Best Pond De-icers

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

13 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
455 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best pond de-icers

Last Updated September 2020

That outdoor pond you built and stocked with fish brought you a lot of joy and neighborly admiration over the summer, but now that the weather has turned, will your pond survive the winter? A solid sheet of ice on a backyard pond can be its death because the ice keeps oxygen from reaching your fish and traps in harmful gases created from decaying matter. This common occurrence is called winterkill, and devices such as pond de-icers are used to combat it.

Pond de-icers can be used to create a hole in the ice that allows your pond to breathe. Larger de-icers can also be used to keep boats, docks, and other structures free of winter ice.

This guide can help you to understand the various aspects of pond de-icers, from build and size to installation and expense, so you can successfully find the perfect de-icer to meet your needs. We also offer up some of our favorites and tell you why we think you — and your fish — will find one useful in your pond.

Fish like koi or goldfish enter a type of hibernation in the winter. This lowers their metabolism and their need for food, allowing them to survive through winter months.

Key considerations

Durability and design

Subfreezing temperatures, wind, snow, and sleet — a pond de-icer will have to endure extreme winter conditions throughout the season, so it needs to be built to withstand a fair amount of abuse. While not all manufacturers list a low temperature tolerance for their de-icers, some do. This is particularly important for those who live in far northern climates, where temperatures can reach below zero. If that includes you, you’re better off going with a de-icer with a low temperature rating of -20°F than one rated for 20°F.

Stainless steel and cast aluminum are two common materials in pond de-icers. Both resist cracking and corrosion. Aluminum is lighter than steel but less durable. Some pond de-icers also use plastic. While not as rugged as metal, plastic won’t become overly hot when in use, a big plus if you’re afraid of harming your fish or damaging your pond liner.

You also have some options when it comes to the design of your de-icer. While the majority of them look like just what they are, some are more camouflaged, such as de-icers with a stone-like finish, which might better blend in with your pond.

Pond size

Manufacturers sell pond de-icers to fit a variety of different pond sizes. The severity of your winters also affects how powerful your pond de-icer should be. To determine what size de-icer to buy, you need to know both the pond size (in gallons) and the climate in your area.

One rough way to figure this (and again, much will depend on the climate) is to plan on one watt of power per gallon. For example, a 250-gallon pond requires a 250-watt de-icer. Be sure to check with the manufacturer or seller if you’re uncertain whether a specific de-icer will work in your pond.

Floating vs. submerged

There are two basic types of pond de-icer: floating and submerged. While most de-icers offer one option or the other, some include a removable float so you can choose how you want to use it.

Floating: As you might guess, these de-icers float on the surface of your pond. This is generally the easiest type to both install and use. Usually all that’s required for installation is that you put it in place and plug it in. While floating de-icers can be fairly expensive to operate, they tend to work more effectively in extreme temperatures than submerged ones.

Submerged: These de-icers are positioned below the water’s surface, which can be a big plus for those who don’t want to stare at a de-icer all winter. Submerged de-icers are not only much more economical to run through the winter than floating de-icers, but they can also aid in water circulation, which helps keep your pond healthier. However, you’ll need a way to mount or hang it, so a submerged de-icer can be more difficult to install.

EXPERT TIP

If your pond has an active waterfall that runs all winter, you don’t need a de-icer. The moving water will keep the immediate area free from ice.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Power cord

The length of the power cord is a significant point with a de-icer. It’s generally not recommended that you use an extension cord with one, so the length of the included cord will determine where you can place the de-icer in your pond. The longer the cord, the more options you will have. Cords can run from a short 10 feet up to 100 feet or more, but 15 to 20 feet is typical. You should also verify that the cord is wire-wrapped or otherwise designed to be rugged enough to stand up to winter’s extremes.

Controls

Thermostat: Pond de-icers typically don’t provide a way for you to regulate the temperature, but most do include a thermostatic control that turns the de-icer on and off as needed. This will save you money over time and help to keep the de-icer from overheating.

LED: While not standard, some pond de-icers include an LED indicator light that lets you tell at a glance if the unit is plugged in and heating.

Ammonia is the most common toxic gas that a de-icer can help remove from your pond.

Pond de-icer prices

Pond de-icer prices can range from under $40 to over $600, with most priced between $50 and $100. Warranties on this type of product typically range from one to three years.

Inexpensive: On the lower end, you’ll find simple devices, usually floating, that are designed for smaller ponds. These tend to have minimal power and little in the way of other features.

Mid-range: These pond de-icers cover a much wider range in terms of power, enabling them to be used in ponds of various sizes. You’ll find better build quality in this price range, in addition to more options, such as LED lighting and longer cords.

Expensive: Pay more and you’ll find larger submerged de-icers capable of keeping boats, piers, and other larger areas free of ice. These are more often professional-quality de-icers and usually ship with longer warranties and all the hardware you need to install and use them.

EXPERT TIP

Mounting may be preferable to hanging for some pond de-icers because hanging can damage or even break less rugged cords.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Only run the de-icer when it’s in the water. Running it “dry” can damage the de-icer.
  • Position it out of the wind. A cold breeze can rob your de-icer of its heat, forcing it to work harder to keep your pond open. This will wear out the de-icer more quickly and cost you more to operate it.
  • Check user reviews. Pond de-icers are notorious for failing after a season or two. Spend some time looking at the online comments section to find out how durable the unit is before deciding if it’s worth the cost.
  • Never use an extension cord with a pond de-icer. This can result in diminished power to the machine and can damage it over time.
  • Try an aerator. An aerator that’s used to provide oxygen in a pond can also be used as a de-icer in areas with milder winters. One of these generally costs much less to run than a de-icer and is often more durable.
  • Don’t use an ax or other tool to chip a hole in the ice for the de-icer. This can send shock waves into the pond that can be harmful to fish. Instead, set a pan of boiling water on the ice and melt a hole for the de-icer.
  • Check that the de-icer is safe to use with a pond liner. If you’re using a pond de-icer in a lined pond, check with the manufacturer to verify that its unit is safe for use with your pond liner.

Other products we considered

We found a couple other pond de-icers while researching this unique niche that we want to highlight. The first is the Farm Innovators Submergible Tank de-icer, an inexpensive option that can be used either in ponds or tanks, such as those used to water livestock. This 1,500-watt de-icer features a protective cage and thermostatic control of the temperature.

At the other end of the price range is the Ice Eater Power House de-icer. For use with larger ponds or to keep ice from building up around boats and piers, this de-icer is capable of opening up a 60-foot hole in normal ice. It ships with all the suspension lines and hardware necessary to start using it right out of the box. The company also sells replacement parts, which will allow you to extend the life of this de-icer indefinitely.

In addition to koi and goldfish, other fish that winter well in small ponds include pumpkinseed, bluegill, archerfish, and rainbow trout.

FAQ

Q. Where in the pond is the best place to position my de-icer?
A.
You should place it in a shallow end of the pond near the edge. The de-icer will not only be easier to install here, but it will also be easier to access after installation. The de-icer will also work more effectively if it’s installed in a location where heat can reflect more easily off the bottom and side of the pond. Having the de-icer close to shore — and closer to a power source — is also preferable if the de-icer has a shorter cord.
 

Q. Does a de-icer require any maintenance?
A.
To keep a de-icer running at its best, you need to take care of it. This generally involves keeping mineral buildup at bay. Much like a coffee maker or fountain, minerals from water can build up on a de-icer over time, making it less effective and even damaging it to the extent where you’ll need to replace it. Keep your de-icer mineral-free by occasionally scrubbing it. If minerals do build up, buy a reputable lime scale remover and follow the product’s instructions for use.
 

Q. What is the difference between a de-icer and a pond heater?
A.
A de-icer will keep an opening in the ice on your pond for toxic gases to leave and oxygen to  enter. A pond heater can perform the same function by raising the overall temperature of the entire pond, often to 52°F or higher. While a pond heater is an effective way to keep warm-water fish alive over the winter months, it’s overkill for koi, goldfish, or other breeds capable of hibernating through the winter. A pond heater is also much more expensive to run than a de-icer. So long as your pond is 18 inches or more deep and you have cold-water fish, go with a pond de-icer.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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