Best solar heater for 16ft round


Jun 27, 2020
Pool Size
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Intex Krystal Clear
Ive looked through articles here some are old and hard to decipher the best solar heater to buy in terms of effectiveness and quality. *I have no interest in DIY- ill just get frustrated.

We live in chicago and my goal would be to put the solar panel on the garage roof. I have a spare intex sand pump i can use just for the heater. I dont expect miracles with solar but warming the pool a few degrees to take the edge off on cooler days in summer is my goal.

any feedback appreciated

Intex XTR 16x48 with intex saltwater sand pump combo thanks to ideas on this site. Use a blue bubble solar cover.


Gold Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 3, 2013
Southern OK
I doubt very seriously any Intex pump will run a solar heater on a roof... It barely gets the water to the pool and up the side and that is only 2 foot.. solar is all about the amount of water moved through the pipe so more water is better...

I am not sure but a 2 speed 1hp pump would be a good fit for solar, run normally on low and run on high to do solar... With a VS pump you could really set the perfect flow you need to do both and save energy doing it... :)


Bronze Supporter
Apr 15, 2020
Pageland SC
Pool Size
Liquid Chlorine
I concur. I have a propane tankless water heater to heat an 8' round stock tank. It's rated at 5 gpm.

I have an intex 1500 gph filter pump rated at 1000 gph system flow that I intended to supply the water heater with. I thought I'd need to build a bypass because the pump should push 16.6 gpm as opposed to 5.

Well with no bypass it will flow enough to kick the heater on, but I only get 1 gpm or so after the heater doing a bucket test with a stopwatch.

They don't respond well to restrictions that create pressure at all. I don't think it would even get the water up to the panels.

I've switched to a hot water recirculating pump.

I've been reading up on solar panels for my IGP, I think if you dive in you'll probably want a real pool pump like cowboycasey suggests. That would also mean you extract the most out of the panels to really get your money's worth!
Last edited:


Active member
May 18, 2020
May want to try a small submersible pump and build yourself a solar water panel yourself. A lot of vids out there on YT.


Gold Supporter
Aug 4, 2020
I am in the Chicago area too and just bought some solar panels off Amazon. They are cheap, so worth it to me to try it out. I plan to mount them on the ground (tilted) close to the pool, so they don't have to pump the water far. I think if you have enough panels, it should work. The reviews on Amazon are varied, but a lot of people say they work with Intex and heats 5 to 7 degrees, which is all I need. I have an 18 round and sand filter.
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