Our last post was about solar blankets as a means of keeping your pool warm during the summer months. So we thought we would follow it up  solar-panel-heater-for-poolwith a post about solar panel pool heaters  for pools. They also will heat your pool, however they work very differently and cost a bit more. Again you are minimizing the impact on energy use and therefore reducing your cost as well as impact on the environment.

Solar Panel Pool Heaters – How Do They Work

Solar Panel Pool Heaters involve pumping water from the pool to the solar collectors where the water is heated by the sun. The warm water is then pumped back into the swimming pool allowing you to enjoy your pool for many months, and in some areas all year long depending on your location.

The basics of  solar pool heating systems include the following major items:

Solar collector — the device that pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun

Flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.

Filter — standard with all pools and removes debris before water is pumped through the collector

Pump — also standard with all pools and circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool

Solar panel pool heaters system can be as complex or as simple as you want them, all it costs is money. Manual systems are the least expensive and require the operator to manually turn a valve to cause water to be circulated through the solar collectors. solar roof panel pool heaterAutomated electronic systems will monitor the temperature of the water coming from the solar collectors and when it is warmer than the pool water, will open the valve automatically. It will also shut the valve to stop water from going through the collectors if the water from the collectors is colder than the pool.

Solar Panel Pool Heaters System Types

Solar panel pool heaters collectors are made out of different materials. The type you’ll need depends on your climate and how you intend to use the collector. If you’ll only be using your pool when temperatures are above freezing, then you’ll probably only need an unglazed collector system.

Unglazed Solar Pool Heating Collectors

Unglazed collectors are far less expensive than glazed collectors. These collectors are generally made of heavy-duty rubber or plastic treated with an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor to extend the life of the panels. These unglazed systems can even work for indoor pools in cold climates if the system is designed to drain back to the pool when not in use.

Glazed Solar Pool and Water Heating Collectors

Glazed collector systems are generally made of copper tubing on an aluminum plate with an iron-tempered glass covering, which increases their cost. In colder weather, glazed collector systems—with heat exchangers and transfer fluids—capture solar heat more efficiently than unglazed systems.

Protect either system from freezing.

Selecting a Solar Pool Heater

An unglazed solar pool heating system usually costs between $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install. This provides a payback of between 1.5 and 7 years, depending on length of time you use the pool each year and  your local fuel heating costs.  Compared to a solar blanket, solar collectors are much more expensive. They also typically last longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters. Your actual cost and payback depend on many factors.

Before you install a solar collector of either type, evaluate the following:

  • Evaluate your site’s solar resource, location, hours of direct sun , etc
  • Determine the correct system size based on your pool and site selection
  • Determine the system’s efficiency
  • Compare system costs
  • Investigate local codes, covenants, and regulations
  • Contact a local company for additional information /assistance

Installing and Maintaining

The proper installation of a solar pool heating system depends on many factors such as :

  • Solar resource,
  • Climate,
  • Local building code requirements, and
  • Safety issues.
  • Ability to do it yourself vs. hiring an expert

Your solar collector should not require a lot of maintenance, other than cleaning once in a while and draining in cold winter months.

Benefits of Solar Pool Heating

  • Can extend swimming season up to 12 months depending on location
  • Ave. temp. rise up to 15-20º
  • Has no operating costs
  • No pollution, no fuel needed
  • Usually last 20+ years, with proper care
  • Relatively Quick and easy installation
  • Minimal maintenance required

Common Questions

How does the weather affect the performance of the Panels?

Cloudy days and rain will typically reduce the heating efficiency of the panels.

For more articles on solar heating, click here.