Best Heaters for Above Ground Swimming Pools in 2021

best above ground pool heaters

Are you looking for the best heater for your above ground swimming pool?

I’ve researched hundreds of different pool heaters to select the 9 highest-quality pool heaters that are pool owner’s favorites.

In this article, you’ll find out which heater will best suit your needs and which heater you should probably avoid at all costs for your pool type.

Let’s get started!

What is the best above ground pool heater?

Here is the list of 9 best above ground pool heaters. 

Blue Wave Solar Blanket

I put the Blue Wave solar blanket on top of the list since it’s one of the most cost-effective options. This solar blanket comes in 8 sizes that range from 12-feet to 33-feet. So no matter the size of your above ground pool, you’ll likely find the one that fits your pool.

The cover keeps your pool warm with its insulating thermal cells that retain heat. And the UV-protected polymer ensures the cover doesn’t easily sustain damage from chemicals and UV lights.

Using this product, you can expect to see about a 15-degree Fahrenheit increase in temperature for your pool water. Another benefit of the cover is that it can substantially reduce water and chemical evaporation by as much as 95%.

The product also comes with a 3-year manufacturer warranty, which should help put your mind at ease.

I like that the Blue Wave solar blanket heats the pool water just enough so it retains its warmth. It mostly heats up the first few inches of water on top, but not the entire pool. But I find this is sufficient to give you an enjoyable swimming experience. 

If you want your pool to retain more warmth, I suggest you cover your pool and run the pump.

If I had to find any flaws, it’s that the product is not as thick as the Intex ones. This gives a bit of a cheap and flimsy feeling to the cover. That said, it does exactly what it promises and is still a great value for its price.

Hayward Universal H-Series Pool Heater

Hayward Universal H-series pool heater is the most expensive but probably the highest-quality heater on this list. This heater will warm your water up in no time so you can enjoy your pool water with minimal downtime.

The heater comes in ranges of 150,000 British thermal unit (BTU) to 400,000 BTU. This is a propane heater with good reliability and durability.

The cupro-nickel heat exchanger protects the machine from corrosion and damage from unbalanced water chemistry. Moreover, its hydraulic design increases energy savings by reducing the time your pump needs to run.

The heater comes with an intuitive control pad that allows for effortless operation.

If you’re worried about its environmental impact, you’ll be happy to know it emits a low nitrogen oxide level. This means the heater won’t have a problem meeting the air quality standards of your area.

It would’ve been nice if the heater came with a cover over the display and buttons for protection against bad weather. You’ll likely have to hire a plumber if you don’t have experience installing this type of pool heater.

But overall, it’s a greater heater that heats up your pool quickly.

Intex Solar Cover for Round Above Ground Pools

Intex solar cover is a perfect option if you live in an area where you get lots of sun throughout the summer.  This is a great cover for round above ground pools that are between 15 to 18-ft. 

The package also comes with a carry bag, allowing you to easily store the cover.

As any good solar cover should, Intex solar cover significantly reduces evaporation and preserves heat. Specifically, bubbles on the solar cover absorb and pass on heat to the pool water. 

The cover is designed to float in place and fit inside the edge of your pool. It also keeps debris out of your pool so that you can spend less time cleaning and more time swimming.

Overall, it’s a cheap and affordable product that keeps your water warm.

Unfortunately, you can’t expect this cover to last you forever. The product is able to sell at a low price because it isn’t made with the most premium materials.

The bubbles on the cover will likely wear off after about a year or two, and you’ll eventually have to throw it away. As long as you treat this cover as a consumable, you won’t be disappointed.

FibroPool FH120 Above Ground Pool Heat Pump

Although expensive, this heater heats your pool right up without needing the sunlight. FibroPool heat pump is ideal for pools up to 7,500 gallons or pool sizes of up to 18-ft round.

Using the output of 20,000 BTU, it quickly and efficiently heats up your pool. The heater also maximizes its energy-efficiency with a high-pressure scroll compressor.

Furthermore, it comes with a built-in 8-foot long power cable, along with a standard USA plug.

Despite its intimidating look, the installation process is simple and should take you only about half an hour with 1.5-inch compression fittings. And you certainly don’t need to get an electrician to get the job done.

My favorite part about the heater is its all-metal, enamel-coated case that makes it much more durable. The digital display on the heater also allows you to access FH series unit controls easily.

Most importantly, it doesn’t depend on sunlight to heat up your pool. This is especially crucial if your surroundings obstruct your pool from the sun.

I highly recommend this heater if you have a large above-ground pool and you’ve got money to spare.

The heater’s price is its obvious downside. If you have a smaller above ground pool, it doesn’t make much sense to purchase such an expensive heater.

It’s also going to take some time for your pool to heat up if you have a particularly big pool.

EcoSmart Electric Tankless Pool Heater

Does the idea of having a big tank taking up space in your property annoy you? Then you’ll probably love the EcoSmart tankless pool heater.

This heater’s digital thermostat control allows you to set the exact temperature. Using the control, you can set the temperature by the increment of 1-degree.

After you set the temperature, you can expect your pool temperature to rise by 1 to 1.5 degrees. It also comes with a remote controller for extra convenience.

The heater utilizes the latest flow sensor technology as opposed to using the traditional pressure switch activation. And with its 27,000 kW, this heater serves as a good alternative to a heat pump.

One big advantage of this heater is that it saves a lot of space than traditional tank heaters. If you are like me, you probably hate seeing large, bulky things taking up space in your property.

The self-modulating technology ensures the heater uses the minimum amount of energy to heat the water. This will help you save money on water heating costs.

If you’re looking for an energy-efficient, hands-off pool heater, then this is not a bad option.

Based on reviews, the company does a good job of promptly sending replacement parts if any issues arise.

But if you don’t have much plumbing knowledge, you’re going to want to get professionals to help with plumbing. And this will cost you extra money. 

GAME 4721-BB SolarPro Solar Pool Heater

If you’re looking for the coolest looking pool heater that also works wonderfully, then consider the GAME SolarPro heater.

The heater can raise the pool temperature by nearly 5 degrees for an 8,000-gallon pool in just a few days. It’s compatible with most above ground pools, including Intex and Bestway. You can even use it for in-ground pools if you wish.

The package comes with Intex adapters and two hoses and clamps. The heater’s weight is quite light at only 12.5 lbs. It’s straightforward to assemble the heater. And it won’t raise your utility bill since it doesn’t require any gas or electricity to operate. 

This heater is made up of durable materials that can withstand sun exposure and harsh weather. Also, because of its unique curved shape, it does a pretty good job of trapping heat. Additionally, it comes with the treaded ports, which adds to its plumbing options.

The legs that attach to the heater are adjustable, allowing you to move them around for maximal sun exposure. You have nothing to worry if any part of your heater needs replacement since the company has replacement parts readily available.

To repeat, this product is not going to magically bring your pool water to a boiling temperature (not that you’d want that anyway). But you can expect your water temperature to rise by a few degrees. This will still have a measurable impact on prolonging your pool season.

It would’ve been nice if the hose was a little longer. Some customers report having to connect the two hoses together because the return is not long enough. It’s not a big deal but can still be a bit of a hassle.

Sun2Solar Blue 21-foot Round Solar Cover

With Sun2Solar Blue solar cover’s ocean blue color, your neighbors will barely notice if you have a cover on your pool. 

This solar cover offers a wide range of sizes ranging from 8-ft round to 33-ft round. Its blue color blends in well with any pools and landscape. This allows your pool to maintain aesthetics even when it’s covered. 

Moreover, the cover doesn’t require electricity or any external energy sources, saving you energy costs while efficiently heating your pool.

The cover is essentially a film of hundreds and thousands of small bubbles. These bubbles absorb and transfer heat to your pool both during the day and night. As with other high-quality covers, this also does a good job of preventing the evaporation of water. This will help you save money on water costs.

If you have a uniquely-shaped pool, you can simply cut the cover using a pair of scissors to fit your pool shape. Have the air bubbles on your pool cover face down toward the water. Mark the line that needs to be cut around your cover and cut it.

Don’t worry if you are worried you might mess up during the process. You’ll still be protected by the manufacturer’s warranty.

The cover is heavy-duty, which is good for durability. But this also means it’s going to be more challenging to take it off. You may consider buying a reel to help you with this.

Some reviews suggest that the cover comes apart at the seams after a while. But there aren’t many major complaints regarding the product quality, and most customers seem quite satisfied.

SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater

SunHeater is a multi-talented pool heater that works for both in-ground and above-ground pools. The installation process is simple, and you can easily set everything up without external help. 

I also like that the heater can be installed on many different places, such as roof, rack, ground, or fence. It’s annoying when you’re stuck placing a heater in a place where you don’t want it to be, so it’s a nice plus.

The product utilizes its patented web design to trap as much heat as it can from the sunlight. Furthermore, you don’t need anything else apart from your existing pool pump to get it to work.

With this heater, you can expect your pool temperature to rise by 6 to 10-degrees Fahrenheit. If you use it in combination with a solar cover, that number will be even higher.

Lastly, the product is made in the USA for those who prefer to purchase domestic products.

Overall, it’s a cost-effective heater that does a good job of conserving heat for all types of pools.

The heater works best if you live in an area where you’re frequently exposed to the sun. It will be less effective during a cloudy day or if your pool is blocked from the sun by the surroundings.

You’ll likely need to connect a couple of hoses to make it work.

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater

Goplus solar dome heater will seem like a UFO has landed in your backyard. Heck, you can even tell your kids that if you want to sound extra cool, and they’ll probably believe it.

This is an environmentally-friendly dome-shaped heater for above ground pools. It works by magnifying the solar energy with the use of its clear lens. Black coiled hoses then trap the heat. And the heated pool water returns to your pool via your pump and filtration system.

I personally feel the design is much more visually appealing than that of solar panels. It also doesn’t take up as much space.

Besides, the heater requires no electricity nor gas and is completely capable of working on its own.

You can place the protective cover on the dome when you’re not using the heater. This ensures the dome is protected from its surroundings and increases its longevity.

The package comes with two hoses: one 38.6-ft hose and another 14.5-ft hose. The product’s weight is around 11.2 lbs, and it connects to 1.5-inch hoses.

I’m not a big fan of the hoses that come with the product since they are a little flimsy. I suggest you get a different hose if you buy this product.

Most complaints in customer reviews also have to do with the quality of hoses. Otherwise, it’s a decent product.

Best Above Ground Pool Heaters Buyer’s Guide

Let’s talk about a few important things to consider when choosing an above ground pool heater.

Exposure to sun

Your pool’s exposure to the sun will play an essential role in deciding which heater you should buy.

If you live in an area where you don’t get much sun throughout summer, then it’d be a mistake to buy solar covers that use heat from the sun to raise your pool’s temperature. They’ll barely have any effect on heating up your pool under such conditions.

It’s no different if something is blocking your pool from the sun, such as trees or your housing structure. 

Anything that prevents your pool from getting an adequate amount of sunlight makes sun-powered solar covers ineffective.

If this situation applies to you, I recommend you go with either FibroPool or Hayward heater if your budget allows. They’re a little pricey, but they’ll keep your pool warm and last you a long time.

Budget

Pool heaters can vary wildly in their prices. Cheaper ones cost less than a hundred dollars, and the more expensive ones can cost a couple of grand.

In general, pool solar covers that don’t require any gas or electricity tend to be a lot cheaper than others. But the downside is that its effectiveness greatly depends on environmental factors, as I said earlier.

Pool heaters powered by gas or electricity are usually a lot more expensive. But they don’t have to rely on favorable weather conditions and tend to be more effective at raising temperature quickly.

That said, you’ll likely have to pay extra money to get professionals to install these heaters. So you want to ensure you have a budget for everything.

Size

Don’t forget to check if the heater can accommodate your pool size.

If your solar cover is a little too big for your pool, you can simply trim it with your scissors to fit your pool in most cases. But there isn’t a lot you can do if the cover’s size turns out to be too small for your pool.

If you decide to go with heat pumps, check what pool capacity the pump is capable of serving.

Ease of installation

Most pool heaters are easy to install, and you should have no problem installing without help. That said, some pool heaters require you to have a good amount of plumbing knowledge to install successfully. In other words, you’ll have to hire someone to get them installed if you don’t have the expertise to do it alone.

Environmentally friendly

This is a non-issue for most pool heaters. But there’s a possibility that a gas pool heater can cause some environmental concerns.

A pool heater like Hayward ensures that it keeps nitrogen oxide level to the minimum. So if you’re buying a gas heater, you may want to double-check if the heater meets the air quality standards for your location.

Above Ground Pool Heater FAQs

The following are the most common questions related to above ground pool heaters.

What’s the best way to heat an above ground pool?

To repeat, your environment will determine the type of heater that suits you best. If you live in Arizona or Texas and have a small pool, then there isn’t much reason for you to spend a few thousand dollars on a gas heater. 

It makes sense to buy solar covers that utilize the sun’s rays to heat your pool in such a case.

But it makes perfect sense to buy a gas pool heater if you live in a city like Elkins and have a larger pool. The city doesn’t get nearly enough sun for solar covers to be worthwhile. And your best bet to keeping your pool warm throughout the season would be to invest in a gas heater.

What’s the right size heater for my above ground pool?

If you have a solar cover, it’s just a matter of finding the size that matches your pool size. You can also cut the cover to match the size of your pool if it’s too big.

When it comes to heat pumps, there is a guideline you can follow.

If you have a pool capacity of 10,000 to 13,000 gallons (between 21’ to 24’ round), I recommend getting a heat pump with around 50,000 BTU.

For an above ground pool with about 17,000 gallons of water (27’ round), it’s good to pick a heat pump with around 65,000 BTU.

In case your pool has a greater than 20,000-gallon water capacity (around 30’ round), I suggest you go with an 85,000 BTU heat pump.

How long does the above ground pool heater last?

Your heater’s durability will depend on the type of heater you buy and how well you take care of it.

In general, solar covers will last for a couple of years if you take good care of them. If you keep your cover out all the time in the sun, it’s going to sustain more damage. Subsequently, you’ll be reducing its longevity. So, it’s a good idea to store it away from the sun when not in use.

An electric or a gas pool heater can last up to half a decade or longer. If any issues arise with your heater, it’s important for you to promptly fix the problem before it gets worse. This will allow your heater to sustain a longer life.

Conclusion

Although pool heaters aren’t always necessary, they’re good investments to make if you want to enjoy your pool to the fullest degree.

The idea of shivering inside your icy cold pool water probably doesn’t excite you very much. Luckily, it’s relatively simple to install and use most pool heaters.

You just need to make sure you find the right type for your pool by considering factors like where you live, your environment, your budget, and your pool’s size.

I hope this article was useful in helping you find the perfect heater for your pool, so you and your kids can enjoy warmer pool water this season!

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