Let’s start with the basics. As thoroughly explained by the energy experts, solar pool heaters use the solar energy provided by sunlight to warm your pool. The best solar pool heater should be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Did we mention affordable as well?

Pool water is pumped into solar collectors where it is heated and then it is pumped back into your pool. Collectors are located in solar panels which are mounted to a roof or simply tilted on the ground area with maximum direct sun exposure. As simple as that!

Thermal collector pool heating systems are the most popular according to the best solar pool heating system reviews. Pool water circulates through solar collector tubes where the water is warmed and then pumped back to your pool.

How To Choose the Best Solar Pool Heaters Guide

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Here is a short explanation of the terms related to solar pool heaters:

The absorber – consists of a thin absorber sheet (of thermally stable polymers, aluminum, steel or copper, to which a matte black or selective coating is applied) often backed by a grid or coil of fluid tubing placed in an insulated casing with a glass or polycarbonate cover. In water heat panels, fluid is usually circulated through tubing to transfer heat from the absorber to an insulated water tank.

The collector – consists of (1) a dark flat-plate absorber, (2) a transparent cover that reduces heat losses, (3) a heat-transport fluid (air, antifreeze or water) to remove heat from the absorber, and (4) a heat insulating backing.

Valves – Solar Thermostatic Mixing Valves -Designed to reduce the water temperature to a safer level- Function continuously at high temperatures.

-Solar Check Valve – For high temperature applications – Used as a gravity break to prevent any circulation and loss of heat when the pump is off.

-Diverter valves- Control the volume of water flowing to your solar heating system

Although they’re different from high end pool heat pumps and even pentair pool heaters, you can achieve a similar temperature if you live in a sunny location.

In our top rated solar pool heater reviews, we’ll try to help you make the right choice!

Best Solar Pool Heater Reviews 2019

1. 2 -2` x 20` Solar Pool Panel System


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The 2 -2` x 20` Solar Pool Panel System is manufactured by SunQuest and designed for both in-ground and above-ground swimming pools. They are compatible with most of your existing pool pumps and can increase water temperature by 10 degrees.

The panels are Professional Grade quality and come with standard connectors to attach to 1-1/2″ & 1-1/4″ flexible hose. You can install the SunQuest Solar set  yourself in about 30 minutes using simple step by step instructions provided.

2 -2` x 20` Solar Pool Panel System

Since you’ll be assembling them on considerable height above the ground, please follow the safety procedures. If in doubt or feel unsure how to assemble the panels, hire a professional.

SunQuest’s 2″ OD headers are molded directly over the absorber. Compared to 1½”, 2″ headers provide better water flow to the risers with less restriction for the pool pump. By over-molding, the headers and riser become one solid piece with no seems or welds to crack.

SunQuest’s absorber is a “tube-on-fin” design. It catches the sun’s rays from all angles efficiently which allows maximum exposure to the sun and provides better heating. “Tube-on-fin” also provides significantly better vertical and horizontal expansion and contraction. Less flexible panels usually crack or get distorted. These do not!

Before the panels are rolled and boxed, they are pressure tested using water to insure that there are on leaks. The panels are constructed of a UV Protected High-Density polymer material. This ensures high UV resistance and superior flexibility and elasticity when exposed to extreme temperatures. You will surely appreciate the effort put into making this a great solar pool heater for your buck!

Things We Liked

  • Easy to install
  • UV protected panel material
  • Great for in-ground pools and above ground pools
  • Works with all pool pumps

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Panels require a lot of space



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2. Smartpool WWS601P Sunheater Solar Pool Heater and Kit for In Ground Pools


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The Smartpool Sunheater and Smartpool Sunheater Pool Kit features 80 square feet of solar panels which will keep your pool warm using your existing pool pump and Smartpool polypropylene heat collector

Smartpool WWS601P Sunheater Solar Pool Heater for In Ground Pools

A one HP pump will handle installations up to 30 feet away from the pool equipment and one story up. If you install it on your roof, there is very little additional load as each solar box with2 collectors weighs about 80 lbs when filled with water.

You can use it for an in ground pool but it will also work for an above ground pool if you have the proper piping. The installation kit is sold separately so bear that in mind when choosing the appropriate kit and the right set of tools. If in doubt, hire a professional.

The most important thing to understand about this system is that you cannot run the full flow of water from your swimming pool pump through the panels as they cannot handle that much pressure. You have to install valves in the line that control how much water flows into this solar pool heater and how much goes straight back to the pool so you don’t have leaks due to too much pressure in your solar heating system .

Smartpool has excellent customer support, as reported by in-ground swimming pool solar heater reviews, so do consult them on how many panels you need based on the size of your swimming pool so that you get the right solar pool heater for inground pool. They have been reported to give useful advice on the piping setup, which is most appreciated.

The panels come rolled up so they have to be softened before installation on your roof. Like all top solar pool heaters, the Smartpool heater panels are sturdy and well designed to provide maximum efficiency at minimum cost as long as they have 5-6 hours of direct sunlight a day. If properly installed and run, Smartpool Sunheater will definitely extend your swimming season and save you a chunk of money at the same time!

SmartPool WWSK21 SunHeater Systems Kit

SmartPool WWSK21 SunHeater Systems Kit is a required purchase as per Smartpool Sunheater warranty requirements. If you use a different installation kit, the warranty for Smartpool Sunheater solar pool heating system will not be valid in case you need it.

As per product description, SmartPool Setup kit can be used with up to four boxes of sunheater in-ground swimming pool solar heaters and contains everything you need to make it easy to install heater.

The kit contains 1 – 1.5” Diverter Valve, 1 – 3.75” Hose, 2 Pipe Adapters, 1 End Cap,1 Vacuum Relief End Cap, 5 Stainless Steel Mounting Brackets,5 – 2” #14 Stainless Steel Screws, 100’ Web Strap (for up to 4 Solar Boxes), 1 Spring Check valve and 3 Stainless Steel Clamps. There is also Operation Manual in English, Spanish and French.

However, the valves are 1.5″, not 2″, which is the diameter on a lot of the new swimming pool equipment so they won’t fit. Also, the smaller the diameter, the bigger the pressure which might cause bursts and leaks.

It includes only 2 caps, but if you are installing 4 panels or more on a roof that will require 2 columns of panel rows so you will need 2 more caps. The strap is basic nylon strap and, since there are no clams at the end, you’ll need to tie it. Not the most convenient option if you need to remove the strap later for whatever reason.

Things We Liked

  • High quality polypropylene solar collector
  • Can raise pool up to 90 degrees
  • No manual assistance required
  • Good warranty

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Installation kit is another item to purchase



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3. GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex Pools


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GAME 4714 SolarPRO for Intex Pools generates enough heat to increase your pool water temperature 5 degrees F in about a week. It’s designed for swimming pools up to 10,000 gallons but if you have a larger pool you can connect as many units as necessary.

GAME 4714 SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater for Intex

Water Capacity of 1.5 gallon per unit using a 1.5 HP pump at up to 19 GPM flow rate will save money in the long run, extend your pool season while being eco-friendly and not taking up too much space.

Each unit is very compact with the dimensions of 28” x 28” x 12.8”. There are injection molded, foldable legs for more convenient installation. Adapters for Intex & Best Way pools are included in the set.

Shaped in a dome, this solar pool heater creates Green House effect to increase more efficient heat transfer. It features a maximum solar collecting area and the most heat efficient and least flow restrictive pool heating system on the market. This makes it one of the best solar pool heaters for Intex swimming pools. Adapters for Intex pools are included in the set.

SolarPro features injection-molded hoses and not corrugated PVC tubing. Although manufacturer says that bypass is not required, proper bypass is in fact very important because if the water goes through the system too fast, it won’t heat up. That is why adequate water flow is necessary for optimum functioning.

GAME 4714 SolarPRO is easy to setup and works in a very simple but efficient way: pool water passes through the injection molded hose which is coiled in a compact dome and housed with a convex clear shield. The coil volume is 30’ of 1.2” diameter hose. The shield insulates heat and transfers it to the pool using your existing filtration system. It’s an affordable and green way give your pool extra heat on sunny days.

Things We Liked

  • Energy efficient dome design
  • Compatible with pool pumps to 1.5 hp
  • Can combine as many as needed
  • Easy to store

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Average quality material



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4. Eco Saver 20-Foot Solar Heating Panel System


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Eco Saver Solar Heating Panel System uses your existing pump and pool filter system to circulate water through the panels, where the water is warmed by the sun’s solar energy. Going back to your pool, heated water will raise the temperature at no extra cost and in an eco-friendly way.

Thanks to this simple and effective design along with the Eco Saver’s added width, the solar panel heating system is capable of raising the temp of your pool by 10 to 15 degrees in only five or six hours.

Eco Saver Solar Heating Panel System features a modular design, so you can add more panels based on the size of your pool.

Eco Saver needs to be installed in a spot that gets at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. The panels can be installed on the roof, a rack, on the ground slanted and facing the south in order to absorb as much sunlight as possible.

When there’s no sun or when it’s raining, running the Eco Saver without a diverter valve will actually lower your pool water temperature. Unfortunately, the diverter is not included so you will have to buy it separately and install it in order to allow the water to bypass the Eco Saver and flow directly into your pool.

Now, as for putting the system together on your roof, it requires considerable time and investment. The panels are really large, which is good, but when it comes to putting them together it turns out to be not as easy as you think.

Also, the panels seem to harden over time so it can get difficult to work with, especially as the assembly was designed as twist-lock, rather than solid, mechanical fit which would be a more reliable option. If you feel you’re up to the challenge, by all means go for it!

Things We Liked

  • Wide panels for increased efficiency
  • Compatible with most pool pumps
  • Modular design allows more panels if desired
  • Affordable price

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Difficult to set up by yourself
  • May need additional parts



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5. Kokido Keops Solar Dome Above Ground Pool Water Heater


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Kokido Keops Solar Dome Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater

Kokido Keops Dome Above Ground Pool Heater features a dome design with curling connector tubes. One heating unit is recommended per 6,000 gallons of pool water. At such an affordable price, Kokido Keops is a great purchase for all of you who own small above ground swimming pools. This environmentally-friendly solar pool heater works by connecting between your filter pump and pool return, making it extremely efficient and cost effective.

Thanks to its dome design, Kokido Keops can to absorb and utilize a sizable amount of heat for such a compact model. For bigger pools, you can connect several units together for increased heating power. This affordable solar pool heater is modular so you’ll have no problems connecting more units.

Kokido Keops may not be the best quality solar pool heater on the market, but it is one of the most compact, least expensive, and easiest to use. All fittings, stainless steel clamps, and 4-foot hoses are included.

This unit is compatible with 1 1/4-inch and 1 1/2-inch pool hoses and has an integrated rack that helps set up an optimal angle for this solar pool heater to receive maximum sun exposure when tilted towards the south.

Things We Liked

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Cost effective and affordable
  • Very eco friendly
  • Easy to set up

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Ideal for smaller pools. Requires several for medium to large pools



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6. Blue Wave NS6028 SolarPRO Curve Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools


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The Blue Wave SolarPRO has a unique curved shape which allows maximum heat absorption for above ground pools up to 12.000 gallons. It features easy, do-it-yourself installation with everything needed to set it up and running without professional assistance.

51 feet long 1.2” solar coils are housed within heating station. It comes with 2 installation hoses and stainless steel hose clamps and fits 1.25 “ to 1.5” hose fittings.

This solar pool heater has a new, more efficient curved shape design that will decrease the amount of time it takes to heat your pool while increasing the heating capacity by 40%.

SolarCurve generates enough heat to increase pool temperature by 5 degrees in 5 days. Not that much for the price, though. Once connected, your pump-operated filtering system feeds water into the heating unit through the solar coils where the water is warmed by the solar energy. The water is then pumped back into your pool.

Each SolarCurve comes complete with an adapter for soft sided pools, two installation hoses, and collapsible base legs for easy mobility and adjustment if needed. However, the legs are a bit on the short side and not of adequate quality and tend to break.

The size of the solar pool heater depends on the size of your pool. If you choose a heater that is inadequate for the size of your pool, it will not heat your pool satisfactorily. This unit is quite big but doesn’t do the best job considering its size.

Things We Liked

  • Wide, curved panels improve efficiency
  • Great for smaller pools

Things We Didn’t Like

  • Slow to warm water
  • Flimsy, short aluminum legs



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