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Have you ever gone into the swimming pool only to discover that the water was freezing cold to the extent that a quick warm-up shower couldn’t do it?
At this time, you would give anything to have a warmer pool, and that’s exactly what a pool heater is there for. Designed to increase the pool’s temperature to a bearable degree for swimming, particularly in the cold season and swimming season, pool heaters are a must-have for pool owners.
Considering the fact that there are a lot of pool heaters in the market, all with a variety of functions and features, the whole situation begs the question of what are the best pool heaters one can get, and this piece is all about hinting at them all.
How Do Pool Heaters Work?
When it comes to the intricacies of pool heater functionality, we have to take a look at individual pool heaters based on the type of pool heater to know what their components and features are and what to expect from each one when it comes to heating power and capacity.
Basically, the idea of pool heaters is that they convert energy from various sources; direct sunlight for solar heaters, electricity for electric pool heaters and electric heat pumps, gas, either natural or propane in the case of gas pool heaters, and the heat available in the air in the case of the heat pump.
All these energy sources are converted into heat that travels across the water or directly heats the water surface to keep the pool water warm and nice for every use.
Right here, we shall review a few of these very vital pool equipment on the market from various brands and see how they work fine for you.
- Best Overall – Hayward W3H250FDN Universal H-Series 250,000 BTU Natural Gas Pool and Spa Heater
- Runner Up – Hayward W3HP21004T HeatPro 95,000 BTU Pool Heat Pump
- Best Combination Design – Raypak 266,000 BTU Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Pool Heater
The 8 Best Pool Heaters Reviews
1. Hayward W3H250FDN Universal H-Series 250,000 BTU Natural Gas Pool and Spa – Best Natural Gas-powered Pool Heater
In the world of gas pool heaters, there are the good ones, and there are the great ones that exceed every level of functionality, offering you the best that money can buy, and this model is the best one in the gas category.
The Universal H-series pool heater is a high-performance and energy-efficient gas heater with up to 750 feet surface area where there is an existing natural gas line and designed for inground pools, spas and for large pools with about 400 square feet size.
A good reason why the H-series model is the best propane pool heater.
The model offers 250,000 BTU/Hr of a gas heater with a fast-heating performance and an 83% thermal efficiency perfect for low Nox emissions.
Also spots a patented polymer header design for superior hydraulic performance to conserve energy and protect against erosion.
Constructed with a cupronickel heat exchanger, it is suitable for salt water pools for longevity and premium heating performance.
Features a forced draft combustion system that constantly heats up the combustion chamber and allows for constant heating irrespective of the weather and uses an LED digital control panel for digital temperature readout, diagnostics, and to perform other functionalities.
- Energy-saving and eco-friendly
- Perfect for salt water pools and pools with unstable chemical composition
- Fast heat-up process
- Cupronickel heat exchanger
- Features corrosion-resistant evaporator fin
- Functional irrespective of weather conditions
- Low NOx emissions
- LED digital control panel for controls
- A bit noisy
- Ineffective customer service
2. Hayward W3HP21004T HeatPro 95,000 BTU Pool Heat Pump – Best Pool Heat Pump
For pool owners with inground pools that are used often and need something economical to keep their pools warm, the Hayward HeatPro Heat Pump would do just fine.
Designed to harness energy from the ambient to convert into heat, the model is quite economical. With a profiled fan blade, the airflow is more efficient with a quiet operation, and the acoustic compressor cover minimizes and dampens the compressor level sound.
The electric heat pump incorporates titanium counter-flow heat exchangers for optimum heat supply in the toughest of weather conditions and also has UV-resistant body panels for corrosion prevention.
Fit for inground pools Hayward Heatpro incorporates an ultra gold-corrosion resistant evaporator fin for longevity, most especially in coastal regions.
Weighing 270 pounds, the swimming pool heater thermal unit is a total of 95,000 BTU; it is the best pool heater for smaller pools.
- Profiled fan blades for efficient air flow
- Quiet and efficient functionality
- Titanium heat exchanger
- Suitable for salt water pools
- UV-resistant body
- Long-lasting and corrosion guarded
- Parts are packed inside the heat pump
- User manual related issues
3. Raypak 266,000 BTU Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Pool Heater – Best Digitized Natural Gas Heater
As the most popular type of pool heater, natural gas heaters always have the best functionalities to ensure that your swimming pool is always at the desired temperature and Raypak Digital Electronic Ignition Natural Gas Heater does that and much more.
As a perfect fit for above ground pools and in ground pools alike, the Raypak gas heater is a digitalized heater featuring an electronic ignition for fast start-up, an LCD digital display for accurate display, and also designed to monitor operational status and service diagnostics.
With a total of 266,000 BTU output, the pool heater is capable of heating the pool water and increasing the water temperature quickly.
Being a compact pool size, it is constructed with a super durable cupronickel fin-tube and a ProTek shield for the header to protect the entire model from corrosion and other external damages from high winds.
Energy-efficient and economical, the 210 pounds gas pool heater combines high flow rates with little fuel, hence why it is one of the best gas pool heaters.
- Digitalized functionalities
- Smart microprocessor
- Durable and strong construction
- Compact size
- Highly efficient
- Quite expensive
- Ineffective customer service care
4. EcoSmart SMART POOL 27 Electric Tankless Pool Heater – Best Budget-friendly Electric Design
The EcoSmart Smart Pool electric pool heater is one of those heaters that save you a lot of money on everything that has to do with running and maintaining the heater without losing the product’s value.
As the name implies, the electric heater is a tankless pool heater that heats the water directly and employs the functionality of flow sensor technology to reduce burned elements and provide a safer heater experience for you.
With its digital thermostat control, you can set the exact temperature you desire with 1°F increments using remote control while using 240 volts of power, providing you optimal heat for very little.
EcoSmart requires little space with its compact 24.2 pounds weight. Plus, it can also function as a booster for a heat pump, and that’s one of the reasons it’s considered the best electric pool heater.
- Budget friendly
- Remote control feature
- Tankless design
- Easy temperature control and increment level
- Fits both small and large pools
- Can work alone or as a booster for a pool heat pump
- Not so powerful
- Requires professional installation
5. Smart Pool S601 Pool Solar Heaters – Best Solar Pool Heater
For those who are after a pool heater that would not add to their electric bills and is more environmentally friendly, the Smart Pool solar heater should be your go-to choice.
Designed to increase the water temperature through the use of solar collectors or panels, this solar pool heater directly heats up the water passing through it, and the principle behind this model shows how practical it is.
Fit for both inground and above ground pools its singular 80 feet polypropylene heat collector with a 4 x 20 feet long panel provides constant heat all through the day and increases temperature for as high as 6°C.
The installation kit includes a bottle of liquid heat shield solution to reduce pool evaporation and a reel system for easy installation of the solar panel.
- Economic pool heater
- Long and huge solar panels
- Perfect for both above ground and inground pools
- Highly efficient
- Requires a powerful pool pump to function
- Slow heat up process
6. SunHeater S120U Universal Solar Pool Heater – Best Easy to Install Solar Heater
Being another product from Smart Pool, the S120U Universal pool Heater is the direct definition of energy efficiency with maximum output in mind without stress.
Easy to install and spans for about 2 x 20 feet, this 18 pounds polypropylene heat collector can be installed anywhere from the roof, rack, ground, or fence as it’s shorter than the previous model, and it fits just fine for inground pools or above ground pools.
S120U features a patented web design that allows for maximum exposure to the sun rays, which helps to raise the water temperature as high as 6-10 °C.
On the plus side, the solar heater uses the existing pool pump to circulate the heat across the water surface and saves extra cost.
- Easy installation
- Can be installed anywhere
- Fits all pool types
- Web design allows for maximum exposure to the sun
- Uses the existing pool pump
- Pocket friendly
- Does not heat up fast
- Requires long hours of sunlight to function.
7. Goplus Solar Dome Swimming Pool Heater – Best Low Price Solar Panel
It is already common knowledge that if you want a low-budget swimming pool heater, the solar heaters are your best bet, now imagine finding a low-priced product that is at the top of low prices but still as capable and functional as the high priced heaters.
Goplus solar dome panel is a highly effective 11.2 pounds dome-shaped solar panel made from PP, PC, and PE hose designed to convert the sun’s rays into heat to warm up your pool water.
With a total of 22.5 x 8.5 inches, Goplus is space-saving, eco-friendly, and aesthetically appealing, offering users the capacity to extend their swimming season.
There is a protective cover available to protect the dome-shaped solar panel, and it features a 1.5-inch hose to connect.
Goplus is great for smaller pools with its small heat range but assures you of the capacity to heat your pool at any time as far as there is the constant sun.
- Low-cost model
- Easy to install and set up
- Features a protective cover
- Long-lasting design
- Small and compact
- Helps heat your pool up decently
- Very slow heating up process
- Not programmable
8. FibroPool FH120 Above Ground Swimming Pool Heat Pump – Best Lightweight and Powerful Pool Heater
Pool heaters are supposed to be functional and practical in all ways, and nothing beats practicality other than a lightweight electric pool heater.
Weighing a total of 73.8 pounds, all fitted into a slim weather-proof case. One of the viable reasons why it is on the list of best electric pool heaters is thanks to its capability to produce up to 20,000 BTU for above ground pools and inground ones of up to 7,500 gallons despite its tiny size.
FibroPool uses a titanium heat exchanger to maximize energy efficiency to produce an equivalent of 4.81x of heat output.
As an electric heater, it is powered by clean electricity and operates on an average of 16 cents per hour while operating quietly.
And although it is the last best pool heater on our list, it certainly performs exceedingly well at heating the pool water to an optimum temperature at any given time.
Installation is easy within 30 minutes, there is a guarantee of longevity with its enamel-coated case, and for operations, the FH120 features a digital display.
- Lightweight made with a long-lasting casing
- Produces up to 20,000 BTU
- A great choice for all pool types
- Quiet functionality
- Easy setup
- Includes a digital display
- Works slower in cold weather conditions
How fast does a pool heater heat a pool?
Although this is a commonly asked pool heaters FAQ, there is no general time frame for how fast the heater can work. This is so because the speed depends on the size of the pool, your location, the depth of the pool, the volume of water the pool can hold as well as the type of pool heater being used.
But on a general note, a swimming pool heater heats between 24 – 72 hours at 11°C for larger pools, while smaller pools like a spa pool the heating time is between 45-60 minutes at 11°C.
Should I leave my pool heater on all the time?
It depends. Although leaving it on would mean having your pool warm at all times, which would guarantee you a warm pool even in the middle of the night, it is not very advisable to leave it on.
Leaving it on at all times, particularly overnight, would cost you a lot, and if you are in a place where the nights are colder and there are strong winds, the pool will lose heat easily.
For those who desire to keep their pool heaters on overnight, having a pool cover and probably using a solar pool heater would be fitting.
How much propane does the pool heater use?
On average, a propane pool heater uses about 1 gallon of propane per hour per 100,000 BTS.
With this in mind, for a standard pool size containing 21,000 gallons of water with the heater producing between 300,000 – 400,000 BTU, the heater would use at least 200 gallons of propane to run.
Are pool heaters noisy?
No! Pool heaters are not noisy at all, and often the best pool heaters are picked based on how quiet they can be.
If for any reason, your heater begins to make a whistling or grating sound whatsoever, you should check the burners for the gas heaters to ensure that they are not clogged or getting old or that something is actually wrong somewhere.
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Pool Heater
To choose the most suitable pool heater, you need to know what type of pool heater is best for you and your pool type, and here are the types of pool heaters available at your disposal.
Solar pool heater
Solar pool heaters use solar panels or solar collectors which absorb energy from the sun and then distribute the heat all through the pool through a circulation system.
Solar heaters are quite cheap to use but cost a bit to install as they cover quite an area of the pool, and the plumbing fixtures necessary to allow the water to flow through the solar heating system cost quite a bit.
Electric pool heater
The electric pool heaters are much more expensive in comparison to solar pool heaters, but they are quite effective.
Electric heaters are more suitable for smaller pools as a heater for indoor pools and spas. They do not require much space to function.
Gas Pool Heater
Gas pool heaters come in two forms; natural gas pool heater or propane gas pool heater. A gas pool heater, either natural gas heater or propane, is much more popular and is also easier to operate, especially if you have a natural gas line.
The downside of these gas pool heaters is that they occupy large spaces and are expensive to operate.
The pool heat pump is one of the newest forms of pool heating. Pool heat pumps are reasonably fast, energy-efficient, cost-saving, and eco-friendly.
They heat your pool up by extracting heat from the air and transferring it into the pool, and the heat pump always has either a titanium heat exchanger or a cupronickel heat exchanger.
Pool heaters work by converting various sources of heat to energy to heat up your pool based on a certain volume of water. This invariably means that a large pool would require a pool heater that would heat up faster and spread fast to avoid wasting energy.
There are pool heaters suitable for a small pool and for large pools. Pool heaters for inground pools and for above ground pools also differ as each requires a certain level of heat.
The BTU output or the British Thermal Unit, which is the unit of heating power and temperature rise measurement for a pool heater, matters a lot when considering a heater.
Propane heaters have the highest BTU output ranging from 100,000 -500,000 BTU output, while electric heaters and solar pool heaters have a lesser range.
The higher the British Thermal Units output supply per hour, the more efficient and functional the heater is.
Pool heaters function differently at various climatic conditions, and this goes a long way in determining the kind of heater to acquire.
For pool owners that reside in warmer climates with more sunlight, solar pool heaters and heat pumps are great choices as the air is always heated, and there’s enough sun to power the solar panels. For the extremely cold climates with colder winds and whose temperatures drop fast and easily, gas and electric heaters are more advisable.
When it comes to budgeting for a pool heater, you must consider the cost of purchase, installation, the cost of running in the case of electric or gas heaters for electricity bills and gas line supply, as well as the cost of maintenance.
While some, like the solar pool heaters, have only an initial purchase and installation cost, the likes of gas, electric, and heat pump cost more to run at purchase and all through their functional years.
Keeping the following in mind will help prepare you for what is to come financially when it comes to having one of these.
Is a Pool Heater Worth It?
Having a warm pool at all times might be costly to run and manage but knowing that you can always have a warm and nice pool to get into at any time, including the colder periods of the year, make the whole idea of pool heaters worth a lot more.
And to ensure that you pick the best of the best, the above review of the best pool heaters available on the market will guide you to have an enjoyable warm pool experience at all times.