10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
Are 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 2023
|Best Overall||Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater||
|Best Value||SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater||
|Premium Choice||FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump||
|XtremepowerUS 90100 Pool Solar Panel Heating System||
|GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater||
The 10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters
1. Smartpool WWS421P Solar Pool Heater – Best Overall
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.
2. SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater – Best Value
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.
3. FibroPool FH120 Pool Heat Pump – Premium Choice
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.
4. XtremepowerUS 90100 Pool Solar Panel Heating System
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.
5. GAME 4721-BB SolarPRO Curve Solar Pool Heater
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.
6. Fafco NS725 Solar Bear Economy Heating System
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.
7. Kokido K835CBX/RV Keops Solar Dome Water Heater
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.
8. Intex 28685E Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater
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.
9. Pentair PacFab 461058 Propane Gas Heater
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.
10. FlowXtreme NS1002 Flat-Panel Pool Solar Heater
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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!