Are Solar Pool Heaters Worth the Cost?

Pool heaters are racking up your energy bill, but you have recently heard of solar powered pool heaters. Now you are wondering if solar pool heaters are worth the cost. We’ve combed through the reviews and studies to let you know.

Solar pool heaters are worth the cost when the solar panels have direct access to sunlight. They are fairly expensive (between $2,500 and $9,000). But they last for 15 to 20 years, are low maintenance, and save you money on energy costs. The typical payback period for a solar heater is three to five years. So, make sure you are going to be in your house for at least three years to make the solar pool heater worth it.

If you are interested in getting a solar heater, read on. You might find out information that can help you decide whether or not this device would be worth it for you.

What Is A Solar Pool Heater?

A solar pool heater is a device that uses heat from the sun to heat your pool. Though the main heating comes from the solar pool heater panels, there are other components that are needed to make this work. Here’s a list of all of the component:

  • Solar pool heater panels. These sit on your roof or in an open area. They collect heat from the sun and are used to heat the water.
  • Solar pool pump. Though this component does not need to be solar, a solar pool pump can save you more money. It is use to pump the cool water from the pool to the solar heater. Then it pumps the heated water back into the pool.
  • Flow control valve. This component is used to regulate the flow rate between the solar pool pump, the solar pool heater, and the pool.
  • Pool filter. The filter removes debris and other objects from entering the pool pump. This will prevent clogged pipes. If the pipe gets clogged, you will not be able to heat your pool.

As a quick note, the solar panel should face southwestern for maximum sun exposure. It should be in an area where it will get direct sunlight for about five to six hours every day.

How Does a Solar Pool Heater Work?

There are a few different types of solar collectors, but they work in similar ways. Basically, your filtration system and pool pump will pump water through the solar collector. This will then collect heat from the sun and transfer it into the water. Lastly, that heated water will be pumped back into your pool.

Here’s a short video that animates the whole process:

In some cases, a solar pool heater will include flow control valves and sensors. This will ensure that the water can be diverted in ways that will keep the pool at the optimum temperature. The water will flow through the solar collectors when the water needs to be heated. And it will bypass them when the pool is already warm enough.

This heater can be mounted on a roof or in another area that is close to the swimming pool and will provide the optimal orientation and exposure to the sun.

How Much Do Solar Pool Heaters Cost?

Before understanding if solar pool heaters are worth the cost, you should know how much they do cost. Typically, the whole system will cost in the range of $2,500 to $9,000. The prices vary so much depending on the types of solar panels, the size of your pool, and installation costs.

Here is a quick breakdown of the costs:

Solar Pool Heater ComponentEstimated Cost
Solar Pool Heater Panels$2000
Solar Pool Pump$900
Solar Panels For Pump$2500
Flow Control Valve$150
Pool Filter$250
Installation Labor$2000

You should remember that even if you buy a solar pool heater, this does not mean that you won’t have to spend any money on maintenance of your pool afterward. You will still need the filtration system and water pump in your pool. However, the pool pump can run off solar energy if you also get solar panels.

Additional Factors In Solar Pool Heater Costs

There are other factors that will influence the cost of the heater. For example, the size of the solar collector varies based on the size of your pool. It also depends on the temperature you want to heat your pool to and the amount of sunlight your house receives.

Additionally, there are two types of solar thermal collectors: glazed and unglazed.

Glazed solar collectors are usually more complex in design. Generally, they are built using different metals and a glass covering. They typically heat the water more efficiently and don’t take up as much space, although they are more expensive.

Unglazed solar collectors are typically made of rubber or plastic and are treated with ultraviolet light; even though they are cheaper, they are not as efficient and really are only recommended in warmer climates.

Both glazed and unglazed solar pool heaters are protected from freezing in the winter months.

Benefits of Solar Pool Heaters

There are multiple benefits that come with a solar pool heater. Some of them are as follows:

  • They are good for the environment. Solar pool heaters are relatively very eco-friendly and can be considered a very clean form of energy. They don’t require the consumption of any natural resources and do not result in any toxic emissions.
  • They are low maintenance. Once you install them, you won’t have to do a lot to keep them running properly.
  • You can swim for longer. If you have a solar pool heater, you might be able to extend the swim season in your pool by a significant amount of time. These heaters can keep your pool at a comfortable temperature even after the summer is over.
  • They are the quietest option. Solar pool heaters are quieter than any other type of pool heater that you will find, so you won’t have to deal with a lot of noise while you are trying to relax in the pool.
  • They will consume less energy. Because they are powered by the sun, you won’t need to use electricity to heat your pool if you choose this type of heater.

Are Solar Pool Heaters Worth Buying?

You have already seen that solar pool heaters come with many benefits. However, you might still be wondering if solar pool heaters are worth the cost.

Objectively, solar pool heaters are a very worthwhile purchase. These heaters last an average of 15 to 20 years. Even if you might end up spending a little bit more on them than you would on a different type of pool heater, they will end up providing more for you in the long term.

Energy Savings From Solar Pool Heaters

Additionally, because solar pool heaters heat up your pool using sunlight, you will experience substantial energy savings with them. Other types of heaters might cost less upfront. But you will end up paying more overall because of the amount of electricity they consume.

Below is a table that highlights the monthly energy savings from moving to a solar pool heater solution. This is in comparison to heating your pool with a traditional pool heater. It is also assuming 8 hours of heating per day. Lastly, it is assuming standard electricity rates of eight cents per kilowatt-hour.

Solar Pool Heater ComponentEstimated Monthly Savings
Solar Pool Heater Panels$275/month
Solar Pool Pump$100/month
Solar Panel For Pump$200/month

Additional Savings From Solar Pool Heaters

Gas and electric pool heaters will likely not last as long because they are active solar heating systems compared to passive ones such as solar pool heaters. Maintenance on these traditional pool heaters typically add an extra $250 per year. That additional maintenance isn’t required in solar pool heaters.

Of course, you should note that it will not be a one-time expenditure with a solar pool heater. You will still have to pay for the electricity required to keep the filtration system and water pump running. However, this additional cost goes away if you buy the solar pool pump and accompanying solar panels.

For our recommended solar pool pump, you will need six 300 Watt solar panels. This comes with a payback period of less than five years.

You should make sure that you have the required space for one of these heaters before installing it. Additionally, you want to make sure that you consider how long the warm weather lasts in your area to make sure that it is worth it for you.

Do Solar Pool Heaters Require Maintenance?

Though solar pool heaters require less maintenance than traditional pool heaters, they still require maintenance. Since they do not use corrosive gas, the materials last much longer without needing replaced.

The biggest thing to remember is to inspect the pool filter once a month. It will need to be cleaned out when it gets dirty. This keeps the pipes from getting clogged, which would require professional maintenance. Clean plumbing allows the maximum amount of heated water to circulate back to your pool.

You should visually inspect the solar heating panels to make sure there are no cracks or leaks. Visually inspect the rest of the piping for cracks and leaks, as well. This visual inspection should be performed once a month during the summer months. It can be completed every other month in the Fall and Spring. Then it should be completed once a month again in the winter. This will ensure that pipes do not burst from frozen water.

Lastly, you should be sure to maintain your solar panels with quarterly inspections.


If you have a swimming pool, you likely want to be able to use it for as many months of the year as possible. Without a pool heater, this is not necessarily going to be possible in most climates of the world. This is why a solar pool heater can be a really good investment.

Compared to other pool heaters, solar pool heaters will end up paying for themselves after you have had them for some time. If you learn about solar pool heaters, you’ll see that they are definitely worth the money that you have to spend on them upfront.



I'm trying to make the world a bit greener every day, whether that's through my day job or helping others make green choices for their homes.

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