Night swimming in the summertime is one of the most enjoyable swimming experiences one can have! But what about when those summer nights have a bit of a chill to them?
Well, that’s exactly why you need the best above-ground pool heater for your pool setup this summer! There are various types of heaters for your above-ground pool such as heating blankets, solar units, and other high-grade heating units that connect to the pool.
Here in these above-ground swimming pool heaters reviews, we’ve analyzed ten of the best pool heating products on the market. We’ve compared features such as strength, effectiveness, and durability to help you find the right heater.
The goal is to ensure that you have the best heater for your pool and not one that will fail you mid-season. Read on to decide which heater is for you!
The 10 Best Above-Ground Pool Heaters:
1. Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket for Round Above-Ground Pools
The first product on the list, the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket, is the best solar heater for above-ground pools. The heating blanket is essentially like a cover for the surface of the water. The blanket is comprised of thermal cells that transmit heat down to the pool water. It also traps heat so that the water retains its warmth longer.
Past consumers report the cover as being useful and easy to apply. Others recommend running the pump to improve efficiency but are delighted with the cover nonetheless.
The Blue Wave Solar Blanket is possibly the best pool heater for an above-ground pool. It’s efficient, easy, and easy on the wallet as well. Without the need for electricity, you can utilize this blanket for heated water all summer long without a single thought about the expense.
- Solar heat (no extra utility expense)
- Easy to place on pool top
- UV protected
2. Fafco 09974 Solar Cub Environmentally Friendly Mountable Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Powered Heating System
Coming in at the five spots in these above-ground heater reviews is the Fafco Solar Heating System for Above-Ground Pools. This heating unit functions similarly to solar panels but is instead one large solar collector that takes on the appearance of a long rubber mat. Similar to solar panels, water is pumped through this solar collector for heating and then returns to the pool.
Previous users love this heating product. It should be noted that heating will take some build-up of sunlight at first, but after an initial solar exposure period, the pool is nice and warm.
The Fafco Solar Heating System is among the best pool heaters for above-ground pools because of its ease of use and feasibility. While its performance is best on sunny days, it keeps your pool more consistently heated the longer it’s exposed to sunlight.
- Can be installed on the ground, on a rack, or on a roof
- Very little associated utility expense
- Long-term warranty
- Not highly effective on low sunlight days
3. Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above Ground
The Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater serves as a great example of a small pool heater for above-ground pools. This unit is in the form of a small, square-based dome. The dome contains rungs of solar heating tubes which the pool water flows through to be heated before being sent back to the point.
Customer reviews of this heating unit note that it warms up the pool, though only slightly. Some users expected this but others did not. It’s noted to be great for small pools.
The Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater is an innovative heating unit. It’s small so it doesn’t take up too much space around your pool and it’s cost-free for you. Don’t expect an incredibly strong heater from this unit though due to its size and heating source (the sun).
- Expense-free heating
- Environmentally safe and friendly
- Not overly effective
4. Sun2Solar Blue 12-Foot-by-24-Foot Rectangle Solar Cover
The Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle Solar Cover is certainly among the best solar pool heaters for above-ground pools. Much like the BlueWave product reviewed at one spot, this heating product is a solar blanket that uses thermal bubbles to trap and transmit heat to your water. This unit, however, is able to be cut to finely fit your pool.
Consumers have nothing but glowing reports about this heating blanket. Customers are often surprised by its efficiency in heating and also note its success in preventing pool water evaporation.
The Sun2Solar Blue Rectangle Solar Cover is another phenomenal option for those looking for expense-saving ways to heat their pool. With absolutely no utility expense, this solar blanket keeps your pool warm, prevents evaporation, and also keeps out debris. That’s hard to beat.
- No associated utility expense
- Prevents evaporation
- Can be custom fit to your pool
- Thermal bubbles can fall off or bust over time
5. Intex Recreation 29025E N/AA Intex Solar Cover
The next heater on the list is the best solar heater for Intex above-ground pools. This solar cover/blanket functions exactly as do the previously reviewed solar blankets but it’s designed specifically for Intex brand above-ground pools. The thermal bubbles on the underside of the cover trap the sunlight that hits the cover and transmits that heat to the pool water.
Many past consumers are very pleased with the success of this solar cover. They love how well the solar cover works and how it’s cost-free. One user even notes that they can be used in larger pools as heating “lily pads”.
The Intex Solar Cover is yet another example of a highly effective yet expense-saving heater option for above-ground pools. It’s easy to use, lightweight, and easily stored when not in use!
- Zero associated utility expense
- Prevents pool water evaporation
- Easy to use/store
- Mostly suited for 18′ Intex brand above-ground pools
- May not last that long
6. SunHeater WS220P S220P Aboveground Pool Heating System
Capping off our list of bets above ground swimming pool heaters is the SmartPool SunHeater Solar Heating System. This solar heating unit functions similarly to the Fafsco solar collector.
The solar collectors can be installed on the ground, on a rack, or on a roof and operate by circulating water through the heat collectors.
Past customers love this solar heating system. Most note being pleased about the ability to continue swimming on and into the chillier days of the season.
The SmartPool SunHeater Solar Heating System is another great solar option for warming your pool water. The heat is free and the maintenance once installed is close to none.
- Low associated utility expenses
- Versatile installation
- More than one set could be necessary for your pool
7. XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System
The best above-ground solar pool heater in the reviews comes in as the third-best heating unit. The XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System is as its name insinuates, a different type of solar heat than a heat blanket. This system is a full set of panels that receives pool water from the pool’s pump for heating before returning to the pool.
Consumers are generally happy and satisfied with the functioning of these heating panels. Some do note that installation can be a bit of a task and requires some handy work. Also, they’re meant to last but some past users do report panel breakdown/deterioration.
The XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System is the heating unit for you if you’re looking to heat your pool efficiently while keeping utility expenses low. Additionally, they rarely require maintenance so they operate without any help from you, providing you more time to relax.
- The number of panels depends on your pool size (no wasted or excess panels)
- Low utility expense and low annual maintenance
- A diverter kit may be required for pumps 1.5 hp and greater
- Soft-bodied panels
8. Hayward W3H200FDN Universal H-Series 200,000 BTU Natural Gas Pool and Spa Heater for In-Ground Pools and Spas
The best propane heater for above-ground pools is the Hayward W3H200FDN Universal H-Series which slots in at the seven spot in the reviews. This heater is the largest, highest grade (technology-wise) heater reviewed to this point. The unit runs on propane and works similarly to most heaters, by receiving water from the pool, heating it, and sending it back to the pool.
The consumer reviews of the unit are varied. Some claim the heater is effective and powerful yet others are upset by its short lifespan. Also noted is a lack of support at the end of Hayward.
The Hayward Universal H-Series Pool and Spa Heater is a strong heater but is only recommended for larger pools and pools with long swimming seasons. Due to its fuel source, there will be recurring expenses with this heater. Also, professional installation is required for the unit.
- Highly effective
- Low NOx emissions
- Runs on gas (recurring expenses)
- Requires professional installation
9. EcoSmart SMART POOL 27 Electric Tankless Pool Heater
Coming in at number two is the EcoSmart Smart Pool 27 Electric Tankless Pool Heater and it’s the best electric above-ground pool heater on the market. This unit by EcoSmart is an electrical unit that receives water, heats it, and pumps it back to the pool via inlet and outlet fittings.
Customers have great things to say about this electric, tankless heater. While it does require a good bit of energy, the heater is strong and heats the pool precisely to the degree desired. There are, however, conflicting reactions to the customer service of the provider.
The EcoSmart Smart Pool Electric Tankless Heater is among the best-rated above-ground pool heaters for good reason. It’s powerful and will keep your water as warm, or even hot, as you please.
- Stainless steel
- Automatic maintenance of the set temperature
- Requires a lot of power
10. Pentair 460805 MasterTemp High Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater, Natural Gas
The Pentair 460805 MasterTemp High-Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater is a heavy-duty, natural gas heater for your pool.
This heater unit, like the Hayward unit, is larger than most others on this list as it performs at a higher standard. As with pretty much every heating product on the list, water enters the unit through an inlet and returns to the pull via an outlet hose.
Just as with the Hayward heating unit, customer reviews are rather mixed. Some love the heater and claim it’s great for the job. Others have noted a very short lifespan of the unit and poor customer service regarding such failure.
The Pentair MasterTemp High-Performance Eco-Friendly Pool Heater is a high-grade unit that’s meant to deliver exact temperature heating. The unit runs quietly but does come with the downside of refueling and the associated costs.
- Very strong heater (125,000 BTU)
- Certified NOx emissions standards
- Runs on fuel (recurring expense)
- Manual gas shut-off when servicing
Tips on Choosing the Best Above-Ground Pool Heater
Research heating options
As we can conclude from the list, there are various options for heating your pool. Some of coming with more lifetime costs and some come with zero added expense. This first tip is all about researching the various models to learn about the ins and outs of their functioning.
By researching specific heater options and comparing them side by side, you’ll be able to better grasp the details in each one that sets them apart.
There also may be terms and vocabulary related to pool heating that you’re not upon. It’s best to look up whatever you’re unsure about to prevent any misunderstandings and potential future regrets.
Ask other pool owners for opinions/information
Swimming is one of the most common spring and summer activities there are. Because of this, you likely have acquaintances who have pools of their own or who know others they could put you in contact with.
That being said, they can give you some of the best, primary information regarding their experiences with pool heaters and how they function. While you don’t want to be playing a game of 20 questions, don’t hesitate to seek out information from this treasure trove of knowledge.
Pay attention to brands
A final tip would be to pay attention to the brands behind the heaters. It can be limited to only searching out certain brands and their products, and that’s certainly not the suggestion here. Instead, what we mean is that you should note the brand behind the product and gather information on them.
This means doing a simple internet search to determine credibility and the company’s responsiveness, etc. Buying a cheap or malfunctioning product can be a pain, but that pain can grow if the brand behind the product goes missing in action regarding customer service.
Factors To Consider When Buying The Best Above-Ground Pool Heater
Your pool and space
The first factor to consider before buying an above-ground pool heater is your pool and space. The shape and size of your pool are important in the shopping process. Certain heaters, such as solar blankets, are generally fitted for specifically sized and shaped pools.
Other models, such as the solar collector mat models, may require you to buy more than one set to properly heat your pool if it’s large. In the same vein, you want to be sure your space is suited for the heater of your choice.
Solar-based heaters require direct sunlight for the majority of the day. Does your yard get plenty of direct sunlight? Is your roof (for panels) reasonably close to the pool? For gas-fueled heaters, do you have a specific area viable for installation? All of these factors of your space are going to play a part in your decision.
The desired magnitude of heating
The next factor to consider is the magnitude of heat that you’re looking for. The solar-based models are generally weaker at heating the entire pool because of the reliance on proper sunlight, though it heavily depends on the make and model.
The high-grade units, such as the Hayward and Pentair models, will provide strong heating at pretty exact temperatures chosen by you. Some folks are looking to extend the swimming season while others are simply looking to take off the cold edge of the water. Knowing which type of heat you’re in need of will help you to narrow your options.
A final factor to consider before buying your above-ground pool heater is other customers’ reviews. While you don’t want to put too much stock in them, it’s good practice to peruse the reviews and comments on products to see if there are any recurring issues or consensus opinions about products and their functioning.
If there’s a major issue with the product you’re looking into, it’s most likely to make itself known to you via customer reviews and comments. After all, no company would describe its product missteps and miscalculations.
The Best Above Ground Pool Heater FAQ
Should I go the solar route?
This question boils down to whether or not you’re looking for super-powerful pool heating and your stance on extra utility expenses. Solar heaters operate best when they’ve been basking in sunlight for extended periods of time, which evades them as the weather turns colder again. However, solar panels will provide comfortable warmth through those chilly summer nights, and at no extra expense. So if you’re looking for something to take the edge off practically free, solar heating is your best bet.
Are the natural gas heaters easy to install?
Unfortunately, gas-fueled above-ground pool heaters are not easy installs. They typically require the hand of a professional. There are surely some people out there who may be capable, but for the hands-off among us, definitely call in a professional helping hand. Also, in addition to their difficult installation, you’re continually hit with the expense of refueling the units.
How are solar blankets effective?
In concept, think about the way that blankets and covers keep us warm when they encompass us. They trap heat and deflect it back at our bodies, keeping us warm. It’s the same with solar blankets for pools except that the heat comes from the sun and is transmitted through the blanket. This keeps the water warm. By allowing sunlight in before trapping it, the blankets are capable of keeping your pool warm through the night until you’re ready to again the next day!
As with most pool accessories and parts, the best above-ground pool heater for you largely depends on what kind of pool you have and how you wish to heat it. There are heating options available for all types of interests.
First, there are solar options that are environmentally friendly and reduce heating expenses to zero. Next, there are the electronic heaters that are very effective but require extra energy, and thus, more utility costs. And for the high-powered, high-grade tech fanatics, there are the natural gas-fueled heater units.
No matter the type of pool you have, these above-ground swimming pool heater reviews should go a long way in aiding you with your shopping experience.
By dissecting the details and specs of various models, we’ve laid the groundwork for you to start making direct comparisons and figuring out which option is best for you. The swim season’s upon us and right about now would be the perfect time to start heating that pool. Get your above-ground pool heater today!