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Solar Pool Heater Installation Cost

Solar Pool Heater Installation Cost

National average
$5,000
(glazed solar heater for a 12 x 24-foot inground pool mounted on the house)
Low: $2,000

(small, non-glazed solar heater for an above-ground pool mounted on the pool’s side)

High: $10,000

(high-temperature solar heating system for a 36-foot inground pool mounted on the house)

Cost to install a solar pool heater varies greatly by region (and even by zip code).
Get free estimates from swimming pool builders in your city.

The average cost to install a solar pool heater is $5,000.

In this guide

Solar Pool Heater Costs by Type
Pros and Cons of a Solar Water Heater
How Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?
Sizing a Solar Pool Heater
Where to Locate a Solar Pool Heater’s Collecting Area
Solar Pool Heater Energy Efficiency
Installation Process
Labor Costs to Install a Solar Pool Heater
Solar Pool Heater Maintenance
Pool Heat Pumps vs Solar Pool Heaters
Enhancements and Improvements Costs
Additional Costs and Considerations
FAQ

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Solar Pool Heater?

If you have a swimming pool that you would like to use even when the weather turns cooler, a pool heater can help. While standard pool heaters can cost a lot of money to run, solar pool heaters only have the upfront installation cost, allowing them to pay for themselves over time.

There is a wide range of costs associated with installing a solar pool heater, depending on what type of heater, its placement, and how big your pool is. Most people pay between $3,000 and $9,000 on average, with the majority of homeowners spending $5,000 on glazed solar-panel pool heaters for a 12 x 24-foot inground pool.

Solar Pool Heater Installation

Solar Pool Heater Costs
National average cost$5,000
Average range$3,000 - $9,000
Minimum cost$2,000
Maximum cost$10,000


Solar Pool Heater Costs by Type

While they function more or less the same way, there are three types of solar pool heaters. Each type may work better in one area, and each has wildly different costs.

Propylene Mats

This is the least expensive system. It is sometimes called an unglazed solar heater and is made up of a fabric mat with coils running through it. This is a good choice for warm and sunny climates, such as California or Florida, but is less effective at heating pools in more moderate climates. These mats have starting costs of around $500 for a small pool but can go as high as $3,000 for larger pools.

Glazed Solar Panels

When you think of solar panels, you think of a glazed system, which uses glass solar panels. This system is better suited for areas that need more heat or do not have enough long, sunny days. They have much higher starting costs, at around $3,000 for smaller systems and up to $7,000 for larger systems.

High-temperature Collectors

If you live in an area that does not see a lot of sun, you can still use a solar pool heater, but it will likely be a system called a high-temperature collector, which uses mirrors to increase the amount of sunlight that heats the water. These are the most expensive systems, with starting costs around $9,000 on average.

Solar Water Heater Prices

TypeAverage Costs
Propylene Mats$500 - $3,000
Glazed Solar Panels$3,000 - $7,000
High-Temperature Collectors$9,000


Pros and Cons of a Solar Water Heater

Solar water heaters have many benefits for the user. They use no electricity, gas, or propane 1 to run, so they can pay for themselves over a few years. They can last up to 20 years and require little regular maintenance. They can heat a pool up to 7º and can also be used to cool down a too-hot pool at night by circulating the water through the cooled tubes.

These heaters are expensive to purchase and must be installed in the correct location to ensure they get the proper amount of sunlight. They also need to be sized properly, about equal to the surface area of the pool, to make sure that they can perform sufficiently.

How Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

Unlike most pool heaters, solar heaters consist of two pieces - a pump 2, which circulates the water, and the solar heater, which is made up of a solar reflective material and tubing. The pump 2 pushes the water to the tubing, which is either below solar glazed panels or fixed through an unglazed solar material. The water circulates slowly, warmed by the heater, then is pumped 2 back to the pool.

It does not heat the pool quickly or all at once but, over time, can raise the temperature up to 7º on average.

Sizing a Solar Pool Heater

Like any heater, a solar pool heater is more effective when properly sized for your pool. A too-small heater cannot keep up with the demand, and a too-large heater will not heat the pool more effectively, it would only cost more money to install.

For hotter climates that only need the pool warmed slightly, your heater needs to equal at least 50% of the pool’s surface area. However, if you live in a cooler climate or want your pool warmed more effectively, it is good to purchase a heater that is equal to the surface area of your pool.

A 12 x 24-foot pool has a surface area of 288 square feet. That means that the system’s collector area, or tubing area, needs to equal 288 square feet for cooler climates. The collector area should be around 144 square feet in a warmer climate or if you use a solar cover to help heat the pool when not in use.

Where to Locate a Solar Pool Heater’s Collecting Area

You can place the solar pool heater’s collection area in many places, but ultimately, you need to position it to get the maximum amount of sunlight. This may be on your roof or on a nearby platform.

In most areas in the Northern Hemisphere, you need to position it due south to get the most sunlight. However, depending on your location and tilt, this can be off by as much as 45º east or west.

The tilt or angle of the collector also needs to be positioned for your area. In most cases, this equals your latitude, minus 10 - 15º. When you have the heater installed, your installer should make these adjustments based on your property’s location and the area that gets the most sun.

Solar Pool Heater Energy Efficiency

While solar energy is green and does not rely on electricity or gas, it still varies in how efficient it is at heating your pool. Take into account its position and how much sunlight your area gets, as well as the pool size and how warm you want your pool to be. For example, some systems like propylene mats are not very efficient in northern climates.

For this reason, have a professional assess your needs before purchasing a system to select a pool heater that is efficient at heating your pool to the desired temperature.

Installation Process

Every installation of a solar pool heater starts with an evaluation of your pool and area, as well as a consultation about your needs and habits. This helps the installer better position and size the heater to your pool to get the best results.

Your panels or collector system are installed first. This is usually placed on a roof but may be placed on a nearby platform as well. These are thoroughly secured and strapped down to make sure that they remain stable. The tubing is then connected to the system and run to your pool, where the pump 2 is installed just outside the pool. There are two sets of plumbing installed from the collector - one uses the pump 2 and a filter to pull the water up to the collector, and the other sends the water straight back from the collector to the pool.

Your installer can hide or minimize the appearance of these pipes or tubes as needed. In some cases, they can be discreetly run beneath surfaces or attached to the side of the home.

The entire process can take anywhere from a few hours to two days, depending on the size of your pool, system type and size, and distance between the panels and pool.

Labor Costs to Install a Solar Pool Heater

If you purchase a heater and have it installed from the same company, the installation cost is usually rolled into the price of the heater. If you buy the system separately, expect to pay around $500 for labor and installation of the system out of the $5,000 total. If your system is very large or installed far from the pool, installation costs can be much higher, up to around $1,000 for extremely large and intricate systems that take two days and multiple workers to install.

Solar Pool Heater Maintenance

Most solar pool heaters do not require much maintenance to keep them running properly. Glazed panels may need to be cleaned periodically in dry climates to remove any built-up debris. Otherwise, the main focus is on keeping the filter clean and the pump 2 regularly inspected. Each system has its own maintenance needs, so consult the owner’s manual for your system to find out how often the pump 2 and components should be inspected or serviced.

Pool Heat Pumps vs Solar Pool Heaters

Heat pumps 3 are another popular way to heat a pool using the sun’s energy. As the sun heats the air, the pump 2 pools that heat from the air and uses it to warm the pool. Both systems use some electricity to run their pumps 2 to circulate the water. This is usually a negligible amount of electricity compared to the cost of heating a pool using gas or propane 1.

In most cases, heat pumps 3 extend the time you use the pool by about 2 - 3 months a year. The biggest difference is that the solar heater runs nearly constantly during the day to heat the water, while heat pumps 3 are only used as needed. Therefore, they may take longer to warm a pool, but they can raise the temperature slightly more than a solar heater. Heat pumps 3 cost around $2,000 - $5,000 on average and may be a more economical option for very large pools, while solar heaters may work better for moderately sized pools.

Enhancements and Improvements Costs

Pool Cover Installation

A solar pool cover 4 warms your pool even more, allowing you to use a smaller solar heater. Solar pool covers 4 cost around $100 - $200 on average, or you can have a retractable option installed for closer to $10,000.

Additional Costs and Considerations

  • If you live in a climate where you swim year-round, a solar water heater helps make the water comfortable on cooler days. It will not warm the water sufficiently for use in a cold climate, however.
  • As long as your building site has unshaded areas and faces south, you can use a solar pool heating system even if you do not live in a warm, sunny climate. This is because the system uses both direct and diffuse solar radiation, so any sunlight will be sufficient.
  • Systems are rated by thermal performance, which helps you determine the efficiency of the heater if this information is available.
  • Choose an installation company that has experience with the type of heater you are considering.
  • In most areas, you need a permit to install a solar energy system on your property. Check local building codes and regulations before you begin.

FAQ

  • Is solar pool heating worth it?

If you use your pool regularly and only need it warmed around 5º, then yes, it can save you a lot of money over a gas or propane 1 heater.

  • How warm does a solar heated pool get?

This depends on the heater type and pool size, but typically 5 to 7º warmer on average.

  • How long does it take to heat a pool with solar panels?

This depends on the size of the panels and the pool, but most heaters need to run for a few hours to sufficiently warm the pool.

  • How much does it cost to install a solar pool heater?

The average cost to install a solar pool heater is around $5,000.

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Remodeling Terms Cheat Sheet

Definitions in laymen's terms, cost considerations, pictures and things you need to know.
See full cheat sheet.
glossary term picture Propane 1 Propane: A hydrocarbon gas used as a common fuel source
glossary term picture Pump 2 Pump: A device used to move air, liquid, or gas by mechanical means
3 Heat pumps: A device used to heat or cool the air in a home by moving hot and cold air to where it is needed. The unit pulls hot air from inside the home in the summer and directs it outdoors, leaving the inside air cool, and pulls heat from outdoors in the winter and directs it into the home, thereby warming it
glossary term picture Solar Blanket 4 Solar pool cover: Protective outdoor pool cover used to trap the sun's heat, thereby helping to keep pool water warm

Cost to install a solar pool heater varies greatly by region (and even by zip code). To get free estimates from local contractors, please indicate yours.

Backyard with swimming pool and a solar pool heater on the roof

Labor cost by city and zip code

Compared to national average
Albuquerque, NM
-14%
Alexandria, VA
+2%
Athens, GA
-9%
Atlanta, GA
+24%
Aurora, IL
+21%
Austin, TX
+13%
Bakersfield, CA
-6%
Bay Shore, NY
+17%
Blackwood, NJ
+28%
Brick, NJ
+3%
Buffalo, NY
-1%
Charlotte, NC
+6%
Chesapeake, VA
-6%
Chicago, IL
+40%
Cincinnati, OH
+6%
Clermont, FL
-7%
Columbia, SC
-10%
Columbus, OH
+5%
Dallas, TX
+10%
El Paso, TX
-28%
Fair Lawn, NJ
+26%
Fontana, CA
+6%
Fort Lauderdale, FL
+2%
Fort Wayne, IN
-7%
Fort Worth, TX
+6%
Fremont, CA
+35%
Fresno, CA
-6%
Frisco, TX
+23%
Henderson, NV
+10%
Hialeah, FL
-2%
Hollywood, FL
0%
Houston, TX
+24%
Indianapolis, IN
+6%
Jacksonville, FL
-1%
Katy, TX
+63%
Keller, TX
+20%
Kenosha, WI
+9%
Kissimmee, FL
-20%
Lakeland, FL
-13%
Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Los Angeles, CA
+11%
Louisville, KY
-7%
Mckinney, TX
+23%
Memphis, TN
+11%
Mesa, AZ
-2%
Miami, FL
+1%
Nashville, TN
+21%
North Las Vegas, NV
+7%
Norwalk, CT
+46%
Oceanside, CA
+8%
Labor cost in your zip code
Last modified:   
Methodology and sources