Solar Pool Heaters: Comprehensive Guide & Best Product Reviews

Solar pool heaters, also called 'solar thermal' systems, use free heat from the sun and convert the energy to heat the water inside your pool. Once you have paid for the initial purchase, you won’t have to pay any additional cost to make the pool warmer using your solar heater.

And you know what’s even better? Solar heaters for pools are completely eco-friendly. They have a zero carbon footprint rating, thus complementing a greener lifestyle.


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Since swimming pools can harness sunlight via solar panels to heat your water, you can save more on your energy bills and enjoy the tremendous savings that pool solar panels have to offer. In addition to this, solar pool covers, solar power reels, or solar pool blankets are all sustainable energy sources that allow you to eliminate the cost associated with hefty energy bills.

solar powered pool heating

from compass

 

The actual amount of savings one can get by using the best solar pool heaters depends on the climate of the region. In areas that receive plenty of sunshine, such as Florida, Colorado, Arizona, California, and Georgia, the savings on water heating bill can range from 70% to 90%.

Also, solar heaters have become more affordable over the years. The cost of installing an in-ground solar pool heater starts at under $2,000, while an above ground solar pool heater costs nearly half that amount. So, price is no longer an excuse when it comes to installing swimming pool solar panels to heat the water.

How do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

As the name suggest solar water heating (SWH) occurs when sunlight is converted to energy or in the case of water it is converted to heat, with a device called a solar thermal collector.

Solar water heating systems consist of solar panels and a collector that use sunlight to heat pool water. Most solar pool heaters include four basic parts:

  1. Solar collector(s)
  2. A pump
  3. A filter
  4. A control valve

source

how a solar pool heater works

Pool water is pumped to the solar collector through a filter that removes debris. Solar collectors can also absorb sunlight directly. Once the water has been heated using the sun’s energy, it is pumped back to the pool. Some collectors also combine a working fluid into the mix that consists of a gas or liquid to aid the heating process.

An automatic or manual flow control valve and sensors divert water towards the collector when the collector(s) temperature is higher than the pool. If the collector(s) temperature is similar to the pool, water is simply filtered, and it bypasses the collector before being pumped back to the pool. During peak summer months, the collector(s) can also be used to cool the pool water at night.

The diffused radiation feature allows the system to heat water even on cloudy days. For solar pool heating system connected to a gas and electric heater, a backup heating system can be switched on if the water is not sufficiently hot during cloudy or foggy water. The combination of solar and traditional heating system will ensure that the pool water remains warm on any given day while the energy cost remains minimal.

Types of Solar Powered Heaters

Solar powered heaters come in different size and varieties. The type of solar power pool heater one should choose depends on the pool size, as well as the climate of the area.

Pool heaters with glazed solar collector systems are generally ideal for outdoor pools in colder climates as they are able to capture heat most efficiently. The collector is made of iron tempered glass covering and copper tubing on an aluminum plate, which make them more energy efficient. However, the expensive glass covering may increase the cost to some extent.

glazed flat-plate solar collector

Example of a glazed solar collector

Water heaters with unglazed solar collectors are less efficient in capturing energy. However, these systems are generally cheaper than the glazed solar collectors since they do not include expensive glass covering. They are made of UV-resistant plastic or rubber construction and are ideal for warm and sunny climate zones. With that said, these collectors may also be suitable for indoor pools in colder regions if the solar heater is fitted with a sensor that drains water back to the pool when not in use.


Advantages of Using A Solar Pool Heater

Installing solar pool heater will provide a number of benefits. Some of the advantages of installing a solar heater for your pool are as follows.

  • A Solar pool heater will help reduce carbon footprint as it utilizes clean and free energy coming from a natural source.
  • Installing solar pool heater will reduce your energy bills. Apart from the initial costs of purchasing a solar heater, the monthly cost of operation will be much lower.
  • As compared to traditional pool heaters, solar pool heater requires minimum maintenance.
  • A solar pool heater comes with an extra long warranty period. Typical warranty of solar pool heater runs from four to five years.
  • Solar water heater work together with existing heating systems, thereby ensuring that the water remains warm all year round.

You can save a lot of money by installing a solar pool heater. In order to determine the exact savings that will result from solar water heater installation, you must follow these three simple steps:

Step 1: Find out energy requirement for heating the pool using traditional electric, gas, or oil heater in an hour. You should determine electricity wattage consumption, cubic meters of natural gas, or liters of propane oil that is required to heat the pool in one hour.

Step 2: Now, multiply the energy usage for heating the pool determined in step one with per unit cost of energy. This will give you the hourly cost of using the conventional pool water heater.

Step 3: Next, multiply the hourly cost of heating the pool determined in step two with the number of hours the pool is in operation during a year. This will give you the yearly cost of using a conventional pool water heater.

Step 4: You must now determine the number of hours solar power heater will be used round the year. Multiply this number with the hourly cost of using the traditional water heater as determined in step two.  The resulting figure will be total amount of money saved using the pool water heater in one year.

Step 5: Lastly, subtract the hourly cost of using the solar heater determined in step four from the hourly cost of using the traditional pool determined in step three. This will give you the total amount of money that can be saved with a solar water heater.

 

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Factors that Can Increase The Efficiency of a Solar Pool Heater

The actual increase in temperature of the pool water depends on various factors. Obviously, the main factor is the size of the solar collector. However, there are other factors that play a key role in determining the heat generation efficiency of the solar heater.

Orientation of the solar heater affects efficiency of the system. For optimal results, the water heater collector should be oriented to the north. The next best results can be obtained when the solar panels are oriented to the west.

Tilt of the solar collectors also affects solar pool heater efficiency. For maximum effectiveness, the solar heater should be tilted at an angle equal to geographical latitude, plus 10 to 15 degrees. However, the existing pitch of the roof will limit they way you can position the solar collectors.

Another surprising fact regarding solar heaters is that the roof construction can also affect efficiency. Collector panel placed on metal roofs conduct heat more efficiently as compared to those placed on tiled roofs.

Color of the collectors will also affect efficiency of the heaters. Black color heaters are the most efficient in trapping sunlight for heating the water. Using a light colored panel will result in decreased efficiency in collecting the heat, but the difference will not be too significant.

Another thing to note about solar power heaters is that direct shading over the collector will negatively affect their efficiency. In such a case, you need to install additional collectors to counterbalance the affect caused by shading.

In addition, windy areas generally result in rapidly more rapid loss of heat as compared to areas where the wind is still. You should use additional collectors if your pool is located in a windy area. You can also consider using solar pool covers, blankets, or rings to reduce heat loss and evaporation rate.


Installing a Solar Pool Heater

Solar pool heaters typically cost around $2,000 to $4,000 to install and buy. Due to the savings in energy bills, you can easily recoup this investment in about two to seven years, depending on the fuel costs and the area where you live. They require almost no maintenance and usually last for a much longer time as compared to traditional pool heaters.

Before you purchase a solar heater for your swimming pool, there are certain things that you should do to ensure that you select the best solar heater for pool. These include:

  • Determine solar resources in the area where pool is located.
  • Research about the size and type of heater that is best suited for the pool.
  • Determine the efficiency and costs of different solar pool heaters.
  • Find out about local codes, regulations, and conventions.

The annual sunshine duration or how much sunshine reaches the site where the pool is installed will determine the size and type of pool heater you should buy. Generally, solar heating systems use two kinds of energy sources.

  • Direct sunlight
  • Diffuse solar radiation

Both of the above energy sources are utilized to provide heat to the pool water. This means that even if the pool is located in areas with less sunshine such as the southwestern states in the US, it can still heat the water. The only requirement is that the solar panel should be located in an area without a shade.

Your solar system supplier can evaluate the site’s solar resources and recommend the best solar pool heater for you. They make use of computer programs and worksheets to size up the area and determine solar heater collector sizing and system requirements.

Usually the size of the solar collector should be about 50% to 100% of the pool surface area. Larger sized solar heaters are needed for cooler and cloudier areas.

For instance, a solar panel collector with a size equal to 100% of the square footage of the pool is required for colder region with less sunshine. On the contrary, areas that receive lots of sunshine such as Arizona or California, a system with an area of 60% to 70% of the surface area of the pool is sufficient.

You must also determine size of the pump that will be adequate for properly heating the pool. If you want to completely replace your conventional pool heating system with a solar powered one, you should buy a larger pump to transfer the pool’s water through the circulators. You may also consider buying a separate smaller size pump to adequately transfer pool water and keep it at a desired temperature. In addition, you can greatly decrease the required size of the collector by buying a solar pool cover, blanket, or solar rings for your swimming pool. Also, a solar cover reel is recommended to easily put on and off the cover.

When installing a solar water heater on the roof of the house, you should make sure to follow local building regulations and code. There should be enough room on the roof to allow maintenance checks. Consider getting the site inspected by a professional to ensure that the installation is compliant with the code of your local building authority.

Maintenance

The costs of maintaining a solar power heating system is very low. As mentioned previously, a solar water heater usually comes with a warranty of five years and more. After the solar water heater is installed, you won’t incur any additional costs.

That said, you should consider having the solar pool heater checked by a professional every three to five years. This is necessary to ensure that the anti-freeze feature of a solar pool heater is in perfect order and whether it requires topping up or even replacement in case of leaks.  Note, that it will cost you around $100 to replace the anti-freeze fluid in the solar heater panel.

Anti-freeze liquid is required in regions where the temperature during the winter dips below freezing point. The liquid prevents the water inside the pumps from freezing at night when the temperature is the lowest. It should be changed after every three to five years by a professional technician.

Also, you must have the pump checked to ensure that it is working properly. A well maintained pump can usually last for ten years or more. Replacement cost of the pump can be around $80 to $100.


There are three things that you need to check on an annual basis. You must check the system pressure and make sure that it has not dropped below a specific level. This can simply be done by looking at the pressure gauge of the pool heater.

Another thing that you need to check annually is the controller of the solar panel. Make sure that the controller is working correctly. Ensure that the main system controller shows no error or warning sign.

The third thing that you need to check annually is whether there has been any damage or leaks to the insulation of the pipe that runs to and from the solar panel. You should remember to check the pipes especially after extreme weather to ensure that the pipe of the solar pool heater is in perfect condition.

A solar water heater can be left unused for up to one month without requiring any intervention. You must consult with your supplier to find out what needs to be done if you will be away for extended period of time.

Remember that storing water at 50 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit can promote growth of Legionella bacteria. This can pose a health risk to the individuals. You should consult with your supplier on how to heat stored water up to sufficient temperature to kill the bacteria.

Best Solar Pool Heater and Accessories

Now we will take a look at some of the best solar pool cover, blankets, rings, panels, and other accessories that you must but to benefit from maximum heat gyration and retention benefits. This will result in optimum savings in energy heating expenses that can amount to in thousands.

1. Solar Pool Covers

Solar pool cover prevents heat from escaping. This reduces the frequent requirement to heat the water to maintain at a desired temperature. At the same time, they decrease the rate of chemical evaporation, thereby reducing chemical usage, and saving you money. Also, they prevent debris and leaves from entering the pool thus saving a lot of clean up time.

And that’s not all. Adding solar cover to the pool can save you tons of money in water cost as it will dramatically reduce the rate of evaporation by up to 99%. By using less chemicals, and reducing water and energy usage, you will be able to greatly reduce your carbon footprint on the environment.

The savings from the use of solar pool cover add up to cover the costs in just one season. The following table presents how much you can expect to save in a single season by installing a solar pool cover on a 24’ swimming pool.

solar pool heater savings

Good quality solar pool covers have high heat absorbing properties. Even if it does not cover the entire pool, it can increase temperature of the pool water by a few degrees. When used in combination with a solar pool heater, it can make a noticeable difference, resulting in 15-18 degree increase in temperature. What’s equally important is that the heat will be retained for a long time, and it will require you less time to heat water at the beginning of each day. There are solar pool covers that come with algae blocking capabilities which make them an ideal accessory for any swimming pool. These benefits make solar pool cover an important element of the pool heating system.

Customers that reside in areas with high wind conditions should buy wind weights to ensure that the solar pool cover does not blow off due to high wind. It ensures that the pool remains at its warmest at all times, and conserves energy to reduce the heating time.

 

Selecting the Best Solar Pool Covers

 

Solar pool covers are available in different types and sizes. The material and build of the cover determines expected temperature rise and heat retention properties. In addition, there are other factors that affect thermal properties of the solar cover, including ambient night time temperature, climate conditions, shade conditions, cloud cover, average daily direct sunlight hours, pool direction, and pool drain location.

What follows is a brief review of some of the best solar pool covers that you can find online.

 

 

a.      Ray-Maxx Blue

Ray Maxx Blue Solar Pool Cover

Main Features at a Glance

  • Low Cost, mild heat retention properties
  • Available in 12 & 16 gauges — Higher gauges offer greater heat retention and production properties.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Double Welded Seams — This enhances heat generation and retention properties, allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in USA.
  • Wind Weight Option — This is ideal for use in high wind areas. Using wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away, and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty — Backed by 1-year Warranty for 8 Gauge Pool Cover, 3-year Warranty for 12 Gauge Cover, and 5-year Warranty for 16 Gauge Cover.

Description

The Ray-Maxx Blue solar cover is an ideal choice for budget-minded people. The solar cover for swimming pool is made using distinct extrusion technique. This provides it adequate level of protection against evaporation and heat loss. Also, double-welded seams of the cover give extra protection that allows it to outperform other solar pool covers available in the market.

The Ray-Maxx Blue solar pool cover is made of extruded material, which means it will outlast most other covers that you can find in the market. Before buying any solar pool cover you must enquire whether the pool cover features extruded material as it is more durable compared to two-piece construction style solar covers for the swimming pool.

Moreover, it is engineered with strong bubbles that result in warmer water for the pool, and extended life of the cover. The solar pool cover is available in 12 to 16 gauges. You can expect a temperature increase of 1 to 4 degrees with 12 gauge Ray-Maxx Blue cover, and 3 to 6 degrees with a 16 gauge cover.

b.     Ray-Maxx Clear

solar pool cover

Features at a Glance

  • Moderate Heat Retention
  • Available in 12 & 16 Gauges — Higher gauges offer greater heat retention and production properties.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Clear Material — Made of clear material that allows sunlight to pass straight through the cover resulting in enhanced heat retention.
  • Double Welded Seams — This enhances heat generation and retention properties allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in the USA.
  • Wind Weight Option — This is ideal for use in high wind areas. Using wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away, and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty — Backed by 3-year Warranty for 12 Gauge Solar Pool Cover and 5-year Warranty for 16 Gauge Solar Cover.

Description

The Ray-Maxx Clear solar pool cover features unmatched quality, and offers great value for money. It is made up of a clear material that allows sunlight to pass right through the cover. This gives it greater longevity as compared to Ray-Maxx Blue.

You can expect moderate heat retention with this solar cover. The temperature increase generally ranges from 3 to 6 degrees for 12 gauge pool cover, and 4 to 7 gauge for 16 gauge pool cover.


All the great features present in Ray-Maxx Blue are also present in this solar cover for swimming pools. These include double welded seams, extruded construction style, and wind weight option. These features make Ray-Maxx Clear an obvious advantage over other solar pools available in the market.

c.      Round Ray-Maxx Black

warm your pool water with the Ray-Maxx Black

Features & Benefits

  • High Heat Retention.
  • Available in 12 Gauge only.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Black Material — Black material provides extra heat retention properties. The pool water retains heat for longer period of time as compared to Blue or Clear options.
  • Clear Material — Made of clear material that allows sunlight to pass straight through the cover resulting in enhanced heat retention.
  • Double Welded Seams — This enhances heat generation and retention properties allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in USA.
  • Wind Weight Option— This is ideal for use in high wind areas. Using wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away, and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty — Backed by 3-year Warranty for 12 Gauge Solar Pool Cover.

Description

The Ray-Maxx Black cover is a better option than both the Blue and Clear versions due to a more rugged black colored material that increases its thermal properties. Black color attracts sun’s UV rays allowing rapid increase in temperature.

That said, the pool cover is available in 12 gauge only. You can expect a temperature rise of 3 to 6 degrees with the pool cover. The cover features extruded construction style, double welded seams, and wind weight option similar to Ray-Maxx Blue and Clear.

d.     Ray-Maxx DuoTherm

heat up your pool with the Ray-Maxx DuoTherm

Main Features

  • Excellent Heat Retention.
  • Available in 12 & 16 Gauges — Higher gauges offer greater heat retention and production properties.
  • Combined Benefits of Blue and Clear Solar Cover — The solar pool cover looks appealing and provides enhanced heat retention benefits.
  • Easy Draining Solar Cover™ option — This option greatly increases the life of a solar pool cover. It features drain holes that make it easier to use.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Double Welded Seams — This enhances heat generation and retention properties allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in USA.
  • Wind Weight Option — This is ideal for use in high wind areas. Using wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away, and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty —Backed by 3-year Warranty for 12 Gauge Solar Pool Cover, and 5-year Warranty for 16 Gauge Solar Cover.

Description

The Ray-Maxx DuoTherm solar pool cover represents a fusion of Blue and Clear solar covers for the pool. It appears blue in color while provides the benefits of Clear cover as it has a clear layer underneath. This solar cover can easily outperform standard Blue solar pool cover, Clear cover, and Black cover. The unique design of the solar pool cover results in high heat retention and generation properties without the use of another source of heating.

What’s unique about this solar power cover is that it comes with an Easy Draining Solar Cover™ option. The easy drain feature makes the cover easy to use and also extends the life of the cover.

The cover also features a series of five small drain holes embedded in the cover. These holes allow water to pass right through the cover. A solar cover can get very heavy due to rain water. Even just 1/32’ of rainfall can make the solar cover heavy and hard to manage. As a result, the cover can get damaged when you try to reel or pull the cover.

Small drains prevent water accumulation on the cover due to which it becomes easy to pull off the cover after a downpour. It reduces the weight on top and makes the cover light and easier to handle, reduces stress, and increase life of the cover.

The solar power cover provides excellent heat production and heat retention and boasts of standard Ray-Maxx cover features such as double welded seams, distinct extrusion technique, and extruded construction design.

 

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e.      Ray-Maxx THERMO-TEC Series

ray-maxx-thermo-tec-series - solar energy

Main Features at a Glance

  • Maximum Heat Retention.
  • Available in 12 & 16 Gauges — Higher gauges offer greater heat retention and production properties.
  • Easy Draining Solar Cover™ option – This option greatly increases the life of a solar pool cover. It features drain holes that make it easier to use.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Revolutionary design thermal cover — The solar cover offers insulation benefits as well as heat generation benefits of a solar pool heater.
  • Double Welded Seams — This enhances heat generation and retention properties allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in USA.
  • Wind Weight Option - This is ideal for use in high wind areas. Using wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away, and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty — Backed by 7-year warranty for 12 gauge pool cover and 10-year warranty for 16 gauge cover.

Description

The Ray-Maxx Thermo-TEK series offers rapid heat production and retention benefits. This revolutionary design thermal cover provides insulation benefits of a standard cover plus a dedicated heating panel that absorbs the light inwards and radiates warmth towards the pool.

The dedicated heating panel results in extended swimming sessions and warmer water during the regular pool season. The unique cover allows the pool to reach high temperature in certain weather conditions without requiring another solar pool heater.

Apart from the above, the Ray-Maxx Thermo-TEK series comes with all the value added features contained in other versions, such as easy drain function, distinct extrusion technique, double welded seams, and extruded construction style.

f.       Ray-Maxx Gold Series Covers

Ray-Maxx Gold Series Covers Solar Pool Heaters

 

Features

  • Extreme Heat Retention
  • Available in 12 & 16 Gauges —Higher gauges offer greater heat retention and production properties.
  • Easy Draining Solar Cover™ option – This option greatly increases the life of a solar pool cover. It features drain holes that make it easier to use.
  • Distinct Extrusion Technique — The unique extrusion technique results in greater thermal protection. It makes the cover retain more heat as compared to standard covers.
  • Unique Revolutionary Technology – The solar cover offers optimum heat retention benefits due to a unique design developed by NASA for emergency blankets.
  • Double Welded Seams - This enhances heat generation and retention properties allowing the cover to offer high thermal retention properties.
  • Extruded Construction Style
  • Made in the USA.
  • Wind Weight Option — This is ideal for use in high wind areas. The wind weight option prevents the cover from being blown away and ensures maximum heat retention.
  • Warranty — Backed by 7-year warranty for 12 gauge solar pool cover and 10-year warranty for 16 gauge solar cover.

Description

The Gold Series cover provides optimal heat retention properties. It reflects more than 97% heat into the pool that results in rapid temperature rise and retention benefits. The solar cover makes use of a revolutionary design that was developed by the NASA for manufacturing emergency blankets.  This innovative technique has now made its way into the pool industry.

If you want water to remain warm for maximum period of time after being heated, this is certainly the ideal choice. Expected temperature rise for 12-gauge Ray-Maxx gold is 8 to 12 degrees, while for 16 gauge it is 13 to18 degrees. The pool cover comes with all the basic features that are the hallmark of Ray-Maxx pool covers.

g.      Cover Life Extender

solar cover life extender

Features

  • Ideal for All Types of Pool Covers
  • Recommended to Increase Life of Cover
  • Unique 3-in-1 Formula Offers Protection Against Chemical, Residual, and UV Damage
  • One Bottle Treats 20’ x 40’ Size Solar Pool Covers

Description

Cover Extender Formula is an essential pool cover accessory to extend the life and get the most benefit out of the cover. The product is ideal for all kinds of pool covers. It is particularly useful to protect from chemicals that are added to the pool.

You should use the formula to maximize the lifespan of the cover. This allows you to get the most bangs for the bucks as you won’t have to replace the cover for longer periods. A single bottle of Cover Extender Formula can treat 20’ x 40’ size solar pool covers.

The unique 3 in 1 formula of the product eliminates all kinds of residues that result in early breakdown of the pool cover. The unique formula also protects the cover from UV sun damage.  When applied twice a year, the product can offer maximum protection against chemical, residual, and UV damage that cause premature damage of the cover.

1.     Solar Cover Reels

A solar pool cover makes it easier to install and remove solar pool covers. Reels come in different styles and shapes. There are different cover reels for above ground and inground pools.  In addition, the reels are different for round, oval, and rectangular shaped pools.

Above ground reels are typically mounted permanently onto the rails of the pool at the top. In addition to this, there are some that feature a quick-release or pivoting option that makes it easy to remove when required.


Reels that are designed for inground pools are mounted around the pool on the ground. Similar to the above ground reels, some of them can be mounted permanently on the pool while others feature castors that provide greater mobility.

Selecting the Best Solar Cover Reel

Buying the right reel for the solar pool cover requires a little research as well as knowledge of the pool. There are different types of reels available that are suitable for different pool covers. So, it’s important to make sure that the reel you buy is perfectly suited to your solar pool cover.

Three main things to consider when buying a solar cover reel include solar cover width, thickness, and length.

Generally, thicker solar covers that are used in large commercial swimming pools require high grade solar cover reels that can bear the weight of the covers. Lower grade reels should not be used with thicker solar pool covers.

Another thing to consider when buying solar cover reels is the width of the solar cover. Make sure that the solar cover reel completely fits the pool. A reel that is too narrow will not be usable. On the other hand, a reel that is too large will be ill-fitting and too cumbersome.

Some solar cover reels, however, are adjustable typically through telescoping and segmented tubing and can accommodate any size pool cover.

The last thing to consider when buying a reel is that it should be of suitable length. Longer solar cover reels that exceed the tubing tolerance can break. That’s why it’s important to ensure that the length of the solar cover reel is recommended for the specific solar cover.

a. Feherguard Blanket Handler Premium Resin Inground Solar Cover Reel

Feherguard Blanket Handler Premium Resin Inground Solar Cover Reel

 

Features at a Glance

  • High Quality, Durable Solar Cover Reel
  • Unique 3-way End design
  • Lock Casters
  • Handles on Each Side of the Reel
  • Attachment Accessories Included

Description

The Feherguard Blanket Handler Premium Resin Inground Solar Cover Reel is a high quality, durable solar cover reel. It features a unique 3-way end design that offer maximum convenience. The design of the solar cover reel allows stationary placement for wall or fence mounting.

Apart from that, the solar pool reel has casters that provide perfect mobility. This makes Feherguard Blanket Handler perfectly suitable for inground swimming pools.

Other highlights of the reel for solar pool cover include lock casters that ensure stability and provide convenience to the user. Handles are located at each end of the reel to ensure easy handling. In addition, there are wide track bearings that allow easy rolling of the cover. The solar cover reel comes with different attachment that make the reel installation process easier and quicker.

b. Hurricane Solar Cover Reel

Hurricane Cover Solar Reel

Features

  • Premium Quality Solar Cover Reel
  • Heavy Gauge, Super Strong Aluminum Frame
  • Rust and Corrosion Resistant
  • Precision Sealed Bearings and Steel Crank
  • Suitable for Large Commercial Grade Solar Covers
  • Supports Covers Up to a Maximum Size of 24' x 50'
  • Attachment Accessories Included

Description

The Hurricane Low Profile Solar Reel is a premium quality solar cover reel. It features heavy gauge, super strong aluminum frame that is rust and corrosion resistant due to powder coating. Precision sealed bearings and steel crank of the reel allow a person to easily glide the cover out of the reel.

The heavy duty tube of the solar cover reel makes it especially suitable for large commercial grade solar covers. The reel supports covers up to a maximum size of 24' x 50'. What’s best about this reel is that it is only 12’’ inch high and can easily fit under any diving boards.

c. Feherguard Auto Reel - Automatic Solar Cover Reel

Feherguard Auto Reel - Automatic Solar Cover Reel

Main Features

  • Automatic Operation
  • No electricity required to operate the reel
  • Powered by Innovative Piston Engine
  • Attachment Accessories Included

Description

The most exciting thing about the Feherguard Automatic Solar Cover Reel is that it can reel up the solar cover automatically. With a flip of a switch the reel can roll up the cover. Hit the switch button again to stop reel winding.

Another great thing about this solar cover reel is that no electricity is required to operate the automatic solar cover reel. The reel is powered by an innovative piston water engine that takes in water from a garden hose and returns through the exit tube.

d. Feherguard Low Profile Inground Solar Cover Reel

low profile solar cover reel

Features

  • Unique Design, Perfect for Placement under Diving Boards
  • Support a Maximum Pool Size of 14.8’ to 20’ and up to 6’’ radius corners
  • 5 years warranty

Description

The Feherguard Low Profile Inground Solar Cover Reel has a unique design that makes it suitable for placement under diving boards. It features a high grade frame resulting in increased durability. The reel is suitable for pools that are 14.8’ to 20’ wide and have up to 6’’ radius corners.

In case the radius corner is larger than 6’’, the reel has to be installed at the start of the radius corner. Also note that a 40’ long solar will rise about 8’ to 10’ if this reel is used with the cover.

e. Feherguard Surface Rider Above Ground Solar Cover Reel

Feherguard Surface Rider Above Ground Solar Cover Reel

 

 

Main Features

  • Easy Installation, No Drilling Required
  • Feature Precision Crafted Cranking Mechanism
  • High Grade Frame

Description

The Surface Rider Above Ground Reel System is a great reel for the solar pool cover. It requires reduced effort to roll up the covers thanks to a precision crafted cranking mechanism. The pool cover reel is simple to operate and easy to install. No drilling is required to install the pool cover. It can be removed from the pool easily within seconds.

2.     Solar Blankets

Solar blankets help in retaining heat thereby allowing the pool to remain warmer for longer periods of time. The blanket appears like a large sheet of bubble wrap. Installing the solar blanket increases the intensity of sun rays falling on the pool. This effectively heats up the pool water quickly and retains heat for longer periods of time.

Bubbles of the solar blankets trap heat and reduce heat loss during the night. Also, a metal reel can be attached to one end of the pool deck that makes it easy to roll the blanket on or off the pool. The solar blanket is not required to be attached to the sides of the pool and floats freely on the surface.

How do Solar Blankets Retain Heat?

Solar blankets are made up of a large number of bubbles. The tiny bubbles work together to retain heat in the pool. The blanket floats on top of the pool water and traps some of the heat from the sun. Installing the blanket on the pool can result in 10 to 15 degrees increase in temperature at the most, which extends the swimming sessions.

You can think of solar blankets as insulators. They are made of thick polyethylene foam that is waterproof. The thermal blanket completely blocks UV rays from penetrating the pool that may encourage algae growth. Underside of the blanket is resistant to chemicals present in the pool water.

Using the solar blanket can reduce the need for frequent heating of the pool water. This decreases pool water heating costs by up to 75%. In addition, solar blanket can reduce evaporation by about 95%. This effectively results in cost savings resulting from reduced chemical usage. Other than that, solar blankets act as a barrier that prevents debris from falling in the pool water, thereby reducing the need of frequent pool cleaning and maintenance.

Note that since solar blankets are reasonably heavy, you may need a high quality roller to cover the pool area. As mentioned in the previous section, reels come in different sizes and features. You must make sure that the reel you buy for the pool is suitable for the solar blanket.

Difference between Solar Blankets and Solar Covers

Solar blankets are different from solar covers in many ways. They are generally more expensive than solar pool covers but possess greater heat retention abilities. A high quality solar blanket can retain up to 60 to 75% of the heat, while solar covers have reduced heat retention capabilities. This translates into more cost savings.

Another way solar blankets are different than solar covers is that they require professional installation and fitting. The upside of using solar blanket, however, is that they last for a longer time as compared to the solar covers. A high quality solar blanket can last for up to 10 years and even longer.

Solar Pool Covers

solar pool blankets saving comparison

Solar Pool Blankets

solar pool blankets comparison

 

Selecting the Best Solar Blanket

When selecting a solar blanket, you must make sure that it is suitable for the pool. Find out the maximum size of the pool that can be accommodated by the solar blanket. You can find different types of solar blankets on the market.

 

12 Ft Round 12 mil Blue Solar Blanket

blue solar blanket - solar pool heaters

Main Features

  • Reinforced Flat Seams that Prevent Wear and Tear
  • Easily Fit Different Pool Shapes
  • Can be used with Pool Heater to Significantly Reduce Energy Costs
  • UV-stabilized Construction
  • Comes with 7-year Manufacture Warranty

Description

With this solar blanket you can enjoy a warmer pool for longer period of time. The blanket is designed to trap heat and increase the pool temperature by as much as 15 degrees. It is an economical and energy efficient option to heat the pool.

The solar blanket is environmentally friendly that does not pollute the pool water. You can use the solar blanket simultaneously with the pool heater to gain maximum energy efficiency. Flat seams of the blanket add to the durability of the product, making it a perfect, low-maintenance solution.

3.     Circulator

Installing a circulator can save you $500 or more on energy bill each year. It pushes heated water to the bottom of the pool due to which the water remains warm for longer periods of time. The circulator acts as a passive solar heated pool which results in great cost savings.

In a standard pool, the heated water rises to the surface from where it is evaporated. As a result of evaporation, water needs to be heated frequently that increases your energy bill. A standard pool requires its pool pump to run about 8 hours a day. With a circulator, you need to run the pump for a third of that time. The water can be heated faster resulting in big cost savings.

In addition to this, poor circulation of water results in chemical imbalances. A circulator ensures efficient circulation of pool water that enhances efficiency of the chemicals. As a result, the pool will require less chemicals, resulting in cost savings.

Selecting the Best Circulator

The Circulator

The Circulator

Features at a Glance

  • Advanced Technology
  • Automated Operation
  • Easy to Install
  • Ensures Efficient Circulation of Water
  • Reduces Chemical Usage

Description

The Circulator is a water powered automatic valve that works without electronic controls. You do not need to install any special control to operate a circulator. The circulator can automatically turn on or off with the electric pump.

The patented circulator provides you similar benefits as installing an in-floor system that costs more than two thousand dollars. You can buy this circulator for a fraction of the cost and get remarkable value for your money.

Installation of the circulator is easy. You just have to screw it in the existing standard pool return. After it is installed, the circulator will work automatically ensuring efficient circulation of water. The circulator works on majority of standard return fittings for above grounds and inground pools.

4.     Automatic Solar Controller

An automated solar controller is a must-have swimming pool accessory. Typically a solar water heater comes with a manual valve to supply water to the solar panels. You have to manually turn the valve on during the day and turn it off during the night. With an automatic solar controller, you don’t have to worry about turning the valve on or off.

The controller can automatically turn on/off the pump based on the temperature of the pool. This can result in efficient and precise solar pool heating.

Automated Solar Controller System

Automated Solar Controller System

Features

  • Built-in Sensor Monitors Water Temperature
  • Advanced Technology
  • Automatically Divert Water to the Pump
  • Set Temperature with Touch of a Button

Description

The Automated Solar Controller System will ensure that the water is kept at the desired temperature without manual intervention. The patented automatic controller kit has sensors that monitor the temperature of the pool. Water in the pool will always remain at the desired temperature once you have the automatic controller installed in the pool.


The automatic controller eliminates the guess work of determining when the water needs to be diverted to the solar panels. It can also be programmed to divert the water to the panel when water temperature goes below a certain temperature.

5.     Solar Heating Panel Systems for Above-ground & Inground Pools

A solar heating panel can be used for both above-ground and inground swimming pools. The heating system comes with everything that you may need during installation. Good quality solar panels are engineered from durable lightweight material that efficiently captures sun rays to heat the water.

Water is pumped into the solar panel where it is heated and after which it is returned to the pool. This allows greater cost savings as compared to using an electric heater to warm the water. All solar heating panels come with accessories that allow you to install them either on the ground, mount on the roof, or the racks. When used in conjunction with a solar blanket, you will have the ultimate solution to heat the water at absolutely no cost.

Selecting the Best Solar Heating Panel System

Below are some of the best solar water heating panels that can efficiently heat both above ground and inground swimming pools.

a.      Kokido Solar Swimming Pool Heating Panel

 

Kokido Solar Swimming Pool Heating Panel

 

Main Features

  • Eco-friendly Heater
  • Easy Installation
  • 30-day Manufacturer Warranty
  • Suitable for Both Above-ground and Inground Pools

Description

Kokido solar swimming pool panel heater provides an eco-friendly way to heat the water. Using the solar heater, you do not have to waste money on electricity to heat the water. The water heater hooks up to an existing solar pump system without any problem. Note that the flow rate of the pump must be less than 1050 GPH.

You can hook more than one heating panel to heat larger pools. The panel can be folded if not in use thereby allowing compact storage. It comes with all the accessories that are required for installing the panel, such as two elbow hose connectors, hose clamps, O rings, and a 32 mm soft hose.  The product comes with a 30-day warranty to protect against any product defect.

b. GAME SolarPRO Curve Pool Heater For Above-Ground Pools Up To 30-Foot

SolarPRO Curve Pool Heater

Solar Pro Curve Pool Heater

 

Features

  • No Gas or Electricity Required
  • Suitable for Above-ground Pools that are up to 30-foot Round
  • Threaded Ports allow Versatile Plumbing Options
  • Unique Curve Shape Ensures Maximum Heat Efficiency
  • Features Protective Cover that Blocks Cool Winds and Traps Solar Heat
  • Easy Installation
  • Can be Connected with a Game Bypass Kit (sole separately) to Heat Larger Pools
  • Includes Stainless Steel Hose Clamps and houses
  • Commercial Grade Construction
  • Dimensions: 30.7 x 30.7 x 15.35
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Comes with a 90-day Warranty

Description

The GAME SolarPRO Curve Pool Heater is suitable for above-ground pools. Curved design of this patented water heater ensures maximum energy retention capacity. The solar panel can capture heat efficiently as the direction of the sun changes. The heater can warm up the pool by 5 degrees in just 5 hours.

Made of a rugged, blow molded plastic frame, the solar heater can last for a long time thereby providing value for money. It features blow-molded plastic frame and a clear cover that deflects cooling winds. You can easily connect the pool to above-ground pools. Also, for heating larger size pools, you can connect multiple panels for greater heat generation. The product comes with hoses and adapters that allow easy installation.

With the GAME SolarPRO Curve Pool Heater, you can enjoy extended heating season in an environmentally friendly manner. The threaded ports of the panel allow versatile plumbing options. It comes with a 90-day manufacturer warranty against defects.

c. Ray-Maxx 20K Solar Heating System

Ray-Maxx 20K Solar Heating System

Features

  • Self Draining
  • 2’ x 10’ Panel
  • Provides 20,000 BTU Heat / Day

Description

The Ray-Maxx 20K Solar Heating System is perfect for both above-ground and inground swimming pools. It is a great water heater that will offer up to 20,000 BTU in a day from a single panel. Panel size is 2’ x 10’ that you can use to heat small size pools. The solar pool heater panel is self draining and, therefore, it takes away the hassle of manually draining water after use.

d. Ray-Maxx 40k Solar Heating System

Ray-Maxx 40k Solar Heating System

40k Solar Heating System

 

Features

  • 2’ x 20’ Panel
  • Provide 40,000 BTU Heat / Day

Description

Another great Ray-Maxx heating Panel is the Ray-Maxx 40K Solar Heating Panel. A single 2’ x 20’ (40 sq. ft) solar panel can provide 40,000 BTU per day. This makes it suitable for larger size swimming pools. The solar heating panel is suitable for both above-ground and inground pools.

6.     Solar Dome

Solar domes are dome shaped heaters that heat pools without the need for electricity. It takes in cool pool water, uses solar power to heat the water, and then transfers the heated water into the pool. The dome shaped water heater has greater water capacity that makes it highly energy efficient and cost effective.

Solar dome can also be placed beside the pool. It takes less space as compared to traditional rectangular shaped pools. Apart from that, it ensures efficient heating of the pool water. The heating system works great for both above-ground and in ground swimming pools.

Selecting the Best Solar Dome Pool Water Heater

Next up you'll find some of the best solar dome water heating systems.

a. Game SolarPRO AquaQuik Swimming Pool Solar Heater | 4512

Game SolarPRO AquaQuik Swimming Pool Solar Heater - 4512

Solar Pro from Dome

Features

  • Comes with Cloth Cover
  • 8 x 22.8 x 9.84’ Dimensions
  • Suitable for Both Above-ground and inground pools

Description

The Game SolarPRO AquaQuik Swimming Pool Solar Heater can heat your pool in an energy efficient manner. The solar heater does not require any gas or electricity connection. It features a protective covering that traps solar heat and warms water as it passes through.

For heating larger pools, you can connect multiple solar dome heaters using a GAME Bypass Kit. The installation is easy and quick for both aboveground and in-ground pools. It comes with a cloth cover that provides extra protection to the heating system when not in use.

Using the dome shaped water heater you can extend the swimming season and warm the pool water without using any electricity or gas. The heater provides a green way to heat the pool. It comes with a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

b. GAME SolarPRO Contour Dome Pool Solar Heater Heating Coils with Bypass Kit

Game Solar Dome pool heating Kit

Features

  • Comes with GAME ByPass Kit
  • Suitable for Both Above-ground and Inground Pools
  • Protective Cover Included

Description

The SolarPRO Contour Solar Pool Heater is another great water heater that allows you to heat water in an eco-friendly manner. It is one of the most efficient solar water heaters available that can warm your water by up to 5 degrees during the summer months.

The Contour model features a clear dome top that maximizes heat collection capability. It works by taking in the cool pool water, uses solar power to heat the water, and then transfers the water back into the pool.

Since it doesn’t use any electricity, it can result in great cost savings for you in terms of reduced energy bills as compared to the traditional heaters. The dome shaped water heater does not take much space making it ideal for placing in almost any location.

Solar PRO Contour model comes with a GAME Multiple Heater Bypass Kit. The kit allows connection of two or more SolarPRO heaters to heat large size pools. The Kit is necessary for connecting SOLARPRO Contour heater to inground pools. It is also required for use with pumps with power output of more than 1 horse power.

c. Kokido Duomo Solar Above Ground Pool Water Heater + Kokido Bypass Kit

kokido sun power

 

 

Features

  • Dome Shape Enhances Water Heating Capacity
  • Perfect for Above-ground Pools
  • Ideal for Small Size Pools up to 12 Feet Deep
  • Easy Assembly and Storage
  • Kokido Bypass Kit allows Connection of Multiple Duomo Solar Heaters
  • The Kit includes
    • 3-way bypass valve,
    • a pressure gauge,
    • 72-inch hose,
    • 6 stainless steel hose connectors,
    • Teflon tape, and
    • 3 threaded hose connectors.

Description

The Kokido Duomo Solar Heater is an efficient dome shaped water heater. This water heater requires less space as compared to traditional water heaters, thereby making it suitable for use in different locations. The heater can warm your pool water without the use of electricity. Using the dome shaped water heater can result in maximum energy efficiency.

You can hook the water heater to the pump system of the pool. The heater draws in the water and heats it up, after which, it is pumped back into the pool. The water heater is ideal for above-ground small sized pools that are up to 12 feet deep.

The best thing about Duomo Solar Heater is that it is collapsible. This makes it easier for the user to assemble and store the heater. Its large water heater capacity keeps the pool water warm for longer periods of time. You can save energy and enjoy longer heating sessions with this dome shaped solar heater.

Using Kokido Bypass Kit, you can connect multiple Duomo solar water heaters to heat your pools more quickly and more efficiently. This can also allow you to heat larger size pools. You can easily adjust the water flow by turning the knob on or off without having to reconnect or disconnect the water heater. The Kit comes with 3-way bypass valve, a pressure gauge, a 72-inch hose, 6 stainless steel hose connectors, Teflon tape, and 3 threaded hose connectors. It is recommended to use the kit with a pump that is 1 horsepower or greater.

7.     Solar Rings

Solar rings offer a more cost effective way to heat the swimming pool water. Solar rings are a cheaper and more convenient alternative to solar pool cover and blanket. You do not need to setup reel that makes them easier to handle as compared to covers and blankets.

These solar pool rings cover the entire swimming pool. They are inflatable and light weight and easy to assemble and disassemble. This makes them easy to use and store. They reduce the rate of evaporation as well as retain maximum heat.  The solar rings are just as effective as the bubble pool blankets and cover the pool keeping the water warm.


One ring can result in savings of up to 21,000 BTU of heat per day. The annual savings resulting from the use of solar rings can amount to thousands. Some brands of solar pool rings feature magnetized edges, which allow them to connect with each other.

Solar rings are easy to store and manage. Some solar rings have eyelets that allow you to hang them up when not in use. Just make sure that you do not store them in the range of direct sunlight as they can be prone to overheating resulting in accelerated wear and tear.

How to Install Solar Pool Rings

Solar pool rings can be assembled easily without any problem. The first thing that you need to do after purchasing the rings is to unpack them and lay them under the sun for about half an hour. They are usually packed tightly in boxes. As a result, when you unpack them you may see some lines on the rings.

After you have unpacked the rings, you must then start inflating them. There is no need to fully inflate the rings. You just need to ensure that there is enough air that holds shape of the ring. This can be easily achieved with four or five breaths.

Once the outer rings are inflated, you need to move to the inner rings. The inner rings need to be inflated lightly as compared to the outer rings. About two breaths will be enough to inflate the inner rings.

Examine the rings to ensure that the air is evenly distributed inside the rings. Once you are done inflating the rings, you must scrunch them together tightly. This will result in even distribution of air within the rings. You can let out excess air in the rings through the deflation tube.

Remember that the blue side of the solar ring must face down when you want to heat up the pool. To cool down the pool, you can turn the rings over. The rings will attach to each other while floating around.

The exact number of solar rings that you should buy depends on the size of the pool. Generally, solar rings are about 59’’ in diameter. For best results, you should buy enough solar rings to cover at least 80% of the pool. You can place them on top of one another for additional heat retention benefits.

You should remember to clean the solar rings with mild soap. However, avoid washing them with abrasive materials. Also, do not walk on the rings. With proper care and cleaning, these rings can last for more than 5 year.

Selecting the Best Solar Pool Rings

Below are the most recommended solar pool rings that can efficiently retain water heat.

a. Solar Sun Rings for Swimming Pools

solar sun rings

Main Features

  • Vinyl Rings
  • Double Layers Increase Energy Efficiency
  • Each Ring has Six Magnets
  • Generate Heat during the Day and Retain Heat during the Night

Description

Solar Sun Rings are ideal for swimming pools. They can drastically reduce your energy heating bills and extend the swimming season. You can look forward to hours of warm swimming when these solar rings are installed in the swimming pool.

Every vinyl ring boasts two layers that trap the sunlight and transform about 50% of the light into heat. Using the solar rings, the pool can be heated during the daylight hours. The solar rings also efficiently retain the heat during dark hours of the day.

Solar rings feature transparent sections that allow sunlight to penetrate through for deeper pool heating. This also prevents algae growth. Each ring has six magnets that allow the rings to connect with each other.  After the pool has reached the desired temperature, you should simply turn the rings over to reduce heating and prevent evaporation.

b. Solar Sun Rings Solar Sun Square

power you pool heating with the sun

Features

  • Dual Layered Vinyl Ensures Maximum Heat Generation and Retention
  • Absorbs 50% Sunlight and Convert to Heat
  • Features Water Anchor
  • Grommet Build Provides Greater Durability
  • Produces up to 1,070 BTU / sq. foot of heat.
  • Resistant to Chlorine, Salt, and Other Chemicals

Description

Solar Sun Squares is another solid solar ring for the swimming pool. The ring can heat the pool without the need for using cumbersome solar blankets, solar covers, or space hogging solar panels. Moreover, they provide heat to the swimming pool without relying on expensive gas or gas hook ups.

The rings float on the surface of the pool, trap heat of the sun, and produce up to 1,070 BTU square feet of heat. It is made of heavy duty, dual layered vinyl that increases the heat generation and retention efficiency of the product.

The solar ring acts similar to a thermal blanket in retaining heat. Other than that, they provide solar heating during the day.

Blue layer of the solar ring absorbs 50% of the sunlight that is used to heat the water. Rest of the sunlight passes through the rings that heat up the depths of the swimming pool.

During the night when the air is cool, the warm air prevents chemical and water evaporation by insulating the heat, which results in more energy and cost savings. These solar rings are ideal for both above-ground and inground pools. They offer maximum heat retention and generation efficiency when they cover 70 to 80% of the pool.

Each ring is 5’ x 5’ size. You can easily inflate and deflate the rings as required. There is no need for reels as solar rings are easier to handle than solar covers and thermal blankets. The ring features water anchor that keeps the ring in place in the swimming pool. It also features Grommet that improves durability of the ring. The rugged design of the ring makes it resistant to chlorine, salt, and other minerals.

 

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Conclusion

Solar pool heaters use free energy of the sun to heat your water. This means that by using solar heaters you can drastically cut down energy bills and make your home more eco-friendly. These heaters are available in different types and sizes that you can choose according to your requirements (pool size, average ambient temperature).

The information contained in this comprehensive buying guide will prove to be helpful to pool owners who want to select the best solar pool heater and accessories that suit their budget and needs. By following this solar pool heater guide, you will be able to select the perfect product for your pool that results in great cost savings, and can also compliment your gas or electric heater set up.