Solar Pool Heaters vs Electric Pool Heaters

Petar Mikonossby:


Choosing between solar heat or electric heat for a pool is a difficult decision; and understandably so because both types of heaters come with benefits and drawbacks. Solar heaters are highly eco-friendly while electric heaters are initially cheaper to buy and install. Although, the differences span wider than these initial observations would indicate. So, what sets them apart from one another?

Solar vs. Electric Pool Heaters

The obvious difference is in the type of power supplying the heat. The most advanced Solarpool heaters utilize panels to harness energy from sunlight exposure and use that energy to heat the pool. Electric pool heaters are installed into your home’s energy grid and run off of your existing power infrastructure. The two methods of supplying heat are immensely different but why should you care?

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For one, solar heat is eco-friendly. Solar heaters reduce your overall carbon footprint as a homeowner and allow you to have a helping hand in cleaning up the planet for the generations to come. Even if environmental protection doesn’t stir you any excitement, it’s safe to bet that saving on your utility bills will. Solar heaters don’t need to run on your home’s energy supply, drastically cutting residual costs.

Still, electric heaters are the more desirable type of heater in certain situations. Electric heaters provide immediate, or near immediate, hot or warm water for your pool. The electric pool heater is able to supply heat to the pool quicker than a solar heating unit, making electric pool heaters good for those who don’t frequently use their pool. Electric pool heaters are typically less expensive initially than solar heaters as well. A heavy duty solar heating unit that can provide near equal heat power as an electric pool heater runs in the thousands of dollars. Electric pool heaters are a fraction of the cost up front.

Different Types of Costs

However, initial cost shouldn’t be the sole decision-maker in deciding between a solar heater and an electric pool heater. While an electric pool heater might save you an arm and a leg up front, it will end up taking them right back from you in terms of an increased monthly energy bill. Solar heaters have no recurring costs aside from low-cost, low-level maintenance once in a while. The initially expensive solar heater is so expensive because it doesn’t come with monthly energy payments. Solar heaters also have a lifespan nearly two times that of electric heaters. And for those balking at the idea of paying so much for solar heaters, there are inexpensive solar heaters on the market. While they’re likely not as efficient as the high-price, high-octane models, they’ll still provide free heat for your pool.

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It’s not all entirely roses for solar heaters though. Due to their nature, they have to sit exposed to sunlight and that’s often accompanied by other unwanted conditions, such as bad rain or snowstorms, humidity, and resulting corrosion. Also, whenever there is a stretch of gloomy, nasty days, your solar heater may not be pumping out the most heat. While it’s typically not an issue because who really wants to swim on a nasty day anyway, the solar heater’s consistency can suffer. With an electric pool heater, you know you are getting consistent, efficient heating to your pool no matter the conditions outside of it.

Pros and Cons

So, with all of this information in mind, let’s look at lists of the pros and cons of both solar heaters and electric pool heaters. We’ll begin with the electric pool heater.

Electric Pool Heaters

  • Cheaper initial cost than solar heaters
  • Efficientlymaintainstemperature
  • Quickheatingofpool
  • Typicallylowmaintenance


  • The high cost of operation/Increased monthly energy bill
  • Lifespan restricted to 15 years (at most)
  • Increased carbon footprint and reliance on fossil fuels

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Solar Heaters

  • Free energy source post installment/Reducing utility costs
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Long lifespan (roughly 20 to 30 years)


  • High-grade solar heaters are expensive up front
  • Heats pools slower than electric pool heaters
  • Some models have tedious installments processes
  • Exposure to weather and natural forces can damage heating units

Both electric pool heaters and solar heaters have their own pros and cons, and neither is short in either category. While there are some key aspects to focus on, such as long-term cost assessment, much of the decision is left to the personal preference of you, the consumer. While the efficiency and consistency of an electric pool heater are ideal, the price is nowhere near that long-term. And while saving the environment can be exhilarating, solar heaters don’t always live up to desired standards. Therefore, you should use your gut in the process of deciding what is best for you.

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The type of pool heater one uses is dependent upon preference and frequency of pool use. While it would be nice and beneficial for the planet if everyone went solar for their heaters, it’s not currently the most practical for everyone. Financial and special restrictions may not allow for solar heaters for your pool. On the other hand, maybe you have space and financial capability but you are relying on efficient, consistent heat output to your pool and are leaning towards an electric pool heater. There are affordable products of both types in the pool heater market and no matter what your reasoning may be, there is sure to be a heater that accomplishes what you need.


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