6 Solar Pool Heaters Reviewed: Save Money & Extend the Season

Aerial view of a narrow rectangular swimming pool and solar roof panels.

Solar pool heaters are a fantastic way to maintain comfortable swimming temperatures while keeping your energy costs down, but they’re not a one-size-fits-all solution, and there are several different types from which to select.

If you have a large pool, it’s generally best to go with a model that installs outside of the pool itself and heats water that’s then circulated through your existing pump/filtration system.

These heaters are easy to install, require little maintenance, are incredibly efficient, and are compatible with existing pool equipment.

Best of all, they’ll extend your swimming season by weeks year after year.

Here’s a quick look at the top two picks.

FAFCO Papa Bear Solar Pool Heater with Starter Kit...
  • Enjoy your pool and heat up your above-ground swimming pool with renewable energy to enjoy warm...
  • Functioning as a historic and extensive solar pool heating solution, every unit undergoes inspection...
SunHeater Aboveground Pool Heating System,...
  • SOLAR POOL HEATER – The Sunheater Solar Pool Heating System allows you to capture free heat from...
  • EXTENDS POOL SEASON – Your pool’s pump pushes the water through the panel’s many tubes where...

Best Overall Solar Pool Heater:

Fafco Papa Bear Universal Heating System

FAFCO Papa Bear Solar Pool Heater with Starter Kit...
  • Enjoy your pool and heat up your above-ground swimming pool with renewable energy to enjoy warm...
  • Functioning as a historic and extensive solar pool heating solution, every unit undergoes inspection...

The best overall solar pool heater is the Fafco Papa Bear Universal Heating System. This solar pool heater heats pools fairly quickly without costing too much.

Depending on your location, your pool could lose an average of 4 to 6 degrees overnight.

With the Fafco Papa Bear Universal Heating System, you can keep your pool at a comfortable temperature during the season for both daytime and nighttime use.

You’ll only need about two days with an average of 80-degree weather for your pool to go from 70 to 80℉ and stay there for the rest of the season.

One thing that is especially great about this system is that it will last about 3-5 years before the parts start to break down and need replacement again.

During the winter, you can easily roll it up to store the system in your basement or an outdoor shed.


  • Easily mountable wherever you have space, like the ground, on a rack, or roof.
  • Large size.
  • Good circulation.
  • Also works with many in-ground pools.


  • Some users have had trouble with leaks.

Best for Above Ground Pools:

SunHeater Heating System

SunHeater Aboveground Pool Heating System,...
  • SOLAR POOL HEATER – The Sunheater Solar Pool Heating System allows you to capture free heat from...
  • EXTENDS POOL SEASON – Your pool’s pump pushes the water through the panel’s many tubes where...

The next best option for heating an above-ground pool is the SunHeater Heating System. It captures the heat from the sun, so it is very cost effective.

One of the great things about this heater is that it can make the water 15 degrees warmer and make the pool season last longer — a must for any pool enthusiast.

Since this heater uses the pool’s existing filter system and comes with the necessary plumbing fixtures for connection, you likely won’t need any additional parts, making installation a breeze.


  • Can extend your pool season for 2 – 4 weeks.
  • Easy to install anywhere you have space.
  • Captures more heat from the sun.


  • Connection process can be complicated.

Best for In-Ground Pools:

XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground  Solar Heating System

XtremepowerUS Inground/Above Ground Swimming Pool...
  • XtremepowerUS Panels are built from extremely high-grade materials that are proven to last in all...
  • Pools pump and filter system circulates pool water through the SOLAR PANELS when it is heated & then...

The XtremepowerUS Inground Swimming Pool Solar Panel Heating System is your best choice for an in-ground pool heating system.

It’s also one of the least expensive ways to heat your pool.

The XtremepowerUS Heating System consists of two solar panels that absorb the sun’s rays, convert them to energy, and then heat your pool water.

One of the great things about this heating system is that the panels are built from the best materials, so they last in all types of weather.

Once you install these panels, they will help you save money on electricity while creating no greenhouse gases.

Finally, you can swim for longer every single year with the help of this system.


  • Highly resistant materials.
  • Provides reliable heating for small pools without heavy equipment or installation costs.
  • You’ll see (and feel) results quickly.


  • Works best with smaller pools.

Best Dome Solar Pool Heater:

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater

Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater Above...
  • ☀️【Eco-friendly Way to Heat Your Pool】With no electricity or gas connection needed, our pool...
  • ☀️【Longer Swimming Season】This solar heater features an innovative dome design that provides...

Have the heat on when you want with the Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater.

This product is solar powered, which means there is no need for expensive gas or electric connections.

Best of all, its space-saving design means you can put it almost anywhere.

The design and functionality of this solar heater is impressive. It’s quite compact, which means you can store it easily in a small space without taking up too much room.

The best part, though, is that there aren’t any mechanical or electrical parts to break down.

This means that the heater is easy to maintain – you don’t have to worry about calling some maintenance specialist if something goes wrong.

It’s also great that this system utilizes your existing filtration setup to circulate the warmed water. No extra gear or devices needed!


  • Solar powered.
  • Small footprint.
  • No mechanical or electrical parts.
  • Includes protective cover.


  • Connection hoses can be a bit flimsy.
  • You many need more than one for larger pools.

Best Floating Solar Pool Heater:

Solar Sun Rings UV Floating Heater

Solar Sun Rings SSSA-SB-02 UV Resistant Above...
  • ABSORBS SUNLIGHT: Solar cover uses sunlight to heat the pool throughout the day
  • RETAINS HEAT: Thermal blanket effect helps the water retain heat during the night

Floating solar pool heaters won’t heat your pool quite as well as solar heating systems, but they’re definitely worth investing in if you simply need an occasional or slight boost in temperature.

The Solar Sun Rings UV Floating Heater is a fun, eco-friendly alternative to traditional lights and heaters.

They’re made of durable plastic that diffuses the sun’s rays for enough energy to warm your pool significantly in just two hours.

The Solar Sun Rings UV Floating Heater is designed to easily break apart when you have several in the pool at once.

You can effortlessly install the rings yourself. Simply inflate, and toss in!

These heater rings are compatible with automatic pool cleaners and are easy to clean and maintain. This heater comes in a summery blue with a cheerful sunburst design.


  • Works seamlessly with automatic pool cleaners.
  • Breaks apart easily so you won’t get trapped underneath.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Each heater is 5 x 5 feet.


  • Only heats the first foot or so of the water’s surface.

Best Solar Ball Pool Heater:

AquaPill SolarPill

Aquapill Solar Pill Liquid Solar Blanket 12,000...
  • Easy to use; simply place in skimmer; automatically dispenses the formula for optimum coverage.
  • Forms an ultra-thin invisible barrier on the surface of the water that reduces heat and chemical...

Support your planet and maintain the health of your pool with the AquaPill SolarPill. This fantastic product is not only small and lightweight, but it’s also incredibly easy to use.

The secret to its success?

It works by producing an invisible film on the water surface that reduces evaporation and controls heat loss.

AquaPill SolarPill is an environmentally friendly alternative to expensive heating systems that use fossil fuels for your swimming pool heating.

Each ball is small yet mighty enough to provide the heat necessary for a 12,000-gallon pool.

There is no need to remember any complicated maintenance routines either: put one ball in your pool, and it lasts a whole month.

It is easy to use, and it saves the hassle of moving a solar cover on and off every day.

Ultimately, it’s a super convenient option that makes the pool experience so much more enjoyable.


  • No complicated installation.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Works with all types of pools.
  • Completely skin safe.


  • Seal sometimes doesn’t break.

Buyer’s Guide For Solar Pool Heaters

A solar pool heater requires a certain number of square feet to work efficiently.

It’s important not to purchase an oversize system, as the excess heat will escape into the atmosphere.

Many factors affect how well your system can collect and store solar energy: time of day, location (southern facing), amount of shade on the panel surface, etc.

The more efficient the unit is at collecting and storing this free renewable resource, the less you’ll need traditional utilities like gas or electricity, which have higher costs per kilowatt hour than sun power does.

What Size Solar Pool Heater Do I Need?

You can determine the size of the solar pool heater you need by figuring out how much water you need to heat and for how long.

Some of the most common swimming pool sizes are 12,000 gallons, 16,500 gallons, and 20,000 gallons.

Larger pools require a larger heater than smaller ones because they need more energy to heat the water.

One way to determine the size of the solar pool heater you need is to consult your local experts or manufacturers.

Doing this before purchasing any solar panels for your swimming pool can help you determine which one will work best with your heating requirements.

Another way to choose the right size solar heater for your pool is to consider the pool’s size, dimensions, and how many gallons it holds.

Then decide how much additional temperature you want to input and consider environmental factors like wind and exposure to the sun.

Do Solar Pool Heaters Work at Night?

Solar pool heaters are most effective when the sun is shining brightly, but even on overcast days, solar panels can still draw some warmth out of the air outside – as long as it’s a warm day.

If there’s an impending storm or if it’s raining and cloudy with low temperatures, don’t run your heater as this will cool down the water rather than warming it up.

Is Solar Pool Heating Worth It?

A solar pool heater is an economical way to reduce your swimming pool’s heating costs.

Not only are they cost-competitive with other types of heaters, but their annual operating costs are relatively low too.

In fact, according to some studies in certain climates, this might be the most cost-effective use for a solar energy system.

A great benefit of using a solar heater for your swimming pool is that not only do you save money on gas or electricity bills every month, but you can even help reduce global warming and climate change.

A Quick Look Back

As you’ve seen, there is quite a variety of solar heating options. Your decision really comes down to personal preference and individual needs.

If you have a smaller pool, only want a slight increase in temperature occasionally, or prefer not to have a large solar collection system in your yard, the Goplus Solar Dome Heater may be the perfect solution.

For moderate or large pools, the Fafco Papa Bear is an excellent choice.

The convenient on/off knob allows you to only run it when you need to, so there’s no need to worry about complicated disconnects or too warm water.

Although it’s designed for above-ground pools, many people have installed it on in-ground pools with fantastic results.

The fact that it’s compatible with any existing filter system makes this an easy decision for a long-lasting off-grid heating solution.