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5 Best Ways to Heat an Intex Pool (Cheapest to Most Expensive)

Wondering how to heat an Intex pool the fastest, most efficient way… and without breaking the bank?

This article will break down the most popular methods for heating an above-ground Intex pool, including upfront costs, running costs, and other pros and cons.

Quick answer: Gas heaters are the most popular and widely used option, and the one we recommend for long-term heating. Pair this with a solar cover and you’ve got yourself the best overall package.

The “Limitations” of Heating an Intex Pool

Intex pools are classed as above-ground swimming pools, which means most heating options available to above-ground pools will also work here.

Despite this, some sources will tell you there are few heating options available for Intex pools. In reality, this is usually referring to official, Intex-supported heating options (and they would be right about that).

All the methods we’re about to cover will work on your Intex above-ground pool and can be hooked up to the plumbing system like any other pool — even if the setup does require some moderate DIY skills.

How to Heat an Intex Pool (5 Methods)

From cheapest to most expensive:

Use a Solar Cover

Intex Solar Cover for 15ft Diameter...
Intex Solar Cover for 15ft Diameter...
  • Solar-heat-retaining cover for 15-foot round pools
  • Reduces evaporation by 95 percent; retains heat
  • Includes carry bag for storage when not in use

A solar cover (or solar blanket) is very similar to a regular pool cover. Like pool covers, they protect your water from debris and they also slow down the process of evaporation.

The key difference is this type of cover utilizes small thermal bubbles that mimic a giant magnifying glass, absorbing heat from the sun’s UV rays and transferring it directly to the pool water.

Note: You can also find liquid pool covers and solar rings but these are less popular and overall less effective than standard solar covers.

Pros:

  • Small investment of only $20 to $100 for the cover
  • No ongoing running costs after initial purchase
  • Can act as a replacement for your regular pool cover
  • Can be used alongside other heating methods


Cons

  • Can take several days for noticeable temp gain
  • Provides a relatively low temp gain of 2°F to 10°F
  • Relies on ideal weather conditions to work effectively
  • May need replacing after only 1-2 years

Use an Electric Heater

An electric pool heater (or electric resistance heater) utilizes your pool’s circulation to warm the water as it cycles through. Much like a kettle, it has a heating element that transfers heat as water flows over it.

This type of heater plugs straight into your mains and connects up to your Intex filter pump, as it requires a pump in order to continuously push the flow of water through the heater.

Note: If choosing this option, we strongly recommend getting an Intex branded electric pump to ensure it’s compatible with your Intex filtration system.

Pros:

  • The heater itself is relatively cheap at $100 to $150
  • Can provide a significant temperature increase
  • Easy to set up and install into your Intex plumbing
  • Efficient at maintaining temperatures once heated


Cons

  • High electrical running costs at $5-$10 per day
  • Can take 2-4 days to reach peak temperature
  • Only suitable for small volumes of water (small pools)

Use a Heat Pump

FibroPool FH055 Swimming Pool Heat...
FibroPool FH055 Swimming Pool Heat...
  • Our Most popular FH 55 model Heater Efficiency:...
  • 230 volts- 60 HZ for USA/ Canadian/ Mexican...
  • Suitable for pools up to 13'500 gallons** (Please...

A heat pump is a type of electric heater, but it doesn’t use a heating element to warm the water. Instead, it utilizes ambient air from the surrounding environment.

After pulling in the ambient air, condensers and compresses inside the heat pump turn air into a warm gas before injecting it into the pool water — a process that requires at least 50°F outside temperatures to work effectively.

Pros:

  • Can provide a significant temperature increase
  • Around 50% more cost-efficient than a resistance heater
  • Heat pumps can last a long time (10+ years)


Cons

  • Initial cost of the heat pump is high at $2,500 to $5,000
  • Ongoing electrical running costs of around $3-$10 per day
  • Can take 1-2 days to reach ideal temperature gain
  • Doesn’t work well in cool climates (requires at least 50°F)

Use a Gas Heater

ZMM 240V 11KW Electric Pool Water...
ZMM 240V 11KW Electric Pool Water...
  • 1.This thermostat is designed specifically for the...
  • 2.Voltage: 220V / 240 Power: 11KW 50/60HZ
  • 3.Automatic heating: thermostat will first reach...

A gas heater uses natural gas or propane to ignite a fire that heats a copper element. Water then passes over this element, transferring heat in the process (much like an electric resistance heater).

While you can use either gas or propane, having a gas line installed is a far better option as propane tanks are heavy and cumbersome to replace, not to mention propane is considerably more expensive.

Pros:

  • One of the fastest heating methods
  • Works well in cold temperatures
  • Set and forget installation


Cons

  • Requires a gas line or propane tank
  • Not the most eco-friendly option
  • Still has running costs of around $2 to $7 per day

Use a Solar Mat

Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above...
Intex Solar Heater Mat for Above...
  • Solar technology increases temperature of the pool...
  • Simple hook up, compatible with filter pump up to...
  • Suitable for above ground pools up to 8000 gal...

Solar heater mats are essentially “solar panels for pools”, commonly used for above-ground pools. Like solar panels, they absorb the sun’s rays and convert them to heat, before transferring that heat to the water.

The main difference is, the water is actually plumbed into the solar mats, allowing it to flow through them as they’re being heated. It’s almost like a giant hot water bottle with water flowing in and out.

Pros:

  • A single mat only costs around $40 to $50
  • No ongoing costs after the initial investment
  • You can connect multiple solar mats for better results


Cons

  • Requires up to 6 mats for medium to large pools
  • Requires lots of space in direct sunlight to place the mats
  • Not the highest build quality (can break easily)
  • Can only provide a temp gain of 4°F to 12°F

What Do We Recommend?

If you’re just looking for a noticeable bump in water temperature over a few days, an Intex electrical resistance heater is a fairly low upfront investment and moderate use won’t run electricity costs too high.

On the other hand, if you want to heat your Intex pool for the season or even all year-round, a gas heater is likely the best value in terms of upfront cost, running cost, and overall effectiveness.

Finally, a solar pool cover should be paired with whatever method you choose, not only to add a few more degrees to the water temperature but to retain that extra heat when the pool isn’t in use.

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