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You’ve worked hard all week long and it’s a beautiful Saturday. You and the family decide to hop in the pool but the kids are complaining about the cold water and you’re all having trouble enjoying the gorgeous day in a cold pool. Solar blankets are frustrating to pull on and off the pool and pool heaters are expensive and run up the utility bill. So why not get a solar heater for pool? We’ll teach you how solar panels for pools work, why they’re a smart decision and which ones are the best.
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.
How Many Do You Need?
This 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.
The 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.
- Easier to use than a heavy solar blanket cover.
- Extends the months you can use the pool because it warms the pool up sooner and keeps it warmer for longer.
The solar sun rings are our #1 pick for best solar pool heater panels because customers rave about the increased temperature due to the use of these solar panels for pools. It is recommended that 70% to 80% of your pool be covered with these rings. There are some complaints of the rings moving to one side of the pool due to wind, but if you cover 70% to 80% of your pool with these rings they shouldn’t shift much. The rings are five feet in diameter and are inflatable. They are lightweight, making them easy to remove and store during the pool off season.
Learn more about the Solar Sun Rings in the video below.
Unlike our #1 pick, this Intex solar heater for pool connects to the water pump and sits on the ground, not in the pool. It is compatible with filter pumps up to 1/2 hp or a pump flow rate less than 2,500 gal/hr (9,463 L/hr). This cannot be used for in ground pools or for above ground pools larger than 8,000 gallons (30,280 liters). Similar to our #1 pick, you’ll most likely need several of these depending on your pool’s size. We read in a customer review that for a 4,000 gallon pool (15′ x 3′) Intex recommended using four of these solar heaters for an above ground pool. However, we can’t confirm this anywhere and recommend speaking with Intex directly or if you feel confident in the customer’s statement above, you can base your purchase by getting one of these solar heaters for every 1,000 gallons of water your pool holds.
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.
Other Solar Pool Heaters
Below you’ll find an alphabetical listing of other companies we’ve reviewed.
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.
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.
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. 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.