6 Ways to Heat an Above-Ground Pool

Side angle of an above-ground pool

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One of the most common ways to extend the pool season is to heat your pool. This will increase the number of months that you can comfortably enjoy the water if you live in an area with a climate that changes with the seasons. If you decide to have a heated pool this can be accomplished in several different ways. The right method for you depends on what type of heating source or fuel is available in your area and your pool's location and set-up.

You can heat an above-ground pool using solar power; propane, natural gas or oil heaters; electric heaters; and heat pumps.


Solar power is one of the cheapest ways to heat your pool. This includes “inline” attachments which replace a section of piping to make the water travel through a section of material designed to capture heat from the sun and also bubble covers, which do the same but lay on top of your pool.

The main difference between these two methods of solar heating is that inline will heat the pool water as long as it is running, and it can be used while you are in the pool. The bubble cover, requiring surface area to gather heat from the sun, can only be used when no one is in the pool because the cover needs to be on top of the water. The solar method works best if your pool receives an abundance of sun throughout the day.

The downside of solar is that since it relies on the sun it is much slower to heat a pool and there is no way to control the pool temperature. Also, unless your pool gets an excessive amount of sun, this method is the slowest by far and how warm your pool gets will vary greatly on your pool's location.

Propane, Natural Gas, and Oil Heaters

Propane, natural gas, and oil are the more traditional methods to heat a pool, each with its own pros and cons. Usually these methods are used when your house uses one of these fuel sources or there is an existing tank onsite. This makes it easy to either install a fuel line from your house or from an existing tank nearby to your pool heater's location. While these are some of the more efficient and simplest heating devices to maintain they do have some drawbacks, namely the cost of the fuel can fluctuate and can make for a very expensive heating season.

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters are newer to the pool scene. Their efficiency has been improving since they first hit the market, and it is now a feasible way to heat your pool. These types of heaters have fewer moving parts, and have no igniter to fail or open flames to watch out for. Electricity is a good choice for heating a pool especially if your electricity rate is affordable and you already have an electric line close by your pool heater location, making installation and maintenance simple.

Heat Pump

A heat pump is another more recent option for heating a pool. A heat pump is like a reverse air conditioner: the heat pump grabs heat from the outside air and transfers it to the colder pool water. It is one of the more efficient ways to heat your pool and an easier install because it only needs a power line to operate. However, heat pumps generally require slightly more maintenance and upkeep than other methods due to the fact that a heat pump is more complex and involves the use of refrigerant at higher pressure, just like your standard home AC.

  • Can you heat an above-ground pool?

    Yes, you can heat an above ground pool but it is generally not recommended to use a method that involves a fuel source such as propane, natural gas or oil because of the risk of excessive heat damaging the pool frame.

  • How should you heat an above-ground pool?

    The best way to heat an above-ground pool depends on your exact situation, such as how much sunlight your pool receives and if you have a fuel source nearby. Install cost will vary from each type and plays an important factor when deciding. No matter what method is chosen, you will increase the time you can use your pool each year, which is always a win.