best Above Ground Pool Heater

Choosing an above ground pool heater is an important consideration for any pool owner to think about. That’s because a pool heater for above ground pool models can not only really extend the swimming season but can make the swimming environment even during warmer months. Buying one of these heaters will prevent you from having to close down your pool too early at the end of summer and may even allow the pool owner to open it earlier in the late spring.

Of course, some people who live in warmer climates don’t feel like they really need one of these units for their pool. After all, it’s warm all year round so they figure they don’t need one. However, this isn’t always the case. Often times, nighttime temperatures can dip—even in warmer climates—to temperatures that wouldn’t be comfortable to swim in. This is when one of these heaters can really come in handy. In fact, some types of heaters work better in warmer climates. Take the above ground pool solar heater. This heater can soak up the rays of the sun all day and release that heat during the nighttime hours so the pool can be enjoyed day or night.

Some people get hung up, however, on what type they should buy. They bounce back and forth between the various heater types and have difficulty settling on just one. This is why I’ve decided to write this guide to help you choose the right above ground pool heater for your particular needs. I’m going to start by telling you about some of the brands currently available and then I’m going to pivot to tell you how to choose the right type for your pool and your particular needs. Let’s get started.

Finding the Best Above Ground Pool Heater

9Fafco Solar Bear Economy Above Ground Pool Heating System


This economical solar heating system for above ground pools is an inexpensive and easy way to heat an above ground pool. It comes with a 4-foot by a 20-foot solar collector, two 6-foot long 1.5-inch diameter hoses, a bypass valve, and all of the hardware needed to set it up.

When tilted at a 10 to 30-degree angle to the South, this unit performs operates at full efficiency. This unit can be installed on a roof that’s close to the pool, on the ground, or on a rack—depending upon the user’s needs. With proper installation and care, this heating unit should provide the user with years of service as well.

8Blue Wave 15-Feet Round 8-mil Solar Blanket


Designed to be placed on 15-foot round pools, this 8-mil thick solar blanket is capable of keeping your pool up to 15-degrees warmer. It does so because it’s has a blue color that keeps people from seeing into the pool but allows sunlight to penetrate it into the water. It also has thermal bubbles in it that hold on to this heat and slowly release it.

And since this blanket is designed to be on the pool for long periods of time, it’s also UV-resistant so it will last even under heavy sunlight. This solar blanket is often used for shutting pools down for the season but it could be used for other purposes as well.

7Sun 2 Solar 12 to 33-Foot Round Clear 16-mil Solar Pool Cover


This 16-mil solar cover (available in sizes ranging from 12 up to 33 feet) is designed to keep a pool warm, just by using the power of the sun. It’s placed on the pool, bubble side down, and it lets the UV rays of the sun pass through to the water, which in turn warms the water up. This cover also prevents some of the water in the pool from evaporating.

If you have a smaller pool, it can be trimmed to size quite easily. This model can be used to cover the pool when it’s not currently in use and is suitable for covering the pool for extended periods of time—such as when the pool is being closed down for winter.

6Game Solar Pro XD1 Pool Heater For Intex & Bestway Above Ground Pools


This pool heater uses the power of the sun to heat up to 8000 gallons of pool water without having to use unsightly looking solar panels. It’s easy to install and set up and once it is installed, users can expect the temperature of the pool to warm approximately five degrees within an eight-day period of time, depending on how much water is in the pool.

This unit doesn’t require any gas or electrical connections and is compact to save space. It’s the green way to heat your pool without having to have an expensive array of solar panels set up on your property.

5Smart Pool Solar Heating System


This solar heater for above ground pool models is designed to warm up the water using only the power of the sun. It features a polypropylene heat-collector and can heat a round shaped pool that’s up to 18-feet in diameter or an oval pool that’s 24-feet.

This system is easy to set up and easy to maintain as well. And since it doesn’t require natural gas or electric to operate, it’s inexpensive to maintain as well. Just hook it up and let it collect sun rays to heat your pool. It’s recommended to be installed in areas that get a lot of sunlight.

4Hayward H-Series 100,000 BTU Pool & Spa Heater (H100IDP1)


This 100,000 BTU above ground heater for pools uses induced draft technologies to ensure that it not only runs in all weather conditions but that it always operates at peak performance and efficiency. It has a direct electronic spark ignition and a 120-volt electric cord. It is easy to install and is recommended for use on pools that are 450-square feet or smaller.

While operating, this unit’s outside cabinet remains cool to the touch. This propane unit may be the solution pool owners are searching for when looking for an alternative to electric or solar heater models.

3Hayward 11-Kilowatt Electric Spa & Pool Heater (CSPAXI11)


This 11-kilowatt spa & pool heater is easy to install and once installed, easy to maintain. Even though it’s small, it has features that allow it to best the capabilities of many bigger and cheaper heaters. It features a stainless-steel tank, an electric heating element with a safety sensor, and a light that indicates that the heater is on.

It can be used on not only spas and pools but can also be used on water heaters. This model operates at 240-volts and has a stainless steel threaded head and an easy-to-use dial. This unit has been used for both above ground and in-ground pools.

2Hayward W3HP21004T Pool Pump Heater, 95,000 BTU


This compact above ground pool heat pump is available in BTU ranges from 95k to 140k and is known for being able to save plenty on energy bills. Although there are plenty of excellent options in the range, you can’t help but be impressed by its titanium heat exchanger which is a sign of a quality product. This is what makes it well protected against corrosion and cavitation.

For a commercial-grade product you can use at home, it is affordable and has a near-silent operation that won’t detract from pool time. We also liked the simplicity of the controls, its LED screen has diagnostic controls and easy troubleshooting readouts, all in a UV resistant casing. The 2 ins make installation of this durable and high-quality pool heat pump easy and it also includes a 1-year warranty included.

1Hayward Universal H-Series Pool & Spa Heater (H250FDN)


This 250,000 BTU natural gas heater uses a number of advanced technologies to keep your pool warm. It features electric, gas and water connections and can be used for brand new installations or for existing ones. It also has a digital LED control panel and the unit is built to last with nitride hot-surface igniters, cupra nickel heat exchange, insulated combustion chambers, and stainless steel burners.

Other features of this unit include a forced draft combustion system and a patented polymer header system. This heater is designed to be professionally installed using only natural gas as a fuel source.


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Heating Options for Above Ground Swimming Pools

above ground pool heaterSince there are a number of different pool models available, from above ground pool electric heater units to solar ones to ones powered by propane, it’s important to take all of your options into consideration.

Here are some things to consider when buying a new heater for your pool.

Types of Fuel

When it comes to pool heaters, there are four basic types: electric, natural gas, solar and propane. Natural gas and propane units do a better job at heating pool water quickly when used occasionally and do a good job at maintaining the temperature of the pool if left on all of the time. However, gas ones are also more expensive to run than solar ones or electric ones. Electric heaters are cost-effective and can be used to heat the pool year round. Solar panels can maintain water temperatures of around 80-degrees but only in areas which have a good amount of sunlight.

Pool Size

adding above ground pool heaterAnother thing to consider is the size of the pool. Large pools are often difficult to heat with solar heating units unless you use several units on the same pool. As far as gas units go, the higher the BTU the quicker they will be able to raise the temperature of the water. 1 BTU will raise the temperature of one pound of water 1-degree.

The more BTU a gas heater has, the faster it will raise the temperature of the water in the pool.

The higher the BTU, the more efficient it will be as well. Always check with the pool heaters listing to see how big of a pool it is capable of heating.

Control Panel

Another thing to consider is whether the unit you want to buy has a control panel or not and if it does, what type it is. Nowadays, digital control panels are not only the most efficient and give the user a greater control over the temperature of the water but often also comes with a temperature monitor. Cheaper models often don’t have this temperature monitor, which means that you’ll have to buy an external thermometer to keep track of water temperature and adjust the unit manually.

Professional Installation Needed

You should also take into consideration whether a unit you’re thinking of buying needs to be professionally installed or if you can install it yourself. If it needs to be professionally installed, then this is an extra expense that adds to the price of the heater. Unless you are specifically trained and certified for the job, then DO NOT attempt to install a unit that’s supposed to be professionally installed.

A Few Final Thoughts

Now that we’ve covered some of the more popular heater models available and have gone over some of the things that you need to look for before you purchase a pool heater, it’s time for one last thing. Purchasing a pool heater, whether it’s a solar one, a propane one or an electric above ground pool heater is something that should be taken quite seriously.

After all, it’s a major investment. If you choose a cheap, lesser quality model than you could spend even more money trying to rectify your mistake then you would have spent by just purchasing a quality one in the first place.