UPDATED: June 1, 2019.
A swimming pool heater is an important piece of equipment for your pool. It is true if you’re interested in using your pool early in the year or continue to use it well past the swimming season.
It will prove to be a good investment when your pool doesn’t get full sunlight or you want to use it later in the day when there is no sunlight to keep warm naturally. Above all, investing in a pool heater will also help increase the value of your pool as well as your property.
Types of Pool Heaters
When you know the importance of having a pool heater installed, you may be willing to buy one for yourself. But before that, you need to know the answer to the most important question, “What are the best pool heaters?” That is when you need to educate yourself about certain things. Knowing the types is probably the first most important thing to do.
Heat Pump Pool Heaters
If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly pool heater, you may consider opting for this one. While these pool heaters run on electricity, they don’t use it to generate heat. It works by heating up the water using warm air.
You will understand its working mechanism better if you know how refrigerators and air conditioners work. The only difference is that air conditioners use this technology to remove heat, whereas heat pump pool heaters circulate it.
The good thing is that these heaters are extremely durable and can last up to 20 years. Low annual operating cost is another added benefit.
Solar Pool Heaters
As implied by the name, these heaters use solar energy to function and come equipped with solar collectors, pumps, filters, and control valves. These heaters are further divided into two categories, glazed and unglazed. If your pool never goes below freezing, an unglazed heater may work well for you.
For harsher climates, you will be better off investing in a glazed heater, which comes with a glass covering but is comparatively expensive. Solar heaters are usually quite affordable and run quietly, but they are not as durable and long-lasting as some other heaters.
Gas Pool Heaters
It uses propane or gas to function and is usually a low maintenance option. However, you need to pay attention to the cost of natural gas in your area before opting for these pool heaters. Most of these heaters are quite durable and extremely easy to install; however, they are quite bulky and often look unsightly. Moreover, it is sometimes difficult to control the heat output with these heaters.
Top 10 Pool Heaters You May Want to Buy
You can certainly find a diverse range of pool heaters on the market, but you have to select that is suitable for your pool size and fits in your budget. Here are a few good options to consider:
1. Hayward H400FDN Universal Heater
- It is environmentally friendly with low NOx emissions.
- It uses a polymer head design for excellent hydraulic performance.
- It is extremely reliable and affordable to run.
It is not suitable for larger pools.
To experience luxurious comfort and have better control over your swim season, you can certainly go ahead and opt for the H400FDN Hayward. Running on natural gas, the heater delivers amazing performance. Those worried about being friendly to the environment don’t have to feel concerned because the heater results in low NOx emissions.
The heater delivers an amazing hydraulic performance with its polymer head design. It also comes with a combustion system to ensure that high wind conditions leave no impact on the heating performance of this unit. Another nice feature is the availability of an LED control panel that shares real-time information about the water temperature. Overall, it works great, but may not be that effective in larger pools.
2. Intex Solar Heater Mat
- It comes with a bypass wall for easy installation.
- It is small and highly portable.
- It is very suitable for above ground pools.
- The installation may not be that simple.
Designed to work flawlessly with Intex filter pumps, this solar heater mat delivers good performance for years and is perfectly suitable for above ground pools. It is affordable to run because it relies on natural sunlight to function. It can warm up your pool’s water by up to 9F.
Its compact design adds to its overall value because you can store it away in the off-season with utmost ease. It is hook-up compatible with most filter pumps with a flow rate smaller than 2500 gal/hr. Another nice feature is the availability of a bypass switch that you can use to stop the water flow in case the water gets too hot.
It is worth mentioning that while installation is easy, you need to be careful with hose connections because they use an “O-ring” that increases the risk of leaking connections. If you can deal with that, it will work just perfectly.
3. Hayward HP21404T Heat Pro Pump
- Corrosion resistant evaporator fin for durability
- Super quiet and durable scroll compressors
- Injection molded body panels for rust-free operation
- The additional parts are not packed well.
If you’re looking for a highly durable heat pump, you may want to put your money on the HP21404T, as it won’t disappoint you in this respect. It features injection molded, highly durable, UV-resistant body panels, which are resistant to rust. You will also find an Ultra Gold evaporator fin, which is corrosion-resistant and works extremely well and coastal areas with high humidity levels.
The performance is amazing too. You will like how quiet it is when working, and that’s mainly due to the acoustic compressor cover – the profiled fan blade also plays a role here. To ensure maxim heat transfer, the pump also features a titanium heat exchanger. Features like stainless steel hardware and a polyethylene screen for added protection also enhance the overall performance.
4. Pentair 460736 MasterTemp Pool Heater
- Highly durable with a cupro-nickel exchanger
- Rotating digital display with light indicators for easy monitoring
- Manual gas shut off for easy maintenance
- Some people may find it a bit on the noisier side.
When you need a compact heater that works efficiently, the Pentair 460736 may fit the bill perfectly. As it is a 400,000 BTU gas heater, you can expect it to work quickly and efficiently.
With a gas heater, it is natural to worry about nitrogen oxide emissions, but the company has taken care of this issue and guarantees low NOx emissions only.
The heater works great, thanks to its pre-mixed system. It features a rotating digital display that makes it extremely easy to operate and control the function of your pool heater.
You can also find manual gas shut-off that you can use in case the heater requires any maintenance work. With the availability of indicator lights, it becomes even easier to monitor the operation of your heater.
5. SmartPool S240U Universal Heater
- Affordable to run because it uses natural sunlight
- A direct flow system for efficient performance
- Operation manual included for easy installation
- Not self-supported
Using the SmartPool S240U is a reasonably good option for anyone looking to keep their pool warm. It uses a polypropylene heat collector to function. It means that you will have to install it in a way that it receives ample natural sunlight or else it is not going to perform optimally.
Something you need to keep in mind is that installation may require some work because the heater is not self-supported. What it means is that you would have to mount it to a flat surface. Also, keep some Teflon tape handy because your fitting’s threads may fit loose and need additional protection. Thankfully, it comes with a trilingual operation manual to handle installation properly.
6. GAME 4714 SolarPRO Heater
- Hassle-free and very easy to set up
- Keep pool temperature warm and nice even on colder days
- The tubes are quite big and provide a seamless flow
- A bit bulky and needs a good amount of space
- The legs are bit weak as they are made of plastic and aluminum
- Only two metal clamps have been provided
The best part of this solar pool heater is the heating time which is quite quick even when it is very cold outside. For a bigger one, you can probably think of buying a couple of these instead of just one.
Make sure to get a solar cover as the temperature dips at night and the heat can go down by about 5 or more degrees which is expected behavior without a cover. An air release valve near the top will be a good add-on in the product.
It delivers good performance overall, but keep in mind that the legs are not as strong and sturdy as they should be, and that’s mainly because they are made of plastic. Also, you will need ample space to install it.
7. Raypak 336,000 BTU Pool Heater
- Non-corrosive material so it is rust-free, wind resistant and long lasting
- High fuel efficiency
- Stainless steel tube sheets make the heater fire & heat resistant and durable.
- Takes about 10-12 hours for the water to heat up to the required temperature
This heater comes with a great finish and looks classy. It is a digital one so provides accurate information and heating. Not just that, the heater functions smoothly and can heat a large amount of water, say, 20000 gallons, though you have to be patient as it takes time for that much water to be heated.
The copper-fin-tube heat exchanger ensures heating takes place at a good pace and precisely to the temperature you have set.
If you have a spa at home, this heater is an ideal option for you. Just set the temperature in the thermostat, have a good night’s sleep and the next day water will be ready for you to dip in.
8. Hayward H150FDP Heater
- Eco-friendly, no emissions beyond the standards mentioned
- Very compact unlike other similar heaters which are bulky and difficult to move
- Installation is straightforward and instructions are detailed and well documented
- Hayward customer service can be better and more responsible
- Generates a little noise while running
- Heat exchanger unit is not very sturdy though made of cupronickel
This heater is a universal fit so you can use for existing installation as well as go for a new one. The first look itself is impressive as it is very compact and lightweight. The presence of a digital panel not only adds to its aesthetics but also makes it easier to monitor its operation.
The heat increases by about 2 degrees or more every hour, which is quite fast. For pool parties, this is an ideal choice.
There is one important thing to consider though – the heater may feel a bit noisy, especially compared to heaters from some other top brands in the market. It may be an issue, but certainly not a deal-breaker by any means.
What’s more, before you start the installation process, ensure that all the parts are there. If any parts are missing, it is difficult to get hold of Hayward customer service (though you can get the parts in a local hardware shop too).
9. Jandy Pro Series JXi 400K BTU Heater
- Light-weight and extremely compact, hence easy to store and move
- Environmentally-friendly with a low NOx emission system
- Stainless steel burner provides sturdiness, reliability, and durability
- The price is a bit on the higher side
The pro-series heater is an ideal choice for spa and pool parties. It has all the features that one would look for in a convenient and easy to use the heater. The installation is reasonably straightforward and you don’t have to worry about breaking head with operation or installation. It is equally easy to maintain.
The heat exchanger tubes are made of copper, so provide quick heating and last longer. There are many innovative features that are useful too like the rotatable top which makes it very flexible and easy to install and requires no adjustments from time to time.
There is a digital interface that indicates accurate information and detailed diagnostics. There is no flip side of this heater that should stop you from buying it. It’s well worth the price (even if that is a bit high).
10. GAME 4513 SolarPro XD2 Heater
- Works efficiently for small pools even when the outside temperature is not too hot
- The unit is sturdy and there are no leaks in the system even after constant usage
- The Game team are quite efficient in resolving customer queries and provide good service
- You need to separately purchase the pump to circulate the water
- A bit expensive for the number of features it has, though you save on electricity on the other hand
This solar heater serves its purpose well. It is well built, and designed for long-lasting performance, and warms the pool sufficiently. The best part is that it saves you a lot of effort and power and you don’t have to worry about any temperature settings as the heating is through the sun!
It works for small pools and if you have a bigger pool you will probably need more than one. Don’t buy the valve that shows up along with the heater; instead, go for a local store purchase. Overall, you will be very satisfied with its performance, but keep in mind that it comes with a high upfront cost.
Three Tips to Remember When Buying a Pool Heater
Knowledge about the types of pool heaters will certainly help you make a right buying decision, but you should also pay attention to the following point to make a good choice.
- Consider the pool size: Understand that you can opt for a 100-200 BTU heater when you have a pool of up to 10,000 gallons, but a pool with 40,000 gallons of water would need a 400 BTU heater. So, consider the size of your pool when you start shopping.
- Know your budget: A solar heater is usually cheaper to run, but often the most expensive too. There is no point in checking a solar heater range when your budget is set for a gas pool heater that is the cheapest to buy. So, start your search with a clear idea of your budget.
- Consider your climate. Pool heaters work differently, so you need to consider your climate, as a solar heater won’t work well if you’re in a state with not enough direct sunlight. For people in areas with extreme temperatures, a gas pump usually fits the bill perfectly.
Considering the benefits of pool heaters, it is important that you don’t overlook the importance of installing one for your pool or spa. Just keep in mind that there are available in different sizes, designs, and types.
You should pay attention to your unique circumstances, know your budget, and decide whether you need a solar, gas, or electric heater for your pool. They all have their pros and cons, so weigh them carefully to answer, What are the best pool heaters on the market today?