allows you to test the product before committing yourself.

You will have to get a longer hose of approximately 20 feet if you are using three heaters at once. You might also have to add a rubber seal on the connection to prevent leakage.

What makes it stand out?

  • Eco-friendly
  • Compact size
  • Protective cover
  • 100% money back guarantee
  • Budget-friendly

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • May need minor tweaking
Features
  • Type: natural gas
  • Recommended pool type: above-ground, smaller in-ground
  • Dimensions: 27.5 x 12 x 24 inches
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: gas connection is 1/2″ NPT; equipped with a 120V power cord (can be converted to 220V)

The best above-ground pool heater doesn’t need to be a huge machine to extend your swimming season. The Raypak Swimming Pool and Spa Heater is the smallest one made by this company but is still a powerful model that can heat the water in your pool in no time.

The Raypak unit is a natural gas pool heater, with a soft opening gas valve that makes it easy to light the pilot. It also includes a spark-to-pilot ignition system and a self-adjustable burner tray that is easy to access if any servicing is needed. Together, these parts give you fast, reliable heat throughout the season.

This unit also features a thick-walled copper heat exchanger and polymer headers, all of which resist corrosion. Built into the unit is a by-pass valve that balances the flow of the water. It adjusts itself to suit the size of the pump and the flow rate, making it useful for a variety of pumps with no manual adjustments needed.

The Raypak heater comes is equipped with a standard 3-prong power cord for use with a 120V outlet. Of course, if a 220V outlet is closer, you can easily convert this unit. There are simple controls, including an on/off switch and an analog dial for setting the pool heater to warm the water to your preferred temperature. There are also 2-inch flange water connections for easy installation.

Why is it special?

  • Simple controls
  • Compact size
  • Standard power cord
  • Easy installation

What are the flaws?

  • Minimal customer support
Features
  • Type: solar
  • Recommended pool type: above-ground, up to 8,000 gal.
  • Dimensions: 47.25 x 47.25 inches
  • Warranty: 30-day limited

More features: comes with ¼-inch hose attachment points, adaptors for 1 ½-inch hose connection

The Flagman Shop Solar Mat Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater is a solar pool heater, using the heat of the sun to warm your pool. This vinyl mat is an eco-friendly option that those who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint will love.

To use this solar mat, lay it flat on the ground next to your pool near the pump and filter system. Use one of the attachments to connect the included hose to the pump. The hose is a bit short, so for high pumps or shady areas, a longer one may be needed. Attach the pump’s water return hose to the other end of the mat.

The pump pulls water into itself to filter it out but instead of sending it directly back into the pool, the short hose connection sends it into the solar mat instead. The mat then uses the sun’s heat to warm up the water. The return hose sends the warm water back into the pool.

This mat is easy to use and set up. The Flagman Shop Solar Mat is compatible with any above ground pool with a capacity of 8,000 gallons or less. It also works with a variety of pumps with a flow rate of up to 2500 GPH. When used correctly, this solar mat can raise the water temperature by about 5 to 9 degrees, depending on the weather and outside temperature.

What makes it stand out?

  • Eco-friendly
  • Easy to use
  • Great low price
  • Hose adapters included

Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?

  • Short pump connection hose
5.

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool HeaterBest Solar Pool Heater

Features
  • Type: solar
  • Recommended pool type: above-ground
  • Dimensions: 22.5 x 22.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Warranty: not specified

More features: foldable stands; connects to 1.5-inch hoses

If you’re looking for the best solar heater for an above-ground pool, this model is a good place to start. The Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater uses the sun’s energy to heat the water in your pool by a few extra degrees, making it more bearable and enjoyable to swim in during the cooler months. This handy unit also needs no electricity or fuel to power it, making it cheaper to use, plus has a decent price tag to save you even more money.

The Golus Solar Dome is a compact size, taking up very little of your precious yard space to warm up your pool. It has two adjustable legs on the bottom, which can be used to alter the angle of the dome to give you the best position for catching the maximum amount of light from the sun. These legs are also foldable, which makes it easy to store the dome away when you’re not using it. A protective cover keeps the dome safe from dust and debris.

There are two hoses included with this unit. One hose connects to your pump and filter system, pulling the water into the Solar Dome and warming it up with the coils. Then the warm water is sent back into your pool, making it a more comfortable temperature. This unit also connects to any 1.25-inch hose, so you can swap them out as needed.

Why is it special?

  • Compact size
  • Lightweight
  • No leaks
  • Easy installation

What are the flaws?

  • Only works in full sun
6.

Hayward W3H150FDNBest Natural Gas Heater

Features
  • Type: natural gas
  • Recommended pool type: in-ground
  • Dimensions: 31.3 x 30.8 x 28.6 inches
  • Warranty: 1-year limited

More features: LED digital control panel

This natural gas model from Hayward is one of the best in-ground pool heater models there is for a few reasons. This unit is durable, with high-quality parts, and is part of their Universal Series, which has a wide variety of BTU options to choose from to fit the size of your pool.

The heat exchanger is made of Cupro Nickel, which is extremely durable, so it resists corrosion from chemicals like chlorine or even salt in a saltwater pool. There is a patented polymer header that has been designed to give you the best hydraulic performance possible. Not only does this save energy, and some money, it also protects against erosion damage from the high flow rate.

The Hayward W3H150FDN features a forced draft combustion system as well. This system maintains a precise airflow rate at all times, even if the weather outside isn`t optimal for this process. Even high winds won`t affect the airflow rate, allowing the unit to consistently heat your pool’s water.

Another great feature this unit has to offer is the low NOx emissions, which ensures that you`re not harming the environment to enjoy your heated pool. It even meets the standards set for air quality in all low-NOx areas, so you can use it almost anywhere.

There is an LED digital control panel on the front of the unit, which allows you to change the temperature, lock it in, and check any diagnostics whenever needed.

What are our favorite features?

  • Low NOx emissions
  • Durable
  • LED control panel
  • Resists corrosion

What could be better?

  • A bit noisy
  • Expensive

Things to Consider

The best pool heater can keep the temperature of the water at a comfortable level. Though it may not seem like a priority during those extra-hot days, on the cooler ones you’ll be wishing you had that heater to make your time in the pool more enjoyable. There are several different types of pool heaters on the market, usable for in-ground or above-ground pools, so you should have no trouble finding the right unit for the pool you have or plan on getting.

Advantages of having a pool heater

There are several advantages to having a pool heater for your home pool. Depending on the area you live in, your swimming season could be quite short, giving you only the hot summer months to really enjoy your pool. Even those in the sunny climates have cool nights to deal with, lowering the temperature of the water they’re swimming in to an almost unbearable level.

A pool heater can help keep the water at a comfortable level, so those cool nights don’t make it unusable. Those living in areas that have cool or cold springs, falls, and winters can also extend their swimming season, doubling or even tripling the time they can swim. They can go from a 3-month summer to 8-10 months of pool use, depending on where they live.

Another advantage of a pool heater is that it can be used for a few different things. They are good for in-ground and above-ground pools, so you can get the right one for the pool you have. Some models can handle any size of pool, so you can heat the water in even a larger pool whenever needed. You can also use these units for hot tubs or spas, making them even more versatile.

Pool heaters come in a variety of types as well, including solar, electric, and gas pool heaters. You can choose the best one to suit your home and yard. Most of these models are also energy-efficient, so it won’t cost you too much to keep your pool water at the perfect temperature.

Features to consider when choosing a pool heater

When choosing the best pool heater, there are a few features you may want to look for. This will ensure that you’re getting the right unit for your pool and location.

Type

There are a few main types of pool heaters to choose from, each with its own benefits. The first is a solar heater for a pool. These can be dome-shaped models, like the Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater, or a solar mat model, like the Flagman Shop Solar Mat Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater.

Both of these types use the heat of the sun to warm up the water passing through the heater. These units are the most environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient ones there are since they do not need to be plugged in and don’t use any type of fuel to power them. They are also quite cheap when compared to the other types of pool heaters out there. The downside for these units is that they take longer to heat the water than other pool heaters. They also need full sun to be most effective, so they don’t work well on cold or cloudy days.

6 Best Pool Heaters — Prolong Your Swimming Season!The FibroPool FH055 is an electric pool heater. These heater types are easy to install, plugging into the nearest outlet. They are also reliable, heat your pool water quickly, and don’t take up a lot of space in your yard. An electric heater can even be used in all types of weather, so you can swim on a cool, cloudy day without freezing in cold water. The only issue with these types of heaters is that the longer you run them, the higher your energy bill is going to be, and the more you’ll be paying to swim in warm water.

Gas pool heaters can be used with either natural gas or propane, sometimes working with both with minimal conversion methods needed. These units are the most common type of pool heater since they are efficient in any climate, plus they are not restricted to a minimum outdoor temperature, so you can use them all year long. They heat the pool water faster than any other type of heater, which makes them a great choice for pools, spas, or hot tubs that aren’t used regularly.

Gas heaters are also energy-efficient, reliable, and fairly inexpensive, plus are environmentally-friendly. It’s best to get them professionally installed since you need to hook them up to a gas line. They also vary in cost to run, depending on the price of natural gas or propane and how often you run the unit.

Which pool types it’s recommended for

The type of pool these units are recommended for depends on the type of heater. Solar heaters take a while to heat the water and depend on the amount of sun that is actually hitting the heater, so they are best for smaller pools that don’t have too much water to heat up. They also work best on warmer days, maintaining the water’s temperature, so the less water there is running through the unit, the better it will work.

Electric heaters are also best for smaller pools. This isn’t because these units can’t handle the larger amounts of water, though. These heaters run on electricity, so they need to be plugged in and running on your home’s electrical system. Larger pools will need the unit to run longer to heat the water. You might also want to consider the pool heat pump for that reason. The longer the unit runs, the higher your utility bill is going to be. To save money, while still keeping your pool at a comfortable temperature, it is best to use these models for smaller pools, spas, or hot tubs. Warmer climates are also best for these units since they won’t require pool heating as often. Even if you decide to use it for a larger pool, make sure to get a proper cover for that to trap more heat. Also, don’t forget about the pool cover reel to make things easier.

6 Best Pool Heaters — Prolong Your Swimming Season!Since gas heaters, such as the Pentair PacFab MasterTemp Propane Gas Heater, heat the water fast, plus are energy-efficient and relatively inexpensive to run, they can handle the larger pools or those that aren’t used too often.

As for the pool type, an above-ground pool needs a more powerful heater than an in-ground one, even if holds the same amount of water. This is because above-ground pools lose heat much faster through the top and the sides of the pool. In-ground pools also lose heat from the top but the sides don’t lose as much since they are insulated by the ground. So, be sure to check out the recommended pool size for the type of pool you have to be sure you’re getting the right amount of heat.

Dimensions and weight

The dimensions of the heating unit you choose are important since these heaters will be sitting outside near your pool. The larger they are, the more space they’ll take up, leaving less room to move around your pool. They will sit near the pump and filter system you already have installed for your pool, making that area a bit more cluttered, so be sure to place it as out of the way as possible. This way it won’t disrupt the use of your yard too much.

The weight of the unit will be an issue when you first install the heater since you’ll need to carry it to wherever you want to place it. The solar ones are quite light but the electric and gas models can weigh quite a few pounds, so choose where you want it before you pick it up.

Warranty

The warranty on these models can vary from a few months to several years. The longer the warranty and the more it covers, the better protection you have if it should fail during your pool season. Another thing to consider is that some units, mainly the gas heaters, require professional installation for the warranty to be valid. If you choose to do it yourself, this could void the warranty. Then you’ll have to pay for repairs or replacement out of your own pocket, so check out the warranty before you start installing the unit.

Other features

There are a few other features to consider with the best pool heater. How easy it is to install is one. The faster it is to hook up, the sooner you can have it heating your pool and the sooner you can swim. What’s included is also something to look for. Some units come with all the connectors and hoses needed, while others need these items purchased separately.

If there is a control panel, it should be clear and easy to use. Any certifications for energy-efficiency or safety also give you some peace of mind when using your pool heater.

FAQ

This depends on when you’re using the heater. In the summer, you likely won’t need the heater running during the day because the temperature outside will keep it warm. At night, it could become cooler, so you may want to turn the heater on before you go to bed to ensure the pool is warm in the morning. During the spring and fall, when the days and nights are both cool, you may need to keep the heater running at all times to maintain the warmer water temperature.

There is no set minimal outdoor temperature for a heater to be effective. Solar heaters work best on warm sunny days, so they aren’t great when the temperature cools down. The cold could affect how the electrical models work, so it’s best not to use these ones when it gets too cold. Gas models have no minimum temperature, so you can use them year-round, as long as they are protected with a bit of insulation.

Whether you need professional help for installing the propane and natural gas models depends on a few factors. If you have experience in this area and know how to install them properly, then you can probably do so on your own. The downside to this is that many of the warranties that come with these units are voided if they are not installed by a professional, so it may be best to look into this as well before you start hooking up the unit on your own.

Our Verdict

The best pool heater can keep your pool water warm and comfortable, even if it’s cold outside. There are several great models on the market but we have a few favorites.

Our top choice is the FibroPool FH055. This electric heater is energy-efficient, easy to install, and heats fast. It features a titanium heat exchanger, high-pressure differential compressor, quick-disconnect piping, 1.5-inch fittings, and a digital display.

The Pentair PacFab MasterTemp Propane Gas Heater is for in-ground pools up to 15,000 gallons. It has a durable housing, a digital display, indicator lights, low NOx certification, and a few safety features.

The Raypak Swimming Pool and Spa Heater is for both in-ground and above-ground pools, plus it is compact and comes with a 120V power cord that can convert to 220V if needed. It also features polymer headers, a copper heat exchanger, a self-adjusting burner tray, and a spark-to-pilot ignition system.

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