From gas heaters and heat pumps to electric resistance heaters and solar heaters, there are many types of pool heaters and a ton of models to choose from, which can make finding the best pool heater for you and your pool seem like an impossible task.
Unlike most pool heater reviews that simply gloss over a few models and send you on your way, this in-depth guide highlights top ten pool heaters out there and will teach you everything you need to know about pool heaters, helping you turn your frigid pool into an outdoor oasis all year long!
10 Best Pool Heaters Comparison Table
|Pool Heater Model||Our Review|
Best 10 Pool Heaters
1. Hayward H400FDN 400,000 BTU Pool Heater
This 400K BTU natural gas heater from Hayward is a shining example of why the company has become a leader in the pool heating industry.
Thanks to its energy-saving hydraulic performance, the Hayward 400,000 BTU H400FDN is capable of heating an 800-gallon pool by as much as 30 degrees in under an hour and keeping it comfortably warm with reduced pump circulation, allowing you to enjoy an extended swimming season without noticing a drastic increase in your energy bill.
- Energy Efficient
- Powerful and fast-acting
- Reasonably priced
- LED control panel and display
- Easy to install
- A little loud
- Not weatherproof
2. Hayward H100ID1 100,000 BTU Pool Heater
Small above ground pools and spas have less surface area and certainly don’t need large pool heaters capable of spitting out 400,000 BTUs. Designed with these smaller pools in mind and operating at 81 percent thermal efficiency, the Hayward 100,000 BTU H100ID1 can heat up a 450-square foot pool to 85 degrees in just a few hours. With induced air technology and an affordable price tag, it’s hands down the best gas pool heater on the market for spas and above ground pools.
- Energy efficient
- Easily heats up to 450-square feet
- Induced draft technology
- Limited in its abilities
- No LED control panel
3. Zodiac Jandy LXi LXI400N 400,000 BTU Pool Heater
The days of flame outs and re-lighting pilots lights are over with the Zodiac Jandy LXi LXI400N 400,000 BTU Pool Heater. With fan-assisted combustion, state-of-the-art controls, corrosion-resistant polymer headers, electric spark ignition, this beast of a pool heater is easy to use and one of the most advanced heaters on the market today. If you can forego good looks for the sake of good performance, this is the pool heater for you.
- Easy to use and remote control ready
- Heats quickly
- Performs well in windy conditions
- Durable construction
- Utilitarian design
4. Zodiac Legacy LRZ250EP 250,000 BTU Pool Heater
Built upon Zodiac’s heralded tradition of quality and excellence, the Legacy LRZ250EP 250,000 BTU Pool Heater is a user-friendly and technologically advanced pool heater that’s built to last. Like the other heaters in Zodiac’s Legacy line, this 250,000 BTU propane heater is an energy-efficient pool heating solution designed with both your comfort and wallet in mind.
- Effortlessly heats pools up to 20,000 gallons
- Easy-to-use digital controls
- Utilitarian exterior design
- Not weatherproof
5. Hayward CSPAXI11 11-Kilowatt Electric Spa Heater
Providing the same capabilities and sophisticated features as gas pool heaters twice its size, the compact Hayward CSPAXI11 11-Kilowatt Electric Spa Heater packs a powerful punch. Highly efficient and relatively inexpensive in comparison to traditional propane and natural gas heaters, this is the best electric pool heater around for anyone in need of an efficient unit to heat their spa or keep their small above ground pool nice and toasty all year long.
- Inexpensive compared to traditional propane and natural gas heaters
- Highly efficient
- Compact size
- Easy to install
- Works great for spas and small above ground pools
- Limited to heating spas and small pools
6. Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series Low NOx 150,000 BTU Pool Heater
The Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series Low NOx 150,000 BTU Pool Heater is the best-selling pool heater on Amazon for a reason. With industry-leading thermal efficiency, low NOx emission output, a laundry list of features found on the most expensive pool heaters on the market, and a two-year warranty, it’s easy to see why this is one of the most popular pool heaters being made today. Regardless of whether you’re an environmentally-conscious pool owner or simply want a highly efficient pool heater that works, the Hayward H150FDP is tough to beat.
- Very energy-efficientv
- Superior hydraulic performance
- LED display for easy operation
- Ability to perform in the windiest of conditions
- Slightly more expensive than other units with similar specs
7. Eco Saver 20-Foot Solar Heating Panel System
Specializing in green energy solutions, Eco Saver has developed arguably the best solar pool heater on the market. Capable of keeping your swimming pool comfortably warm all season long without impacting your electric bill, the Eco Saver 20-Foot Solar Heating Panel System is a budget-friendly pool heating solution for every modern pool owner.
- Utilizes the sun’s energy for power
- Inexpensive and budget-friendly
- Modular design
- 20 percent wider than the majority of panels
- Ability to add more panels for any size pool
- Availability of accessories
- Time-consuming set-up process
- Lacks temperature controls
8. Hayward HP50TA 50000 Titanium Pool Heater
It may only have a 50,000 BTU output, but the Hayward HP50TA 50000 Titanium Pool Heater is a high-end heat pump pool heater capable of warming a 14,000-gallon pool up to a balmy 85 degrees in only a few short days. With an energy efficiency rating of 84 percent, this high-quality electric heat pump pool heater is incredibly energy-efficient as well. It may cost more than other heaters with similar BTU outputs, but the savings will certainly pay off in the long run.
- Easy to install
- Corrosion-resistant design
- Titanium heat exchanger
- LED controls
- Expensive for its size and output
9. Pentair 460737 400,000 BTU Pool Heater
The Pentair 460737 400,000 BTU Pool Heater provides the convenience, efficiency, and reliability you would expect from a top-quality pool heater, plus a whole lot more. Designed to be the best gas pool heater around and set the bar in pool heating efficiency, the Pentair 460737 features a compact design, corrosion-proof exterior, incredible energy efficiency, and the ability to quickly heat the largest of pools. So, if you’ve been scouring pool heaters reviews in search of the best gas pool heater for your pool, it’s hard to ignore this popular model.
- Best-in-class energy efficiency
- Certified to meet and exceed NOx emission standards
- Rotating digital display
- Rust-proof exterior
- User-friendly indicator lights
- Easy Touch automation compatibility
- Boxy, utilitarian exterior design
10. Sta-Rite SR400NA Max-E 400,000 BTU Pool Heater
Designed to last a lifetime and outperform every other pool heater on today’s market, the Sta-Rite SR400NA Max-E 400,000 BTU Pool Heater may come in a small package, but it definitely packs a powerful punch. With exact temperature controls, a rust-proof enclosure, and pre-mixed gas combustion technology, this impressive heater is durable, easy to operate, and works much better than many of the traditional pool heaters being made today.
- Small and compact
- LED control panel and display
- Environmentally friendly
- Low operating costs
- A little noisy
- Some complaints about packaging
How Does a Pool Heater Work?
In order to find the a good pool heater for your pool and operate it successfully, it’s important to read pool heater reviews and learn how pool heaters work. Swimming pool heaters work by using solar power, gas, or electricity as fuel to create heat, which passes through a heat exchanger and warms the water before reintroducing it to your pool.
How Do You Size a Swimming Pool Heater?
Many pool heater reviews simply gloss over certain pool heater models and neglect to mention the importance of having the right sized heater for your pool. The truth is, you can have the best pool heater in the world, but if it’s designed for a 10-foot by 15-foot kidney shaped pool and you have a larger in-ground pool or a smaller above ground pool, it’s simply not going to be a good fit.
The rating of a swimming pool heater is determined by its BTU output. Short for British Thermal Unit, a single BTU is able to raise the temperature of each pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Thus, the more BTUs capable of being produced by your pool heater, the faster the water in your pool will be heated.
Since swimming pools are designed in an array of shapes and sizes and located in different climates, you must determine how many BTUs it takes to heat your specific pool in order to choose the best pool heater. To do so, you need to calculate the following variables:
- Surface Area
- Temperature Rise
After you have calculated the temperature rise and surface area of your pool, you can use the following chart to help you determine how many BTUs you’ll need to reach the desired water temperature of your pool:
Size of Heater Water Capacity of Pool Surface Area of Pool
100,000 – 200,000 BTU 1,000 – 10,000 gallons up to 300 square feet
200,000 – 300,000 BTU 10,000 – 20,000 gallons up to 500 square feet
300,000 – 400,000 BTU 20,000 – 40,000 gallons up to 800 square feet
400,000+ BTU 40,000 – 80,000 gallons up to 1200 square feet
Types of Pool Heaters Available
There are basically four types of pool heaters to choose from:Typically used to heat small therapy pools and portable spas, electric resistance heaters generate heat through electric currents. While they work well, electric resistance heaters require a substantial amount of electricity, making them less than ideal for most pools.
- The majority of electric resistance heaters are relatively inexpensive with price tags under $2,000.
- Unlike gas heaters, electric resistance heaters don’t release gases into the environment, making them an environmentally friendly option.
- Electric resistance heaters aren’t dependent on air temperature in order to operate.
- Although relatively small, electric resistance heaters require circuit breakers with large amperage and heavy-duty wiring, potentially making them expensive to install.
- Electric resistance heaters have a COP of 1.0, which means they’re not energy efficient and costly to operate.
- Many gas heaters are inexpensive to purchase. In fact, many are available for less than $1,500.
- Unlike heat pumps, which seem to dominate most pool heater reviews, gas heaters are not dependent on air temperature in order to operate.
- Gas heaters are capable of heating pool water very quickly, ensuring your pool warms up quickly whenever you feel like taking a dip.
- Due to rising gas prices, gas heaters are expensive to operate, costing pool owners $300 to $500 per month.
- Like electric resistance heaters, gas pool heaters are not energy efficient. Most gas heaters have a COP of 0.80 to 0.85.
- Unlike solar pool heaters, gas heaters emit air pollution and are not environmentally friendly.
- Due to their high level of energy efficiency, heat pumps are inexpensive to operate and only cost pool owners $50 to $150 a month.
- Water-source heat pumps are not dependent on air temperature to operate.
- Heat pumps are durable and built to last. In fact, most models have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
- While many pool heater reviews only mention solar heaters when the topic of environmental friendliness arises, heat pumps use renewable energy and do not emit harmful gases into the environment, making them an environmentally friendly option.
- Heat pumps are more expensive to purchase than gas or electric resistance heaters, with many models costing $2,000 or more to purchase.
- Air-source heat pumps are dependent on the temperature of the air in order to operate successfully.
- Unlike gas heaters, heat pumps take a while to heat an average or large-sized pool.
- Solar heaters require no additional costs to operate.
- They operate via a pool pump, making them extremely energy efficient.
- Like heat pumps, solar heaters are durable and have a lifespan of up to 20 years.
- Solar heaters use renewable energy and do not emit harmful gases into the environment, making them an environmentally friendly option.
- Not surprisingly, solar heaters are expensive to purchase. In most cases, you can expect to pay at least $4,000 for a quality model.
- While many of today’s pool owners immediately consider solar heaters when reading pool heater reviews in search of the best pool heater, these energy efficient and environmentally conscious pool heaters are dependent upon the sun and can only operate efficiently on bright and sunny days.
- Solar heaters heat water slowly.
Pool Heaters Tips:
There’s an array of makes and models when it comes to swimming pool heaters, which can make reading pool heater reviews and choosing the best one for your pool seem like a daunting task. Since everyone deserves to step into a warm, comfortable, and inviting pool, here are a few more things to consider on your quest to find the best pool heater for you:
- Natural Gas vs. Propane – If you opt for a gas heater, your fuel options are limited to natural gas and propane. The type you choose should largely come down to the availability and price of these fuels in your neck of the woods.
- Millivolt vs. Electronic Start Heaters – Due to the variety of swimming pool heaters on the market, it should come as no surprise that there are different types of ignition systems for various models. If you decide to go the conventional non-solar route, chances are you’ll have to decide between a millivolt swimming pool heater and an electronic start heater. Similar to a gas range, a millivolt swimming pool heater operates via a standing pilot light that must remain lit in order to fire up the heating process. Like its name suggests, however, an electronic start heater utilizes an electronic heat initiation process. While both have their merits, there’s no need to re-light a pilot light with the latter.
- High-Altitude Pool Heaters – If you happen to live in the Rockies or anywhere 2,000 feet or more above sea level, you’ll need a high-altitude pool heater designed to perform well in lower oxygen environments.
What to Look For When Buying a Pool Heater
As outlined above, there are four basic types of swimming pool heating systems: solar heaters, heat pumps, gas heaters, and electric resistance heaters. In the end, determining the best heater for your pool boils down to a number of factors, such as your budget, location, and needs, so here’s a little more info on each of these pool heaters to help you make the best purchasing decision for you and your family.
Solar Pool Heaters:
As yow know, solar heaters require no operating costs due to their utilization of the sun’s bountiful energy, making them a cost-effective option in the long-term.
Ideal for recreational use, solar heaters work wonderfully 12-months out of the year in southern climates and help prolong the seasons up north. Although stormy days can hamper their effectiveness for short periods of time, a few bright and sunny days brings the temperature right back to a comfortable level. That being, proper sizing is a must for optimal performance.
Most quality solar pool heaters come with a 10-year warranty and have a lifespan of 20 years. They also happen to be virtually maintenance-free, making them a popular option for busy pool owners with a generous budget.
If you would like to take a dip nearly any time of year regardless of the weather outside, a heat pump may be just what you’ve been looking for. Preferred by many pool owners for their ability to comfortably keep pools between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, heat pumps work extremely well when properly sized.
Unlike gas heaters, heat pumps operate via electricity and actually act similar to a solar heater, extracting heat from the air, compressing it, and transferring it to the water in your pool. Thanks to their relatively high level of efficiency, heat pumps are rather inexpensive to operate and only cost $20 to $30 per month in electricity.
Gas Pool Heaters:
If you would like to quickly heat a pool for short periods of time, then a gas heater is the pool heater for you. Typically oversized, gas heaters can easily heat and maintain practically any desired temperature in any weather condition.
However, gas heaters are fueled by propane or natural gas and are less efficient and more expensive to operate. For instance, the average pool or spa owner with a gas heater can expect to pay $500 or more over the course of a year in order to enjoy its convenient and therapeutic heating abilities.
Electric Resistance Heaters:
Electric resistance heaters work well, have zero emissions, and are less expensive than many other pool heaters in the marketplace, but they require quite a bit of electricity to operate and can be costly to install. Therefore, they’re typically only used for small pools or spas that are used infrequently.
Pool Heater FAQ
How do I Choose the ideal Pool Heater that will suit my needs?
If you are shopping for a pool heater, look for something that will be most suitable to you. Factors like the location of the swimming pool, its size, the climate play important roles in determining the type of pool heater you will buy. The cost of operating the pool heater will also play an important role. If you are in a place that experiences plenty of hit and warm weather then a solar heater would be the best heater to opt for with regards to your swimming pool. Others can opt for the solar systems but in seasons that are less sunny they can have alternative backup sources of energy or fuel. Look at the pros and cons of the various types of pool heaters as this will enable you to know what suits you, with regards to installation and maintenance you can consult a pool expert on what choice to go for.
Do I need additional help to install a pool heater?
Many pool heaters can be installed by an adept handyman, but it’s recommended to have a professional contractor handle any needed electric or gas hook-ups. Most installations can be done in hours or a couple of days.
Can the solar panels used for a solar pool heater also be used for the house?
Unfortunately, the panels and controls of solar pool heaters are specifically designed to heat large volumes of water. Thus, they have a different solar application than standard household solar panel systems and are not directly capable of powering household appliances, space heating, or providing hot tap water.
How much does a quality pool heater cost?
Depending on the type, make, and model, you can expect to pay $1,000 to $3,000 for the unit itself. Installation, however, can add an extra $150 to $1,500 to the overall cost.
With today’s rising fuel costs in mind, does heating my pool make sense?
If you’re sick and tired of only being able to swim in the summer months and enjoy the notion of comfortably swimming at night or any time of the year, then the answer is an emphatic yes!
What is the ideal heating method for my pool?
Choosing the right heating method and type of heater for your pool comes down to a number of variables, such as the surface area of your pool, your location, your budget, and your specific needs and desires. By reviewing the four major types of pool heaters above, you’re sure to find the best one for your pool!
Do I really need to use the solar cover?
Many buyers tend to see the solar cover as an inconvenience, what they don’t know is that the covers are able to reduce the expenses of the solar heater in terms of energy used. This means that you will also be able to save on the amount of chemicals used and water.
How will I be able to access the warranty services of my new pool heaters?
All your claims with regards to the warranty of your pool heater will be handled with your employer, with the involvement of the retailer from whom you purchased the pool heater from. From the warranty you will find the details of the pool heater, the contact information of your manufacturer, also the user manual will also be there. In case of any issue just call your manufacturer and an expert will be sent over to come and check the pool heater. In case you are in a far place then the manufactures will be obliged to hire services of independent contractors to come and do the repairs.
Why opt for the heat pump when the gas heater is half the price?
It’s true that the gas heater is able to heat up the pool much faster compared to the other sources of fuel. The only challenge with gas heaters is that they have very high operating costs, other additional costs that you need to watch out for are like putting up the propane tank and running a gas line.
Becoming a pool owner is a lifestyle decision. Not only do pools provide a refreshing escape from the relentless summer sun, but they’re excellent for staying in shape as well.
Unfortunately, a pool is hard to enjoy when the water it holds is ice-cold. A pool heater allows you to get the most out of your investment by extending the swimming season and allowing you to swim any time of day.
From gas heaters and electric resistance heaters to heat pumps and solar heaters, there are many types and models of pool heaters to choose from. While each type of pool heater has its merits, the sheer number of pool heaters on the market makes choosing the best one for you and your pool difficult at best.
Adding to the dilemma is the vagueness of most pool heater reviews. Recognizing this, we set out to create a comprehensive guide detailing various types of pool heaters and the best models in each category.
The right pool heater can make a world of difference and allow you to fully enjoy your pool. However, since everyone has different needs, budgets, locations, and so on, it’s important to choose the right type of pool heater in order to get the most out of your backyard oasis.
Whether you have a meager budget and a small above ground pool or a large budget with an even larger in-ground pool, one of the top-quality models above is sure to be a perfect fit for your pool and your needs, so pick one out today and say goodbye to those chilly dips and hello to endless days of warm aquatic bliss!
On a final note, when shopping for the best pool heater for your pool, keep in mind the importance of purchasing a thermal pool cover as well, especially if you choose a gas or electric resistance heater. Without a thermal cover, you will need a larger heater and have to pay twice as much in operating costs. Unless you like throwing your money in the wind, this should be a must-have item in your oasis arsenal.