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If you live in the UK you will know that even if it’s been baking hot the chances are that it’s not been like that for very long. Unfortunately, the chances of your lovely family pool that you bought for the summer months, may look inviting but could feel like a dip in the arctic ocean. As above-ground family pools have developed and become more sophisticated, customers are now calling out for family garden pools with heating.

What heaters are available for family pools?

If you already have an above-ground pool, don’t worry there are plenty of aftermarket options available to heat the water. There are three main options that you could consider when selecting a pool heater:

  • Electric heater
  • Solar Heating
  • In pool heating

Electric pool heaters

These standalone heaters sit outside the pool. The heaters come in various options from 1000w to 3000w. Your choice will depend on how warm you want the pool to get and how quickly you need the pool to heat up and of course how deep your pockets are! These garden pool heaters are great for pump circulated pools like the bestway and Intex pools. A few points that you may need to take into consideration when choosing a heater.

If your pool is someway from the electric socket, you may need to run an extension lead to the heater. The heater can draw some power to operate, so it is important to ensure you have an extension lead that can cope with the power required to run the heater. For example, if you have a 2kw pool heater the maximum load of the extension lead needs to be at least 2000 watts (2kw).

Solar pool heaters

Heating your pool naturally sounds really attractive and there are some great solar pool heaters on the market which, after the initial purchase won’t cost you a penny. There are some disadvantages though, they only work when the sun is out. Solar mats need to be laid out on the ground, so may use up more space than you want to give them and the maximum temperature they can produce is limited.

How to heat family pools cheaply

Adding an electric heater to a pool may not be a viable option if there is no electric supply nearby or you have a limited budget. There are, however, a number of devices you can use to keep your pool at a useable temperature during the summer months.

Garden pool covers can really help keep the heat in and debris out. As the covers heat up they can also transfer heat to the water. They do have the added advantage of reducing evaporation, so you will not have to keep topping your pool up.

Solar heating mats are designed to attract the heat from the sun and warm the water as it is slowly circulated through the many internal corridors pumping warm water back into your pool. These mats can raise the temperature by an extra 3 – 5 degrees.

Solar mats for heating pools can use up space in your garden. If space is at a premium, consider a solar bubble/ball. These devices have coils of black pipe encased in a plastic glass bubble which warms the water as it is pumped gently through. You can also have as many of these pool heaters inline to really circulate gallons of warm water.

solar heaters
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19 new from £5.93
2 used from £8.66
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8 new from £36.29
1 used from £27.87
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2 new from £143.90
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How much do garden pool heaters cost to run?

Of course, this is the age-old question a bit like “How long is a piece of string?”. However, there is a simple equation you can use to work out if heating your pool is going to break the bank.

There are two factors to take into consideration:

  • The power rating of the heater
  • How long you are going to use the heater for

Example (all figures are approximate):

  • The pool heater is rated at 2 kw (2000)
  • The price of electricity (per 1 KWh from your electricity supplier) is £0.14p
  • You heat the pool for 3 hours

Equation : 2kw x £0.14p = £0.26p x 3 hours =Total cost £0.78p

Electricity monitors can be bought quite cheaply and are a great way to monitor how much much it is costing to run your pool heater.

Is it cheaper to leave a pool heater on?

Running any kind of heating, whether its the central heating in your house or in a swimming pool, can often be cheaper if it is left “ticking” over on low heat. It mostly depends on how often you will be using the pool. If the weather is fair and it is likely you will be using the pool most days, keeping the pool at a gentle heat will always have it ready at the right temperature. However, in this situation, it is important to buy a thermostatically operated pool heater, which will turn on when the temperature drops and off when it reaches the desired/set temperature.

Are pool heaters worth it?

When buying a pool, one of the main considerations is “How often will the pool be used?” especially if you live in the UK! A garden pool with a heater really will extend the amount of time you can use the pool, from early or late in the season to the days when the weather is, well, just that little bit meh. If the cost per hour is within your budget then heating your pool really will help you get more from your pool.

Can pool heaters be used in inflatable spas/hot tubs?

Many people use swimming pool heaters to rapidly heat their inflatable spa/hot tubs. Although inbuilt hot tub heaters do an admiral job of heating the water, in pool heaters can get the water up to temperature and ready to use in half the time. If you hadn’t thought of the inflatable spa as an alternative to a heated family garden pool, then read our article on inflatable hot tubs HERE.

Where to buy family garden pools and heaters

Bestway and Intex are well known for making great pools. Bestway offers some of the best retrofit pool heaters for their pools too. If you have already bought a pool, standalone heaters can easily be added and you will find some good examples here on and always have a range of pools in stock, although they do not supply heaters.

If you are on a budget, take a look at preowned heaters and pools here on you could pick a little-used bargain.

The best family swimming pools for the garden

If you haven’t bought a garden pool yet, there are many to choose from. There are also some important points to take into consideration when buying the best pool for your garden.

  • Strength and durability
    • Will the pool need to stand up to all the rigours children can throw at them.
    • Do the sides need to be strong enough to support people sitting on them?
  • Availability of parts
    • Are pump parts readily available?
    • Many pools have different size pipes and connectors. will it be possible to add heaters and pumps etc at a later date?
    • Are there repair kits available.
  • Pumped or static water pools
    • Pumped pools have a filter system much the same as an inground swimming pool, circulating water and chemicals to remove fine debris and keep the water clean and clear.
    • Static water pools may need to have the water replaced every so often as algae can grow quickly in hot weather.

In pool heaters (2021 Update: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE)

Floating pool heaters are a great option for heating garden pools without pumps, fast heating hot tubs and small plunge pools. These pool heaters have a heating element which floats around in the pool heating the water as it goes.

As with the electric pool heaters, you will need a sufficient extension lead or power source that can cope with the draw of electricity needed to run the heaters.

A word of caution, The heaters have a metal element and will get very hot. They are for preheating water and must not be used when someone is in the pool. Additionally, the heaters must be allowed to cool down before removal from the water and must not touch the sides of a plastic pool where it could cause damage. All that said they, are successful at heating the water, easy to use and a cheap option for heating your pool.