10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters: Reviews & Buying Guide 2023

10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters in 2023

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Top Picks: 10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters 2023

Hayward Pool Heater

Best Natural Gas Pool Heater

Hayward W3H150FDN Universal H-Series

Intex Solar Mat

Best Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Pool

Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Pool

Sunheat pool heat

Best Solar Above Ground Pool Heating System

SunHeater Pool Heating System

Fafco Solar Heater Above Ground Pools

Best Economy Solar Heating System for Above Ground Pools

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

Roof Solar Power Heater

Best Above Ground Pool Solar Panel

XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool

Sunquest Heater System

Best Solar Heater System for Above Ground Pool

SunQuest 2-2'X12' Solar Swimming Pool Heater

Gas Above Ground Pool Heater

Best Digital Electronic Natural Gas Above Ground Pool Heater

Raypak PR206AEN 206K BTU

Best Solar Blanket for Pool

Best Solar Blanket for Above Ground Pools

Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket

Solar Dome Heater Pool

Best Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater

Goplus Solar Dome

Electric Heat Pump Above Ground pool

Best Electric Heat Pump for Above Ground Pool

FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump

A pool is a great accessory to have year-round. But when it gets cold out, you want to make sure you can still use your pool.

The best above-ground pool heaters will keep your pool at a comfortable temperature so you can even use it when it’s cold out. In some regions, a pool heater is practically a necessity through most parts of the year.

In this article, we will provide you a list of the best above ground pool heaters to help you make the best decisions for your needs.

Table of Contents

Types of Ground Pool Heaters

There are 4 major types of above pool heaters that all work for above-ground pools. But some types work better for specific-size pools or pools in particular locations.

Solar Powered Ground Pool Heaters

Solar-powered heaters are the newest kind of pool heater and use the sun’s energy to circulate water through the heating. Solar power heaters are practically free to run once you get them set up, but they can get expensive if you need a mounted panel setup. You need a solar system that is as large as 50% of the pool’s surface. Also, your pump needs to be running so it is not 100% energy-free..

Gas-Powered Ground Pool Heaters

Gas-powered heaters typically use either propane or natural gas. These kinds of heaters burn fuel in combustion chambers to heat water pulled through copper piping. Gas heaters are relatively efficient but they can be somewhat expensive to run. A propane or natural gas heater can cost about $500 a month to operate but they are relatively inexpensive to install.

Electric Above Ground Pool Heaters

Electric above ground pool heaters, also called heat pumps, are a common installation for keeping pools warm during the hot months. Electric pool heaters pull water from your pool into a chamber and pass it over hot condenser coils. The heated water is then passed back into your pool, keeping the temperature warm and consistent.

Wood Burning Above Ground Pool Heaters

Wood burning tanks are designed similarly to gas heaters, except instead of gas generating the heat, burning wood does. Wood-burning pool heaters have a central iron box that burns wood and generates radiant heat. This heat is pumped into a closed system of pipes which circulate water through to your pool.

10 Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

When you are searching for the Best Heaters for Above Ground Swimming Pools, you will quickly notice that there are a lot of great options out there to shop around for.

But how are you going to find the best heaters for backyard pools to make sure that your pool stays nice and warm. Whether you are looking for a simple backyard pool heater or you want to go with an eco-friendly above ground pool heater, we have all your options and move below.

Hayward W3H150FDN Universal H-Series

First on our list is the Hayward W3H150FDN Universal H-Series 150,000 BTU natural gas pool and spa heater. The first thing to notice is that this heater is an absolute beast. 150,000 BTUs is a lot of heat so it can handle larger 20,000-gallon pools.

There are also even more powerful 200,000, 300,000, and 400,000 BTU versions. The heater also has a low-emission design that makes it suitable for areas where low-NOx emissions are required. You can keep your pool heated year-round with a much smaller environmental impact than other kinds of gas heaters.

The Hayward is also energy efficient. The industry-leading design minimizes pump circulation time, which ultimately lowers power consumption. The machine has easy-to-use front panels with clearly legible readings so you can customize the heater’s performance. It has a copper-nickel state-of-the-art heat-exchanger and a forced draft combustion system that constantly moves air through the circulation system.

Overall, the Hayward offers superior performance and reliability. The patented polymer heading protects against corrosion so it will last a long time. It is also very easy to use and install into an existing gas line.

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Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Pool

Up next on our list is an interesting take on a solar heater mat for above ground pool. This pool heater features a series of PVC mats. An electric pump pumps the water through the mats and the sun heats up water inside the mats.

The heat mat directly absorbs the sun’s rays due to the special PVC material and black color. This pool heater is designed for above-ground pools but could also be used with an in-ground pool. The system handles at least 330 gallons per house and raises the water temperature by up to 5 degrees.

The Intex has a simple hook up that is compatible with most filter pumps. Hoses are included so you can immediately set it up when you take it out of the box. You can also connect mats to one another to increase the total potential of the solar heating system. The system can handle up to 6 mats all at once.

Solar heating can be very expensive so the Intex gives you a cheaper way to solar heat without any special installation. The main drawback is that the system can only get as hot as the sun is bright. It won’t work well unless the mats are in direct sunlight.

No matter what type of pool you want to work with, a Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swim Pool is a great option to use.

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SunHeater Pool Heating System

In third is the SunHeater Pool Heating System. This pool heating system lets you capture free rays from the sun to directly heat your pool water. Simply attach it to your pool’s pump system and it will draw the water through the tubes.

Direct sun rays heat the water which is then pumped back into the tool. The simple system can raise the temperature of your water by 6-10 degrees F for only the energy it takes to run the pump. The solar panel portion is made from durable polypropylene that efficiently warms water using the sun’s heat.

The SunHeater is a good choice when you need an affordable and effective solar heating solution. It takes only minutes to set up and can extend your pool season for weeks. The special tube-web design maximizes surface area so water is heated as effectively as possible.

Heating panels are also designed to stretch and contract with the heat without cracking or breaking seams. Since the only thing you are running is the electric pump, it is very cost-effective.

It won’t be able to heat your pool year round though. If it’s cloudy outside there won’t be any way to heat the water inside the tubes.

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Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools

In fourth place is the Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for above-ground pools. This heater harnesses the power of solar energy to heat above-ground pools efficiently with little electricity. Simply hook the pump mechanism up to the special PVC-lined solar collector.

The pump moves the water through and heats using direct rays from the sun. The Fafco is a bit smaller than the SunHeater and Intex models so it can’t handle as big a pool. But it is more straightforward to connect than those last two models.

The Fafco uses a special tube pattern to maximize heating surface area. It works best during the height of the sun between 10 am – 4 pm. You can also mount and tilt it to get optimal sunlight for heating. The Fafco is also about 20 feet long so you will need the appropriate space to use it. When you are finished, you can roll it up for easy storage.

Like the two previous models, the Fafco gives you solar heating in a more affordable package. It won’t be able to heat your pool as well as an electric or gas heater, but it will be able to extend your pool seasons by a few weeks or a month.

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XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool

Up next is another solar panel, this one a much bigger beast than the previous three. The Xtremepower is designed for both above and in-ground pools. The panels are made from a high-grade propylene material that is built to last through the entire year.

These panels can be laid out on the lawn like the others but it is designed to work best when installed on a roof. From there, it connects to a pump that circulates water through the heating chamber.

This swimming pool heater measures 28’ x 20’ so it is large and can handle an average size in-ground pool. The panels use a tube system that maximizes surface area for water to heat. Like all solar heaters, these panels do not produce any greenhouse gasses and they are made from an eco-friendly material.

These solar panels do require a lot of space though. So if you don’t have a lawn or equivalent space, then you will probably need to install them on the roof, which can get fairly pricey depending on how you do it.

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SunQuest 2-2'X12' Solar Swimming Pool Heater

Another option when you are looking for solar-powered above ground pool heaters, the SunQuest 2-2×12 Solar Swimming pool heater. This swimming pool heater is a good economical choice that lets you heat your pool with sunlight.

The SunQuest uses two heating panels made from a special polymer material that absorbs heat efficiently. The SunQuest features wide pump compatibility so you can use it with your existing pool pump without much trouble. The panels are made with a tube design that maximizes surface area and is capable of heating the water by up to 10 degrees.

The SunQuest works best when placed in direct sunlight during the height of the day. The SunQuest is a good budget choice if you are strapped for cash. It costs almost half the price of some of the other solar heater models. The panels measure 2’ x 12’ and will work for an average-sized in-ground or above-ground pool.

It also has a great heating range between 6 to 10 degree-F. It can extend your pool season well into the fall as long as the sun remains clear. Like all solar panels, it won’t heat well when the sun is not out.

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Raypak PR206AEN 206K BTU Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Swimming Pool Heater

In 7th place is the Raypak 206,000 BTU digital electronic natural gas above ground pool heater. This heater connects to an existing gas line and can produce enough heat to maintain a comfortable temperature in a 20,000-gallon pool. This heater is made from a durable galvanized metal that is resistant to rain and water.

The metal casing is subjected to a 7-stage treating process which makes it resistant to corrosion and mechanical weathering. It also has a unique “pagoda” design that allows it to stay efficient during high wind and drafts.

This pool heater is fairly expensive but the quality makes up for the price. The heater can run year-round so you can even use your pool during the winter in most places that are not in the far North. This pool heater is also relatively space conscious. It is heavy to move but has a simple design so you can place it out of the way from foot traffic.

Overall, the Raypak is a high-quality gas heater that works for both in-ground and above-ground pools. It can ring up a bill with the gas heating but is efficient and powerful.

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Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket

Nearing the end of our list, in 8th place is the Blue Wave NS115 8-mil Solar Blanket pool heater for above-ground pools. This heating unit uses a unique thermal cell design to heat water. The thermal cells are insulating so they store heat and can even be used on a cloudier day.

The UV protect polymer is highly resistant and will not weather or age from the sun as fast as other models. The special cell design does not need a pump to run. You just place the blanket over your pool and th4e special cell design traps heat and heats the pool.

Out of all the pool heaters we have covered, this one is probably the most energy-efficient as it takes 0 power to use. The blanket also has a double function that prevents evaporation. It can prevent up to 95% of water and chemical evaporation with this solar blanket.

Also, you get a very generous 3-year warranty when you buy the pool blanket so you have a long window to return it and get a new one if anything goes wrong.

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Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above Ground

The penultimate entry on our list is the last solar model and also the most uniquely shaped one. The Goplus Solar Dome Swimming pool heater is designed specifically for above-ground pools. This pool heating mechanism is environmentally friendly and requires no gas or electricity to use.

Simply connect your pool pumps to the circular piping center and place the unique solar dome to concentrate and trap solar energy to heat your pool water. This circular pipe design maximizes the surface area exposed to make heating more efficient.

This heating unit is compact enough that it won’t take up unnecessary space and the circular design is unique and aesthetically pleasing. A major advantage is that it does not take up as much space as a mat-style solar heating unit, as some of the other ones we have covered on this list.

The Goplus solar dome is compatible with 1.5-inch hoses and compatible with ½ HP or higher pool pumps. It provides a simple way to heat your pool and it costs very little to use because it does not use an electric pump system.

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FibroPool FH 220 Swimming Pool Heater Heat Pump

Last on our list is the FibroPool FH 220 Swimming pool heat pump. This electric heat pump is one of the best above ground pool heat pump options on our list. It is designed for pools up to 7,500 gallons and can produce up to 20,000 BTUs of heating power.

The FibroPool works for both above-ground and in-group pools and has a simple two-port design with an inline for cold water and an outline for heated water. The machine uses an electrical coil to produce heat, then passes the water over the coil and back into the pool. It is also relatively compact and small for its power, at only 100 pounds.

The metal casing is durable and designed to resist the elements. You won’t have to move it when there is rain or other inclement weather. It is not as powerful as the gas heaters that we have covered here and won’t be able to heat a large pool, but it can handle most small to midsize in-ground and above ground pools.

Overall, this electric heater is an affordable and efficient model for smaller pools. It is easy to set up and does not require any special installation aside from a compatible outlet.

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Buying Guide on How to Choose the Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

When choosing the right above ground pool heater, you need to have a good idea of what will work the best. Some of the things to consider when choosing the best types of above ground Pool Heaters include.

Is it Sunny or Not?

The amount of sun coverage you get affects the pool heater you should get. If you live in a place that gets a lot of sun throughout the year, then you might not even need a pool heater. The sun’s rays will naturally heat the pool.

Most people will need a heater if they want to swim year-round though. The less sun you get, the more powerful a heater you will need in the cold months. In northern states, gas heaters might be the best because they can heat pools quickly and keep them warm during cold temperatures.

What’s Your Budget?

When you are choosing the best above ground pool heater, budget is also an important consideration. In general, buying and installing a pool heating system will cost around $3,000-$4,000 in total.

Installation for some kinds of heaters is more involved than others. For example, with a gas powered above ground pool heater, you will have to connect the heater to an existing gas line, which might require an installation.

Generally speaking, gas heaters are the most expensive to maintain. The cheapest heater to run through the year is probably a solar heater but those only work when it is bright outside. Always consider the best above ground pool heater cost before you choose one or before you use a DIY above ground pool heater.

How Big Is Your Pool?

Another relevant factor is the size of your pool The larger your pool, the stronger heater you will need to keep the entire thing warm. If you have a very small pool, most heaters should be good enough to keep them warm, regardless of the kind of heater.

Pool heater power can be measured in BTUs. For a 10,000 gallon pool (12’ x 24’) you need a heater that can put out around 85,000 BTUs to keep the pool warm around the year. Larger pools may require a 150,000 BTU heater or stronger.

Do You Care About Nature?

Some pool heaters are more eco-friendly than others. For example, electric heaters are relatively eco-friendly as they do not e9it and greenhouse gases, but they do use a lot of electricity.

Gas heaters create fumes burning natural gas and wood stoves produce smoke and ash from burning wood. But many pool owners love the best above ground pool heater propane units because they are simple to use.

Solar pool heaters are probably the most eco-friendly as they use energy from the sun to heat water. However, even solar-powered heaters require some external electricity to run the water pump. If you plan to run the heater during a few months of the year, then you have more flexibility with options.

Maintenance of Above Ground Pool Heaters

You do not want to have to drop thousands of dollars to maintain your heater. Ideally, you want something that will last a long time and does not require frequent maintenance. Average costs for repairing a pool heater in the US are about $600. Annual tune-ups for pool heating systems cost about $100.

All pool heating systems will require maintenance, but wood-burning systems probably require the least. Electrical heaters can require a lot of maintenance as they have several electrical components that can break and need replacing. Gas heaters are fairly durable and should normally require annual tune-ups for the most part.

Is It Easy to Install?

Lastly, installation costs should be another concern. The most difficult type of pool heater to install is probably a gas heater, mostly because you may have to install a new gas line to run it. Solar heaters can get pricey with installation if you build some kind of mounting display.

Alternatively, electric heaters are easy to install. Electric heaters just need a pump set up while If you have an existing gas line already, then gas heaters can be easy to install too. You also need to consider whether it makes sense for your pool to use an electric tankless above ground pool heater to keep the pool looking nice. These will require a different type of installation too.

Which Above Ground Pool Heaters Are Easiest to Install?

All other things being equal, electric pool heaters are the easiest to install. They do not need to be attached to an existing gas line and they are also fairly eco-friendly as they do not require burning gas or wood.

Electric pool heaters do not heat as quickly as natural gas heaters, but they are more consistent and can run longer for less money. Running an electric heater throughout the year will affect your electricity bill though.

Electric pool heaters tend to be more expensive upfront though. They have more complicated parts than a gas heater so they have a higher purchase price. Many agree that an electric pool heater is one of the best above ground pool heaters to make life easier around your pool.

FAQs About Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

How to heat an above-ground pool fast?

The fastest heaters are probably gas heaters. You can also cover your pool while heating it so the heat gets trapped in and warms quicker.

What is the cheapest above-ground pool heater?

Generally speaking, electric above-ground pool heaters are the least expensive models.

What is the most eco-friendly above-ground pool heater?

The most eco-friendly above-ground pool heaters are solar heaters. Sun energy is free and they do not create emissions.

How long does it take to heat an above-ground pool?

It depends on the size of the pool and what kind of heater you have. Assuming an average 10k gallon pool, it takes about 8-12 hours.

Final Words on Best Above Ground Pool Heaters

The best above ground pool heaters are a great accessory that let you use your pool throughout the entire year. A good pool heater can keep your pool at a consistent, comfortable temperature, regardless of external conditions.

So if you like to use your pool year-round, then you should look into getting an above-ground pool heating system.

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