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10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters in 2022 – Reviews & Top Picks 

Solar Mat

Solar MatAre you excited for the upcoming pool season? Ready to dive right in the day you open the pool? Who are you kidding?

You know the kids are the only ones crazy enough to swim in early spring. It will be a solid month before you get your entire foot in the pool. The good news is that it doesn’t need to be like that. Above ground pool heaters are quite common in climates where the swim season does not last the entire year.

Some great above ground pool heaters will work for a variety of pool owners. So, do yourself a favor, read our reviews, take a look at our top pics and go ahead and dive into your beautiful warm pool the first week you open it up.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2022

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater
  • High-quality solar panels
  • No increase in electric costs
  • Easy to setup
  • Best Value
    Second place
    SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater
  • Very cost-effective way to heat a pool
  • Will raise pool temperature 6-10 degrees (based on the size of the pool)
  • Easy setup of panels with mounts
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump
  • High-quality unit
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to use digital display
  • XtremepowerUS 90100 Pool Solar Panel Heating System XtremepowerUS 90100 Pool Solar Panel Heating System
  • Inexpensive
  • Solar heat so no use of electricity
  • Can buy the number of panels you need for your pool
  • GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater
  • Small and easy to work with
  • Adjustable legs for maximum sun exposure
  • Durable construction
  • The 10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

    1. Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater – Best Overall

    Smartpool

    The Smartpool WWS421P is our top pick for the best above ground pool heater. This product has tons of positives and very few negatives. For starters, it is a solar pool heater. Why not use those amazing rays to get your pool some free heat? With 80 square feet of solar panel to layout in your yard, this pool heater can quickly raise the temperature of your above ground pool, and fast. On very sunny days, you can see a significant spike in temperatures, but even on cloudy days the pool temperature increase or at least maintain. Some pool owners will install these panels right next to the pool, and others have placed them on the roof.

    One thing to keep in mind that this solar pool heater does not come with a mounting rack, so you will have to build your own or use another solution. Overall this is the best solar pool heater for an above ground pool that we have found.

    Pros
    • High-quality solar panels
    • No increase in electric costs
    • Easy to setup
    • Heats the pool fast even on days that are not sunny
    Cons
    • Does not come with mounting rack
    • Solar panels will be visible

    2.  SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater – Best Value

    SunHeaterz

    If our first overall choice was a bit more than you were looking to spend, we have you covered. The best above ground pool heater for the money is the SunHeater S12OU, and it is a perfect option if you are looking for a few extra degrees without spending a ton of money. Although the quality of this overall product is slightly lower than our number one choice, it will get the job done, especially for a smaller pool. The panels take up a little less space (which converts to less heat) than the best overall pick of the Smartpool heater, but they do come with a mounting bracket.

    Some pool owners have struggled with setup when it comes to this pool heater, but it usually just came down to an extra hose. It would be impossible for SunHeater to know the connections on every individual pool, so this isn’t a reason not to buy this heater, especially for the price.

    Pros
    • Very cost-effective way to heat a pool
    • Easy setup of panels with mounts
    • Will raise pool temperature 6-10 degrees (based on the size of the pool)
    • Works well in combination with a solar cover
    Cons
    • Parts are not as high quality and could develop leaks
    • Solar panels are not as large, so it may not be as powerful as best overall pool heater
    • Solar panels are visible

    3. FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump – Premium Choice

    FibroPool

    If you don’t want to look at solar panels in your yard and you have some money to spend on a heater, the FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump is a high quality, well-made option. This is the first non-solar option that we are looking at, and it is priced quite high. Although the upfront costs of this unit are more than the solar, it is a very energy-efficient unit. Running this heater will affect your electricity bill but not to the level you might think. Most pool owners agreed it was worth the cost of the extra time spent in the pool.

    This heater will work on pools up to 7,500 gallons, so it should be a good fit for most above ground pools. It’s very quick to install and has a clear digital display for adjustments in heat. A great option if you are looking for quality.

    Pros
    • High-quality unit
    • Easy to install
    • Easy to use digital display
    • Very useful in heating pools less than 7,500 gallons
    Cons
    • Initial cost of unit
    • Operating costs as compared to solar

    4. XtremepowerUS 90100 Pool Solar Panel Heating System

    XtremepowerUS

    We are back with yet another solar option. This solar heating system is sold in panels, so you will have to figure out how many you need to fit the pool you are trying to heat. This option is exceptionally cost-effective and made with high-quality materials that are designed to hold up in severe weather conditions. Make sure that if you install these on your roof, you check them often. The roof can be a tough place for a solar panel as it will take a little bit of a beating from the sun. If you are looking to increase the temperature in your pool by a few degrees, this is an excellent inexpensive way to do it.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Can buy the number of panels you need for your pool
    • Solar heat so no use of electricity
    Cons
    • Some difficulty in installation
    • Can be time-consuming to get panels to fit together properly

    5. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

    GAME SolarPRO

    Don’t have much space in your yard? Intrigued by the solar heating option, but don’t think you have the space? The GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve is a perfect option for you. This unit will raise your pool temperature approximately five degrees in four days. Considering the size of the unit, this GAME SolarPRO is quite efficient. With adjustable legs and a straightforward installation, this is a model that you can have up and running in a short period of time. This pool heater is not designed to turn your above ground pool into a hot tub. It’s a slow working but efficient unit that works very well in small spaces.

    Pros
    • Small and easy to work with
    • Adjustable legs for maximum sun exposure
    • Durable construction
    • Easy to store and put away when not in season
    Cons
    • Will not heat the pool more than 5 degrees in 4 days
    • Slow working

    6. Fafco NS725 Solar Bear Economy Heating System

    Fafco

    If you are looking for a model that has withstood the test of time, the Fafco NS725 is the option for you.

    This is a solar heating system that comes with its mounting rack and mounting bases. With all that is included, expect to pay a bit more for this system than some of the other similar options. Pool water will run through these solar pipes and return to your pool warmer than before. This company has been producing above ground solar pool heating systems since 1972. Needless to say, they know a few things about how this works.

    Pros
    • Many years in the industry
    • Proven system that works to warm the pool and extended season
    • Not complicated to hook up
    Cons
    • Slightly more expensive
    • Time consuming to put together
    • Solar pipes can spring a leak and will need a repair kit

    7. Kokido K835CBX/RV Keops Solar Dome Water Heater

    Kokido Keops Solar Dome

    The Kokido Keops Solar Dome Water Heater is not quite a full heating solution, but it has done the trick for several budget and eco-aware pool owners. This is a very value-priced model, and it is a small unit. The unit hooks up between your pool and filter. It collects some heat from the sun and adds it back into the water. Very simple method, small collection area, so don’t expect any fast results with this. The Solar Dome has an adjustable mount so you can ensure you get the proper sun angle. For a larger pool or quicker results, you may want to add two or three units to your pool. If you are looking for a few extra degrees of heat without spending a ton on the unit and electricity, this could do the trick.

    Pros
    • Low price
    • Simple and easy to install
    • Small and will barely be seen
    Cons
    • Slow and minimal results
    • Might need several units

    8. Intex 28685E Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater

    Intex

    This Intex Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater is a quick and easy install, especially if you have an Intex pool. These mats will heat the water in your pool and then return it to the pool. Using energy from the sun to heat the black mats, this method will not cost you very much, but there are a few downsides to it. For starters, these are mats that pretty much go on your grass. You have to be ok with that, and your yard needs to be an area where these mats will not get trampled or ripped if you have never put a hot black mat on your grass in the summer before you will soon find that your lawn will not be a fan of this method.

    Pros
    • Easy to install
    • Works great with Intex pools
    • Will work to change the temperature a few degrees
    Cons
    • May need several mats based on the size of the pool
    • Will be detrimental to grass if left for a long time
    • Can be subject to leaks being left on the ground
    • Not very appealing in your yard.

    9. Pentair PacFab 461058 Propane Gas Heater

    Pentair PacFab

    The Pentair PacFab is a very fast heater. If you are looking to raise the temperature of your pool in just a few hours, this is a great option. Unfortunately, that will come at a cost. This unit is one of the more expensive heaters that we have reviewed.

    This heater is a propane gas heater, so you will have to have access to propane. You cannot use natural gas with this heater. With the cost of the propane and the electricity, you will be paying quite a bit to heat your pool water.

    If you need a quick option that will heat the pool from time to time, this model might be a good fit. If you want something that is a long term, more permanent solution, be aware of the continued operating costs.

    Pros
    • Heats water fast
    • Comes with a sturdy cover
    Cons
    • High initial costs
    • Only uses propane
    • Expensive long-term operating costs and upkeep
    • More complicated machine not easy to fix

    10. FlowXtreme NS1002 Flat-Panel Pool Solar Heater

    FlowXtreme

    The FlowXtreme NS 1002 earned the number ten spot in our review of the best pool heaters for a few reasons. Let’s start with the positives here. This solar heater is very easy to install, and you can have it hooked up within minutes. It is just a single panel and will not be a quick way to heat the water in your pool. The main issue with this particular panel is the fact that it has leaked quite a bit. The unit is designed to have water flow in and then back out into the pool. With the angle, it must be set up on to ensure proper heating; water does seem to flow out.

    This is an inexpensive and straightforward model if you want to give it a try, but there are likely better options available.

    Pros
    • Inexpensive
    • Easy install
    Cons
    • Has been known to leak
    • Will not heat the pool fast
    • Could take several days to change by a degree or two
    • Difficult to get the proper setup without water flowing out

    Buyer’s Guide – Finding the Best Above Ground Pool Heater

    When it comes down to choosing which above ground pool heater will work best for you, there are several things that you need to consider before making your final decision. Here are a few we wouldn’t want you to miss out on . . .

    Solar Or Not Solar

    Solar power is an excellent source of energy. With the summer season aligning with some serious rays of hot sun, it’s a great time to take advantage of solar energy. With the low cost of solar power, it is a perfect option if you are already tired of how much it costs to keep your pool running. The downside to solar is that the panels can be a bit unsightly if you have a garage or shed near your pool where you can put the solar panels. This option should be a no brainer if the solar panels are going to be a visible eyesore in your pool area, then it might be a more difficult decision.

    Price

    Pricing on above ground pool heaters can range from $50 to $2000. Each unit will have its positives and negatives. We recommend choosing something that you can afford with the highest possible ratings. If you can’t afford something that is not high quality, maybe look into a solar cover instead of a heater until you can go for a quality heater.

    Time To Heat

    When it comes time to make your final decision on a pool heater, you need to be realistic about what you need it for. Do you live in a cold and rainy climate, and you will be heating your pool every single day? Do you live in an area that is mostly hot in the summer, but you want to extend your pool season by a few weeks on each side? Do you live where it is hot and just want it for the occasional night swim? Whatever it is that has you researching above ground pool heaters; you need to be sure that the heater you purchase can do what you need it to.

    If you buy a small solar unit that claims to heat the pool a degree or two a day for about four to five days before reaching max temperature, this may not be the best option for someone who lives in a cold and rainy climate.

    Installation And Hook Ups

    GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater

    You know the ins and outs of your particular pool system. You know what you will need to hook up a pool heater, and you see the space you have.

    When you look at a large propane or gas pool heater, you have to make sure you have the room for a unit like this.

    Although some of the smaller solar units are very easy to install, if you have not had experience with pool plumbing and pump/filter installation, this may not be a project that you are looking to take on. The last thing you want to do is cause a leak or a more significant issue, just trying to heat your pool a few degrees. If you feel uncomfortable with the project in any way, don’t hesitate to call a professional for installation.

    Warranty

    Most of the above ground pool heaters in our reviews have a warranty of some kind. When working with these types of products, it is good to take a look at the warranty and what is involved with it. Pool heaters have been known to leak; if it is a manufacturers defect, you will want to make sure there is a decent warranty standing behind the product you choose.


    Conclusion

    When purchasing a solar heater for your above ground pool, there are quite a few things to keep in mind. The good news is that with our reviews, we have done a lot of the dirty work for you. The Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater is the clear choice for the best above ground pool heater when it comes to efficiency, ease of installation, initial price, and overall cost to operate. This is an option that you will have for years, and it will continually provide you with a few extra weeks of pool time on either side of the season. It’s hard to put a price on extra time enjoying your pool!

    SEE ALSO: Pool Heater vs Heat Pump: What’s the Difference?

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