Best Solar Pool Heater: An Affordable & Eco-Friendly Solution

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There’s nothing fun about jumping into a cold pool. Heating can be costly on energy (not to mention wasteful). And solar heaters are expensive and run up the utility bill too. So why not get a solar heater for your pool? It’s the Eco-friendly, easy way to make your pool warmer using the natural energy of the sun’s rays. We’ll share how they work and recommend our top picks in our Best Solar Pool Heater review.

Article Overview

How Does A Solar Pool Heater Work?

How Does A Solar Pool Heater Work?

Overall, solar pool heaters work the same. Most have the following four parts:

  • Solar Collector – pool water is circulated through the solar collector and is heated by the sun
  • Filter – removes debris from the water before it is pumped through the solar collector
  • Pump – moves water through the filter and collector and returns it back to the pool
  • Flow Control Valve – either an automatic or a manual device that diverts water from the pool through the solar collector

To put it all together, pool water is pumped into the filter where debris is removed. The water then travels through the solar collector and is heated and then returned to the pool, thus increasing the pool’s temperature.

The flow control valve turns off if the temperature of the solar collector is similar to the pool temperature — filtered water bypasses the solar collector and is returned to the pool immediately.

Learn More About How Solar Panels Work

Pros Of Using A Solar Pool Heater

  • Eco-friendly since they use solar and not electricity.
  • Less expensive than using a pool heater since solar pool heaters are generally less expensive and they don’t cost anything to run.
  • Extends the months you can use the pool because it warms the pool up sooner and keeps it warmer for longer.
  • Reduces lost chemicals and evaporation – pool covers like our top pick have this added benefit.

Best Solar Pool Heaters

Before we get into the winners, we should note that how many solar heaters you need for your pool will vary by the solar pool panel you select and the size of your pool. It’s important to order the appropriate number of kits to make sure your pool is heated within a reasonable amount of time. The larger your pool, the more solar pool heaters it will need.

Sun2Solar Solar Cover

Sun2Solar Blue 18-Foot-by-40-Foot Rectangle Solar CoverView on Amazon

This solar pool blanket is our #1 pick for best solar pool heaters because customers rave about the increased temperature by absorbing up to 85% of the solar energy striking the pool’s surface. It’s blue (or clear) and comes in several sizes, which you can then trim to fit your pool’s size and unique shape.

In addition to trapping in heat, it prevents evaporation by protecting up to 95% of the water. In addition, having a full cover helps keep dirt, small debris and leaves from falling in while you are not swimming. Make sure you put the bubble side down!



  • Does a great job increasing the pool’s temperature
  • Easy to remove and store during the winter
  • Have a fun look to the panels
  • Can be used for above or in-ground pools
  • Inexpensive
  • Wind sometimes moves them to one side of the pool or flips them out of the pool
  • Recommend removing while swimming
  • Can require cutting to fit the pool’s shape



Learn more about Solar covers, the benefits and how to properly install and store them in this short video:

SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater Review

SunHeater Pool HeaterView on Amazon

Unlike our #1 pick, the SunHeater connects to the water pump and sits on the ground, not in the pool. It is compatible with existing pool pumps, and its patented design maximizes exposure to the sun’s rays. The SunHeater is a bit more complex to set up, but for a small investment, it may be worth the trouble this year if you plan to use it for more than one season.



  • Can be used for all pools (above or in-ground)
  • Works well even with limited sunlight
  • No need to remove from the pool to swim
  • More permanent/long term solution
  • Bulky equipment
  • Only raises the temperature of pool water by 6-10 degrees F
  • Reports it may not be made well


Smartpool Review

Smartpool solar powered pool heaterView on Amazon

This Smartpool solar powered pool heater is again different from our top two picks because it contains 80 square feet of solar panels which are mounted to the roof of your home, garage, shed, etc. This solar pool heater cost is more than our top two picks and it also requires a system kit, which has mounting and plumbing hardware.

The Amazon listing says it’s for in-ground pools only, but the description and customer reviews state it can be used for above ground pools as well. Overall, customers seem pleased with this pool solar heater but we found few people who have purchased it. We think it’s because of the high upfront cost and work, but if you’re comfortable spending this amount of money, we think you’ll be pleased with it.



  • Can be used for above ground or in-ground pools
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Heats the pool well
  • Higher percentage of positive reviews compared to our top two picks, but fewer people have purchased it
  • Expensive
  • Must purchase a system kit as well
  • A little more work to get it set up


Other Solar Pool Heater Reviews

Below you’ll find an alphabetical listing of other companies we’ve reviewed.

Eco Saver | XtremepowerUS

Eco Saver Review

Eco Saver Solar Heating SystemView on Amazon

The Eco Saver solar heater for pool is similar to the Smartpool above. It can be used for above ground or in-ground pools. This Eco Saver solar pool heater has one 20 foot panel which can heat up a 24-foot round pool or a 15 by 30 foot rectangle/oval pool.

If your pool is a round pool up to 30 foot or a rectangle/oval pool 18 by 36 foot you will need two of these. Since the solar panel is so large, it is probably easiest to mount it on the roof of your home/garage/shed so it’s not an eye sore in your yard.

To mount it to the roof, you’ll need to purchase a separate kit. There are additional kits for the diverter valve and an Intex pool adapter.



  • Doubled the swim season for people in some areas
  • Can build a rack for the panel system to sit on
  • Can be used in-ground or above ground
  • Expensive
  • Must purchase a roof mounting kit separately
  • Some complaints of it not working properly


XtremepowerUS Review

XtremepowerUSView on Amazon

This XtremepowerUS solar panel for pool system is similar to the Smartpool system. It has 40 square foot of solar panels which can be mounted on a roof or somewhere laying flat.

A diverter kit may be required for pumps greater than 1.5hp. You can find pool sizing and the number of these kits required on the Amazon listing page. This system didn’t make our top three because there are complaints about it not working well and breaking easily.



  • Works for in-ground and above ground pools
  • Some customers say it works great
  • May need to purchase a diverter kit separately
  • Twist and lock fittings break easily
  • Doesn’t work as fast as others


Tired Of Your Cold Pool?

Are you sick and tired of jumping into your cold pool? At the beginning of every pool season, do you promise to buy a pool heater for next year but never do? Save your body from that arctic freeze and your electric bill from the high cost of a traditional pool heater when you get a solar pool heater today!

Okay, it may not be arctic temperatures but when you’re in nothing but a bathing suit and hop in the pool it sure can feel that way. We’ve done the research and found the best solar pool panels for you so you can keep your pool nice and warm while staying true to your environmental spirit.

Other Ways To Go Green Outdoors

Also be sure to check out other solar options, like small kits for your RV, attic fans and whole home solar solutions.

Need help determining how many kits your need for your pool? Ask us in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help.

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