Winter has officially started, and if you have a pool at your property, it has probably been closed and winterized by now. Many people living in regions where winter extends for more than four months consider constructing a swimming pool a waste of money. And they are not completely wrong with this view. What’s the point of having a pool in your home if it is supposed to be closed for most of the year?
If you are also one of those pool owners who can’t use this valuable home amenity due to the weather, then a pool heater is nothing short of a godsend. By connecting your pool with its dedicated heater, you can keep it functional all year long except during peak winter. Besides extending the swimming season beyond the regular summertime, these heaters also allow you to use your pool at night.
The other benefit of having a pool heater is that you get to swim and dip in the warm water. We have all heard that swimming is a great aerobic exercise. Doing it in warm water increases its health benefits manifold. Swimming in warm water opens the skin pores, sheds the dead cells, and clears the sinuses. You get a quick reenergizing dose for your body by spending some time in a heated swimming pool.
In short, a pool heater will increase the functionality of your pool and also add value to your swimming experience. A high-quality pool heater is also worth your investment if you are running a spa. You can extend the opening hours of your establishment and extend the season by installing heaters with pools. However, buying the right type of pool for the first time is not easy. The market is brimming with so many options that can easily confuse any first-time buyer.
For your convenience, we have shortlisted and reviewed 7 of the best pool heaters available in the market right now. We are also going to share a buying guide with you so you can easily buy the right kind of heater for your pool, even outside of this list. It is important to mention here that these pool heater reviews are not presented in any order of preference. The numbering is used just for readers’ convenience.
Best Pool Heaters
Here's the list of the 7 best pool heaters of 2023, along with a comprehensive buying guide to help you choose the right heater for your pool and extend your swimming season beyond the regular summertime.
1. Intex Solar Heater Mat - Best for Eco-Friendly Heating
The second pool heater on our list is in complete contrast with the first one. The first one was heavy-duty pool water that uses plenty of natural gas to heat all sorts of in-ground pools. This one virtually uses no fuel and is designed particularly for small to medium-sized above-ground pools. Intex Solar Heater is literally a mat with tubing. It captures the sun's rays and uses its heat content to warm up the pool water a bit.
As per the manufacturer’s claim, this pool heater mat can gradually increase the temperature of the pool by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Intex has actually made this pool heater mat for all those consumer markets where winter is not that harsh and you just need a little bit of heat to make the pool water all pleasant and swimmable. For instance, if the pool water is currently at 65 degrees Fahrenheit and feels a bit nippy, you can use this Intex Solar Heater to raise the temperature above 70 to make it perfect for dipping.
The most impressive thing about this Intex unit is its eco-friendliness. You get to heat your pool while producing zero harmful emissions. On the other hand, it has some obvious limitations. It won’t be of any use on an overcast day. Similarly, it won’t help you in preparing your pool at night. Nonetheless, it is a worthy purchase, given its utility and extremely affordable price.
2. SmartPool S240U - Best for Versatile Solar Heating
This is another solar-powered pool heater on our list. This pool heater is designed by SmartPool and has better heating features than the previous one. This solar pool heater also has a mat construction but it is very well-thought-out. SmartPool’s Universal Sun Heater actually uses a propylene heat collector in the form of a 4x20-foot sheet to keep your pool’s temperature just right for the dip.
It features internal baffles that make sure the water passes through both sides of the panel to get the most out of the collected heat. SmartPool has also used a unique tube-on-web design to construct this solar mat. The design increases the surface area of every heating tube so that the panel can capture the maximum amount of sun rays.
Similarly, individual fed collector tubes are used to ensure efficient water flow in all conditions. The threaded header is used so you can fix it with both above-ground and in-ground pools. The manufacturer has also used wind vents in the mat to preserve its structural integrity in strong winds.
If you are looking for an effective solar heater for your small to medium-sized pool, then this SmartPool unit is surely worth considering.
3. EcoSmart SMART POOL 18 - Best for Precise Temperature Control
Finally, an electric pool heater has also made an entry to our list. This EcoSmart product merits a position among the best pool heaters available in the market right now. Pool owners usually refrain from getting electric heaters for their pools because of their delicate construction and high overhead costs.
EcoSmart has made sure that users don’t face these issues with its Smart Pool Heater by using the flow sensor instead of traditional switch activation. The flow sensor technology makes sure that the heater can continue to supply warm water without burning out the heating element. This not just cuts down your utility costs, but also increases the reliability and durability of the unit.
EcoSmart Pool Heater has a tankless construction, thus making its footprint smaller and easier to install. The side panel of the heater features an intuitive digital display where you can set the thermostat for even a single-degree rise and fall in temperature. You can also control it through a remote.
This electric pool heater with the latest flow sensor technology can be a great addition in place of regular heat pumps and boosters.
The Hayward W3H250FDN Universal H-Series Pool Heater is an excellent choice for those who prioritize efficiency and durability. This heater comes in a range of sizes, offering output from 150,000 to 400,000 BTUs per hour. It runs on natural gas, making it eco-friendly while meeting clean air-quality standards.
- BEST FOR: In-ground pools and spas with a surface area up to...
- PREMIUM PERFORMANCE: The Hayward Universal H-Series 200,000...
One standout feature of this pool heater is its compatibility with saltwater pool systems, thanks to its cupronickel heat exchanger, which prevents corrosion. The digital LED control panel conveniently allows you to control the temperature, and the easy front-panel access makes maintenance a breeze for service professionals.
The SmartPool S601 Pool Solar Heaters are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly pool heating solution. Each pack includes two 20-feet long and four-foot-wide polypropylene panels, covering a total of 80 square feet. The water passes through these panels and absorbs the sun's warmth as it flows through the channels, potentially raising the pool's temperature up to 10 degrees.
- Keep your pool warm with a polypropylene heat collector....
- Solar heater features 80 square feet of solar panels
However, this heating method is dependent on sunny days and ample installation space, as the panels can require significant room for mounting on the roof or ground.
The versatile Hayward W3HP21004T Pool Heat Pump is a reliable option for pool owners who favor electric pool heaters. With a choice of either 90,000 or 140,000 BTUs per hour, this heat pump can serve both new and existing pool systems without requiring a natural gas line.
- BEST FOR: In-ground pools that are used regularly and...
- ECONOMICAL HEATING: Using the surrounding air to heat the...
The digital LED control panel ensures easy temperature control, while the corrosion-resistant material guarantees longevity. Plus, its quiet operation, achieved through its acoustic compressor cover, is a welcome touch of convenience.
The compact EcoSmart Electric Tankless Pool Heater offers a space-saving alternative to traditional pool heaters. It can increase pool temperatures by 1 to 1.5 degrees per hour, with a digital thermostat enabling temperature control to one-degree increments.
- Flow Activation
- Eco smart Pool Heaters are compact and easy to install for a...
Using flow activation technology, this heater eliminates the need for traditional pressure switches, resulting in improved reliability and a reduced risk of burnt-out switches. The brand's remote control (sold separately) allows you to heat the pool from a distance, and the heater can even function as a booster pump replacement.
Best Pool Heaters Comparison Table
|Suitable Pool Size
|Intex Solar Heater Mat
|47.25 x 47.25 x 0.5 Inches
|Small to Medium
|240 x 27.5 x 16 Inches
|Small to Medium
|EcoSmart SMART POOL 18
|16.6 x 11.1 x 5.5 Inches
|Small to Medium
|Hayward W3H250FDN Universal H-Series Pool Heater
|33.3 x 32.8 x 30.6 Inches
|SmartPool S601 Pool Solar Heaters
|240 x 54 x 2 Inches
|Small to Medium
|Hayward W3HP21004T Pool Heat Pump
|40 x 31 x 43 Inches
|Medium to Large
|EcoSmart Smart Pool 27 Electric Tankless Pool Heater
|6 x 14 x 17 Inches
|Medium to Large
Buying Guide For The Best Pool Heater
The above list has enough options for pool heaters for you to decide. Nonetheless, you must be aware of the things to consider if you are buying from an online or brick-and-mortar market and evaluating a pool heater on your own. Here are some features that you need to assess in terms of making the best pool heater purchase.
The Size/Capacity of the Pool
Before anything else, you must know the dimensions of your pool. For buying a pool heater with the required heating output, you must know either the surface area of your pool or its volume (in gallons). We would strongly advise against buying a pool heater on a “rough estimation.”
By practicing such recklessness, you may spend extra on buying a pool heater that has greater heating output than what your pool needs. Besides bearing the brunt of high upfront costs, you will also have to pay hiked-up bills every month because you will be using a powerful pool heater on a small pool. For instance, getting a pool heater with the BTU rating of 400K and above for a pool that has a maximum capacity of 15,000 gallons is not a wise decision. You will only end up hurting your monthly expenses.
The BTU rating of any heater is proportional to the size/capacity of the pool. For instance, heaters with 400K of BTU are considered suitable for pools having a capacity of more than 20,000 gallons. You can use the same proportion to match the size/power of any heater unit with your pool.
The Heating Time
It is another important feature that many people miss when purchasing a heater for their private and commercial pools. You must have the needed heating time in your head while sifting through heater options. Different type of heaters entails different heating times. For instance, a solar heater can take days to raise a temperature whereas an electric heater can do within a couple of hours.
Similarly, heat pumps and pool heaters operating on natural gas and propane have different provided different heating times. If you are operating a spa pool that needs to be readied day to day, then a heavy-duty gas-powered or electric heater should be your pick.
On the other hand, you should opt for heat pumps and solar heaters if there is no urgency, and you can wait. While choosing a heater based on its heating time, also factors in the overhead cost that you will require to run it. By doing this calculation in advance, you won’t regret your buying decision later.
The Climate of Your Region
It is another factor that you need to think about before finalizing a pool heater. To begin with, you should stop looking for solar heaters if your region experiences a harsh winter season that also spills over the fall and spring. Solar pool heaters only come in useful in regions that have a warmer climate in general. For instance, a solar water heater is good for areas that don’t experience snowfall even during the peak winter season. Similarly, it is important that the sun continues to shine during winter, and fog and overcast conditions don’t dampen the sun's rays.
Otherwise, you should stick to regular pool heaters operating on gas. Or go for electric heaters if the recurrent cost of using gas is higher than using electricity in your region. Heat pumps are also effective in regions where winters are moderate.
The Environment-Friendliness of the Heater
Buyers are getting more conscious of their choices in terms of environment-friendliness. Global warming and accompanying awareness have persuaded many people to invest in eco-friendly products only. If you are also one of those people who want to contribute their share in improving the ecological profile of the planet, then only consider eco-friendly, DOE-approved products.
Solar heaters are the most eco-friendly among all types of pool heaters. They entail zero emissions. Moreover, you don’t have to worry about their overhead expenses because they involve none. However, you also need to factor in the limitation of solar heaters that we have discussed earlier.
Electric heaters follow the solar units with their eco-friendliness. But you need to factor in their overhead costs because a heavy-duty electric heater can cost you a lot in monthly utility bills. Heat pumps also operate on electricity, so their carbon footprint is more or less the same as electric pool heaters.
Gas pool heaters are the most economical option for heating large pools, but they come with a downside, i.e., a large amount of greenhouse emissions. The good news is natural gas and propane water heater manufacturers are working towards making their products more eco-friendly.
Different types of pool heaters suit better for different pool constructions. For instance, solar pool heaters are generally considered good for small and medium-sized above-ground pools. On the other hand, electric pool heaters are considered suitable for indoor pools. For large in-ground outdoor pools, gas-powered heaters are deemed most feasible. So, also factor in this detail before making the final call about the pool heater you want to buy.
There are three main types of pool heaters: electric resistance heaters, heat pumps, and gas heaters. Electric resistance heaters generate heat using electrical currents, heat pumps extract heat from the air, and gas heaters burn fuel to produce heat. The size of the pool heater depends on factors such as the volume of water in the pool, desired temperature increase, and the heater’s BTU (British Thermal Units) output capacity. It is recommended to consult a professional or use online calculators to determine the suitable heater size for your pool. Pool heaters’ energy efficiency varies depending on the type and model. Heat pumps tend to be more energy-efficient compared to electric resistance and gas heaters, as they extract heat from the air rather than generate it. Look for heaters with high Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) or coefficients of performance (COP) for better efficiency. The heating time depends on several factors, including the heater’s output capacity, the starting temperature of the water, desired temperature increase, and the pool’s size. Generally, it can take several hours to a day or more to heat a pool. Some pool heaters can also be used for hot tubs or spas. However, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications and ensure the heater is suitable for the specific application before use. The installation complexity varies based on the type of pool heater and local regulations. Some homeowners with technical expertise may be able to install electric resistance heaters or heat pumps themselves. However, gas heaters typically require professional installation due to gas line connections and safety considerations.
Pool Heaters FAQ's
There are three main types of pool heaters: electric resistance heaters, heat pumps, and gas heaters. Electric resistance heaters generate heat using electrical currents, heat pumps extract heat from the air, and gas heaters burn fuel to produce heat.
The size of the pool heater depends on factors such as the volume of water in the pool, desired temperature increase, and the heater’s BTU (British Thermal Units) output capacity. It is recommended to consult a professional or use online calculators to determine the suitable heater size for your pool.
Pool heaters’ energy efficiency varies depending on the type and model. Heat pumps tend to be more energy-efficient compared to electric resistance and gas heaters, as they extract heat from the air rather than generate it. Look for heaters with high Energy Efficiency Ratings (EER) or coefficients of performance (COP) for better efficiency.
The heating time depends on several factors, including the heater’s output capacity, the starting temperature of the water, desired temperature increase, and the pool’s size. Generally, it can take several hours to a day or more to heat a pool.
Some pool heaters can also be used for hot tubs or spas. However, it’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications and ensure the heater is suitable for the specific application before use.
The installation complexity varies based on the type of pool heater and local regulations. Some homeowners with technical expertise may be able to install electric resistance heaters or heat pumps themselves. However, gas heaters typically require professional installation due to gas line connections and safety considerations.
Thank you for reading our comprehensive guide on the best pool heaters! We appreciate your time and hope you found the information helpful for your next pool heater purchase. With a wide range of products available in the market, choosing the perfect pool heater can be an overwhelming task. However, rest assured, our top recommendations provided in this article will make your decision-making process a whole lot easier.
Out of these 7 best pool heaters, here are our top three recommendations:
- Best for eco-friendliness: The Intex Solar Heater Mat is an ideal option as it uses solar power to heat your pool without producing any harmful emissions. It also has an extremely affordable price which makes it a valuable investment.
- Best for solar heating with added features: The SmartPool S240U is a good option if you're looking for an effective solar heater with enhanced features and compatibility. It provides excellent heat collection and can be used with both above-ground and in-ground pools.
- Best for precise temperature control: The EcoSmart SMART POOL 18 is the right choice as it uses innovative flow sensor technology, allowing you to have precise control over pool temperature without worrying about high overhead costs or delicate construction.
Whatever your needs are, these top pool heaters will undoubtedly cater to your requirements and provide you with an enjoyable swimming experience. Now, armed with the right information, you are better prepared to make an informed decision and invest in the appropriate product for your pool.
Remember, the best pool heater for you is the one that meets your specific requirements, budget, and preferences. Regardless of your choice, investing in one of these top pool heaters will elevate your swimming experience, allowing you to enjoy your pool all year round. May your pool time be comfortable and relaxing, and may you create countless memories with friends and family. Happy swimming!