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A solar water heater can be a great way to enjoy swimming or taking a shower even in colder weather.
The best things in life are free but unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to electricity.
Actually, high electricity bills can be such a huge part of the budget that it may become impossible to enjoy the things we love the most.
In an average household, the heating bill can be as much as half of all utilities.
That may be the reason why you’re always in a hurry to finish your morning shower, or why you only enjoy your backyard pool during the warmest months.
What if we tell you that there is a way though to be able to enjoy all this and more simply by switching to a cheaper and renewable source of energy?
That’s right – we’re talking about solar energy.
Solar energy comes from the sun which – you guessed it – is a totally free resource.
10 Best Solar Powered Water Heaters Reviewed And Rated
At the end of this article, you will find some more helpful advice on how to choose the best solar water heater for you.
But first, here are 10 of the best solar water heaters on the market currently.
When it comes to heating a pool, a solar water heater is the most cost-effective way.
It will allow you to extend the time you use your pool by adding weeks to the swimming season and at the same time help you lower your electricity bills.
SunHeater S120U is a universal system so you can use it both for in-ground and above-ground pools.
Its patented design allows for maximum capacity when it comes to capturing the sun rays so it can raise the water temperature with 6-10 degrees in optimal conditions.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, you shouldn’t face any challenges with the installation – it’s really easy to assemble the kit.
You can install the panels on the roof, on a fence or a rack, or directly on the ground.
Of course, look for the spot with the most favorable conditions – ideally, you’d want the solar panels to have constant access to sunlight, and make sure that there is no shade and no chance of unforeseen damages.
It comes with a connection hose and clamps so you can connect several heaters together and all connectors are interchangeable with all models.
After the initial installation, you basically wouldn’t have to worry about maintenance and shouldn’t expect any further utility costs.
Pros & Benefits:
- Easy to assemble and install
- Suitable for both in-ground and above-ground pools
- Functional web design for maximum productivity
- Low maintenance and no unforeseen expenses
- Made in the USA
One of the best selling solar collectors, chosen by thousands of Americans, and it’s easy to see why – it’s lightweight, pretty straightforward to install and use, and will withstand all weather conditions for years.
You can use it for all sorts of in-ground pools – just attach it to the existing pool’s pump.
As long as your pump is in good condition, you can install the system up to 30 feet away and one story up and you won’t have any problems.
It automatically pumps the water, then the sun heats it and the water returns back to the pool for you to enjoy up to 10 degrees F warmer water temperatures.
You can install the system pretty much anywhere – on a roof, rack, fence, or place it on the ground, but keep in mind that the spot you choose should get at least 6 hours of sun per day.
It’s the simple rule when it comes to solar power – the longer, the better!
So find the sunniest spot if you want to reap all the benefits of your Smartpool SunHeater.
The installation itself is easy – you just have to follow the simple manual, provided with the system.
Once it’s up and running you should expect to rely on the system for a long time without any need for repairs and further costs.
It’s known to be one of the most durable solar water heaters on the market and excellent value for money.
Pros & Benefits:
- Made of tough polypropylene material that won’t corrode
- Lightweight and efficient
- Easy to install in just three steps
- Can be used for all kinds of in-ground pools
- Comes with a 5-year limited warranty
Although the price of the Sunbank Solar Water Heater may seem a bit high at first, it’s actually a very good investment, when you consider the future savings from your energy or gas bills.
It’s an affordable, efficient, and reliable system that comes with a 10-year warranty on the collectors and 1 year on all other components.
The smallest system of Sunbank’s line on solar water heaters is perfect for up to a 3-person household as it will produce an average of 40 gallons hot water per day if the conditions allow it.
That means that if you want to take a 10-minutes shower you don’t have to worry about the hot water as there will be more than enough!
You can mount The Sunbank 40G solar water heater to a pitched roof, or use the back leg assembly to install it on a flat surface.
The installation itself is pretty easy and straightforward so you shouldn’t have any troubles.
Just make sure that the spot you choose receives adequate amounts of sunshine.
The design of the system is super efficient and it will allow you not only to enjoy hot water whenever you need it but to save a lot of money in the long term.
The solar collectors store the heated water in an insulated tank until you need it.
You don’t have to worry about heat retention because the high-density polyurethane insulation takes care of that – for example, the water temperature will drop just by about 10 degrees during the night, so you will still have hot enough water in the morning.
As the Sunbank solar water heater doesn’t have any moving parts and doesn’t require glycol or pumps like other models, you basically wouldn’t have to worry about the maintenance after the initial installation.
Pros & Benefits:
- Pays for itself in the long term by providing energy independence
- Produces enough hot water for up to 3-person household
- Great heat retention thanks to the high-density polyurethane insulation
- No pumps, moving parts, and glycol
- Great value for money
It comes with a price but that’s one of the best and most comprehensive kits on the market that includes everything you need to set up your solar water heating system.
And we are not exaggerating – it literally has every little thing you might need so to save you quite a bit of time to research, not to mention money.
The different components come from different brands, but the whole kit is assembled and certified by Northern Lights Group.
The installation itself doesn’t require electrical wiring or soldering so it shouldn’t be of any difficulty for the general homeowner.
One of the best feathers of this kit is that it includes a controller so that you can heat two separate zones – you can have hot water for a shower and at the same time, you will be able to heat up the pool or the hot tub.
You can expect enough hot water supply for a family up to 4 and if the weather fails you, the tank also comes with an electric heating element so you always have a back-up plan.
Pros & Benefits:
- Saves time and resources by providing everything you need in one kit
- Can heat two zones at the same time
- Provides enough hot water for bigger families (up to 4 people)
- Advanced features such as holiday mode and energy monitoring
- Easy installation without the need for electric wiring or soldering
If you live in a cold climate, this is the perfect solar water heater system for you.
Duda is one of the most reliable and trustworthy brands, its products are SRCC-certified, and are a great choice for homeowners in search of a durable and winter-resistant system.
It can provide a steady supply of hot water all day and it can heat the water quickly even with just a few hours of sunlight.
The only downside is that if you travel frequently, this might not be the best choice as the 8-liter expansion tank can’t regulate the excess hot water for more than a few days without usage.
The installation is quite simple for anyone with a bit of plumbing experience and you can find the full installation manual free online.
The whole system includes a solar water heater collector fitted with twenty 14 mm solar tubes, a food-grade stainless steel storage tank, an 8-liter expansion tank, a thermostatic mixing valve, a working station, and 2 gallons of food-grade propylene glycol.
It comes with a preinstalled 220V 1,500-watt backup element so you never run out of hot water even on cloudy days.
Pros & Benefits:
- Durable and efficient
- Great for colder climates
- Heats water quickly even with partial shade
- Has an electric back-up element for cloudy days
What’s better than spending some time in nature?
But if you plan to spend more than one day, especially if you plan to do hiking, mountain biking or other sports, you will eventually need to take a shower.
Next time when you head outdoors, don’t worry about the hot water supply.
When it comes to taking a shower in the outdoors (or washing the dishes after dinner by the campfire), you can rely on this portable solar water heater.
It’s easy to store when not in use as you can simply roll it up and pack it until you need it.
Then just take it out, fill it with water, and place ii in a sunny spot.
Perfect for camping, boating, or general traveling, it features durable 2-layer PVC free construction of premium quality.
The 5-gallon capacity is sufficient enough for a shower and other activities that require hot water such as washing clothes or dishes.
The bag comes with a side pocket to keep the soap bar and shampoo, and with velcro straps for wash clothes.
You will appreciate the easy to use On/Off shower head that helps you save water, and the extra-large filling valve.
Pros & Benefits:
- Easy to carry thanks to the wide handle grip
- Premium quality materials
- Offers optimal heat retention
- Convenient storage when not in use – simply roll up and put away
- 5-gallons capacity and an extra-large filling valve
This pack of 10 solar vacuum tubes is the perfect way to boil some water whenever and wherever you need it.
It will allow you to have a hot water source without having to worry when you’re off the grid.
The tubes have a double-wall structure with a vacuum between the walls and steel that will capture the energy from the sunlight.
Furthermore, the aluminum and copper coatings will provide effective infrared reflective insulation and will help to prevent heat loss.
Each tube can hold up to 1 liter and can heat it up to 100 degrees F in approximately one hour – the exact time will depend on the weather and geographical conditions.
In direct sunlight, they can heat water to boiling temperatures pretty quickly, and thanks to the thermos effect they create, they will keep the water temperature 100 degrees even overnight.
These solar vacuum tubes come in handy whenever you need hot water supply off the grid, or to use in various science, hobby and DIY projects.
Pros & Benefits:
- Heat water up to boiling temperatures quickly
- Cheaper than solar panels
- Efficient and easy to install
- Great heat retention properties
- Each tube holds up to 1 liter
A complete and easy to install solar heating system that will allow you to heat your swimming pool at a fracture of the price you would normally pay with electric heaters.
As with the other two swimming pool heaters featured in this list, the system will use your pool’s pump to circulate the water up to the solar panels and back to the pool.
Thanks to the Max-Flow design the water circulation is improved and applies less pressure on the pump.
You can use the SunQuest system for in-ground and above-ground swimming pools and expect up to 10 degrees F warmer water temperatures – which will easily extend your pool season from early spring to late autumn.
As it uses the best materials available, It is no doubt one of the best systems on the market in terms of value for money.
The kit is absolutely complete so you don’t need anything else apart from the piping that goes from the panels to the pool.
The installation is really easy and can take up to 30 minutes if you follow the instruction manual.
Just install the system on your roof, fence, or place directly on the ground – wherever there’s more sun during the day, and invite your friends over for a pool party!
Pros & Benefits:
- Easy to assemble with a thorough simple to follow manual guide
- Can be installed in as little as 30 minutes
- Improved water circulation
- Applies less pressure on the pool’s pump
- Reliable and well-performing even with prolonged use
If you’re looking for a very affordable solution for your above-ground pool, look no further.
These panels come from one of the most renowned brands in the solar industry and you can be sure that the price won’t affect the quality.
The Solar Bear system is made of very durable polyethylene which guarantees that you will be able to use it for many seasons without having to replace it.
It’s built to last no matter what and will not wear even with the constant exposure to UV rays.
Follow the included installation guide for a hassle-free process and don’t worry – it’s really easy to assemble even for the absolute beginner.
To achieve maximum capacity, make sure to install the panels at a place where they receive optimal sunlight – put them on the roof, build a rack to hang them or simply place them on the ground by the pool.
FAFCO’s 4’x20′ Solar Bear can heat an 18’- 24’ round pool and comes with a built-in manual bypass so that you can easily turn it off and on.
If you want to heat a larger pool you can purchase several panels.
Keep in mind that this solar pool heater will work with any pool pump but not with Intex cartridge filters.
Pros & Benefits:
- Cost-effective and durable
- Each 4’x20’ solar panel raises the water temperature with up to 10 degrees F
- Installation can take as little as 30 minutes
- Comes with a 10-year warranty
- With a built-in manual bypass for easy turning off and on
This portable solar water heater will be your best companion on your next outdoor adventure, no matter if you’re on a climbing trip, camping in the woods with your family, or simply chilling by the beach in your mobile home.
The design of this solar shower is sleek and cool and uses only the highest quality materials such as food-grade TPU which is environmentally friendly and safe to use.
And since there are no harmful chemicals, there is no toxic odor that is typical for most plastic items.
It’s extremely easy to use and clean the solar shower – just fill it with water, set it in the sun, and enjoy!
You can use the hot water for anything, even for drinking (as long as it’s from a clean source) because of the non-toxic materials of the bag.
Once it’s heated, the water retains its temperature for hours and the size of 5 gallons will be plenty for a shower or even two, to do the dishes or wash your clothes.
It features an extra-large filling intake so that you can easily clean the inside, and you’ll appreciate the improved shower nozzle which gives more control over the water flow.
And when you’re not using it to heat water, you can store some wet clothes or other items inside.
Pretty great for all outdoor lovers!
Pros & Benefits:
- Great design and high performance
- Made of food-grade TPU material
- Safe for the environment
- Holds up to 5 gallons
- Can be used for wet clothes storage
What is the most important thing to consider before buying a solar water heater?
We’ve made it clear that a solar water heater can provide multiple benefits – mainly in terms of cost efficiency and general lack of maintenance over the long term.
As most of the solar heating systems acquire a higher investment at first, there are few things to consider before you decide what to spend your money on.
It’s key that you make sure the solar water heater you choose can handle your needs and meet your demands.
What is the Climate Where You Live?
Some solar water heaters can handle difficult winter conditions easily while others can only be used in mild climates.
And if rainy and cloudy days are frequent occurrences where you live, you shouldn’t expect a solar water heater to be able to produce a consistent amount of energy.
You should definitely consider whether the initial investment will be worthy in case your area doesn’t receive the required 6 hours of sunlight each day.
Or you should plan a back-up system so you should never run out of hot water no matter what the weather is.
Know How Much Hot Water is Used
Secondly, be sure to know how much hot water your family will use approximately per day, and that the heater you choose can meet that demand.
A regular household of up to 3 people will find a 40-gallon system sufficient enough, but for bigger families, or if you use more hot water than average, look into an 80-gallon option.
When you are choosing a solar water heater for your pool, consider the size of the pool and the amount of sunlight the panels will get in order to find out whether it will be enough to heat the water.
Most of the solar heaters will raise the water temperatures by 6 to 10 degrees F, but that will depend largely on the size of the pool and the hours of direct sunlight the panels receive.
Finding The Best Solar Water Heater For You
And don’t forget – a solar water heater is constantly outside, exposed to the elements.
The one you choose should be able to withstand the UV damage and be durable enough to last for years before the need for repair or replacement.
Choose from a reliable brand and don’t compromise with the quality so that it will not suffer any wear and tear from the weather conditions and will last for long.