How Much Is a Solar Pool Heater?

By Kami Turky


Solar pool heaters play a great role in cutting down energy consumption, slashing bills, and preserving the environment. But how much exactly does a solar pool heater cost?

On average, solar pool heaters can set you back anywhere from $1,500 to $9,500, with many factors influencing that cost such as the size of the pool, and your geographic location.

In this article, I’ll walk you step by step through the various elements that determine the cost of a solar pool heater, explain the different types available, explore how they operate, and outline ways you might save money.

Key Takeaways

  • Solar pool heaters, costing between $1,500 and $9,500, offer an energy-efficient way to warm your swimming area.
  • Factors such as geographic location and sun exposure play crucial roles in determining this price range.
  • Your pool’s dimensions will directly influence the collector size required, subsequently affecting the overall cost.
  • Different types of solar collectors, like glazed or unglazed, may change the price significantly.
  • Inground and above-ground pools, along with various accessories, can further impact the final expenses.
  • Tax incentives or rebates from government bodies can help you offset some expenses.

What Are the Average Costs of Solar Pool Heaters?

The average costs of solar pool heaters commonly fall between $1,500 and $9,500 including equipment and labor costs. 

The system itself costs between $1,500 and $7,000. This price typically covers the solar collectors, mounting hardware, and associated plumbing.

But that’s not all there is to it. Installation, handled by professionals, usually tacks on an extra $500 to $2,500. It’s a complex job requiring know-how and proper equipment.

Sometimes, folks manage to catch a break with rebates or tax incentives. These can take a fair chunk off the final bill, turning what might seem like a hefty expense into a more manageable investment.

For instance, I live in California, where the tax incentives for solar energy stand at 30%

When I began looking into solar pool heaters, I was first quoted around $6,500 for a system that fit my pool size. 

However, after taking into account California’s 30% tax incentive, which brought the price down by nearly $1,950, plus a local rebate of $500, my total out-of-pocket cost was reduced to $4,050

The professional installation added $1,200, bringing the full investment to $5,250 which is impressive.

What Are the Factors That Affect Cost?

1. Sun Exposure in Your Area

The intensity of sunlight in your location plays a vital role in determining the cost of solar pool heating. 

The more sunlight your location receives, the fewer solar panels you might need. 

More sun means more energy, and thus, greater efficiency. In areas with strong sunlight, a smaller system might suffice, reducing the upfront cost.

But this doesn’t end with merely strong sunlight. There are many other aspects to consider as well, such as seasonal variations.

If you’re in a region experiencing significant seasonal changes, particularly in winter, the system might require more complexity to provide the same heating effects, raising the costs. 

For instance, in places like Alaska or Northern Europe, where winter days are short and sunlight scarce, solar pool heating systems must be carefully planned and might require supplemental heating. 

A larger number of collectors, perhaps coupled with a different kind of heating system, could be necessary. 

This, in turn, drives the costs up but ensures that you still get a warm pool even during those chilly winter months.

Local geography also plays a part in how you’ll set up your system. 

The angle of the sun’s rays, the altitude of your location, and even nearby obstacles like tall trees or buildings can affect the amount of sunlight reaching the solar collectors. 

Each of these factors needs to be taken into account, possibly requiring additional panels or special mounting hardware, and again, this could increase the total expense.

2. Collector Size

The collector size refers to the area covered by the solar panels that are used for heating a pool. 

This depends on the pool’s surface area, location, climate, sun exposure, and the intended length of the swimming season.

Other factors, including the size and type of the pool, the climate, and the use of a pool cover, can also affect the size of the collector.

The standard size of solar panels used in pool heater installations are 4 feet wide by 10 feet long. Location becomes crucial here. 

Most contractors suggest placing your solar panels on a roof, fence, or built-up platform that receives six or more hours of sunlight daily.

On average, 4×10 feet panels range from $300 to $800 each, not including labor. They cover 40 square feet of the pool per panel. 

Here’s some guidance to determine how many panels might be required:

  • Homeowners in the southern U.S., or those in other regions wanting to use their swimming pools for 3 to 4 months, should aim to offset 50% of their total pool area with their solar collector.
  • All regions looking to use their pool for a 4 to 6-month season should aim to offset by 75%.
  • Homeowners in the northern U.S., or those in the Southern U.S. aiming for a year-round swimming season, should offset their total pool area by 100%.

Here is a table that combines various factors like collector size, pool surface area, and corresponding costs:

Number of 4’ x 10’ PanelsPool Surface AreaPool SizeAverage Cost
3 – 6254 sq. ft.18’ Round$900 – $4,800
9 – 18706 sq. ft.30’ Round$2,700 – $14,400
6 – 12450 sq. ft.15’ x 30’ Oval$1,800 – $9,600
7 – 14512 sq. ft.16’ x 32’ Rectangle$2,100 – $11,200
8 – 16648 sq. ft.18’ x 36’ Rectangle$2,400 – $12,800
10 – 20800 sq. ft.20’ x 40’ Rectangle$3,000 – $16,000

3. Collector Valve

The collector valve also adds to the overall cost of the solar pool heating system, with prices for this component ranging from $325 to $600.

This component can’t be something to overlook as it acts as both a flow control valve and an automatic diverter valve. 

Its dual function serves to maintain efficiency within the system by controlling the flow of water and enabling the system to bypass the solar collectors when conditions are less than ideal.

As a flow control valve, it ensures the correct amount of water is moving through the solar collectors at any given time. 

This helps maintain a consistent temperature and prevents the system from either overheating or underutilizing the collectors.

The automatic diverter feature plays a crucial role during cloudy or rainy days. 

If solar collectors aren’t receiving enough sunlight to heat the water effectively, the diverter redirects the water, bypassing the collectors. 

This avoids wasting energy trying to heat the pool with insufficient sunlight.

4. Solar Panel Type

Depending on your pool size and geographical location, the solar panels needed in your collector array might vary significantly. 

And one of the factors that can swing the price pendulum for your solar setup hangs on the type of panel you choose. 

Two main types of solar collectors are up for grabs for pool heater installations: flat plate collectors and evacuated tube collectors.

Here’s a table that neatly lays out your options:

Solar Collector TypeDescriptionPrice RangeIdeal LocationsSpecial Notes
Flat Plate CollectorsIncluding polypropylene mats and unglazed solar panels                   —Sun-drenched regionsCommonly used
– Polypropylene MatsFlexible veins to usher heated water$750 to $3,000Hot spots like FloridaWallet-friendly
– Unglazed Solar PanelsRubber or plastic casings filled with tubes$1,500 to $4,300Warm and temperate climatesNot for year-round swimming
Glazed Solar PanelsAluminum plates with glass coverings and copper innards$3,000 to $9,500Any climateHigh efficiency and heat absorption
Evacuated Tube CollectorsMore energy-efficientVariesColder climatesLesser-known but efficient

5. Pump Size

Another component that adds to the overall cost of your pool’s solar heating system is the heat pump. 

This device warms the water by channeling it through the collector, efficiently distributing the heated water throughout your pool. 

Depending on its capacity, measured in gallons per minute (GPM), a soar pool heat pump may cost you anywhere from $50 to $1,300.

Your pump’s size should align with your pool’s size, capable of cycling all the water in your pool in 8 to 10 hours. 

To calculate the proper pump size for your pool, you can use the following steps:

  1. Calculate the Gallons Per Hour Needed: Pool Capacity in Gallons / 8 hours = Gallons Per Hour Needed
  2. Determine the Gallons Per Minute: Gallons Per Hour / 60 =Gallons Per Minute

Then, you can match up the number of gallons per minute your pool requires with the proper pump size. Here’s a table to provide guidance:

Pump Size in HorsepowerGallons Per Minute(GPM)Average Cost 
0.5 HP40$50 – $400
1 HP60$150 – $600
1.5 HP68$200 – $700
2 HP76$500 – $750
2.5 HP80$600 – $800
3 HP85$700 – $1,300

6. The Heater’s Brand

In the bustling world of pool solar heaters, the brand you opt for does significantly contribute to the overall cost of the setup. 

Various options can present themselves, each with unique features and benefits. A few of the brands are listed in the table below:

BrandPrice RangeDescription
Heliocol / SunStar$2,000 – $6,000Complete kit with automatic controller
SwimLux$3,200 – $7,900Complete kit with automatic controller
Northern Lights / Sunrain$2,600 – $6,800Complete kit with automatic controller
SwimEasy$1,500 – $4,200Complete kit with manual valve
Enersol$1,500 – $4,200DIY solar pool heater kit
SmartPool$800 – $1,600DIY solar pool heater kit
SunHeater$800 – $1,500DIY solar pool heater kit
Fafco$250 – $850DIY solar pool heater kit

7. Solar Pool Covers

Solar pool covers is used to conserve the warmth in your swimming pool by reducing heat loss due to evaporation.

By forming a physical barrier over the pool’s surface, they manage to lock in the heat generated by the solar pool heater throughout the day. 

This ensures that the water stays invitingly warm, even during the night or cooler periods.

So, if you live in a region where the nights tend to get cooler, or you want to take a dip without a chill, then a solar pool cover will add some dollars to the overall cost of your pool system.

On average, a solar pool cover might set you back anywhere from $35 to $400, subject to the shape and size.

And if you’re looking to deploy and retract the pool cover quickly, a solar pool cover reel can be practical which range from $180 to $350.

Below lies a brief overview of the average costs, based on pool cover shapes:

Pool Cover ShapeAverage Cost
Round (10′ – 21′)$35 – $180
Round (22′ – 30′)$125 – $350
Oval$70 – $400
Rectangle$100 – $400

8. Whether It’s Inground or Above-Ground Pool

Whether you’re dealing with an inground or above-ground pool significantly affects the cost and design of your solar heating system.

Inground pools typically require a more complex and expansive solar heating setup. 

The installation might demand additional equipment, more labor, and a greater number of solar collectors, inevitably boosting the total cost. 

In contrast, above-ground pools often have simpler configurations, which means fewer materials and less labor involved. This leads to a lower installation costs.

To put it briefly, choosing an inground pool might mean shelling out more for your solar heating, while an above-ground option could keep more coinage in your coffers.

9. Labor Cost to Install Solar Pool Heaters

Labor cost in mounting solar pool heaters forms a significant part of your budget, joining hands with materials.

Installation experts usually charge on an hourly basis. You might find yourself paying anywhere from $45 to $120 an hour, summing up to a total that ranges from $500 to $1,625 for a whole project. 

It’s not just about placing panels on a roof; proper alignment, connection, and setup are vital tasks handled by these skilled individuals.

Furthermore, solar pool heaters need specific plumbing connections. Your installer may collaborate with a local plumber to finish this chunk of the job, and plumbers are known to bill between $45 to $150 every hour.

I recommend hiring a professional to ensure that the installation process aligns with standards, includes proper connections, and maintains the integrity of the system.

While it will add to the expenses of the project, getting the installation right by a skilled professional ensures efficiency, reliability, and a longer lifespan for your solar pool heating system.

10. Rebates and Tax Incentives

Some states, along with various cities and utility companies, offer attractive rebates and tax incentives for homeowners looking to invest in solar pool heating systems.

These financial benefits can reduce the initial cost of your solar pool heating system. Here’s an overview of potential savings:

  • State Rebates: In places like California, direct rebates are available for solar thermal systems, such as solar pool heaters. The amount can fluctuate based on several factors like system size and efficiency.
  • Federal Tax Credits: A nationwide opportunity, the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), could allow homeowners to enjoy a tax credit on a portion of the cost of their solar system.
  • Local Utility Incentives: Many utility companies partner with governmental bodies to provide extra incentives like discounts, rebates, or refunds for those who choose solar pool heating. 
  • Municipal Grants and Financing: Cities or counties may grant or offer low-interest financing solutions, easing the upfront costs or making them more manageable over time.
  • Net Metering: While not always applicable to solar pool heaters, net metering in certain regions can allow homeowners to sell surplus energy back to the grid, creating a potential revenue stream.


Are Solar Pool Heaters Worth It?

Solar pool heaters are worth it, offering an eco-friendly and economical approach to keeping your pool comfortably warm throughout the swimming season.

How Much Does a Solar Pool Heater Cost in Florida?

A solar pool heater costs in Florida around $3,000 to $4,000, including both the equipment and installation expenses.

How Much Does a Solar Panel Heater Cost?

A solar panel heater costs anywhere from $750 to $9,500 or more, depending on factors like type, brand, capacity, and installation complexity.

How Long Do Solar Pool Heaters Last?

Solar pool heaters last around 15 to 20 years on average, with proper maintenance and care.


As promised, we’ve covered the comprehensive landscape of solar pool heater costs and factors influencing them. 

From system components and collector size to location, brand, and incentives, each element contributes to the overall expense.

And if you ask for my advice, I’d recommend switching all your appliances, where feasible, to solar-powered ones. 

This goes beyond just heating your pool and extends to your overall energy consumption.

Do you still have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products. He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations. When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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