Ashburn, VA

How much does a solar pool heater cost?

$2,500 – $6,500 average cost installed

Get free estimates from pool heater installers near you, or view our cost guide below.

May 6, 2022

Reviewed by Tom Grupa and 2 pool heater installers on HomeGuide.

Solar pool heater cost

A solar pool heater costs $2,500 to $6,500 installed on average. A solar pool heating system costs $2,000 to $5,000 on average, plus $500 to $1,500 for installation labor. Pool solar panel costs depend on the type, size, brand, location, and if the pool is inground or above-ground.

Solar pool heater cost - chart
Solar pool heater cost - chart

Solar pool heater cost
National average cost $4,500
Minimum cost $1,500
Maximum cost $11,000
Average cost range $2,500 to $6,500

Cost data is from research and project costs reported by HomeGuide members.

Solar panels are the most cost-effective pool heating method in sunny areas:

  • Costs $10 to $25 per month to run
  • Heats a pool by 8 to 12 degrees
  • Takes 1 to 3 days to heat a pool
  • Lasts 15 to 20 years
  • Average payback between 1 and 7 years

Average cost to install a solar pool heater

Cost to install a solar pool heater
Factor Average cost
Solar pool heater $2,000 – $5,000
Installation labor $500 – $1,500
Total cost $2,500 – $6,500

Solar pool heater installed on roof
Solar pool heater installed on roof

The following factors affect the cost to install a solar pool heater:

  • Pool size – a larger pool needs more solar collector panels to heat the pool to the desired temperature.
  • Location and climate affect the air temperature and length of the swimming season, dictating the number of solar collectors needed.
  • Sun exposure – homes with ideal sun exposure, such as in Florida, need fewer panels than homes that spend part of the day in the shade.
  • Collector type and efficiency – glazed collectors are the most efficient but most expensive to install.
  • Inground vs. above-ground pool – solar heating for inground pools typically costs more.
  • A flow control valve and automatic diverter valve cost $325 to $600. A controller increases efficiency and performance by bypassing the solar collectors during cloudy or rainy days.
  • Rebates and tax incentives may reduce the total installation cost, depending on location.
  • Plumbers charge $45 to $150 per hour. Install the solar collector panels as close to the pool pump as possible to reduce plumbing costs.
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Pool solar panels cost

Pool solar panels cost $1,000 to $10,000 or more with installation, depending on the type and size.

  • Propylene mats and unglazed solar panels are the most common and are adequate in most regions.
  • Glazed panels are the most expensive and are more effective in cold regions with less direct sunlight.
Pool solar panels cost
Type Average cost installed Description
Polypropylene mats $1,000 – $3,000 Soft, flexible, thermoplastic mat with thin vein-like tubes for water
Unglazed solar panels $1,500 – $4,500 Plastic or heavy-duty rubber box containing vertical tubes where water gathers heat from the sun
Glazed solar panels $3,000 – $10,000 Iron-tempered box with glass covering containing copper tubing on an aluminum plate for maximum efficiency

The solar collectors for a pool heater are not the same as solar panels that generate electricity for a home. Installing solar panels cost $10,600 to $26,500 on average to power an entire house after.

Pool solar heater price list by brand

Pool solar heater price list by brand
Brand Price range* Description
Heliocol / SunStar $2,000 – $6,000 Complete kit with automatic controller
SwimLux $3,200 – $7,900 Complete kit with automatic controller
Northern Lights / Sunrain $2,600 – $6,800 Complete kit with automatic controller
SwimEasy $1,500 – $4,200 Complete kit with manual valve
Enersol $1,500 – $4,200 DIY solar pool heater kit
SmartPool $800 – $1,600 DIY solar pool heater kit
SunHeater $800 – $1,500 DIY solar pool heater kit
Fafco $250 – $850 DIY solar pool heater kit
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*Not including installation.

Solar pool heater prices by thermal collector size

Solar pool heaters are sized based on the surface area of the swimming pool. The ideal collector size depends on the location, climate, sun exposure, and the length of the swimming season.

Solar pool heater prices by thermal collector size
Number of 4’ x 10’ solar collectors Pool surface area System cost*
4 288 sq.ft. $1,600 – $4,500
6 512 sq.ft. $2,300 – $5,800
8 648 sq.ft. $3,000 – $7,200
10 800 sq.ft. $3,500 – $8,000

*Not including installation.

Sizing solar pool heaters

The total thermal collector area should be:

  • 50% of the pool surface area for homes in the southern U.S. or homeowners looking to add heating during a 3- to 4-month swimming season.
  • 75% of the pool surface area for homeowners looking to extend the summer swimming season to 4 to 6 months.
  • 100% of the pool surface area for homes in the northern U.S. or homeowners looking for a year-round swimming season.

Add more collectors if the panels do not receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, the pool has any shaded areas, or for homes in regions with fewer sunny days.

Solar pool cover cost

A solar pool cover costs $35 to $400, depending on the shape and size. Most heat loss occurs overnight from the pool's exposed surface. A solar blanket reduces evaporative heat loss, retaining heat generated by the solar pool heater during the day.

Solar pool cover cost
Pool cover shape Average cost
Round (10' – 21') $35 – $180
Round (22' – 30') $125 – $350
Oval $70 – $400
Rectangle $100 – $400

A solar pool cover reel costs $180 to $350 and makes it easier to deploy and retract the pool cover quickly.

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Alternative solar pool heating costs

A gas pool heater costs $1,500 to $4,500 with installation. Operating costs for a gas pool heater are $200 to $500 per month, up to twenty times more than running a solar pool heater.

Installing a heat pump pool heater costs $2,000 to $6,000. Running a heat pump costs $50 to $150 per month.

Solar pool heating pros and cons

Solar pool heating pros and cons
Pros Cons
  • Inexpensive to operate
  • Energy-efficient and eco-friendly
  • Works with existing pool pump
  • Easy installation with minimal disturbance
  • Requires minimal maintenance or repairs
  • Lifespan of 15 to 20 years
  • Expensive to install
  • Takes a long time to heat the pool
  • Only works well on sunny days
  • Solar collector panels take up roof or yard space and are not attractive

Frequently asked questions

Are solar heating panels expensive to run?

Running a solar pool heater costs $10 to $25 per month—a lower operating cost than all other pool heater types. The solar panels themselves use no electricity, but the system uses the pool's existing pump to circulate water through the collectors, increasing the pump's electricity usage.

Is solar pool heating worth it?

Solar pool heating reduces energy bills and extends the swimming season. Solar pool heaters provide a payback of between 1 and 7 years and are the most cost-effective heating method in sunny climates.

Solar pool heaters provide less value in colder climates with less sun or for homeowners who want the pool to heat up quickly.

How long for a solar heater to heat pool?

A solar heater takes 1 to 3 days on average to heat a pool, depending on the location, climate, and current air temperature. Pools in the cooler northern regions can take up to a week to warm up at the beginning of the swimming season.

Using a pool cover or solar blanket reduces overnight heat loss, allowing the solar heater to warm the pool more quickly and efficiently.

How warm does a solar heated pool get?

A solar heated pool is typically 8 to 12 degrees warmer than an unheated pool in the same area. A solar heated pool paired with a solar blanket cover can reach 15 degrees warmer than an unheated pool. The maximum water temperature depends on the local climate.

How long do solar pool heaters last?

Solar pool heaters last 15 to 20 years if properly installed and maintained. Most systems come with a 12-year warranty. Solar heaters have a longer lifespan than gas and heat pump pool heaters.

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Finding and hiring a pool heater installer

Before hiring a solar installer near you, be sure to:

  • Get at least three in-person estimates to compare.
  • Select companies with experience installing and maintaining solar pool heaters.
  • Select installers who are members of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
  • Look for installers certified by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).
  • Browse their reviews on HomeGuide and Google.
  • Choose a company that is licensed, insured, and bonded.
  • Get a detailed estimate, contract, and warranty in writing before the work begins.
  • Avoid companies with the cheapest quotes as quality may suffer.
  • Never pay in full before the project starts. Follow a payment plan instead.

Questions to ask

  • How many solar pool heaters have you installed?
  • Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
  • Are you a member of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) or other solar industry associations?
  • How many solar collectors will I need to heat my pool?
  • Can a solar heater keep my pool warm all year long?
  • Will the solar pool heater affect the pool's chemistry?
  • Will I need a separate pool pump for the solar heater?
  • Is the system eligible for tax credits and rebates?
  • How long will the installation take?
  • Are permits required? Will you pull them?
  • What additional costs can I expect that aren't in the estimate?
  • How long is the warranty, and what does it cover?
  • What kind of regular maintenance will the system require?
  • Should I install a pool cover with my heater? Why or why not?

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