There are many factors to consider when shopping for a pool heater. You should know the work it will do, how efficient it is, the wattage, and what type of fuel it uses.

Buying a pool heater is not as easy as it seems. With so many products out there, it’s hard to know which one is the best.

No more worries!

I have compiled a list of the 9 best pool heaters on the market today. They are all great in terms of features and perform well. Whether you need a heater for your inground or an above-ground pool, this guide will help you find the perfect product.

Table of Contents

Best pool heaters

Here are our top picks, the best pool heaters, based on the features and considerations mentioned above.

Hayward W3H150FDN Universal H-Series 150,000 BTU pool and spa heater, natural gas

Features

Hayward pool heaters stand out against their competitors because they use cupronickel heat exchangers in all their models. Cupronickel is known for being more durable and lasting longer even when exposed to pool chemicals, saltwater, and more. Moreover, it is resistant to corrosion and less likely to rust than copper heating elements.

Because this model’s power source is natural gas, this pool heater is very convenient for those with a natural gas line. This product also has an option for higher heating power to cater to larger pools.

Ecosmart US SMART POOL 27 Electric Tankless Pool Heater

Features

  • Type compatibility: Aboveground or inground
  • Output in BTU:  Not applicable
  • Pool size/capacity: Maximum of 15,000 gallons

The EcoSmart Pool 27 is a space-saving tankless pool heater that is an alternative if you don’t have access to a natural gas line. Even though you won’t have to pay for gas or propane when you use an electric pool heater, you may expect an increase in energy use.

Compared to other gas pool warmers, this one costs substantially less than $1,000. Hence, the low cost of the EcoSmart Pool 27 is a major selling factor.

This heater is both quiet and strong, yet it takes up nearly no space. In many respects, this is one of the greatest swimming pool warmers available, even though it deviates from the standard definition of a pool heater.

Instead of typical pressure switch activation, the EcoSmart Smart Pool 18 employs flow sensor technology, improving dependability and lifespan while lowering the chance of components burning out.

With its digital thermostat control, you can swiftly and accurately alter the desired temperature. It saves you the trouble of constantly checking the level of a propane tank.

It raises the pool’s temperature by one to one and a half degrees Fahrenheit an hour. The ecoSmart device has a flow sensor that prevents the elements from overheating. To install, you need three 40 amp breakers.

If you want to heat the pool without having to travel over to the actual unit, the remote control also works with this heater. In addition to heating your pool on its own, the EcoSmart Electric Pool Heater may be used as a booster to a heat pump.

Because of the intricacy of the installation of the EcoSmart Electric Pool Heater, you will need to employ a specialist. The good news is that you’ll have some money to spend on a reputable installer at this heater’s price.

Another important disadvantage of this pool heater is that it may significantly raise your heating bills. When researching the best pool heaters, consider all elements of your purchase, including continuing operating expenses.

Hayward HeatPro W3HP21004T Pool Heat Pump

Features

  • Type compatibility:  Aboveground or inground
  • Output in BTU:  140,000
  • Pool size/capacity:  It depends

This Hayward model is an excellent choice if you live in a coastal region and want an electric pool warmer.

There are several ways to heat a swimming pool, including using a heat pump. In hot climates, a heat pump is often more cost-effective than gas or traditional electric pool heater in terms of running costs. HeatPro pool heat pumps from Hayward are built to last and are quieter than some gas pool heaters.

Another significant advantage of this type is its quietness. Some pool heaters, particularly larger ones for larger pools, can be exceedingly loud. This model includes a contoured fan blade to aid in optimal airflow and a quieter user experience.

The Hayward W3HP21004T has a stainless-steel fan blade to improve airflow efficiency and reduce noise levels.

It is a well-liked option for heating a medium to large swimming pool, especially in warmer climates with increased humidity. It is also durable and long-lasting thanks to its corrosion-resistant evaporator fin and titanium heat exchanger.

The heater also incorporates an ultra-gold evaporator fin to help protect the internal components from corrosion, which is especially important in damp, humid areas such as coastal cities.

This electric pool heater includes an injection-molded plastic body that resists UV radiation, corrosion, and degradation, making it a more durable and easy-to-maintain option. It has an acoustic compression cover on the heater casing and a profiled fan for silent operation, which is useful for position flexibility.

Raypak PR266AENC50 266,000 BTU Natural Gas Heater

Features

  • Type compatibility:  Inground
  • Output in BTU:  266,000
  • Pool size/capacity:  25,000 gallons

Gas is a practical fuel option for many homeowners who already have a natural gas connection in their house. Model PR266AENC50 is manufactured by Raypak, well-known in the pool heating industry. 

Many gas pool heaters use a copper fin tube heat exchanger. Raypak, on the other hand, provides a ProTek shield to the header as an extra layer of corrosion protection. It prevents corrosive elements from reaching the heat exchanger by absorbing them. Due to its intended breakdown, it’s simple to replace and shield the heating element within.

Moreover, the Raypak PR266AENC50 has digital electronic ignition that makes the heater easy to operate and increases the heater’s longevity. It only ignites when heat is required.

Hence, the ignition system is more fuel efficient and less expensive than a millivolt pool heater, which needs a constant pilot light and burns fuel continuously. However, a nearby 120V or 240V power supply is required to run this gas pool heater.

This Raypak, like the Hayward versions, is built with the same cupro-nickel fin tube to help prevent corrosion. All temperature options and settings are displayed digitally on the Raypak. This is intelligent equipment that will constantly check the temperature of your pool.

Raypak PR106AENC 105,000 BTU heater

Features

  • Type compatibility:  Aboveground or inground
  • Output in BTU:  105,000
  • Pool size/capacity: maximum of 10,000 gallons

If you want to score a pool heater yet, you are on a tight budget; this is your best bet. Raypak’s PR106AENC gas pool heater is a good value. It is compatible with both inground and above-ground swimming pools. 

Raypak has designed the inside of this model to last for many years. Burners made of stainless steel and heat exchangers made of copper-fin tubes are built to withstand moist environments.

The temperature of the water may be adjusted using an analog dial on this model. Unlike other pool heaters with LCDs and digital temperature controls, this model’s temperature settings are controlled by turning a turn knob. If you want a heater for bigger pools, Raypak also offers an analog gas pool heater with a higher BTU capacity.

Pentair MasterTemp 125 Low NOx Pool Heater

Features

  • Type compatibility:  Aboveground or inground
  • Output in BTU:  125,000
  • Pool size/capacity: 15,000 gallons

This propane gas pool heater heats up rapidly, so you won’t have to wait for hours before you can jump in.

The MasterTemp series has efficient and reliable natural gas or propane heaters to warm above-ground pools. It has an 82 percent efficiency rating, meaning that only 18 percent of the energy it makes goes into the air, and the rest is used to keep the pool warm. I

This Pentair model is an above-ground pool type that does not cause damage to your pool. It has an electronic ignition and requires a 120V electrical outlet. It is a low NOx pool heater. Hence, it can be installed even in areas with strict guidelines on emissions.

The strong, rustproof exterior is built to resist all weather conditions, increasing its lifespan. Because of its small size and silent operation, you may swim in peace — it barely makes a sound so that it won’t interfere with your poolside enjoyment.

Raypak PR266AENX51 240,000 BTU Heater Electronic Ignition – Natural gas

Features

  • Type compatibility:  Inground
  • Output in BTU: 266,600
  • Pool size/capacity: 25,000

It is a fact saltwater pools have a detrimental effect on mechanical components, including the heater. Most heater types use copper fin tube heat exchangers; however, saltwater may badly affect them. That is why you should purchase a saltwater pool heater because it is less likely to cause issues because of its specific design. It uses a cupro-nickel heat exchanger.

The Raypak PR236AENX51 is the best saltwater pool heater. It has a cupronickel heat exchanger and Raypak’s ProTek shield, which protects the heat exchanger from corrosion.

In addition to letting you customize the temperature of your pool, a digital thermostat may be linked to a remote system for even more convenience. For most pool owners, the initial expense of a model with a copper heat exchanger outweighs the benefits in terms of service life and durability.

AquaCal SQ120R HeatWave SuperQuiet Pool Heat Pump

Features

  • Type compatibility: Inground and aboveground
  • Output in BTU: 110,000
  • Pool size/capacity:  Maximum of 25,000 gallons

The AquaCal 2-in-1 pool warmer is the best heater-chiller combo because it uses heat to increase the temperature of the water, and it also contains a cooling module that utilizes refrigerant to chill the pool. The manufacturer recommends a grid flow switch rather than a water pressure switch for installation in an above-ground pool, although it is compatible with both types.

An additional unique feature of this model is the use of a proprietary titanium heat exchanger. The heat exchanger’s design makes it more compatible with two-speed, and variable-speed pool pumps because titanium has excellent corrosion resistance even when exposed to pool water chemistry. It is also weather-resistant.

To ensure optimum airflow to the heat exchanger, AquaCal has devised a distinctive louvered top that minimizes the number of particles entering the housing of the pool heater.

Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters

Features

  • Type compatibility: Above Ground or in-ground
  • Output in BTU: Not applicable
  • Pool size/capacity: It depends

Solar-powered heaters aren’t the ideal choice for all pool owners, but if you live someplace with year-round sunshine and want an eco-friendly way to heat your pool, these panels from Smart Pool are worth considering.

Also, If you have a long bungalow roof or a large yard where you can place 80 square feet of solar panels for optimal sun exposure, the Smartpool solar heating system is an energy-efficient solution.

The Smart Pool S601 is the best solar-powered heater out there. It comes with a single panel array of 4 feet by 20 feet. Solar pool heaters use the sun’s energy rather than fossil fuels like propane, gas, or electricity. Your pool pump’s water flows through the panel, and the solar heater utilizes this energy to heat it.

As a result, your pool’s water becomes warmer and is subsequently pumped back in. Depending on the manufacturer, the average temperature of your pool water might rise from 6 to 10 degrees. It is included with the SmartPool Solar Heater.

The polypropylene solar panels include fiberglass reinforced headers and wind vents to make the pool heater safe in windy. Despite this product’s amazing qualities, the installation kit is available separately.

It saves electricity, plus you won’t have to pay for gas or electricity. However, it may not be the fastest method to heat a pool. The heating output depends on how many solar panels you put in your pool and how much sunlight it receives.

Why you should own a pool heater

If you want to keep your pool warm in the winter, you need a heater.  Here are other reasons why you should own one:

Provides for a swimming season all year-round

Keeping a swimming pool open all year round is fine for some regions because of their climate.  However, some months of the year require a pool heater for some places with colder climates. This way, you can extend the swimming season by heating your pool. You can then swim whenever you like. No need to worry about freezing pool water.

Maintains appropriate temperature

Temperature swings between day and night are common. It even occurs in places with a warm climate. To address this, you need to own a heater. Regardless of the weather, your pool will remain at a reasonable temperature thanks to heaters.

It can be an investment.

Although pools are pricey, if you keep them well-maintained, it will increase the price of your property whenever you want to sell your home. Aside from its financial benefits, the comfort it brings is also a good investment.

What to consider when buying the best pool heater

There are several factors you should consider when buying a pool heater. If you bought a heater that is incompatible with your pool, you’d end up with a low-performing or, even worse, damaged heater. That is why it is important to consider the pool type you have, the size, and even the type of power supply you have at home. Here are other tips as well to help you choose the best pool heater.

Fuel type

Pool heaters can be electricity, gas, or solar-powered.

Gas-fueled type

Despite their widespread use, gas pool heaters are notoriously expensive to run because of their natural gas or propane. As a result, propane heaters may need to be refilled and replaced frequently.

Solar-powered type

Pool heating with solar heaters does not need any fuel at all since the absorbed energy from the sun is used. On the other hand, this pool heater might take longer to heat your pool, and its efficacy is directly related to how much sunshine it receives. Because of this, they’re ideal for locations with a lot of sunshine but less so in areas with a lot of cloud cover.

Electric-powered type

In terms of initial investment, electric heaters cost less than gas pool heaters, but their continuous power expenses surpass those of gas heaters. There are two kinds of electric heaters.

Direct flow heater

A direct flow heater heats water directly as it flows through it, using electricity. Compared to a tankless water heater, this technology is compact and does not need a lot of room.

Heat pump-based electric heater

It heats similar to that of an air conditioner but in a reverse manner. These heaters aren’t cheap, but compared to gas pool warmers, they’re a better deal. Colder climes won’t be able to benefit from this form of heater since it depends on the surrounding air temperature.

Pool compatibility

You must ensure that the pool heater you choose is safe and effective for the sort of swimming pool you have before purchasing it. If you don’t, you might end up with faulty equipment or a damaged pool structure.]

Inground and aboveground

The kind of heater you need will also depend on the pool you have—whether on the ground or aboveground. There are heaters for both, and although some are interchangeable, most can only be used with one or the other.

A good illustration of this is that the best heaters for above-ground pools are often smaller and more energy-efficient than those for in-ground pools. As a result, you should always ensure that the heater is suitable for your pool before using it.

Saltwater

Whether the heater you’re contemplating is suitable for your saltwater pool is also an additional consideration. A saltwater pool heater may theoretically be used with any kind of heater. Still, a non-saltwater heater is more likely to rust and lose function over time due to the use of copper heating elements.

Internal components may corrode due to the saline water.  Hence, saltwater pools need a heater with a cupronickel heat exchanger because it is more resistant to corrosion.

Pool dimension

When deciding on a pool heater, it’s important to keep your pool’s dimensions in mind. The more gallons of water you have in your pool, the more work the heater will have to do to increase the temperature. To heat the water more effectively, a pool heater with a higher BTU rating is recommended for bigger pools.

Using a calculator provided by certain manufacturers of pool heaters will help you quickly and simply determine the proper size heater for your pool. For instance, with Raypak’s pool heater cost estimator, you can compare energy prices for various-sized pool heaters based on factors such as zip code, size, and months of the swimming season.

BTU output rating

BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. One BTU is needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. The A BTU output rating may be found on every pool heater. BTUs range from 150,000 to 400,000 or more for the majority of units.

You can also calculate the BTU output rating by yourself. Remember that this is an estimate of the total BTUs needed to increase the temperature of your swimming pool. In most cases, this is a 24-hour period, although it might be shorter or longer depending on how long your pool takes to achieve the desired temperature.  

Here’s how to compute the BTU output rating so you’ll know how many BTUs to check for in a pool heater’s BTU rating.

  1. Calculate the required BTU to heat your pool by one degree. Multiply the weight of a single gallon (8.3 pounds) of water by the volume of your pool’s water in gallons.
  2. Calculate the defense between your desired pool temperature and the coldest air temperature. For instance, a desired temperature of 80F with a current temperature of 60F has a 20F difference.
  3. Find the product between the said temperature difference and the required BTU to increase the pool’s temperature by one degree. Difference by the number of BTUs required to increase your pool’s temperature by one degree.

Climate

Where you reside may be the decisive factor regardless of the size and kind of pool you have or how you utilize it.

For warm areas

Heating requirements are less stringent in warm areas. If you reside in a really hot climate, you may even want to consider an electric heat pump with water cooling capabilities.

For cold areas

There is such a thing as having too many BTUs in a pool, but for cold regions, the rule is that the larger the pool, the better. A higher powerful heater is required for more warmth in pools situated in places where nighttime temperatures dip below freezing. Because it needs additional heating, gas heaters with the greatest heating capacity are your best options.

Budget

Determine how much money you have to spend before purchasing a heater for your pool. Also, remember to consider the price of the heater’s installation and the heater’s maintenance and lifespan.

If you’re contemplating an electrical model, consider your home’s electrical capability. For gas-fueled heaters, the kind of gas you have access to or the expense of installing a new gas line will also impact the type of gas heater you need.

Ability to conserve generated heat

When a heater is installed in a pool, water runs past it, absorbing heat. Heaters use insulation materials like foam or plastic to keep the water at a consistent temperature.

For instance, solar pool heaters take advantage of these since they must be exposed to the elements to absorb heat from the sun. As a result, the materials utilized and the structure of the heating tubes must strike a compromise between functioning and the conservation of the generated heat.

Product casing

The heater’s casing functions as additional insulation, preventing it from losing heat before leaving the pump. It also protects it from the elements, impacts, and temperature swings. Moreover, it has the aesthetic benefit of making your heater attractive. With solar pool heaters, the casing covers a large area to maximize the heat and sunlight absorbed by the surface.

Ability to control the flow rate

The amount of water that may travel through a pump in a given amount of time is known as the flow rate. It can increase or decrease the water flow via a pool heater. It’s like turning on or off the water supply valves to control the water flow.

Some pool heaters have this feature, allowing owners to adjust the water flow rate depending on their preference. However, because the pump and filter systems normally manage the water flow rate, this isn’t a popular feature on pool heaters, either.

Installation Ease

If you want to install the heater yourself, make sure you consider the installation process’s difficulty.

For solar pool heaters

Installing a solar pool heater is a lengthy process. As long as there is enough room and you have the necessary equipment and ladders, these heaters are the simplest to put up for a DIYer.

For electric pool heaters

The installation of an electric pool heater is usually left to the specialists because of the complexities involved. There’s no substitute for having a professional electrician connect and check the electrical system, particularly when it’s close to water or other potentially dangerous substances.

For gas pool heaters

The most challenging part of installing a gas pool heater is getting the gas and electricity to work together. Before utilizing a gas pool heater, check the connections with a professional, just like you would with an electric one.

Warranty and maintenance

The heater must be winterized (depending on where you live), cleaned, and repaired regularly. A professional should inspect any sort of pool heater at least once a year to verify that the system is working properly; however, if the pool heater is used all year round, it should be checked twice a year.

An extended warranty will ensure that you have access to replacement components or even an entirely new heater in case of a breakdown.

Other features

Number of thermostats

Small-sized heaters typically have only one thermostat. However, a dual thermostat heater is preferred for both pool and spa use.

Resistance to wind

Models with a wind-resistant design or forced draft system eliminate the effects of external weather on your heater’s heating capacity.

What sort of pool heater should you get?

Choosing the appropriate pool heater for your requirements is critical, so understanding the different types and how they function is a good place to start. Pool heaters are classified into three types: gas pool heaters, electric pool heaters, and solar-powered pool heaters. Heat pumps are another sort of pool heater. However, they are classified as electric pool heaters.

The key distinction between the three is that they all derive their power from various sources. This impacts factors like operating costs, acceptable climates, and the difficulty of the installation procedure.

What type of pool heater should you buy?

Pool heater selection depends on where you reside and the heat source accessible in your house.

For those who live in the north:

Gas heater if you have access to gas

Heat pump if no access to gas

For those who live in the north:

A heat pump or solar heater is best for gas in the south.

For those on a tight budget:

A solar-covered pool heat pump. Even if the initial outlay is substantial, the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long term.

Always remember that you must maintain proper water chemistry to get the best results from your pool heater. If your heater is exposed to low or high pH levels, erosion and scaling might occur within it. Pools may also cause heater damage with high chlorine levels (particularly salt-water pools).

Frequently asked questions

How big of a pool heater should you get?

Whether you choose a gas, electric, or solar pool heater, selecting the right size heater for your pool is critical. BTUs, or British Thermal Units, measure gas, and electric heaters. That is the energy required to elevate one pound of water one degree.

The more you need to boost the temperature, the more energy you will require. It’s worth looking into one of the many internet calculators that may help you figure out how many BTUs you need in a pool heater. For more detailed advice, speak with a pool professional.

Does an average-sized pool take how long to heat?

Many variables will affect how long it takes for you to heat this water. Some of the factors are—what is your desired temperature (and how many degrees it needs to be raised from your current one), the type of pool heater you’re using, and how much ambient air temperature you’re dealing with outside the pool.

Typically, residential pools have around 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of water. It is possible to achieve the desired temperature in a swimming pool in less than 24 hours with the correct heater. Using a gas pool heater, temperatures may often be raised by 5 degrees or more in as little as 12 hours.

How long will my pool heater last?

The average lifetime of a pool heater is between five and ten years. However, they can survive a decade or more if they are installed and maintained correctly.

What are ways to maintain my pool heater?

To ensure your pool heater lasts as long as possible, do regular maintenance as directed. It is important to read the owner’s handbook and pay attention to any maintenance recommendations that are particular to your model. Here are other ways to maintain your pool heater

  • Check the burner inputs for debris.
  • Keep them free of dirt, leaves, and other debris. Use a wire brush to remove any accumulated dirt or rust.
  • For propane-fueled heaters, check your propane tank gauge regularly to ensure that you have enough gas for operation.
  • Check for leaks in the fuel lines of propane and gas pool heaters. Fill a spray bottle halfway with water and dish soap. Fuel line joints should be smeared with the mixture. If you see bubbles, you most certainly leak; therefore, have it fixed as soon as possible.
  • Turn off the power supply and open the heater’s cabinet to remove the heater’s elements securely. 

How can I tell if my pool heater is operating well?

Make sure your pool heater is working properly by checking a few items. Your pool heater will likely perform its job if all of these parts operate as planned.

  • Check the machine’s lights and display to see if the electrical supply is fine.
  • Adjust the thermostat if necessary to provide enough gas flow, and visually check that the burner is igniting.
  • Remove any barriers to water flow from the pool filter and water inlets.
  • Make sure that your heater has enough air input and ventilation.

How many degrees does my pool’s heat drop overnight?

Temperatures can drop as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit in an uncovered pool with a large exposed surface area on cold nights. A high-quality pool cover can reduce this overnight heat loss to just a few degrees.

Is it okay to turn off my pool heater overnight?

The answer depends on how often you use your pool. Most of the time, instead of turning the heater off at night, it’s better for everyday pool users to lower the thermostat a few degrees. However, if you rarely use your pool, keep the heater off until the day before they want to swim. This way, maintenance and energy costs will be kept to a minimum.

Is it okay to install the pool heater by myself?

Several factors come into play, including your degree of technical expertise, the sort of pool heater you choose, the layout of your property (such as if natural gas lines are readily accessible), and the specific pool heater itself. Solar pool heaters, in particular, may be installed by an experienced do-it-yourselfer. Still, in general, you should hire a professional to set up your pool warmer so that they can test it and guarantee that it is operating properly.

Is it possible to get the heaters in swimming pools repaired?

It should be possible to replace or repair the pool heater’s parts if the damage is not serious enough to render it useless. However, better hire a professional to handle this kind of issue.

How should a pool heater be winterized?

Gas pool heaters in cold climates are commonly used to winterize the pools they heat. Here are ways to do this:

  • Use the valves on the gas line to shut off the heater’s gas supply.
  • The heater should be turned off, with the pressure switch opened/
  • Ensure all drain plugs are open and stored until the pool is ready for use.
  • Use a shop vacuum or leaf blower to blow out the heater.
  • Remove any remaining water to prevent it from freezing when the temperature drops.

Bottomline:

The kind and size of your pool are two important considerations when selecting a pool heater—whether you have an inground or aboveground pool. Large inground pools often need pool heaters with more heating capacity.

Residential pool heaters typically have a BTU rating of 100,000 to 400,000, depending on the volume of water in your pool and how high you want the temperature to rise. Depending on your power supply, you’ll need to choose between natural gas, propane, or electric pool heaters.

With a basic cupro-nickel heat exchanger and the ability to heat pools to 13,000 gallons, the Hayward Universal H-Series W3H150FDN is the finest option.

The AquaCal SQ120R heater-chiller combination is also a good choice if you want greater control over pool water temps. The long-lasting titanium heat exchanger on this 2-in-1 pool heat pump allows it to increase or lower the water temperature in pools up to 25,000 gallons.

Last update on 2022-09-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API