Best Pool Heater 2020 – Reviews & Top Picks

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SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System

Finding the right pool heater can be difficult. Sometimes, the pool owner rushes out at the end of the season to find the cheapest option. Unfortunately, many pool owners are left with a heater that does not live up to their expectations.

To help you avoid this common situation, we have come up with a list of the 10 best pool heaters available. We’ll go over the best overall choice, the best gas-powered option, the best above ground pool, best value, and our premium pick.

What’s more, we will show you how durable and easy to install each unit is, plus the energy-efficiency and effectiveness of each pool heater on the list. Follow along so you can choose the best pool heater for your needs.

A Quick Comparison Of Our Favorites

Best Overall
FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump
Best Value
SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heaters
Premium Choice
Sta-Rite SR400LP Max-E-Therm Pool And Spa Heater,...
Name
Fibropool FH 220
SmartPool S240U
Sta-Rite SR400LP
Editor Rating
2.5/5
3.6/5
4.0/5
Warranty
60 Days
-
1 Year
Best Overall
FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump
Name
Fibropool FH 220
Editor Rating
2.5/5
Warranty
60 Days
Best Value
SmartPool S240U Pool Solar Heaters
Name
SmartPool S240U
Editor Rating
3.6/5
Warranty
-
Premium Choice
Sta-Rite SR400LP Max-E-Therm Pool And Spa Heater,...
Name
Sta-Rite SR400LP
Editor Rating
4.0/5
Warranty
1 Year

The 10 Best Pool Heaters – Reviews 2020

1. Fibropool Above Ground Pool Heater – Best Overall

FibroPool FH 220

Our best overall pick is designed to heat pools up to 7,500 gallons in coastal climates with a 20,000 BTU/range capacity. This model is durable, easy to install, and does a great job on small pools and hot tubs.

The lightweight 220-volt system comes with all the hose and clamps you will need. It is an energy-efficient option with a 4.85 COP rating so heating your pool will not break the bank. This option can also be used on any above ground pool of 18 feet in diameter or smaller.

Pros
  • Good heating capacity
  • Energy-efficient
  • Durable
  • Easy to install
  • Used for hot tubs and above ground pools
  • Can be used in large coastal pool
Cons
  • None we can think of

2. SmartPool Universal Sun Heater – Best Value

SmartPool S240U

The best pool heater for the money has a durable polypropylene heat exchanger for long use. This option is solar-powered with roll-out solar panels. You will be able to heat your pool’s water up to 10 degrees warmer with a week.

This option comes with everything needed for easy installation. Plus, it can be used on both inground and above ground pools. The only drawback to this model is that it is not meant for larger pools, and it does not heat as quickly as our first option.

Pros
  • Cost-efficient
  • Solar-powered
  • Easy to install
  • Heat water 10 degrees warmer
  • Can be used for inground and above ground pools
Cons
  • Not meant for large pools
  • Heats slower than the top choice

3. Sta-Rite Pool And Spa Heater – Premium Choice

Sta-Rite SR400LP

Though this option may have a higher upfront cost, it is one of the more cost-efficient units to run. This option has a compact design and is easy to install. What’s more, it also has a retrofit option, making it slide into its predecessor’s spot with ease.

This model has a Dura-Glass durable housing along with a digital readout with an LED light for checking the temperature in low light. While this option is good for small to medium size pools, the heating time is a bit slower than our top model, but it still will heat your pool’s water to a comfortable level.

Another thing to note with this model is that it is meant for above ground pools and it can be louder than some other heaters available.

Pros
  • Low long-term energy costs
  • Durable
  • Easy to install
  • Retrofit ready
  • Good heating for small to medium pools
  • Digital readout with LED light
Cons
  • Higher upfront cost
  • Not meant for use in above ground pools
  • Louder

4. Hayward Inground Pool & Spa Heater – Best Gas Pick

Hayward H400FDN

Moving on, we have the best gas-powered pool heater for our list. This eco-friendly option has low gas emissions and easy-to-install parts. This option also has a cupro-nickel heat exchanger for durability, though you will find it louder than others.

This heater is hydraulically designed to provide extra warmth to your pool or spa. It can heat up to a 12,000-gallon pool with ease and is 18 percent more cost-efficient than using an electric pool heater. One consideration to keep in mind is that you will need to supply and store propane for this heater to work, which is an additional cost. Also, this unit is heavier and harder to move if necessary.

Pros
  • Low emissions
  • Used on pools and spa
  • Can heat up to 12,000-gallon pools
  • Easy to install
  • Energy-efficient
Cons
  • Louder
  • Need to store propane
  • Heavier

5. FAFCO Solar Heating System – Best for above ground pools

Fafco Solar Bear

For warming the water in your above ground pool, the FAFCO heating system uses a 4’ x 20’ solar panel that can be mounted on the ground, walls, or roof. It comes equipped with a 1.5-inch barb connector for easy installation.

The large solar panel can heat pools up to 10,000 gallons. Unfortunately, the one-piece panel is heavy at about 40 pounds. It also needs to be angled south between 10 and 30 degrees during the hours of 10 AM and 4 PM. If this is not done, or the weather is cloudy, you will not get optimal performance from the solar panel.

If you have a large enough space to support the size of the panel at the correct angle, this heater can warm the water by 1.5 degrees per day. The UV-stabilized polyethylene heat exchanger will ensure that it lasts through many seasons. You will also have an on/off valve, though you do have to purchase ground spikes and hoses separately.

Pros
  • Energy-saving solar power
  • UV stabilized polyethylene
  • Can handle 10,000 gallons
  • Versatile mounting options
  • On /off valve
Cons
  • Solar panel is heavy
  • Heats only at optimal hours
  • Needs additional parts

6. FibroPool FH055 Swimming Pool Heater – Best inground pool heater

FibroPool FH055

At the number six spot is the best inground pool option. This durable little number comes complete with a digital readout with LED light and has several piping options making it easy to install. This option has a 100% titanium heat exchanger, plus it is slim and easy to slide into unobtrusive places.

At 55,000BTU’s this model is capable of heating pools up to 10,000-gallons. Though the heat time does take longer, it is energy-efficient. This unit is also heavy for such a slim design at almost 115lbs. It is also somewhat loud, but nothing unmanageable. Finally, this heater is meant for cool water inground pools only.

Pros
  • Durable titanium heat exchanger
  • Can heat 10,000 gallons of water
  • Energy-efficient
  • Slim
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Loud
  • Slow Heat time
  • Only for inground cool water pools

7. Pentair 460775 Pool Heater

Pentair 460775

This next option is another gas-powered heater. While it does heat the pool’s water swiftly, it is not good for larger size pools over 8,000 gallons. That being said, the heater is energy-efficient and durable.

This heavier heater does have to be installed more carefully, along with the need to manually turn the gas on and off. As mentioned before, you will also need to store and supply propane for this option. On the other hand, it is a very reliable and durable option for smaller pools.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient
  • Heats water quickly
  • Reliable
  • Durable
Cons
  • Heavy
  • Harder to install
  • Meant for small pools under 8,000-gallons
  • Manual gas shut off and on

8. SunQuest Solar Swimming Pool Heater

SunQuest 2-2’X10

The SunQuest is another solar powered option that is easy to install and energy-efficient. It has roll out solar panels that need to be mounted. Unfortunately, the mounts do not come with the heater itself.

While this is a very energy-efficient option, it is slower to heat and is meant for smaller sizes pools below 8,000 gallons. The heating time is roughly one-degree every day and a half with this model. Also, while it does state that is good for inground pools, it is better suited for above ground. On the bright side, it is light, quiet and easy to store.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient solar power
  • Easy to install
  • Quite
  • Easy to store
Cons
  • Not high powered
  • Not meant for big pools
  • Better with above ground pools
  • Does not have all the necessary equipment for installation
  • Slow heat time

9. GAME SolarPRO Solar Pool Heater

GAME 4721-BB

The GAME pool heater can be used use for inground or above ground pools, but this model is better suited for above ground. The installation is fairly easy and comes with all of the parts you need to quickly set it up, including different threaded ports for versatility.

While you can have this model up and working quickly, your water is only going to heat approximately five degrees every four days in a 8,000-gallon above ground pool. This also depends on the weather conditions in your area, so the heat time can be longer.

This model has a curved face option for better accumulation of the sun’s heat. The legs are adjustable as well so you can move the angle as needed. Even though the installation process is quick, however, you are going to need a bypass kit for pumps that have more than one and a half horsepower.

Made of blown molded plastic for maximum heat accumulation and durability, the main drawback to this particular unit is the slow heating time. If you plan to use this option for inground pools, or anything larger than 8,000 gallons, you are not going to feel much warmth in the water.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient solar power
  • Versatile plumbing options
  • Adjustable legs
  • Easy to install
Cons
  • Above ground pool recommended
  • Slower gradual heating
  • Requires bypass kit for 1.5 HP or more
  • Not recommended for large pools

10. Kokido Dome Swimming Pool Water Heater

okido K835CBX RV

Our last option is a dome-shaped solar pool heater. This option is better suited for above ground pools, though it could be used for inground as well. This option packs very little heating power and heats at a very slow rate.

While the solar dome does make this energy-efficient, any pools that are more than 6,000 gallons will not be sufficiently heated. Also, there is a lack of necessary parts with options, making it difficult to install. It also does not have a lot of durability, so there have been consistent issues with breaks and cracks in the unit itself. Overall, this is not the best option to choose if you want to heat the water of your pool.

Pros
  • Energy-efficient solar power
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Difficult to install
  • Does not heat well for pools over 6,000 gallons
  • Heats slow
  • Breaks easy
  • Missing parts

Buyers Guide

Important Things To Consider Before Purchasing

There are several things you want to consider before you purchase a pool heater. The first is what type of pool do you have? If you have a large inground pool you are better off with gas or electric-powered option. On the other hand, if you have an above ground pool, a more energy-efficient solar panel model will work better.

Energy-efficiency, regardless of the type of pool, is a big consideration. Look for options that have a good BTU rating and have low gas emissions so you will lessen your carbon footprint. Another factor to consider is how long you want not to be able to swim in your pool.

Some options will be strong enough to allow you to swim in weather as cold as 40-degrees. While other options are better suited for coastal pools where the wind can make a big difference in the overall temperature of the pool’s water.

Tips When Buying

When you are looking at different models, you want to take into account the amount of water the pool can heat. You are better off going with a higher gallon count. For example, if you have a 10,000-gallon pool, you should aim for a heater that can handle 12,000-gallons.

You also want to look at the time it takes for the water to heat. A good heater will be able to heat the water by at least five-degrees in five days. Not all pool heaters will keep you this information, so your next best bet is to look at the BTUs.

Unless it is a solar-powered option, the BTUs are going to tell you how much heat you are going to get from your unit per dollar. So, if you are using around .15-cents per hour to heat the water, you are in good shape. Anything beyond that may not be worth it as this can quickly add up.

Conclusion

If you want the very best inground pool heater available, you should go with our first choice. The  Fibropool FH 220 Above Ground Pool Heater is the best overall choice. Not only will it heat your pool’s water sufficiently for you to swim well into the fall, but it will do so on less energy consumption than other models.

If you need something a little more cost-friendly the SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater is going to work for you. At a lower cost, this model will do a great job of heating your water while still keeping energy costs low.

We hope you have enjoyed this review on the top ten pool heaters. If you would like some further information on the best above ground pools heaters, we may have some picks that surprise you. Check it out here!


Written By Shannon MacDevine

Featured image credit: SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System, Amazon