Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (2024)

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (1)

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A reliable pool heater can keep your backyard swimming pool at a comfortable temperature even during chillier days, so you can extend your swimming season. Some pool heaters can also make the water cooler when the outdoor temperature is exceptionally hot, providing you with a relaxing oasis during the dog days of summer.

Our top picks:

But pool heaters can vary significantly in terms of performance, price, energy efficiency, size and noise output. Which is why the Good Housekeeping Institute took on the task of finding the best pool heaters on the market.

Below, you’ll see reviews of the six best pool heaters of the year. You can also check out our picks of the best swimsuits for women, the best men’s swim trunks, the best above-ground pools and the best pool toys for a fun day in the water.

1

Best Overall

Hayward W3H200FDN Universal H-Series

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (9)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (10)Great temperature control
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (11)Fast heating
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (12)Low emissions
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (13)A bit heavy

Like the majority of pool heaters, this Hayward pool heater runs on natural gas. But it stands out from the crowd for its decent price for its heating capacity as well as its thermal efficiency and low emissions, according to the manufacturer.

Multiple online reviews on Amazon said the machine delivers fast heating. One customer who called it a "dynamo," said of the first time using it overnight with their pool which holds 20,000 gals of water: "The pool temperature rose from 74°F to 92°F; that is a rise of 18 degrees in seven hours."

It features a highly durable cupronickel heat exchanger — which helps prevent corrosion, making it a great choice for saltwater and chemically treated in-ground pools — and provides 200,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) per hour. Plus, it’s equipped with a digital control panel that’s easy to use, according to one customer review on the manufacturer's website. But at 123 pounds, the unit is heavier than some other pool heaters in its class.

Pool typeIn-ground; chlorine and saltwater
Power sourceNatural gas
Heating capacity200,000 BTUs

2

Best Value

Pentair EC462025 MasterTemp 125

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (14)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (15)Affordably priced
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (16)Quiet operation
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (17)Low environmental impact
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (18)Not designed for larger pools

This natural gas pool heater from Pentair offers some serious bang for your buck, generating 125,000 BTUs per hour. The compact design runs quietly too. "The quietness of the unit running is amazing," one Amazon reviewer wrote.

It’s also certified for low nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions and equipped with a digital display that’s easy to read. One caveat: It’s not a good fit for smaller pools; according to the manufacturer, it’s designed for pools up to 15,000 gallons.

Pool typeIn-ground; chlorine
Power sourceNatural gas
Heating capacity125,000 BTUs

3

Best Propane Tank

Pentair 460737 MasterTemp

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (19)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (20)Stellar heating capacity
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (21)Lightweight
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (22)Low emissions
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (23)Expensive

Talk about a powerhouse. This propane tank pool heater from Pentair produces 400,000 BTUs per hour — the highest output of any machine on this list. "Once connected and turned on, I could not believe the speed at which my 18 x 54 foot pool heated up," said one customer review on Amazon.

It also boasts top-notch energy efficiency, weighs only 65 pounds and is certified for low NOx emissions. It’s one of the most expensive pool heaters out there, but it could be worth the splurge depending on your needs.

Pool typeIn-ground; chlorine
Power sourcePropane gas
Heating capacity400,000 BTUs

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4

Best Solar Panel

SunHeater S601 Solar System Panel

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (24)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (25)Energy efficient
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (26)Environmentally friendly
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (27)Durable
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (28)Expensive to install
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (29)Slower heating than gas-powered pool heaters

Solar pool heaters are usually more costly, running around $2,500 to $4,000 to purchase and install, according to Energy.gov. But they cost very little to operate once they’re up and running. If you have a sizable budget, the Smart Pool S601 is worth considering.

Each unit comes with 80 square feet of solar panels. The system keeps your pool warm with a heat collector, raising the water temperature by as much as 15°F, however it will work slower than a gas-powered model.

The panels, which can be installed on the roof of your house, mounted on a rack or placed on the ground, are made of lightweight and durable polypropylene. But solar panel pool heaters require professional installation, which can be costly.

Pool typeIn-ground; chlorine
Power sourceSolar energy
Heating capacityN/A, but raises temperature by up to 15°F

5

Best Heater-Cooler Combo

Raypak Crosswind Heat/Cool Electric Pool Heat Pump

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (30)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (31)Heating and cooling functions
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (32)Compact
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (33)Very quiet
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (34)Pricey
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (35)Heavy

This dual-function pool heater-and-cooler heat pump is very quiet, according to customer reviews on Amazon. It features an easy-to-use digital display and heats water quickly using a spiral titanium heat exchanger. The cooling mode allows you to lower your pool’s temperature — a blessing during a steamy day.

While the unit is compact, it weighs a fairly heavy 152 pounds and delivers only 61,000 BTUs per hour, so it’s only designed for smaller above-ground pools. It's also pricey, but the convenience of offering warmth and cooling in one may be worth it if you want to extend your pool season and/or live in a climate with extremely hot weather.

Pool typeAbove-ground; chlorine
Power sourceElectric
Heating capacity61,000 BTUs

6

Best for Above-Ground Pool

Raypak 014779 PR106AENC

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (36)

Pros
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (37)Low priced
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (38)Wind-resistant design
Cons
  • Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (39)Limited heating capacity

An affordable choice for an above-ground pool, this Raypak features a wind-resistant design, according to the manufacturer, so the pool heater can withstand inclement weather. It’s outfitted with polymer headers that will help prevent rust stains on your swimming pool. But, since it delivers a maximum heating capacity of only 105,000 BTUs per hour, it’s not well-suited for larger pools.

Pool typeAbove-ground; chlorine
Power sourceNatural gas
Heating capacity105,000 BTUs

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How we choose the best pool heaters

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (40)

To select the best pool heaters, we partnered with the experts at Popular Mechanics who conducted their own reviews of pool heaters. Our Lab pros also researched the popular brands on the market, compared specs of the best-selling models and read over 100 online reviews to find out what customers think of their pool heaters. We also consulted Energy.gov’s swimming pool heating guides for buying advice.

What to consider when shopping for a pool heater

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (41)

There are several important factors to consider when you go shopping:

✔️ Pool type: Pool heaters are compatible with in-ground pools, above-ground pools or both, depending on the product. If you have a saltwater pool, make sure to confirm that the filter is designed for saltwater.

✔️ Heating capacity: This is measured by how many BTUs (British Thermal Units) a pool heater generates per hour. Most residential pool heaters produce between 50,000 and 400,000 BTUs an hour. BTU output impacts whether a pool heater is designed for a small, medium, or large pool; the fewer the BTUs, the less amount of water it can heat effectively.

✔️ Power source: Pool heaters run on natural gas, propane gas, electricity from a heat pump or solar energy. Gas-powered heaters tend to have a bigger impact on the environment in terms of emissions and may be more costly to operate.

✔️ Energy efficiency: Electric heat pumps and solar-powered pool heaters tend to be more energy efficient and, as a result, cheaper to operate than natural gas and propane gas pool heaters.

✔️ Emissions: Gas pool heaters produce nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas emission that's bad for the environment. Low NOx pool heaters are designed to minimize these harmful emissions. All gas heaters must meet the federal standards for NOx emissions.

✔️ Warranty: Pool heaters typically come with a warranty of anywhere from one to 10 years, depending on the product and manufacturer.

How much does it cost to install a pool heater?

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Getting a pool heater professionally installed can cost anywhere from $300 to around $5,700 or more, depending on the heating capacity, heat source, size, brand and other variables, according to home remodeling resource ANGI. The average cost typically runs $1,803 and $4,134.

Installation costs can vary depending on the type of pool heater too. According to ANGI, electric pool heaters cost $1,000 to $6,000 to install on average; natural gas or propane pool heaters cost $1,500 to $6,000 to install; heat pump pool heaters cost $2,500 to $7,500 to install, and solar panel pool heaters cost $2,500 to $9,500 to install. The size of your pool and where you live can also affect the cost.

Pool heaters also require maintenance, such as keeping the heater clear of debris and checking for rodent activity periodically. You can do these maintenance tasks yourself or hire a pool company to do them for you.

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Should I install a pool heater myself?

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (43)

It’s best to hire a professional to install a gas pool heater because they require a gas line connection, which can be complex. Propane heaters require connecting the tank to your pool's heating system, a task best left to a professional. Proper installation also helps ensure the pool heater runs efficiently, according to Energy.gov.

Electric heat pumps and solar panel heating systems are a bit easier to install, but hiring a professional can provide peace of mind that the system was properly installed for optimal performance.

What’s the ideal temperature for pool water?​

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (44)

Temperature preference can vary from person to person, but generally people feel the most comfortable in pool water between 78°F and 82°F, according to ANGI, which points out that temperatures above 82°F can promote algae growth and lead to cloudy water.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

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Daniel Bortz is a freelance writer who has written about home improvement for more than a decade, including testing-based product reviews across every major category from outdoor power equipment to smart home technology. His work has been published by the New York Times, Washington Post, Consumer Reports, Newsweek, Money magazine and other outlets.

For this article, Bortz worked closely with Dan DiClerico, director of GH's Home Improvement and Outdoor Lab. DiClerico has tested and written about home improvement and outdoor power equipment for more than 20 years. Prior to joining Good Housekeeping, his expertise appeared in Consumer Reports and This Old House.

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (46)

Daniel Bortz

Daniel Bortz (he/him) is a freelance writer in Arlington, Va who has written about home improvement for more a decade, including product reviews across every major category, from appliances to smart home technology, as well as articles on real estate, personal finance, and more. His work has been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Consumer Reports, Newsweek, Money magazine, among others. He’s also a licensed real estate agent who watches way too much HGTV.

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (47)

Expert consulted:Dan DiClerico

Home Improvement & Outdoor Director

Having written thousands of product reviews and how-to articles on all aspects of home ownership, from routine maintenance to major renovations, Dan (he/him) brings more than 20 years of industry experience to his role as the director of the Home Improvement & Outdoor Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. A one-time roofer and a serial remodeler, Dan can often be found keeping house at his restored Brooklyn brownstone, where he lives with his wife and kids.

Best Pool Heaters of 2024 (2024)

FAQs

What are the top rated pool heaters? ›

Pentair, along with Raypack and Hayward, is among the "top three" pool heater manufacturers so you can be sure you're in good hands. However, propane heaters like the MasterTemp aren't as efficient or cost-effective as natural gas and electric models.

Which pool heater lasts the longest? ›

Solar pool heaters

Solar pool equipment tends to have the longest life expectancy and lowest monthly cost to operate, but you will need a higher initial investment. While the money you save will make solar worth it in the long run, these pool heaters have the highest initial cost.

What is the best option for pool heating? ›

Gas pool heaters are among the most popular methods to heat a pool. You have your choice of propane or natural gas, depending on availability in your area and personal preference. Gas heaters warm a combustion chamber by burning natural gas or propane, similar to your home's hot water heater.

How fast will a 400000 BTU pool heater heat a pool? ›

For a typical size 400,000 BTU pool heater, that's 4 therms per hour. Currently, natural gas runs about $1.50 per therm near Tampa. The average cost to heat a pool for one hour on natural gas is around $ 7.00. To heat, an average pool (10-12K Gallon) with no solar cover typically takes 8-14 hours.

How do I know what pool heater to buy? ›

How to Measure the Right Size Pool Heater
  1. Calculate Your Pool's Surface Area. ...
  2. Determine Your Pool's Average Depth. ...
  3. Calculate Your Pool's Approximate Volume in Gallons. ...
  4. Calculate the BTUs You Need in a Pool Heater. ...
  5. Minimum BTUs Needed for 70-degree Fahrenheit Weather. ...
  6. Minimum BTUs Needed for 60-degree Fahrenheit Weather.
Feb 13, 2024

Are newer pool heaters more efficient? ›

Today you can find new gas-fired heater models with much higher efficiencies than older models. However, depending on your climate and pool use, they may not be the most cost-effective option when compared to heat pump and solar pool heaters.

What size heater for a 20 000 gallon pool? ›

For pools of up to 20,000 gallons, small heat pumps like the Hayward 95K BTU output are suitable. Pools up to 30,000 gallons should look at the AquaCal 120K BTU or higher, and 40,000 gallon inground pools should look at models like the Pentair 140K BTU.

What is the cheapest pool heater to run? ›

Electric heat pumps typically cost around $50 to $100 or more per month to operate. This reasonable ongoing cost makes electric pool heat pumps among the most cost-effective pool heating systems available today. This lower operating cost is in large part due to the pumps' greater energy efficiency.

Can you run a pool heater 24 hours a day? ›

You should never leave your electric or gas pool heater on overnight because your energy bill will increase significantly. Deciding whether to leave your electric or gas pool heater on or off overnight depends on your usages and plans.

What do most people heat their pool to? ›

Depending on its purpose, competitive swimmers would prefer a cooler water temperature, whereas young children and senior citizens would benefit more so from warmer temperatures. Despite this, the average pool temperature, which is said to be ideal for all, is between 77-82°F.

How to heat up a pool cheaply? ›

That's why we are sharing these ideas for how to cheaply heat a pool, including the absolute cheapest way to heat a swimming pool.
  1. Use solar heating as the primary source. ...
  2. Use your heat pump during warmest time of the day. ...
  3. Use pool blankets to control evaporation. ...
  4. Shield your pool from the wind.

Is it cheaper to keep pool heater on all the time? ›

Also, turn the temperature down or turn off the heater whenever the pool won't be used for several days. This will save energy and money. It's a myth that it takes more energy to heat a pool back up to a desired temperature than you save by lowering the temperature or turning off the heater.

How many BTU heater do I need for a 16x32 pool? ›

Pool Heaters: BTU Quick Reference Charts
Pool DimensionsSurface AreaMinimum BTU
16' x 32'512 sq. ft.170,700
18' x 36'648 sq. ft.216,000
20' x 40'800 sq. ft.266,700
24' x 44'1,056 sq. ft.352,000
2 more rows

What is a comfortable pool temperature? ›

Safety and Comfort

For example, Mayo Clinic suggests that younger children and the elderly will generally need warmer temperatures ranging from 84°F to 94°F, while a comfortable pool temperature for adults is 85°F to 89°F. If you are swimming for fitness, cooler temperatures of 78°F to 84°F are recommended.

How much does it cost to run a 100000 BTU pool heater? ›

My calculations come out to $1.63 per therm plus the $. 04 surcharge equals a gas cost of $1.67 per therm, on average. A 100,000 BTU heater uses 1 therm of natural gas per hour, so a 400,000 heater consumes 4 therms an hour. 4 therms an hour x $1.67 = $6.68 per hour.

Which is better Hayward or AquaCal heat pump? ›

AquaCal stands out with its higher coefficient of performance (COP) and lower kW usage for a higher BTU output than Hayward. This results in significantly lower energy usage for greater heat output, leading to energy savings and long-term cost efficiency.

Are Rheem and Raypak the same? ›

As a member of the Rheem® family of brands, Raypak® is a big part of Rheem Manufacturing's commitment to taking a greater degree of responsibility for future generations.

What size pool heater do I need for a 15 000 gallon pool? ›

For pools under 10,000 gallons, small gas heaters like the Hayward 100K$) BTU output are suitable. Pools up to 15,000 gallons should look at the Pentair 125K BTU or higher, and 20,000 gallon above ground pools should look at the Raypak 150K BTU.

Which is better electric or gas pool heater? ›

Natural gas and propane are more efficient, but they are much less eco-friendly than electricity. These heaters are more likely to have emissions that adversely impact the environment. And that impact becomes more prevalent the longer you run your pool heater.

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