A Solar Pool Heater – Why Have One?

It doesn't matter whether you live in a colder climate or a warmer one, a solar pool heater is fast becoming an attractive option for heating your pool.

Pool heating is big business as most people like to swim at a comfortable temperature and also to extend the time they can use their pool. Traditionally, people have used gas, electricity and earth heat pumps to heat their pools, but now they have a more attractive option they can use.

So let's look at why a solar pool heater is the best option.

  • It puts money in your pocket. Just think about it – the prices of gas and electricity continue to rise at an alarming rate. Once you have installed your solar pool heater you have free energy for the life of your pool. No more nasty surprises from the utility company!
  • You can swim longer each year. It means you can start swimming earlier and go on swimming longer, compared with the normal swimming season for a pool.
  • The equipment is more durable. Other types of heaters often have quite short warranty periods, the implication being that you can expect some troubles after that. With solar pool heaters you get a warranty of at least ten years and their actual life goes well beyond that, which gives you real peace of mind.
  • Low maintenance. Other types of heaters require regular servicing at your cost.
  • Environmental benefits. Solar heating does not pollute the atmosphere and nor does it come from the burning of fossil fuels, which certainly does.
  • Solar Pool Heater – How Does It Work?

    The basic components of a solar pool heater are as follows:

    • A solar collector - usually made of some form of plastic treated for exposure to UV rays. The use of metal tubes, particularly copper, is not recommended because of the likely chemical reaction with the water which can cause staining in pool walls. The collector absorbs the sunlight and heats the water before it returns to the pool. The size of the collector will depend on the area of the pool concerned but experience has shown that the area of the collector needs to be at least 50% of the pool area. However, in colder climates it is recommended to go as high as 80% for top results. Your collector, ideally, needs to be on a South facing roof, but otherwise can be ground-mounted.
    • A filter pump - a separate pump from the filter pump is highly recommended because the pumping requirements are different. In the case of solar pool heating systems the pump needs to be high head/low flow as distinct from the normal filter pump which is low head/high flow. A balancing valve is also needed to control flow and pressure.
    • A solar controller - which senses the pool temperature and can be set to the owner's preferences. Modern controllers are quite sophisticated and provide monitoring data and help conserve electricity.
    • A pool cover - even the most sophisticated heating system will have greatly reduced efficiency without a pool cover. Studies show that evaporation causes about 70% of the energy loss from a swimming pool. So a pool cover is a must-have for your overall system. For further information see our page on Solar Pool Cover

    Solar Pool Heater - Installation And Costs

    Once you have decided to purchase a solar pool heating system it is simply a matter of locating a dealer and choosing the right system for your home. The biggest price variation will lie in the sizing of your system, which is dependent on pool area.

    As a very general guide you can expect to pay somewhere between $4000-$6000 for a fully set up system. Bear in mind that the payback period will be pretty short on this because you are going to make significant savings on your heating costs, water costs and chemical costs. Incentive payments may also be available in your region.

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