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A pool heater isn’t an expensive piece of pool equipment only found in luxury swimming pools. It’s an essential piece of equipment any pool owner can afford. This article is meant to provide you with great information about pool heaters, so you can find the best heater for your pool. We’ve done the consumer research…
A pool heater isn’t an expensive piece of pool equipment only found in luxury swimming pools. It’s an essential piece of equipment any pool owner can afford. This article is meant to provide you with great information about pool heaters, so you can find the best heater for your pool. We’ve done the consumer research for you so you don’t have to.
Some product’s descriptions are less than accurate. They leave out important details that potential consumers can compare against to make an informative buying decision. That leads to situations where pool owners get bad value for their money or end up with a pool heater model they can’t use or isn’t compatible with their existing setup.
Our reviews are honest and unbiased and designed to show you the good and the bad, so you end up with a product that you love. We’ve also included an extensive buyer’s guide so that you can evaluate these products just like a pool technician would, and get great value for your money when you’re ready to buy.
(Best In Class)
|EcoSmart SMART POOL|
The Hayward H400FDN Universal Gas Pool Heater is a beast of a pool heater and one which will heat any above ground or inground pool very quickly. It comes with a super efficiency Cupro-Nickel heat exchanger that boasts 83% efficiency when it converts gas into warm water, making it one of the best pool heaters you can buy. The Cupro Nickel heat exchanger on this unit provides excellent durability, even if you have a salt water pool, or a swimming pool with water chemistry that isn’t perfectly pH-balanced, or even with high flow rates. This means that this unit will last for a very long time on a well-maintained pool and boasts incredible resilience even if you’re lax when it comes to service & maintenance.
It’s also a low NOx-certified unit, so if you live in a state or county that regulates the emissions of NOx, you’ll still be able to use this extremely efficient pool heater. The one slight problem that exists with this model is the control panel. In our opinion, it really isn’t built as well as the rest of the machine. Many users have reported that it needs to be replaced every few years, which can be an expensive pain in the butt. However, the pool heater itself works well enough to earn the lofty rating as best pool heater on this list.
Another awesome Hayward model comes in second on our list. The Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium is the model you want to get if you’re looking to heat a smaller pool. This unit is a heat pump instead of a pool heater, which means it doesn’t pack as much of a punch as our top model, but it’ll do a great job with smaller pools and above ground pools. This model goes further with sound-dampening technology, including an acoustic compressor cover and a profiled fan blade, which dramatically cut down on the decibel level of noise that this model makes.
It also comes with a titanium heat exchanger, which will last a long time and provides efficient heat exchange. The evaporator fin is also made from corrosion-resistant materials, making this model a good choice for pools that are in a tropical or coastal region with a lot of salt in the air. The stainless steel connectors hold up well in the same environments. Unfortunately, this machine comes with a plastic shell, which means it’s not the most durable product you’ll find on the market, but it still works well enough to earn the title of best electric pool heater.
The EcoSmart SMART POOL 27 Electric Pool Heater is the pool heater model you should get if you’re looking to get a great heater and save yourself some serious money along the way. You can get this model for about a third of what you’d pay for the other two models that were previously mentioned on our list, which earns this model the title of “best value for the money” on our list. However, it’s not just a great deal because of the price. It comes with many great features most pool owners will appreciate, including a tankless design, which heats just as quickly as other models but cuts down on the size significantly.
It’s also an excellent option for people who want a backup water heater to use to boost a larger water heater’s performance. That can save you some money and will put less wear and tear on the larger water heater over time. The only downside to this model is that it can be a pretty complicated installation, and while many homeowners have their heaters professionally installed, that goes double for this model – it’s not DIY friendly. However, the savings from this model’s low price are enough to mean that even after professional installation, it’s still a great deal. All in all, this is definitely one of the best pool heaters for the money.
The Hayward H100ID1 has some things going for it. If you’re looking to heat an above ground pool, it’s not a bad choice, since it requires a single 120-volt outlet to work. That makes installation super easy and means that it’s great for above-ground pools. It also comes with electronic ignition, so it will run well in cold weather, even though its primary heating source is propane or natural gas. It’s also certified to be Low NOx, which means it’s legal to use in areas that legislate the emission of that substance.
However, this model has some problems which cost it places on our list. It doesn’t have the best overall durability, and most people find that something critical breaks within just a few years of ownership. Likewise, this model comes with quality control issues. Screws are often loose, and occasionally extra work will be required to get this machine running, as parts were improperly installed at the factory and not checked before they were shipped out. But, if you’re looking to save some money and want to avoid hiring a professional for installation, then you’d be hard-pressed to find a more suitable model.
Solar pool heaters are a smart option for those with a little know-how who are looking to save a lot of money versus a gas or electric heater. The Smartpool S601P Inground Pool SunHeater uses sunlight to heat the water and consequently has a very low operating cost versus standard heaters. It operates by running water through a thin plastic bag which you typically mount on the roof, which can heat the water to as high as 90 degrees on a sunny day.
However, solar heaters aren’t without their flaws. You need a powerful pump to pump water to the roof and back, which means you might need to spend money to upgrade in that arena. The heaters also operate differently depending on what the weather is like. If it’s sunny, you’ll get very warm water, but if it’s an overcast day, it may not do much good at all. This model suffers from a lack of instructions, as well. While it’s mostly straightforward, it’s always nice to be sure that you’re taking the right steps when you install. While some people might get some use out of it, it’s going to be a bad choice for most.
Although it’s priced at an absolute premium, this 406,000 BTU digital natural gas pool heater from Raypak is an impressive machine. Capron® nylon resin headers prevent rust, helping to keep your pool clean and free of discoloration. The high-quality Cupro-nickel fin tube can stand up to the toughest of water conditions such as low pH, high flow, or near-constant use.
The fully digital control and LCD for easy programming were a nice touch that we appreciated. Although we did appreciate the high-end feel and function of this Raypak heater, we didn’t think it was the best option for the price. The Hayward that made our first pick is slightly less expensive with just as robust of a feature set and we felt that it heated the pool slightly faster.
Keeping your pool heated can be a very expensive task, not just in terms of paying for a heater, but also the cost of the electricity to run that pump for hours on end. If you wish you could extend the swimming season but don’t want to pay a sky-high price to do so, then you may consider an option like the Goplus Solar Dome swimming pool heater. You will need to purchase an external pump to move the water though, so keep that in mind.
Instead of electricity, this device heats your pool using solar power, a much cheaper source of energy. On top of this, the Goplus dome is just about the lowest-priced option available if you want to warm up your swimming pool water. That said, it’s only going to have a minor effect on your pool’s water temperature, so don’t expect to swim when it gets frigid. For the price, we were impressed that it worked at all honestly, but it did. We only saw a rise of a few degrees, but at this price, that’s pretty impressive.
With an output of 55,000 BTU, the FibroPool FH055 electric swimming pool heater can comfortably heat up to 10,000 gallons of water. The all-metal, enamel-coated case is built to last years of exposure to the elements while protecting all of the internals. Rated by the US Department of Energy as the top Energy Efficient System, it only costs $0.25 per hour to run. The digital display makes it easy to adjust your settings and installation takes a quick 30 minutes. It does require 220V electricity though and will not run on a standard 110V circuit.
We felt that the FibroPool heater worked pretty well, though it didn’t want to raise the water temperature more than a few degrees above the ambient air temperature. There was also no install guide or user manual included with this heater. We called and emailed FibroPool, but it seems that their customer service department is non-existent. For the price this heater sells at, we expected much better help from the company after purchase.
This 400,000 BTU MasterTemp pool heater from Pentair runs on natural gas. Nitrogen oxide emissions with this heater are sufficiently low. The rust-proof plastic exterior helps provide a long service life. In our experience, the plastic was brittle and prone to cracking. The corners on the top were particularly subject to breakage. Our first one arrived with several cracks and broken pieces. The next one was less damaged, but the plastic was weak enough to break during installation.
Although this machine is priced in the same class as some of our top picks, we don’t think it’s a close contender. It’s just too weak and prone to damage and we didn’t feel it could last several seasons of changing weather conditions. We suggest spending the money on something that’s proven to be more robust.
This pool heater from SteamSun is a very economical way to get warmer water for swimming later in the season. Unfortunately, it seems to only have a lifespan of one season. When we first used it, we were impressed that it actually managed to warm up our pool considering the very low price it’s available for. But we noticed right away though that our electricity bill had skyrocketed. What you save on this heater will be spent on the energy it consumes.
After letting it sit for the winter, spring came, and we were excited to fire it up and get our swim season started early. It turned on and the lights started and everything seemed fine. Except, no heat was produced. We tried everything but couldn’t get the element to heat. After doing some research, we discovered that this is a very common problem with the SteamSun OrangeA heater. Although it seems very affordable at first glance, we think your money is better invested in a pool heater that will last through more than a single season.
Hopefully, these pool heater reviews have assisted you in finding the right pool heater for you. We hope that we gave you enough knowledge to go out and make a well-informed buying decision. This buyer’s guide is designed to help homeowners better understand pool heaters, inside and out, so that when it’s time to make a purchase they get the model that is right for their pool. We’ve also included a section in this article on how pool owners decide whether they should purchase a gas, electric, or solar powered pool heater.
The great news is that there are a ton of options when it comes to buying pool heaters. One of the most common varities are those powered by gas.
The first and most common type is the coil gas pool heater. It runs water through a coil. The coil is then heated under an open flame that sits under the coil, reminiscent of cooking food over a fire on the grill.
The second-most popular type of gas heater is the convection heater. These are best for small pools, above grounds or spas since they don’t have the fastest heat output. This type of unit uses a single large flame and greatly raises the inside ambient air temperature, to heat the water, as opposed to the multiple flames typically used in coil gas heaters, though both models allow water to run through a single tube on the inside.
The final gas pool heater type is the tank heater. These are best for spas and works like a home’s hot water heater. It warms up the water in the tank, but once the water in the tank runs out, you’ll be waiting for more hot water to boil.
The coil gas pool heater is the best type for large pools, since it heats the fastest, though it consumes more gas in the process.
The benefit to gas pool heaters is that they’re generally an inexpensive option for heating your pool, especially in places where natural gas is cheap. They also typically don’t require much maintenance, and there’s not a lot of moving parts that could break. However, some states require you to get gas-powered models that are certified to be low NOx. This means that these machines produce low amounts of nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants.
Electric pool heaters come in two varieties. The first of these is the heat pump. These work like a reverse air conditioner or refrigerator. Instead of cooling air off, they first run warm air from the surroundings over the refrigerant to warm it and then pressurize it to make it much hotter. The refrigerant is then and then expose it to a heat exchanger which transfers the heat from the refrigerant to the water. The refrigerant is then depressurized, both by losing its heat and by a pressure value and returned to the start of the cycle.
Relative to a gas-powered pool heater, there’s a lot more which could potentially break, though well-made heat pump pool heaters will last just as long as their gas-powered brethren. However, heat pumps work better when the temperature is warm, as the warmer the air is, the higher the starting temperature of the refrigerant.
The other kind of electric heater works like an electric stove or oven. Electricity is run through a metal element with a high resistance, which creates a lot of heat. Water is run directly over the element, heating it up. The plus side to this kind of electric heater is that the air’s ambient temperature doesn’t affect how warm it can heat the water, though, like all heaters, it’s going to take longer to heat the water in colder months than it would in warmer ones.
The upside to electric heaters is that they don’t produce any kind of emissions. That makes them generally a good choice for the environment. However, they tend to be a bit slower than gas-powered heaters, which can typically get much hotter in a shorter amount of time. The other downside is that they can cost a lot to operate, especially when you live in an area where electricity isn’t cheap. Since natural gas or propane prices often correlate with electricity prices, it’s often a better idea to go with a gas-powered heater if you have the choice, even when electricity is cheap, since gas is usually also cheap in those areas.
Solar pool heaters come in two major varieties, but both share the same strengths and weaknesses. They harness the power of the sun to heat your pool, which means they have no operation cost and make them a cheaper alternative to gas or electric pool heaters. However, they depend on the power of the sun to heat your pool, which means they’re most effective on bright, sunny days, and may fail to make a difference on overcast days. They also don’t work well overnight and tend to be the slowest of the pool heaters.
Since they’re not the best choice in winter, people often pair them with a small gas or electric pool heater, so that by daisy-chaining the two systems together, they can enjoy warm pool temperatures all year long.
The first kind of solar pool heater is the solar blanket. These are thin, plastic sheets which you lower into your pool, and you typically want to cover as much of your pool as possible. They increase the amount of solar energy which is absorbed into the water, and they also prevent heat from escaping. The good news about this method is that it’s incredibly cheap. The bad news about this method is that it’s probably the least effective method, and it’s the most sensitive to overcast days.
The second kind of solar pool heater is the solar system. These are reminiscent of solar panels, though they don’t require any electricity to work. Instead, these are giant panels that you hook into your pump system. The water passes through the long, thin sheets, and is heated by the power of the sun. While this doesn’t sound like it might do much, some people have to install temperature regulars, as their solar heaters are capable of producing water that is warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
These require a lot of space, so people generally put them on their roof. If your home has black asphalt shingles, this does double duty, as they radiate solar energy back into the solar heater, meaning they get warmed from both sides. However, you can put them on the ground if you have the space, though they run a higher risk of getting punctured on the ground.
Electric heaters that use heating elements are the most expensive to run and can cost upwards of 50 dollars a month to operate. Electric heat pumps, on the other hand, are more cost-effective than the other electric heaters and can cost just cents on the dollar to run.
Gas pool heaters vary. If they’re very powerful, they can heat your pool the fastest, but they also burn the most gas to do it. That can be very expensive if you live in an area with high gas prices. Still, gas-powered pool heaters are typically the less expensive option, and most users report that they cost about half of what their former electric system cost.
Solar pool heaters tend to be the cheapest to purchase and cost practically nothing to run, though if you put them on the roof, you’ll need a powerful pump to get the water up there. However, they’re the least effective heating type, which is something to keep in mind before you buy.
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