Looking to find the best above ground pool heater? We can help!
If you want to enjoy having your own above ground pool, then you have to properly maintain it and make it comfortable and desirable to swim in, and that means investing in a reliable above ground pool heater.
With everything that’s on about global warming and climate change, you don’t want to risk your new pool heater being a risk to the environment. Using too much electricity can really drive up your carbon footprint.
The solution of course is to get yourself an ecological and environmentally friendly above-ground pool heater. There are all kinds of above-ground pool heaters around on the market at the moment, and we’ve been testing them.
After much deliberation, we were able to put together a shortlist of our top 5 favorites, and our reviews on those are coming up very shortly, but we totally get that choosing one can be somewhat tricky, so we’ve also put together a buying guide for you that will walk you through all the key things to think about before you buy.
Then, we’re going to top that off with a section where we tackle some of your most frequently asked questions on the subject.
And without further ado, let’s get straight into it!
Our Favorite Above-Ground Swimming Pool Heater Reviews
Check out our team’s favorite, tried and tested swimming pool heating systems for above ground pools below.
1. Sun2Solar Blue 24-Foot Round Solar Cover
Once you have got your main pool heater, you should also seriously consider a means to retain the pool’s heat once the desired temperature has been reached, so that you’re not wasting any fuel or energy by continuing to heat the pool unnecessarily.
Luckily, this is easier than it sounds with the Sun2Solar Blue 24-Foot Round Solar Cover.
All you have to do is cut the cover to size, and place it over the surface of your above-ground pool, with the bubble side facing down. And there’s no need to worry, cutting the cover does not void the manufacturer’s warranty.
Then you simply allow the heat from the sunlight to retain the pool’s heat for you via the solar cover.
It really couldn’t be any easier to use. And, you don’t need to run a heat pump or use any electricity, so it’s super environmentally friendly.
And not only does it really help to retain the pool’s heat, but it also minimizes any water evaporation at the same time.
It’s available in several different sizes, simply pick the right fit.
And it has excellent customer ratings. Even after well over 2,000 individual customer ratings on Amazon, the average customer rating still comes out at a very impressive 4 and a half stars out of 5.
Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular product, simply click on “Check price” to see if there’s a deal on now.
- Incredibly easy to use
- Environmentally friendly
- Requires no electricity
- Excellent customer ratings
- Only retains the pool’s heat, does not heat up the pool
2. Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit for Above Ground Swimming Pools
Please note: this review is for the Pape bear pool heater, and not the solar bear one available on the same product page.
Now, this particular pool heater has earned the title of Amazon’s Choice in the category of swimming pool heaters by fafco.
Such a title is only given to products that are both of excellent quality and that are also available at a very good, reasonable price. It also happens to be a very prominent bestseller.
The beauty of a solar panel pool heater like this one is that it can raise your water temperature by up to 10 degrees during the daytime, and then allows it to cool as it becomes dark outside.
It comes in the form of a 24-foot panel, by 48 inches wide, and if you click on “check price” you’ll be taken to the product page where there’s a guide as to how big a system you need.
If you have a particularly big pool to take care of you can opt for 2 panels.
It can produce over 148,000 BTUs of heat which is pretty good and should suffice for most of the year in some states.
It’s relatively straightforward to set up, and you can either lay it flat on the ground next to the pool, or you can mount it on a special rack, with the mounting equipment included in the box.
You can get the whole thing set up in as little as half an hour.
And what makes it so easy to set up is how it works with any universal pool pump, so you don’t have to worry about fussing around with compatibility charts.
And because it uses solar heat you also don’t have to worry about any expensive gas bills or any harm to the environment.
It comes with a pretty good warranty that runs for a full 3 years, and you can easily get good value for money out of the heater before the warranty runs out.
- Earned title of Amazon’s Choice
- Solar-powered – helps the environment
- Relatively easy and quick to install
- Works with any universal pool pump
- Backed by a lengthy 3-year warranty
- Premium product at a premium price
3. VINGLI Above Ground Domed Solar Powered Pool Heater
If you like the sound of environmentally friendly solar-powered heating for your pool, but you don’t fancy having to mount a huge solar panel, then this might be a better option for you.
Because the device uses a heating coil in a dome design rather than a large panel, it has a far more compact shape and size than a solar panel.
This coil is protected from debris by a large dome, and this will really help the device to last and give you plenty of wear.
You can either lie it flat on the ground next to the pool, or you can use the foldable legs underneath to prop it at an angle to give you more direct sunlight exposure and get it running at its maximum efficiency.
And at the same time, you’ll also get more space around the pool to boot.
Water is recycled by the system, preferably by passing from the pool through a sand filter, before going to the water pump, and is then heated by the solar power dome before heading back to the swimming pool.
If you feel that one of these heaters won’t be enough to heat your pool, you can always buy more if you have the budget to.
If you were to have a row of these heaters alongside your pool, you could get it really, really warm.
Everything you need to get it set up and working is included in the box when it arrives. Moreover, the connectors are rotatable and are designed not to leak.
And because it’s entirely solar-powered, you don’t have to worry about running up a huge gas bill – so much better for your wallet & bank balance.
And you’re helping the environment at the same time.
It comes backed by a full years’ warranty, and if you have any issues with it all, you can get in touch with their after sales service which is available 24/7 and your issues will soon be solved.
- Solar-powered – helps the environment
- Small and compact – takes up little room
- Very easy and quick to set up and install
- Coil is protected from debris for a longer lifespan
- Backed by excellent after-sales technical support
- Can cost about as much as a large solar panel
4. Gesail 1500W Electric Immersion Heater
Talk about flying off the shelves – Amazon has sold over a thousand of these pool heaters that are ideal for smaller above ground pools that need heating, so we had to see what all the fuss was about.
If you can’t afford a solar panel for heating your swimming pool, or if you want a device that offers more powerful heating, then this immersion heater from Gesail might be the one for you.
There’s no installation or set up to worry about like there is with solar panel heaters.
However, on the flip side, you will need electricity to run it, so it’s not as environmentally friendly and could lead to increased electricity bills.
It’s a small and easily affordable device that can heat up 5 gallons of water in a matter of minutes.
And unlike the solar-powered pool heaters we showed you earlier, this heater can provide nice warm water day or night.
And it can reach temperatures up to a whopping 194 degrees Fahrenheit.
And another thing we love about this pool heater is the thermostat.
You simply select what temperature you want for the pool, and the heater will work to achieve it, and will automatically switch off when that temperature is met.
But I can guess what you’re thinking knowing the heater is electric – is it going to give me an electric shock if I touch it in the water?
Well, you don’t have to worry. There are safety measures in place to ensure that won’t happen.
Although it is strongly recommended that you remove the heater from the pool before anyone gets in, so they don’t get scalded.
It also comes backed by a full 12 months warranty, which is good to know.
Amazon occasionally has deals on this particular water heater, simply click on “check price” to see if there’s a deal on now.
- No relying on sun to heat the pool
- Full thermostat control day & night
- Achieve temperatures of up to 194ºF
- Far more affordable than solar power
- Backed by a 12-month warranty
- Contributes to your electricity bill
- Designed for small pools only, and not designed for larger swimming pools
5. EcoSmart Tankless Pool Heater
With a name like EcoSmart, you just know that the product is going to be economical to use and ecologically friendly.
You can either use it as an alternative to a heat pump, or you can use it with a heat pump and let it act like a booster. And it’s really simple and straightforward to use, you use one connection for a hose for cold water to come in and a further connection for a hose for hot water to come.
And it offers incredibly precise temperature control. You can turn the dial to set the thermostat to your desired temperature digitally to increments of just one degree Fahrenheit.
And thanks to its self-modulating technology it will work to achieve that temperature, and will automatically adjust itself once that temperature has been reached, but will also be vigilant enough to notice and take action if the temperature begins to fall.
You can just set it and forget it. And that’s what makes it both economical and environmentally friendly.
It has plenty of power to offer, coming in at 18,000 watts, and although it’s relatively easy to install, you will need to call out a licensed electrician to install it for you.
But that doesn’t mean it’s only suitable for in-ground pools – you can use it for above-ground pools just as easily.
The temperature range starts at 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and goes up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which works out at 26 degrees to 21 degrees Centigrade.
And it comes backed by a lengthy 2 year warranty.
The other thing we love about it is how you don’t have to get up and walk over to the device to tweak the temperature. And that’s because it’s compatible with the Ecosmart Remote Control.
Unfortunately however this remote control does not come in the box, and you would have to buy it separately.
The biggest drawback to this gadget is the hefty price tag. It’s not one of the most expensive pool heaters out there but it’s not far off. You may decide it’s worth it though.
We admit this pool heater has had its fair share of negative reviews, but nearly 50% of customers who bought through Amazon gave it a full 5 stars out of 5.
- Very precise temperature control
- Thermostat & self modulating technology
- Possible alternative to a heat pump
- Premium product at a premium price
- There have been mixed customer reviews
- You will need to call out a licensed electrician for installation
Our Pool Heating System Buying Guide: What To Consider
As promised, here’s your buying guide on the best above ground pool heaters. Let’s walk you through some of the key points to consider before buying.
It’s important that you ensure that the pool heater that you buy is capable of heating up the entire pool.
So, if you have a particularly large pool then you have to ensure that the pool heater is up to the job. Examine any size guides that come with the pool heater.
Ideally, you’d want to be able to adjust the temperature to your exact specifications. That way you can enjoy a dip in nice warm water even if it’s a little chilly outside.
However, many pool heaters don’t allow thermostat control, so if this is important to you, then this should be something you keep an eye out for when shopping around.
It is beyond the scope of this article to into whether it’s important for your pool heater to be environmentally friendly, but we know that this is an important consideration for many people which is why we included a number of environmentally friendly pool heaters in our shortlist that are very green and are solar-powered.
There is a drawback to going for a solar-powered pool heater, however.
You don’t have quite as much control of how much heat you can get, and you are sometimes only able to increase the temperature of the water by as little as 10 degrees.
If you do decide to go for a pool heater that has a solar panel, you may want to look into how the heater can be mounted for optimum sunlight exposure, and ensure that everything you need to mount the panel is included in the price.
It’s important that you get a pool heater that’s built to last – you don’t want to have to buy a new pool heater every six months or so!
Value for Money
If there’s anything that can vary in price, it has to be pool heaters.
At the higher end you can expect to pay over a staggering one thousand dollars for a pool heater. But you can also get some that cost as little as thirty dollars or so.
You really don’t need to be paying as much as $1000 for a pool heater – at least when there are so many more affordable options on the market that do the job just as well.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The team at All About Pools came together to help answer our most commonly received FAQs related to about ground swimming pool heaters.
What’s The Best Pool Heater For Above-Ground Pools?
The answer to this question depends pretty much on whether you want to go for solar-powered heating, which is better for the environment and running costs, or whether you’d prefer a small electric immersion heater that has a much more affordable initial cost…
If it’s the former you like, we would recommend our number one pick, the Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit for Above Ground Swimming Pools.
Or if the latter sounds better to you, we would recommend our number 4 pick, the Gesail 1500W Electric Immersion Heater, because it offers thermostat control.
What’s The Best Way To Heat An Above-Ground Swimming Pool?
Once you know the answer to “how are swimming pools heated?”, you begin to look for the best option for you. There are two ways to answer this question. The most obvious way is to answer according to which is the quickest, most effective and efficient way of heating an above-ground pool. But then you could also argue that the most ideal way to heat an above-ground pool is the way which has the least damaging impact on the environment…
So, in answer to the first question, we would say that the quickest, most effective and efficient way to heat an above-ground pool is to do so, is by using an electric heater. For example, with our number 4 pick, the Gesail 1500W Electric Immersion Heater, or our number 5 pick, the EcoSmart SMART POOL 18 Electric Tankless Pool Heater.
If however you’re more eco-conscious, we think you’d prefer either our number one pick, the Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit, or our number two pick, the VINGLI Above Ground Domed Solar Powered Pool Heater.
But, if to you the best way to heat an above ground pool is the way that means the least amount of fuss and bother, then you should look for one with thermostat control, so that you don’t have to worry about adjusting the temperature every time it starts to fall low.
For this, we would recommend our number 4 pick, the Gesail 1500W Electric Immersion Heater, or our number 5 pick, the EcoSmart SMART POOL 18 Electric Tankless Pool Heater.
Are The Best Above-Ground Pool Heaters Worth It?
Sure, we get that some above-ground pool heaters can be rather expensive, especially if you start looking at ones that cost over $1000…
However, as we mentioned earlier in our buying guide, you can also get above-ground pool heaters that cost as little as $30. And if it is this type that you’re asking about, you have to admit it’s absolutely worth it. Very few people would enjoy a swim in a cold outdoor pool.
Of course, you would also have to weigh that up against the cost of running the pool heater. But, you can decrease the cost of running an electric thermostat controlled heater by making use of a special pool cover to retain the pool’s heat when it’s not in use, as with our number 4 pick, the Sun2Solar Blue 24-Foot Round Solar Cover.
We would also argue that mid-priced above ground pool heaters are worth the money if you have the budget for them, such as our number 1 pick, the Fafco 10028 Universal Solar Panel Heating Kit for Above Ground Swimming Pools, and our number 2 pick, the VINGLI Above Ground Domed Solar Powered Pool Heater.
Of course, the drawback to these mid priced above-ground pool heaters is that they require sunlight in order to function, which is no good if your pool is in the shade.
Enjoy Your New Above Ground Pool Heater
We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to choose the best heater for your above ground swimming pool. Having a quality pool heating system can make opening up your above ground swimming pool and enjoying it easier and more comfortable for everyone!
Hello, I am a writer and marketing specialist in Kansas City, MO. My love for swimming pools started as a child when I would visit my aunt & uncle’s inground swimming pool on a frequent basis over the summer. Since then I have taught swimming lessons at a Boy Scout Camp, participated in the full setup, installation and maintenance of my father’s inground swimming pool, as well as enjoyed constantly researching everything there is to know about swimming pools for 5+ years. I enjoy all water related sports, being part of the online swimming pool community and always learning new things!