UPDATED: Jan 01, 2020.
So, what is the best pool heater? If you’re looking for an answer to that question, don’t miss out this comprehensive guide and the bestselling products it explores.
- 1 Heads-up!
- 2 Here Are The Best-Selling Pool Heater in 2020
- 2.1 Hayward H400FDN Universal H-Series
- 2.2 Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool
- 2.3 Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium
- 2.4 Pentair 460736 MasterTemp High Performance
- 2.5 SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater
- 2.6 Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series
- 2.7 Hayward HP50TA HeatPro Titanium
- 2.8 Sta-Rite SR400LP
- 2.9 GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar
- 2.10 Jandy Pro Series JXi 400K BTU
- 3 The Best Accessories and Replacement for Pool Heaters
- 3.1 1. Blue Wave NE6171B Maxi Replacement Pump for Above Ground Pools, 1.5 HP
- 3.2 2. Hayward FDXLBKP1930 Bezel and Keypad Assembly Replacement Kit for Hayward Universal H-Series Low NOx Pool Heater
- 3.3 3. Pentair 42002-0024S Stack Flue Sensor Replacement Pool and Spa Heater Electrical Systems
- 3.4 4. Pentair 42001-0053S Electrical Systems Thermistor Replacement Pool and Spa Heater
- 3.5 5. Pentair 42002-0007S Control Board Kit Replacement NA and LP Series Pool/Spa Heater Electrical Systems
- 3.6 6. Hayward IDXLTER1930 Heater Thermistor for H-Series Heater
- 3.7 7. Smartpool EQTM2400NA Programmable Timer
- 4 What is a Pool Heater?
- 5 The Best Type of Pool Heater
- 6 How to Choose the Best Pool Heater?
- 7 How do Pool Heaters Work?
- 8 Little-Known Benefits of Pool Heaters
- 9 Pool Heater vs. Heat Pump
- 10 Final Words
Buying a pool heater needs fair bit of knowledge and planning for two reasons.
Firstly, this is usually the most expensive piece of hardware for your pool. Secondly, even the best heaters can fail if the installation isn’t done right or water chemistry doesn’t match up.
That means two things:
- Choose the best pool heater that not only suits your water but also is a high-quality product that’s built to last.
- Your installation needs to be perfect. So consider hiring a skilled and experienced professional for that if you don’t know what you’re doing.
But with the overabundance of options available on the market, choosing the best pool heater can be a pain in the neck.
Or maybe not!
If you check out the list of the best-selling products that are used and highly recommended by homeowners like yourself, you can find a heater that fits your bill.
Here are Our Top Recommendations for Best Pool Heater:
- Best overall: Hayward H400FDN Universal H-Series
- Best small pool heater: GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar
- Best gas pool heater: Pentair 460736 Gas Pool Heater
- Best electric pool heater: Hayward HP50TA HeatPro Titanium
- Best propan pool heater: Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series
- Best solar pool heater: Intex Solar Heater Mat
- Best inground pool heater: Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium
- Best above ground pool heater: SmartPool S240U Sun Heater
Here Are The Best-Selling Pool Heater in 2020
Hayward H400FDN Universal H-Series
Hayward is the most popular brand in the pool heater industry. It’s no surprise that their H400FDN Universal H-Series is the top rated pool heater as well as our editor’s choice.
It is a standard cupro-nickel heat exchanger that offers the best value as well as reliability. The cutting-edge patented polymer header coupled with bypass valve design further increases the hydraulic efficiency.
Despite the extreme power and quick performance, the unit is extremely environment-friendly with low NOx emissions.
Being a gas heater with 400,000 BTUs, this is an extremely powerful unit and can heat up a 20000 to 40000-gallon pool very fast. Because of its immense power, it’s ideal if your pool doesn’t get a lot of sun.
To make sure you get the most out of your heater, it’s ideal to shut it off until the pool is balanced and clean. Moreover, consider covering your pool with a solar bubble cover when not swimming or you will lose a lot of heat and water from evaporation.
Iit is fairly fast for a gas heater. It can take between 12 to 18 hours to get your pool from 45 to 80 degrees.
- Very fast for a gas heater
- Can heat up to virtually any desired temperature level
- Accurate, clear display
- Very easy to use and program
- Takes little to no effort to winterize and startup
- Fairly loud, especially during the night
Verdict: This is definitely the best pool heater if you have a long winter season and a big pool. It can extend you’re swimming season up to nine months, depending on how harsh the winner is in your area.
Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above Ground Swimming Pool
This tiny piece of pool heating equipment is the best seller, and there are obvious reasons for that.
The Intex Solar Heater Mat is an eco-friendly heater based on the technology that can raise the temperature of your pool water up to 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
This heater is only ideal for small- to medium-sized above ground pools, i.e. up to 8000 gallons. It might not be ideal if the water flow rate is more than 2500 gallons per hour.
It’s extremely affordable so you may also consider getting two of these for better results. It’s ideal to use a solar pool cover with it.
These solar mat heaters are only ideal in areas where winter is mild i.e. where the temperature is 60-65 Fahrenheit. They can raise it to a more pleasant 70-75 degrees.
- Very affordable – you can buy multiple heater pads for better results
- Quick set up
- Can raise the temperature up to 10F
- No monthly cost
- Not ideal for inground or larger pools
- Doesn’t work in cold or cloudy weather
- Can promote the growth of algae so you might have to chlorinate/shock the pool more often
Verdict: This pool heater pad is the best seller for a reason. It’s affordable, it’s convenient, and it’s effective.
Hayward HP21404T HeatPro Titanium
Yet another amazing product by Hayward is the HP21404T with acoustic compressor cover for the extremely quiet operation.
The hater is equipped with titanium heat exchanger that ensures maximum heat transfer. The body is extremely sturdy and corrosion resistant, so your heater will keep going for years to come.
Being a heat pump, it’s not only cost-effective but also extremely powerful. It can raise the temperature of a fairly large pool up to 10 degrees in just 2-4 hours.
Because of its intense power, it might be an overkill if you have a tiny pool.
- Extremely powerful
- Easy to install
- Low monthly cost
- Heats the pool water in no time
- Sturdy build – can last for up to 10 years
- Affordable as compared to most of its competitors
- Fairly heavy
Verdict: If you have an outsized pool or live in a cold area, and you do spend a lot of time in the pool, this heat pump is a no-brainer.
Pentair 460736 MasterTemp High Performance
This is a compact and quiet yet powerful natural gas heater for your pool or spa. The Pentair MasterTemp 400000 BTU work extremely fast.
The vendor has renovated the design, and the heater now comes with a tougher exterior and user-friendly digital control.
The unique technology that the heater is based on utilizes a fully pre-mixed system with extremely efficient gas and air mixture for a quick heat up.
This is one of the few natural gas heaters that are as easy to use as your home heating systems.
The heater is very eco-friendly and certified for low NOx emissions. The only issue with the heater is that the installation process is a little complicated while professional installation services can be pretty costly.
- Very fast – can raise temperate up to 4 degrees in one hour in a pool as big as 15-20K gallons
- User-friendly rotating digital thermostat is very accurate
- Small footprint
- Sturdy exterior thanks to the rust proof non-metal sheets
- A little loud when in full swing
- To get the warranty, you’ve to register within 60 days of installation
Verdict: It’s an ideal choice if you want a durable and fast heater that doesn’t make you break the bank but also don’t mind a little bit of noise.
SmartPool S240U Universal Sun Heater
Another does solar heater based on amazing technology to keep your pool warm. Setting up the heater is pretty simple, and the installation manual is available in English, French, and Spanish.
Again, it’s a solar pool heater so don’t expect a rise in water temperature by more than a few degrees. However, in areas that have mild winter, this can prolong your swimming season by four to six weeks.
It’s ideal for medium-sized above ground pools. While it might not work very efficiently in harsh winter but if the temperature is close to 70, the SmartPool can raise it to a more pleasant level fairly quickly.
- Great pool for the money
- Easy to install
- No monthly cost
- Not ideal for larger pools or in very cold weather
Verdict: If you don’t want to spend anything on the monthly bill and have a medium sized above ground pool, this can be an ideal choice.
Hayward H150FDP Universal H-Series
This is yet another compact and elegant looking propane heater by Hayward. The design is so elegant that it looks like a small printer or a photocopier.
The standard cupro-nickel heat exchanger is ideal for efficient eating. The heater also features bypass valve design and polymer header, which increases hydraulic efficiency.
Just like most of Hayward’s other gas-based heaters, the H150FDP Universal H-Series is environment-friendly and ensures low NOx emissions.
It’s fairly easy to set up, and extremely fast. Powered at 150,000 BTU, it’s ideal for medium-sized in-ground as well as fairly large above ground pools. Consider covering your pool when you’re not using it to avoid heat loss or water evaporation.
- Fast action
- Ideal for big pools and fairly cold weather
- Accurate temperature readings on the digital display
- Makes a fair bit of noise
Verdict: Ideal for bigger pools and cold areas. However, might prove a bit costly if you use your pool very frequently
Hayward HP50TA HeatPro Titanium
This pool heat pump comes with all the amazing features of any Hayward pool heater. It has the ultra-gold corrosion-resistant evaporator fan, titanium heat exchanger, and double injection-molded UV resistant body.
However, it has something that most of its cousins lack.
And that is super quiet operation. Hayward has used acoustic compressor cover and profiled fan blades to make it their quietest heat pump available on the market.
The Hayward HP50TA HeatPro Titanium Is extremely powerful and offers 50,000 BTUs, however being a heat pump it is also extremely cost-effective in terms of the monthly bill.
- Extremely powerful yet very quiet
- Affordable price and cost-effective operation
- Easy setup
- Fast heat up especially for small to medium sized pools
- Auto shut off when reaches the preset temperature
- If not properly winterized, the body might start to crack
Verdict: This is the ideal pool heat pump for those who want quick heat up yet prefer extremely quiet heater.
The Sta-Rite SR400LP Max-E-Therm Pool and Spa Heater is one of the lightest heaters available in its class. The compact design and 84% efficiency rating make it one of the most energy-efficient gas heaters available.
This is one of the very few heaters that look pretty elegant and have a rust-proof housing. It’s easy to set up, works pretty quickly, and can last for a long time to come.
- Extremely lightweight
- Fast heat up
- 85% efficiency rating – doesn’t add too much to your gas bill
- Elegant and rustproof body
- Loud operation
- Customer service can be hard to reach
Verdict: This might not be as efficient or as quiet as some of the other options we’ve discussed above. However, it gets the job done without making you spend too much on propane.
GAME 4721 SolarPRO Curve Solar
This is a unique curved shape solar heater that promises to increase Heat by 5 degrees Fahrenheit within 4 days. The vendor boasts durable construction and promises fast action.
Although the manufacturer claims that the GAME 4721 SolarPRO Is ideal for both in and above-ground pools, but in reality, it is only good for above ground pools.
If you plan to use it for your small in-ground pool, you might need multiple units. However, this will
not only need more space for the heaters but will also cost you more.
The unique curved shape would definitely help it capture more heat, even when the position of the sun keeps changing.
- Affordable price
- Unique design helps capture more sun
- No monthly bill
- Easy setup
- Slow heating
- Not the sturdiest of the units
Verdict: For the money, this pool is ideal for small to medium size above ground pools and in the areas where winter isn’t too harsh.
Jandy Pro Series JXi 400K BTU
The Jandy Pro Series JXi 400K BTU Low-NOx Natural Gas Swimming Pool and Spa Is one of the smallest pool heaters available on the market. It is about 38% lighter and 28% smaller than most of its competitors.
But that does not mean that this unit is not as sturdy or efficient as any of its competitors.
Another amazing thing about the Jandy Pro heater is that it features an 83% thermal energy efficiency rating with low NOx emission. This makes the unit is extremely eco-friendly.
It has a unique heating mechanism, copper fin heat exchanger tubes, and blower-driven gas and air mix. It’s also very user-friendly, thanks to its digital control interface.
- Quiet operation yet very powerful
- One of the smallest and lightest pool heaters available on the market
- Heats 20% faster than most of its competitors
- Reasonably priced for the size
- Setting up can be very complex for DIYers, or expensive if you choose the expert installation
Verdict: This is an ideal gas heater if you want a small, quiet but fast unit. However, this can be a little expensive in terms of the monthly gas bill.
The Best Accessories and Replacement for Pool Heaters
If you ever want to enhance your pool heater experience by adding more accessories or need replacement parts, here are some of the best options:
1. Blue Wave NE6171B Maxi Replacement Pump for Above Ground Pools, 1.5 HP
The Blue Wave Replacement Pump Is made of durable polymer, almost the same great quality that you would see in the best heaters by Hayward and Pentair. It’s a self-priming pump that comes with a clear lid for easy access and cleaning.
You will be amazed how quiet this pump is. Moreover, it’s one of the most affordable pumps available on the market. Remember, if you live in California, this pump is not legal for sale in your State.
2. Hayward FDXLBKP1930 Bezel and Keypad Assembly Replacement Kit for Hayward Universal H-Series Low NOx Pool Heater
This is a genuine Hayward product ideal for saltwater pool and chemical corrosion resistance. It offers great water velocity to all tubes and can up to 18% by reducing the run time of the pump.
Just like their top of the line heaters, this replacement kit for Hayward Universal H-Series ensures low NOx emissions.
We really liked how easy it is to install it, although you might have some trouble with the rubber gasket, but just a little bit of pushing around will help you get the holes aligned properly.
Remember, that this keypad is only compatible with the 28 inch IDXL2DB1930 display board.
3. Pentair 42002-0024S Stack Flue Sensor Replacement Pool and Spa Heater Electrical Systems
If you own a Pentair MasterTemp pool heater and your stack flow sensor breaks, this replacement kit from the manufacturer can be an ideal choice.
However, this can also fit the models SR200, SR333, and SR400 for the Pentair Sta-Rite Max-E-Therm heater system.
Replacing the sensor is really easy, and you can do it yourself. However, remember that this can take a while if you don’t have any prior experience. Only choose the factory OEM parts when you are dealing with Pentair heaters because most other replacement parts might not be compatible.
4. Pentair 42001-0053S Electrical Systems Thermistor Replacement Pool and Spa Heater
If you have either Pentair Sta-Rite Max-E-Therm or MasterTemp electric heater, this is a thermistor replacement you should consider if you ever need one.
Although they rarely ever need to be replaced, when it happens, it can be a pain because your heater will stop working.
Symptoms that you need the thermistor are: you will see the temperature on the heater will start to shoot up to very high level all of a sudden, and the heater will stop turning on.
Fortunately replacing this part is extremely simple and all you have to remove is 3 screws and the appropriate cover. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes, and your heater should be good to go again.
5. Pentair 42002-0007S Control Board Kit Replacement NA and LP Series Pool/Spa Heater Electrical Systems
If you have any MasterTemp NA and LP or Sta-Rite Max-E-Therm LA and NP series electric heaters, and your control board burns or breaks, this is the replacement you will need.
Replacing the board can be a little intimidating, though it’s not difficult at all. Even someone with limited knowledge of electronics should be able to replace the board in under one hour. Don’t forget to turn the power off before replacing the board.
If you are having trouble replacing it, there are many YouTube videos available to help out.
This is a genuine OEM replacement part and works as good as the original one that comes with your unit. However, before purchasing this equipment, please make sure you call their customer support to confirm that your symptoms confirm a board replacement is required.
6. Hayward IDXLTER1930 Heater Thermistor for H-Series Heater
This is an easy to install thermistor replacement for any H series heaters by Hayward. You’ll need it if your temperature sensor breaks and starts giving an error code.
You can install it within 20 to 30 minutes, even if you have no experience. And yes, it’s reasonably priced as compared to most other replacement thermistors.
It’s ideal to give the customer service a call and make sure this unit is compatible with your heater as it doesn’t fit a couple of H series heaters.
7. Smartpool EQTM2400NA Programmable Timer
This is an amazing little pool pump timer that’s compatible with most pool heaters. You can easily program the time your heater should turn on or off, in 5-hour cycles. We loved the easy, one-touch operation.
The cord is only 2 feet long, which is somewhat short but seems pretty sturdy. However, it might be a little hassle if you want to install it with you pool permanently – a 6-foot cord might have been ideal.
Still, this is an amazing accessory that will let you program the timing of your pool, so it gets warm when you need it automatically and still saves you a few dollars by turning it off when it’s not needed.
What is a Pool Heater?
Just like you need hot water for showering, doing dishes or laundry, you might also need hot water for your swimming pool. Since you cannot use your regular hot water heater for swimming pool, you will need a special pool heater.
These are ideal for people who live in colder areas and want to extend swimming season by a few more weeks or even months.
Water temperature your desire, the size, type and even brand of your pool can dictate the best type of heater. Buying the ideal heater can be tricky.
Choosing a heater that is too powerful for your pool can cost you a lot more in terms of monthly bills as well as initial cost. Likewise, using a smaller heater could be an absolute waste of money because it wouldn’t raise the water temperature to your desired level.
The Best Type of Pool Heater
There are several different types of pools. Each has its own merits and issues. Let’s quickly review all of them before reviewing the top-rated items.
Solar Pool Heater
Just as the name suggests, this heater utilizes solar panels to capture energy from the sun and transfers it into your pool. These heaters work pretty slowly, and heavily depend on how bright the sun is.
Their initial cost can be very high. But then there is no monthly cost, as well as little to no maintenance cost. Moreover, solar pool heaters are the best in terms of eco-friendliness.
Who are they ideal for?
They are ideal if you live in a sunny part of the world and can afford to install expensive equipment that will last longer and save you money over time.
Electric Pool Heater
These heaters run off of your electric connection. They are extremely fast and can offer quick heat up year round.
Who are they ideal for?
They are ideal if you can afford to pay higher electricity bills, but want your pool to heat up quickly.
Electric Pool Heat Pump
These are innovative heaters that run off of your electric connection. However, they don’t produce heat but move it from the air in the surroundings to your pool. They are very long lasting and don’t increase your electricity bill by much.
Who are they ideal for?
They are ideal if you live in an area where the outside temperature stays above 40. They become less efficient in colder weather.
Natural & Propane Gas Heaters
These heaters used to be very popular in the past. The increasing gas prices have decreased their demand nowadays.
They use propane or natural gas. As the pump circulates water in the pool, it passes through the filter and then to the heater. The gas is burning in the heating chamber, and energy is transferred to the water. This water becomes hot and is then sent back to the pool.
Who are they ideal for?
They are usually the cheapest option when it comes to initial cost but cost more over time. That’s why they are ideal if you need a heater very infrequently.
How to Choose the Best Pool Heater?
To choose the ideal heater for your pool, keep these things in mind:
Choose the Right Size
First, you need to find out the surface area of your pool. If you know how many gallons of water it has, that also works. Once you have this info, you can get a pool that yields enough heat.
The power of a heater is measured in BTUs (British Thermal units). Here is a table to help you find an optimal heater for the size of your pool.
Consider How Fast You Need Your Pool to be Ready?
If you want your pool to get heated in a short time, you should look for a high power electric heater. If speed doesn’t matter, but you want to save some money on the monthly bill, solar could be the right choice.
What’s your Budget?
For pool heaters, there is an initial cost, and then there is a monthly bill. Usually, there is a tradeoff between the two.
Gas heaters are usually the cheapest, some costing around $1,000 while solar can be anything upwards of $3,000. Don’t forget the installation cost on top of it. However, in the long run, the solar will cost nothing, but gas heater might cost you up to $500 every month.
Size and Shape of Pool
Size and shape of the pool will also dictate the ideal type and power of your heater. Needless to say, larger and complex shaped pools will need a more powerful heater and vice versa.
Heaters for InGround Pools Vs. Above Ground Pools
The best heater for in-ground pool might not be a good choice for above ground pool. For instance, solar heaters are not ideal for in-ground pools because of their low power. On the flip, a powerful electric heater could be a huge waste of money for a small above ground pool.
Read More:Coleman Pools vs. Intex Pools
How do Pool Heaters Work?
Did you ever wonder what is underneath the hood of your pool heater? Or how it works?
If yes, here is the short answer
Different types of pool heaters work differently. We have briefly touched on their functionality in the previous sections, here is a quick explanation of the general principle most pool heaters are designed on.
To understand how a pool heater works, we need to understand the function of each of its different parts.
There is a water intake that sucks the water into the heater. There is a control panel that connects to the thermostat and allows you to regulate the temperature.
Underneath the thermostat, there is control module, which is actually a circuitry that transfers messages between the thermostat and other parts of the heater such as the igniter.
Depending on the type of the heater, there could be gas input and gas valves or electric cable that provide the heater power. Moreover, there can be burners or heat exchangers.
The heat exchanger is usually wrapped around the tube through which the water flows. When water flows through the tube, heat is transferred from the burner to water. Normally there is a switch to control the flow of water as well.
Once heat is transferred to the water, it’s pushed out back to the pool.
Little-Known Benefits of Pool Heaters
Depending on the type of the pool heater such as electric or gas or heat pump, there are specific benefits to each type. However here are some common benefits:
Your Swimming Season Gets Extended
Swimming pools are expensive, and most pools have a finite lifespan which can range between 3 and 15 years. However, you can only use your pool in certain months of the year because of the weather. This means that in areas with prolonged winter, your swimming pool will be used for only a few months every year.
In other words, you won’t be able to get the most out of it before it reaches its end of life.
This is where the pool heaters can extend your swimming season by heating your pool water to a comfortable temperature level. While a pool heater might not work in extreme winter, it can definitely improve the water temperature in fall and autumn.
In the areas where winters are mild, you can extend your swimming season to last the whole year. This definitely gives you the best bang for your buck you invested in your pool.
You Can Swim Even During the Night
In warmer areas, swimming at night might not be an issue. However, in certain areas, the water temperature can drop drastically in the evenings even when the day was fairly warm.
This means your pool will be simply unusable during the night.
But what If you want to use your pool for an overnight party or family gathering? Or maybe you want to do some cardio workout early morning?
Again the pool heater can regulate the temperature and allow you greater flexibility regarding the time of the day in the evening you can use your food.
What some people don’t know is that swimming in warmer water can be better for your health.
Swimming is a great aerobic exercise. It’s especially ideal for those who have joint issues. However, swimming in cold water can cause chilling. This can have adverse effects on those who have a weak immune system such as children, people with arthritis, or older adults.
Your pool heater not only counters this effect but also offers therapeutic benefits by helping loosen the stiff joints and relax sore muscles.
Pool Heater vs. Heat Pump
Pool heat pump and electric heater both run on electricity, however, they are totally different.
Electric heater has a conventional way of generating heat from electricity by transferring heat from a hot coil into the water.
On the flip, the pool heat pump generates heat from the air in the surroundings and transfers it into your pool water. The only thing a pool heat pump requires electricity is to run air compressor and other components.
The initial cost of a pool heat pump might be more than that of an electric heater, but it can cost up to five times less than a gas or electric heater in terms of monthly cost. That means, in the long run, you’ll be saving a lot more.
With proper installation and maintenance pool heat pumps can last up to 10 years or even more. This is considerably longer than their rivals i.e., gas heaters as well as electric heaters.
Electric heaters are less expensive but cost more in terms of electricity bills. However, they have a smaller footprint and can also be used in indoor spas.
Depending on your needs, you may choose one or the other. However, some people use both. They use gas or electric heaters for indoor pools or in winter and heat pump in autumn or fall.
After a pool filter system, the heater is definitely the best accessory for your swimming pool, no matter you have an in-ground or above ground pool.
It not only extends your swimming season but also helps get more value out of your swimming pool. Moreover, it makes swimming a lot more fun and healthy experience.
Now you know what is the best pool heater for your pool. Keep in mind all the above-mentioned tips and tricks when shopping for the pool heater.