Solar Heater or Heat Pump: Which is Right for Your Pool?

Although pools are usually used during the summer to cool off on hot, sticky days, sadly, the sunshine won't be enough to warm the pool up to a comfortable temperature.

Using equipment such as a swimming pool heat pump or solar heater can provide an economical and eco-friendly solution, making your swimming experience much more enjoyable.

If you're interested in extending your swimming season, you might want to take a look at our selection of swimming pool heaters; we stock an array of equipment such as:

  • - Gas heaters
  • - Swimming pool heat pumps
  • - Solar heaters
  • - Electric heaters
  • - Heat exchangers



Read more in our guide swimming pool heat pumps: cost and options

What is Solar Pool Heating?


Solar pool heaters use thermal energy to warm up a swimming pool. The pool’s water is pumped through a filter to the solar collector, typically mounted on a roof. The collector absorbs heat from the sun and transfers it to the water, which circulates through the system.

Because of the nature of a solar heater, they are incredibly cost-efficient and eco-friendly. Most solar heaters include flow control valves and automated sensors. These features will detect the water’s temperatures.

If the pool’s water is cold while the weather is sunny, the flow control valve will direct water through the solar collectors to help warm it up. If the pool water is too hot, the control valves will prevent any additional hot water from entering the pool.

What is a Swimming Pool Heat Pump?


A heat pump works by using electricity to suck in the heat from the outside air. The temperature of the air is then converted into a much higher temperature. This temperature is then transferred to the water, heating the pool.

Heat pumps, whether they're inverter heat pumps or on/off heat pumps, can warm the pool up using less energy than gas and electric heaters, whether the air is cool or warm. However, because they rely on the outside air's temperature, they can become less efficient and effective than usual if the temperature drops.

For more information, check out our article Do I Need a Swimming Pool Heat Pump?

Three children jumping into a pool

Solar Pool Heating Pros and Cons


Like any equipment, solar pool heaters offer a myriad of advantages, but they also harbour some cons. To find out whether a solar pool heater would work best for your pool, take a look at our list of pros and cons below.

The Advantages of Solar Pool Heating

  • - Solar panels use sunlight to heat the pool’s water, so as long as the sun shines, your pool will be heated.
  • - Solar heaters can still work with cloud cover.
  • - Solar heaters emit no harmful emissions, making them an eco-friendly option.
  • - They're low maintenance.
  • - They only require power from the pool pump

The Disadvantages of Solar Pool Heating

  • - Solar panels rely on sunlight, meaning the solar heater will be unable to function throughout the night.
  • - Solar heaters have the slowest heating time when compared to other pool heaters.
  • - Solar heaters can only use the heat that they've harvested; this can prevent them from providing consistent heat on demand.
  • - Typically, solar heaters are classed as unattractive in design.
  • - Moving solar heating can be a difficult and lengthy process.

Swimming Pool Heat Pump Pros and Cons


Similar to solar pool heating, swimming pool heat pumps offer an array of different pros and cons. Take a look below to see if your pool would be better suited to a pool heat pump.

The Advantages of a Swimming Pool Heat Pump

  • - Pool heat pumps rely on outside ambient temperatures as opposed to sunlight, so come rain or shine, your heat pump will still be working away.
  • - Due to being eco-friendly, they won't produce any harmful emissions.
  • - They are one of the most cost-efficient pool heaters.
  • - Heat pumps are built with longevity in mind. With proper maintenance, a pool heat pump can last twice as long as other pool heating devices.

The Disadvantages of a Swimming Pool Heat Pump

  • - Due to a heat pump’s reliance on the ambient air, most heat pumps will not work efficiently below 15 degrees Celsius.
  • - Their installation will require a specific electrical breaker.
  • - They take much longer to heat a pool when compared to other heaters.

A girl leaning back into a pool smiling at the sky

Frequently Asked Questions About Swimming Pool Heating


We've collated frequently asked questions about both swimming pool heat pumps and solar pool heaters. If you require any more information about heating your swimming pool, take a look at our article: How to Heat your Swimming Pool, where we explore various swimming pool heating methods.

How Well do Solar Pool Heaters Work?


If the conditions are right, a solar pool heater can be an effective way to warm up your pool without impacting your wallet or the environment. Even on a cloudy day, the solar heater will be able to absorb the passing UV rays.

Solar pool heaters should be accompanied by a solar pool cover, as these will help the heater retain as much heat as possible during the evenings, aiding its efficiency.

It is worth considering that solar pool heaters are similar to swimming pool heat pumps; they take time to generate heat, unlike gas or electric heaters.

Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?


Yes, solar pool heaters work well in the UK; they can still absorb UV rays through cloud cover. However, they are usually supported by a solar cover to help retain the heat overnight.

What Size Heat Pump do I Need for My Pool?


If you are interested in investing in a swimming pool heat pump, you'll want to work out what size heat pump you'll need for your pool. Find out more information in our article What Size Heat Pump Do I Need?

We hope this article has helped you choose an environmentally friendly pool heater that is suited to your pool. If you require any more information or advice, refer to our blog or contact a member of our team.

Read more in our guide how to heat an above ground and inflatable pool