11 Hacks to Heat Up a Pool Fast & Cheaply

After an unseasonable stretch of cold days, the hot weather has finally resumed. You’re ready to jump right in and go swimming, but the water is so cold! How can you warm up your pool fast and cheaply?

Beautiful pool in the sun.
Sun heating up the pool.

Here are 11 convenient hacks for heating up a pool in a hurry:

  • Pool heat pump
  • Solar cover
  • Combo pump and cover
  • Solar mat
  • Pool heater
  • Windproof enclosure
  • Solar rings
  • Liquid cover
  • Black garden hose
  • Burning wood
  • Trash bags

You may wonder how in the world trash bags or a black garden hose can heat up your pool. To that, we say you’ll have to wait and see, as we’ll explain everything ahead. You certainly won’t want to miss it!

Trash Bags, Burning Wood, and More – 11 Hacks for a Warmer Pool Fast That Don’t Cost a Fortune!

1. Pool Heat Pump

Swimming pool heat pump on a concrete pad.
Swimming pool heat pump.

Okay, so we had to start with what’s an obvious heating solution but will get the job done, a pool heat pump.

We just wrote an in-depth post about using pool heat pumps (and pool heaters) on a timer. In that article, we explained how pool heat pumps work.

If you happened to miss that post, here’s a recap for you.

A pool heat pump is powered by electricity. Inside the pump is a fan. That fan causes the pump to collect outside air that’s already moderately warm due to sunlight.

The fan extracts the warm air and then sends it straight to an evaporator air coil. The coil has a liquid refrigerant that will absorb the heat from the warm air. The refrigerant also becomes a gas.

The refrigerant gas, which is now sufficiently warmed, travels next through the compressor. The gas becomes hotter still by the time it enters the heat exchanger condenser.

Pool water that’s pumped in meets the hot refrigerant gas, transitioning the heat to the pool water. The temperature difference can be as much as 3 to 5 degrees.

If you already own a pool heat pump, we’d recommend plugging it in. But maybe try the other options if you don’t have one, as a pool heat pump is not the cheapest to buy new (it costs about $2,000 and up).

Running one of the pumps isn’t too costly though!

Further Reading: How Long Does a Pool Heat Pump Take to Warm the Water?

2. Solar Cover

Imagine that instead of only protecting your swimming pool from drifting leaves, live insects, and other unwanted debris, your pool cover also heated your pool.

With a solar cover, you can get the best of both worlds!

If you don’t know how a pool solar cover works, allow us to inform you.

Solar covers, like many other sources of solar, use the sun’s power to generate heat.

The sun is an infinite, renewable resource, so it’s a heck of a lot better than using any other means of heat.

As you lay the solar cover on the pool and it sits in the sun, it begins to generate heat. The water in the pool becomes warmer as a result.

What’s even better is that a solar cover doesn’t only produce heat, but it can retain heat as well for as long as it’s on your pool. For best results then, dive right in after taking off the solar cover.

If you’re looking for a solar cover for your pool, we quite like this one from In the Swim on Amazon. The solar cover is an Amazon’s Choice product too.

In The Swim 1632D Midsol 16 x 32 Foot Rectangle Premium Pool Solar Blanket Cover

The midsole cover promises an increase of eight to 10 degrees if the cover receives consistent sunlight over five to seven days.

Further, In the Swim’s solar cover says it will prevent water from evaporating, which means less chemical loss as well.

You can select from a variety of pool cover shapes and sizes to match your pool; all covers are protected under In the Swim’s seven-year manufacturer limited warranty. 

Further Reading: Do pool covers really heat the water?

3. Combo Pump and Cover

Solar covers and pool heat pumps are efficient enough solutions on their own or we wouldn’t have recommended them, but why not put them together?

After all, you want to heat your pool quickly, right? A heat pump can do that, which will make the solar cover even more effective.

Give it a try! We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

4. Solar Mat

Your next option is to invest in a solar mat or several.

A solar mat is just like a solar panel except that it’s much easier to install, far less breakable, and much more inexpensive as well.

You can use solar mats in a few different ways. The first way is the traditional method where you install several mats on a metal mount. The mats are placed at an angle so they can drink in lots of sunshine.

Position the mount so that the solar mats are facing your swimming pool. After absorbing all that solar energy, the solar mats will release it, leading to a much warmer pool for you.

If you’d rather there be a more direct connection between the mats and your swimming pool, that’s something you can do as well.

You’d affix tubing through the solar mats. The tubes will feed pool water through. As the mats warm-up, the exposure to the warm mats will heat the pool water in kind.

If you want to try solar mats for either configuration, we like this set from SolarPoolSupply. The mats are made of pre-compounded polypropylene for excellent UV resistance. SolarPoolSupply promises an average duration of 15 to 20 years per mat.

SolarPoolSupply Highest Performing Design - Universal Solar Pool Heater Panel Replacement & Connection Hardware Pack, 15-20 Year Life Expectancy (4' X 10' / 2" I.D. Header)

5. Pool Heater

Of course, we couldn’t recommend a pool heat pump without talking about pool heaters as well.

Pool heaters may utilize natural gas, electricity, or solar power.

A natural gas pool heater has a combustion chamber that burns the gas. The cold pool water also heads for the combustion chamber but through a series of heated pipes. The water warms up quickly and reenters your pool, ready for swimming.

pool filter attached to gas pool heater
Pool filter attached to gas pool heater.

A solar pool heater requires the installation of ground or roof solar panels. The pool water travels to the solar panels via pipes, as the solar panel contains very small tubes.

The heated solar panels warm up the cold pool water quickly, which makes its way back into the swimming pool.

Solar pool heating system mounted on ground next to above ground pool.
Solar pool heating system.

Finally, there are electric pool heaters. These work the exact same way an electric pool heat pump does right down to making liquid refrigerant into gas during the heating process.

Just like a pool heat pump, we’d recommend a pool heater for the purposes of this article only if you already have one. They can cost several hundred to several thousand dollars otherwise.

6. Windproof Enclosure

Insulation is powerful stuff, as you can enjoy a more temperate environment.

That’s the basis of a windproof enclosure. It safeguards your pool from the wind and insulates the area so that any warmth you maintain might last a little bit longer.

Now, when you think about a windproof enclosure, you might envision a whole-pool enclosure. If you have the budget for that sort of thing, then that’s fine. This article is about low-cost pool heating solutions, though.

Thus, even a half-enclosure that looks something like this will be more than enough.

You don’t have to use only a windproof enclosure if you want to warm up your swimming pool quickly. You can combine this hack with any of the others we’ve discussed to this point to shorten the time it takes for your pool to feel nice and toasty.

7. Solar Rings

Yes, this is yet another solar option, but that’s only because solar is so darn powerful, and it’s low-cost as well.

This time, we’re talking about solar rings. Usually made of heavy-duty vinyl, solar rings feature two or more sheets of vinyl affixed together. The top layer is full of insulating air; it’s also clear.

The bottom layer of most solar rings is colored, usually blue. This part of the solar ring absorbs sunlight and makes it into heat.

Solar rings go right in your swimming pool, where they’ll float and directly warm the water. Depending on the level of warmth you want, you can add a couple of rings at a time or fill your pool with ‘em. It’s your choice!

We recommend Solar Sun rings. Each ring is five feet and includes up to six magnets. The magnets keep the rings connected so they can warm your pool in large swathes.

Solar Sun Rings 5' Round Solar Pool Heating - Sunburst

Solar Sun does suggest using the solar rings in conjunction with a pool cover or a solar blanket, especially at night. This will prevent the heat loss that usually occurs after dark and leaves your pool freezing cold the next day.

8. Liquid Cover

We’re sure you’ve been eagerly awaiting this one. After all, what in the world is a liquid pool cover, anyway?

It’s quite an innovation in pools, that’s for sure!

A liquid solar cover is a type of fatty alcohol. You pour it right into the water. Rather than sinking into the pool water though, the fatty alcohol sits atop the water.

The thickness of the cover is only one molecule, so you couldn’t see it. If you stepped or jumped into the pool, you wouldn’t be able to feel the cover either, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.

A liquid solar cover can prevent the pool water from evaporating to limit heat loss. You’ll retain more pool water as well so you don’t have to refill your pool with the garden hose quite so often.

That will also go a long way towards maintaining warmer water temperatures.

Natural Chemistry makes a great liquid solar cover. In a bottle, you get a quart’s worth of product, which is approximately 32 ounces.

The Natural Chemistry liquid pool cover promises a heat loss reduction by upwards of 70 percent and a reduction in water evaporation by up to 85 percent.

Plus, no more wrestling with large, bulky pool covers!

9. Black Garden Hose

This next method for quickly and conveniently heating your pool is more unconventional, but that’s what we like about it!

You will need a large garden hose, and it must be black.

If you don’t have the right kind of hose, try the Giraffe Tools hybrid garden hose. This hose is 100 feet long and measures 5/8 inches thick, so it’s perfect.

Giraffe Tools Hybrid Garden Hose 100ft x 5/8", Heavy Duty, Flexible, Lightweight Water Hose with Swivel Grip Handle, Male to Female Fittings

Take your hose and coil it up close to your swimming pool. After a couple of hours, the hose will absorb plenty of sunlight (and thus heat) due to its dark color.

Once that happens, unfurl the hose and plug one side into a pump that will siphon water from the pool.

Then take the other end of the hose and drop it into the swimming pool. The heat of the hose will warm up the water on one side and then send it back into the pool on the other side.

Pretty cool, huh?

10. Burning Wood

Here’s yet another simple and efficient method for generating heat fast when your swimming pool is too cold to use.

Take a few stacks of firewood, lay them close to the pool, and ignite the firewood. With piping, you can send cold pool water close to the fire. The heat of the flames will instantly warm up the water traveling through the pipes.

That warm water will be dumped back into your pool.

Now, you’d have to either build or purchase heat exchangers, and that can be time-consuming and a little difficult, too. Plus, you’d have to be very careful when working with fire, especially in such proximity to the pool!

11. Trash Bags

Last but certainly not least is the trash bag method.

You can use this in lieu of the black pool hose, as it works the same way.

You already know that black will absorb heat, so by taking some black trash bags, laying them atop the pool, and then letting the sun do its thing, the water will naturally become warmer.

Obviously, you should only use clean trash bags. They will float if you lay them flat on the water.

You and anyone else in your family will have to avoid using the pool while the bags are in there. Disturbing the trash bags could fill them with water, and then they will begin to sink.

You cannot use the trash bags when they’re out of the pool, even if you allow them to air-dry. They were exposed to chlorine and thus could rip!

Conclusion

There you have it, 11 awesome, convenient, efficient hacks for heating a pool fast and usually without spending too much money. We hope you get a lot of use out of these hacks whenever your pool temperature is too frosty!

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