Above Ground Solar Pool Heaters

An above ground solar pool heater is a great way to increase the temperature of your pool. A small up front investment will provide years of free heat as the energy from the sun is converted to create warm and inviting pool water. It will depend on your local climate and sunlight hours but you will likely be able to start the pool season earlier and extend your comfortable pool enjoyment into the cooler nighttime hours. All of the benefits of free solar heat can be enjoyed by anyone with an above ground pool and with our list of the best above ground solar pool heaters you can find one that works for you.

above ground solar pool heater

There are a few important things you need to keep in mind when choosing the best heater for your pool. There are limitations to how much heat is harnessed from each dome or panel and most pool owners will need multiple units to achieve substantial heating. It's common for pool owner's to overestimate how much heat is produced but we'll explain a bit about how many panels or domes you need as well as how solar efficiency is calculated. 

Best Above Ground Solar Pool Heaters

These best above ground solar pool heaters earn their distinction as the top rated units on the market because of several factors including; heating efficiency, cost, ease of installation and warranty. If you end up going with an environmentally friendly solar heater you can buy with confidence. The following list of heaters that is also based on real pool owners like you providing reviews based on their experience using the heaters all over North America.

Game Above Ground Pool Solar Panels

The Game Above Ground Pool Solar Panels are an excellent choice for adding heated water to any pool. The curved design and adjustable legs allow for optimal solar efficiency while the clear casing allows for the suns energy to penetrate and lock the heater energy so it can be transferred to your pool water. The high quality construction materials and low cost make it the perfect gradual heater on any budget. You can seamlessly attach multiple panels using a solar panel bypass connection kit created specifically for attaching multiple solar panels for optimal water heating. 

Kokido Solar Pool Heater Dome

The Kokido Solar Pool Heater Dome is an ultra simple way to add gradual heat to any pool. The dome features heating coils that capturer the suns heat energy and transfers it directly to your pool water. The dome can be angled for maximum solar efficiency and you can easily add multiple domes because of their small footprint and easy installation. Keep small to medium sized pool comfortably heated throughout the spring and fall and purchase multiple units for increased heating power. 

Intex Above Ground Pool Solar Heater Mat

The Intex Above Ground Pool Solar Heater Mat is the perfect companion for just about any pool if you're looking for a 3 to 5 degree water temperature increase. The eco-friendly solar technology is made of a single loop that transfers heated water directly into your pool when the sun is shining. It's compatible with any above ground filter pump with a flow rate of less than 2500 GPH and pools up to 8000 gallons water capacity. The kit comes with adapter hose connections for easy assembly and folds up for easy winter storage. 

Universal Solar Pool Heater Panel

If you are looking for solar panels that deliver a ton of heating energy these Universal Solar Heater Panels won't disappoint regardless of the size of your pool. They are manufactured from high grade materials and are proven to withstand the harshest conditions on a rooftop for up to 15 to 20 years. They will withstand the effects of freezing, ultraviolet light, corrosion and scaling. These panels require a more advanced installation process and when you install several on a rooftop or suitable area you will experience incredible solar heating that will satisfy just about and pool owners heating needs, including large inground pools. 

How Above Ground Solar Pool Heaters Work

Solar heaters for pools are growing in popularity because they are affordable, easy to install and they work for many years. You can count on free heat for your pool every season and who doesn't want anything that's free but how do solar heaters for pools work?

The heaters are comprised of several tubes spiralled in a dome shape or laid out flat in a panel. The idea is to optimize the surface area so that the most heat energy is transferred from the sun to the tubes, and subsequently the water. The tubes are black in color leading to maximum heat absorption when the suns solar energy reaches them. As the tubes are heated by the sun they warm the water inside the tubes just like a garden hose warms water that is sitting out on the lawn. 

The water is pushed through the solar dome or panel by the pump via plumbing that is looped into your existing pool system. The design allows water to be drawn out of your pool as normal and as it sits or passes through the solar tubes it heats up. It's eventually returned to the pool either automatically or through the use of a bypass valve and timer, increasing the temperature over time. This process is repeated any time the system is running and as long as there is sun, the temperature will increase.

Increasing Water Temperature 

The ultimate goal is to create warm, comfortable and inviting pool water but how much the temperature increases depends on 4 basic factors; solar collector size, solar efficiency, pool size and circulation. We'll discuss each one so you have a better understanding of what to expect including the capabilities and limitations that you're faced with. 

Solar Collector Size and Efficiency

The size and surface area of the solar panel or dome is directly related to how much energy it will be able to transfer to the water. You simply cannot heat a large pool with one dome or panel because there won't be enough energy transferred. It's important to have an understand of solar panel sizing and efficiency so you can create enough energy to heat your pool based on your local climate and heating needs. 

A basic sizing estimate for solar heating panels is to calculate the square footage of your pool and match at least 50% of that square footage with solar panels

The solar efficiency of an above ground solar pool heater comes down to how much energy is transferred from the sun to your pool. Maximum efficiency can be achieved by ensuring that you place the solar collector in a place that receives the most sunlight without being obstructed for a minimum of 6-8 hours. Proper angle and orientation should also be determined for your location.

Pool Size and Circulation

The larger the pool the larger surface area of solar collectors will be needed to substantially heat the water. You will need to make sure that your pump can handle the slight increase in demand that the above ground solar pool heater adds to the plumbing system. The amount of hours you operate your pump and how much water is passed through the solar collector will affect temperature. 

Above Ground Solar Pool Heater Installation

Above ground solar pool heaters are very easy to install and can be done by any handy pool owner in as little as an hour or two. If you have an existing system with pump and filter all you need to do is splice it into the plumbing as per the manufacturers instructions. You may require an installation kit if you require specialized adapters, hoses and fittings. Once you ensure that all the plumbing is fastened properly, check for leaks when operating the pump system for the first time. 

This list of the best above ground solar pool heaters includes our highest ranked panels and dome collectors. If you have a larger pool and the space we recommend multiple panels and if you are tight for space, portable dome collectors should be sufficient for your heating needs.


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