- Garden Park above Ground Solar Heater 48’ X 20’
- 2ft x 20ft Panel
- Item Weight - 20 pounds
- Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above Ground Pools
- 2ft x 20ft Panel
- Item Weight - 31 pounds
- SunQuest 2-2’X10’ solar pool heater with roof mounting kit
- 2 - 2ft x 10ft Panels
- Item Weight - 25 pounds
- SmartPool SunHeater Solar Heating System:
- 2ft x 20ft Panel
- Item Weight - 24 pounds
How does a solar pool heater work?
A pool solar heater design is pretty simple. The heating kit will consist of solar panels that will absorb the sun’s rays when they fall on it, creating heat. The swimming pool’s water is then routed into the solar heater, after sometimes passing it through a filtration system. The water enters a pipe at the bottom of the solar panels and is slowly circulated through the solar panels themselves. When passing through the solar panels, they pick up the heat that is being generated by the sun’s rays. This heated water is then pushed back into the pool, gradually increasing its temperature. This is a continuous process that goes on throughout the day, as long as the sun’s rays are available.
If there is ample sunlight and there is no shade, shadow or obstruction blocking the sun’s rays from falling on the solar panels, it is possible to heat up a normal sized above ground pool by as much as 10 to 15 F°degrees. However, a lot will depend on where the solar panels are positioned and how well they receive sunlight throughout the day. Since the sun moves along a path, sunshine isn’t going to optimal throughout the day. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a solar system expert to best determine where you will position the pool solar heating panels for your solar heater for pool.
Please also note that some solar powered pool heaters are sold with an installation kit that will allow you to couple it with your pool’s existing pump while you might have to buy this separately when buying pool solar heaters from certain manufacturers. These kits are usually referred to as divert kits.
How to select the best solar pool heater to heat your pool?
Now, we will introduce you to a buying guide that will help you understand how to buy a solar heater for your pool.
How to buy solar pool heaters for in ground pools and above ground pools?
Square footage of panels
One of the most important things that will decide how efficient your solar pool heating system is going to be is the amount of square footage of solar panels that are exposed to the sun. As a general thumb rule, you can assume that you will need at least 1.25 X of your pool’s square footage as solar panel surface area, for good heating. Depending on where you live and what temperatures your pool experiences, you might need as much as even 1.75 X of your pool’s surface area as solar panel surface area.
A lot of things affect this number. South eastern states like Florida and Texas have the most amount of sunlight hours and the best quality of sunlight. If you are looking to heat your pool in these regions, you can probably make do with just 1.25 X of your pool’s surface area as panel square footage.
But, if you live in an area like Detroit that receives almost half the amount of sunlight and quality of sunlight of a state like Florida, you are going to need quite a lot of solar panels to produce some effective heating for your pools.
You must also understand that a panel that faces the southern direction receives the most amount of sunlight. If you can’t manage a southern facing setup, you must try to set up the panels in a flat manner. You must avoid facing your panels in a northerly direction, as it is the worst direction to point to, for a solar pool heating setup.
The best place to install these panels would be south facing, with maybe a slight Eastern inclination. They are best installed at about a 30° degree angle, about the same sort of angle that you will see on a roof top.
These panels are usually installed on what is called an alligator clamp. Your solar pool heating kit might come with these clamps included while sometimes you might have to buy them separately. When these clamps are installed, it is important that they are installed in such a way that they allow some stretching and contraction. Constant exposure to the sun will result in expansion and contraction and you don’t want the panels breaking up, because you clamped them on too tightly.
So, to sum up how you must install solar panels;
Best practices to install solar pool heater solar panels
- Square footage of solar panels must be at least 1.25 X of pool’s surface area. Requirement can go as high as 2 X
- Panels are best installed on the roof, at about a 10° to 30° angle
- Panels are best installed facing south, with a slight eastern orientation
- Panels must receive at least 8 hours of uninterrupted and direct sunlight, for efficient heating
- Panels work best in South Eastern states like Florida or Texas, where sunlight is ample
- If panels are installed on a roof, they must be installed with some give, to allow for expansion
Connection of in ground pool solar heaters to your pool’s existing pump
As mentioned earlier, a good solar pool heater will require water to be circulated from the pool, into the heated solar panels, and then back into the pool. This constant circulation with a heating element in the middle of the circulation cycle is what will slowly but surely increase the temperature of the pool.
You will obviously need a pump to draw water out of the pool, push it through the heating element and then back into the pool. Thankfully, your pool’s existing pump can be modified to easily accommodate a floating solar pool heater.
But, you might have to buy these connection kits separately when you buy solar pool heaters, even if you are buying the best solar heaters for pool. It is recommended that you buy the installation or driver or divert kit that is recommended by the manufacturer or the solar pool heater that you are choosing.
This is because buying third party divert kits can lead to leaks and compromised connections that will give you unnecessary headaches that will keep you from using your solar pool heating system. Also, manufacturers of solar pump pool heaters usually custom design their own divert or connector kits in such a way that water is sent through the panels at a very particular rate, to optimize heating.
Water that is pushed through a panel too quickly or too slowly will not result in efficient pool heating. Using a divert kit made by a solar pool heater’s manufacturer will give you the best chance of the most efficient heating you can get out of solar heat for above ground pools.
Some DIY enthusiasts try to modify the plumbing in such a way that the water passes through very slowly, through the solar panels. This is however not at all recommended as it can easily lead to back pressure on your pool’s water pump, pushing back water that is supposed to be heated, without any heating at all. Constant back pressure can also eventually cause your pump to blow out completely.
Is the solar heater specifically made as an above ground pool solar heater?
Some solar pool heaters are specifically sold as above ground pool heaters. These kinds of heaters are best not used for in ground pools. Make a quick check to see if the solar pool heating system you are buying is particularly intended for an in ground pool or an above ground pool and it is a right fit for your pool.
Now that you know how to choose a good solar pool heating system, let’s look at some popular models that you can buy from Amazon, one of the best places to buy competitively priced solar powered pool heaters.
Solar Pool Heater Reviews
A collection of solar panels for swimming pools reviews of most popular heaters on Amazon
Garden & Park above Ground Solar Heater 48’ X 20’
This is one of the bestselling above ground solar pool heaters. It comes with a quick assembly design and a quick connector kit that will allow you to plug it into your pool’s existing pump, to begin immediate heating.
The standard kit includes 2 pieces of solar panels that are 20 feet long and 2 feet wide. Also included in the pool pump connector kit are 2 end caps, 2 O rings, two hose adaptors and an installation manual. One gripe that you will see in the solar pool heater reviews for this particular model is that the installation manual is not very well written. It appears to be mish mash of vague instructions. It is a pity that this is the case for such a well-designed solar pool heater. But, if you are handy with DIY projects and have some experience in plumbing, you should be able to easily figure out how to connect this heating system, even without the instruction manual.
It is capable of increasing pool temperature by about 10 to 15 F° on a very sunny day. Less than sunny days will obviously result in less than stellar results.
Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above Ground Pools
The Fafco solar powered heating system for above ground pools is another very popular model, especially for larger pools or for pools that require quite a bit of heating.
Though it costs upwards of $250, it is still very popular as the panel is very large, with dimensions of 4 feet by 20 feet. It also comes with two 6 feet long hoses with 4 clamps, a bypass valve and other connecting hardware. It is best installed on the roof, facing south, at an angle of about 10° to 30°.
The manufacturer, Fafco, has claimed that they have sold and installed more than 100,000 of their solar pool heater systems all over the USA. Please note that this heater is sold without clamps or couplings that you will need to install it on the roof. You will have to buy this hardware separately.
SunQuest 2-2’X10’ solar pool heater with roof mounting kit
This is a solar pool heater system that is ideal for both in ground and above ground pools. It features a max flow design that pushes water at a more than average speed through the panels, allowing for the fastest heating possible. It is also a solar heater that subjects the pool’s pump to the least amount of back pressure.
Capable of increasing water temperature by 10°, this SunQuest system is very easy to install. People really like the quality of connections on these panels and the accompanying hoses. If you are not too keep on a hands-on installation that will require some technical knowhow and troubleshooting, this is the solar heater you must choose for your pool.
SmartPool SunHeater Solar Heating System:
If you read through the best solar pool heater reviews for this particular model of pool heater, you will notice that they really appreciate the fact that the heater uses a polypropylene heat collector. Considering that this heater comes with an advanced heat collection panel and with a price tag south of $150, there’s plenty of value on offer.
The kit comes with a panel, two end caps, clamps made out of stainless steel, Teflon tape and hoses that you can connect to a second collector, should you buy more than one collector.
This product is made in the USA, unlike a lot of other solar pool heaters that are made in China and elsewhere. Build quality is robust and many reviews appreciate the longevity and durability that they are able to get out of this product.
GAME 4512 SolarPro XD1 Pool Heater for above ground pools
This is a very good heater for a small pool. It is very compact in size and perfect for pools that have been installed in already tight spaces. As it is a compact solar pool heater, you cannot expect this to raise temperature by more than 5°. However, sometimes, 5° is all it takes to make a pool inviting enough to enjoy a swim.
If your pool doesn’t hold anything more than 8,000 gallons, this is a solar heater you can definitely buy. The only drawback with this portable pool solar heater is that the length of the connecting hoses are fairly short, meaning that you will have to place the heater almost right alongside of the pool. If this is going to be a problem, you will have to buy aftermarket hoses and extensions to position the heater further away from the pool.