Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

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Last Updated on November 1, 2023 by admin

Solar Pool Heaters: An Ingenious Way to Enjoy Your Swimming Pool Year-Round

During the sweltering summer, swimming pools are a fantastic way to stay cool and active. The icy winter temperatures, however, force many pool owners to close their pools for a couple of months every year. However, what if you can utilize your pool year-round? Solar pool heaters can help you in this situation.

An inventive and eco-friendly approach to heating your pool without using fossil fuels is by using a solar pool heater. Solar collectors or solar panels wield the sun’s energy to warm the water in your pool. These panels take in the energy of the sun and transmit it to the pool water, making swimming warm and comfortable.

Traditionally, pool owners have relied on gas or electric heaters to keep their pools warm during the cooler months. However, these types of heaters can be expensive to operate and maintain, and they also have a significant environmental impact due to the burning of fossil fuels.

Solar pool heaters have become a more prevalent and sustainable heating option in recent years. These systems offer an economically viable and ecologically sound method to extend the swimming season and use the pool all year long by harnessing the power of the sun.

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Important Points To Remember:

 
  • Solar panels are used in pool heaters to convert the sun’s energy and transfer it to the water.
  • The perfect sizing of the pool heater can be done by using Swim University’s “Three-Quarters Rule”.
  • Small above-the-ground pools use 1.25- to 1.5-inch fitting pumps, while in-ground pools utilize 2-inch fitting pumps.
  • The collectors should ideally face south and be situated where they will get the most of the day’s direct sunshine.
  • The payback period for most solar heaters ranges from about 1.5 to 7 years.
  • As a rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 for a solar pool heating system.

What is in this article?

  • What Components are included in the Solar Heater Kit?
  • What are the Mechanics of Solar Pool Heaters?
  • How to determine the size of the Solar Pool Heater?
  • What Factors to Consider When Choosing a Solar Pool Heater?
  • How much do the Solar Pool Heater Costs?
  • What Factors Impact the Cost of Solar Pool Heaters?
  • What are Some Advantages of Solar Pool Heaters?
  • What are the Disadvantages of Pool Solar Heaters? 
  • What are the Best Solar Pool Heaters currently available in the U.S.?

What Components are Included in the Solar Heater Kit?

Solar panels are used in pool heaters to convert the sun’s energy and transfer it to the water in your pool. The fundamental elements of a solar pool heating system are as follows: 

1. Solar collector:

The most important part of the solar pool is the solar collectors. These collectors heat the water which is then circulated throughout the pipes.

Solar collectors usually are of two types:

  1. Unglazed collectors
  2. Glazed collectors

Unglazed collectors are made of rubber or plastic. During their manufacturing process, to improve the lifespan of these collectors, oftentimes their treatment involves the usage of UV radiation. The lifespan of solar panels is an important factor when considering the performance of solar PV modules. Unglazed collectors are more efficient for indoor pools, especially ideal for cold climatic conditions.

Moreover, the glazed collector’s composition takes place with metal having high conductivity of heat. For example, copper or aluminum tubes with a covering of tempered glass. This material is more expensive than unglazed collectors, but they are more durable and highly efficient. There are quite a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding solar energy. But durability and high optimum performance are not one of them.

2. Pump:

This device is responsible to circulate the fluid all over the pipes. It transfers the water from a solar collector to a pool. The size of a pump depends on the flow rate. In case, if the surface area of the pool is large then a powerful pump will require to maintain the water flow.

3. Filter:

Filters are an essential part of a solar heater kit. It never allows bigger particles to contaminate the pool water. Debris like tree leaves or sand often can cause blockage in the pipelines. 

4. Control Valve:

The modern pool solar kit often comes with control valves. The synchronization of these valves takes place with the controller. This helps to regulate the flow of water through the pipes. Moreover, the control valve can be either manual or automatic.

5. Controller:

The controller performs two important functions. First, the controller is a computerizing device that is used to control the water flow with the help of motorizing valves of the pipes. Second, it performs the function of a temperature moderator. The controller increases or decreases the speed of the motor just to maintain the pool water temperature.

6. Gas heater:

Although it is an additional part of the circuit, it plays a crucial role. If sunlight is little to nowhere found throughout the winter season, the gas heater becomes essential for the whole system. The gas heater will help to regularize the temperature of the pool water.

What are the Mechanics of Solar Pool Heaters?

The working process of solar pool heaters includes:

1. The water from the pool is pumped and heated by the sun’s energy.

2. The heated water is then returned to the pool.

3. The controller monitors the temperature of the water and activates the pump as needed to maintain a consistent temperature.

It is crucial to remember that solar pool heaters perform at their peak in sunny locations with lots of direct sunshine. A solar pool heater might not work as well in places where there is less sunlight or more cloud cover.

How to determine the size of the Solar Pool Heater?

Although a 100% efficiency rate is not possible yet due to the continuous struggle of the Department of Science, this reality is near to existence. The perfect sizing of the heater can be determined by using Swim University’s “Three-Quarters Rule”. According to this rule, the surface area of the solar collector needs to cover around 75% of the pool’s surface area.

For example, a pool has dimensions, of 16 ft. ✕ 32 ft. in-ground swimming pool and there is no shading effect, the sunlight is reaching at every corner of the pool.

16ft  31ft = 512ft2

Three Quarters Rule = 75%

512 .75 = 384

So, the surface of the solar collector should be 384 square feet.

What are the Considerable Factors when Choosing a Solar Pool Heater?

To choose the best system for your needs, it is crucial to take into account various factors before investing in a solar pool heater. The following are some important things to keep in mind:

Pool size:

The size of the solar pool heater will depend on the size of your pool. Typically, you will require a solar collector with a surface area equivalent to 75 to 100% of your pool’s surface. Solar heaters are either for small above-the-ground pools or large in-ground pools. The heaters for above-the-ground pools are small and in-ground pools are usually large.

Solar pool heaters usually work by attaching them to the existing pool pump. So, it is ideal to buy a pump that matches your pool pump size. Most pumps either work for above-the-ground or in-ground pool pumps but not both. Small above-the-ground pools use 1.25- to 1.5-inch fittings while in-ground pools utilize 2-inch fittings.

Orientation and position:

Your solar collectors’ orientation and position will have an impact on their efficiency. The collectors should ideally face south and be situated where they will get the most of the day’s direct sunshine.

Climate and weather patterns:

The amount of sun and temperature fluctuations in your area will affect the performance of your solar pool heater. If you live in an area with a lot of cloud cover or frequent rain, a solar pool heater may not be the best choice for you.

Energy efficiency:

Look for solar pool heaters with high-efficiency ratings to ensure that they will convert the maximum amount of sunlight into usable heat for your pool. The way a solar panel work is a pretty amazing phenomenon. They absorb the maximum amount of sunlight and convert them into electrical energy which eventually heat up your swimming pool.

Cost:

 While solar pool heaters are generally less expensive to operate than gas or electric heaters, the initial installation costs can be higher. Be sure to factor in the cost of installation and any additional components such as pumps or controllers, when comparing different systems.

Installation and Maintenance

Installing a solar pool heater typically involves mounting the solar collectors on your roof or another nearby structure, connecting them to the pump and controller, and then connecting the system to your pool’s plumbing.

While solar pool heaters require very little maintenance, it is important to keep them clean and free of debris to ensure maximum efficiency. You should also have your system inspected and serviced periodically to ensure that all components are functioning properly.

Types of solar pool heaters:

The other way to abate your search history for solar pool heaters is to know which type of solar pool heater will be best for your pools. The types of solar pool heaters usually boil down to three categories:

Flat-plate Heaters:

The Flat-plate heaters consist of large plates of black polypropylene or a hard plastic disc that absorbs the energy from the sunlight. The PV modules for these solar pool heaters can either be roof-top or ground-mount. In some cases, these PV modules can also come off as free-standing. These heaters are usually supported by clear plastic or glass tops and legs. This allows the user to adjust the orientation of the heaters.

The panels are linked to pool pumps with the help of plumbing and tubes. Water is pumped through the channels that run through each panel. In this way, it gets heated up before it is sent back to the pool.

Evacuated tube:

This type of solar heater gets its name from the glass tubes from which all the air is sucked out, creating a vacuum-like atmosphere. Evacuated tubes usually consist of two parallel rows of glass tubes that contain metal pipes. These metal pipes are attached to the fin. This fin eventually absorbs the sunlight and then transfers the absorbed heat to the glass-metal pipe amalgamation and heats it.

Batch collector:

A batch collector consists of a water tank or tubes. The placement of these tubes takes place inside an insulation box. Water in the tank heats up using the sunlight and afterward, this water is recirculated back to the swimming pool.

How much do the Solar Pool Heater Costs?

The cost of a solar pool heater can vary depending on several factors including the size of your pool, the location and orientation of the solar collectors, and the cost of installation. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000 for a solar pool heating system.

It is important to keep in mind that the initial installation costs may be higher than those for gas or electric heaters but solar heaters last long. According to the Department of Energy, solar heater lasts longer than the gas and heat pump pool heaters. Properly installed solar heaters can last you around 20 years. Moreover, solar pool heaters are typically much less expensive to operate over the long term. As they rely on free and abundant sunlight to generate heat, they don’t require any ongoing fuel costs. Also, they have very low maintenance requirements.

In addition, many local and state governments offer tax incentives, rebates, or other incentives to encourage the use of solar energy. These incentives can help offset the cost of installation and make solar pool heaters even more affordable for homeowners.

What Factors Impact the Cost of Solar Pool Heaters?

When considering the cost of a solar pool heater, it is also important to consider the potential savings over the lifetime of the system. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a solar pool heater can save you anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 over its lifetime compared to a gas heater, and even more compared to an electric heater. The payback period of most solar heaters ranges from about 1.5 to 7 years. Ultimately, the cost of a solar pool heater will depend on various factors. These factors may include:

  • The local cost of electricity
  • The number of sunny days in your region
  • The amount of shading on your rooftop
  • Orientation of the solar collectors
  • The temperature of pool water

It is important to work with a qualified installer, like Solar SME, to determine the most cost-effective and efficient system for your specific needs.

What are Some Advantages of Solar Pool Heaters?

Using a solar pool heater has several important advantages, such as:

Savings: Compared to conventional gas or electric heaters, solar pool heaters do not require fuel to operate which greatly lowers the expense of heating your pool.

Eco-friendly: Since solar pool heaters don’t emit any greenhouse gases, they are a far more environment-friendly option.

Low maintenance cost: After installation, solar pool heaters only need to be cleaned and inspected occasionally. But the maintenance of solar panels is an essential process for the optimal performance of the panels.

Extended swimming season: Even in cold months or in regions with moderate climates, you may use your pool for a longer time each year with a solar pool heater.

Increased property value: Adding a solar pool heater to your home can raise its value and appeal to more purchasers particularly those who are looking for eco-friendly and sustainable features.

What are the Disadvantages of Pool Solar Heaters?

Firstly, if you have a big pool, you must wait for several hours to raise the temperature of the water Secondly, to achieve maximum efficiency, you must install a solar collector equal to the size of your pool.Thirdly, cloudy weather can reduce the efficiency of solar heaters. So, you need to connect the spare gas heater to a solar pool heater to achieve the desired temperature of water in the pool.

What are the Best Solar Pool Heaters currently available in the U.S.?

If efficiency and shape are kept in mind, there are four best solar pool heaters available in U.S. solar market and these are:

  1. Solar PRO-Contour Solar Pool Heater
  2. Quintessential Solar Panel Heater
  3. Sun2Solar Blue 33×33 square
  4. Solar PRO Curve Solar Panel Heater 

Conclusion:

A sustainable, economical, and ecologically sound option to heat your pool and expand the swimming season is a solar pool heater. These systems can heat the pool water with no maintenance cost and no emissions of harmful gasses. To make sure you get the best system for your needs, keep these things in mind when selecting a solar pool heater: the size of your pool, its location and orientation, energy efficiency, and cost. With the appropriate system and proper installation, you can enjoy your pool all year long while minimizing your impact on the environment.

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