Creating a Solar Heated Swimming Pool - Part 1

by Pool Builders on 06-27-2007 in Articles

Solar Pool Part 1: Making your swimming pool more efficient

Swimming pools offer a great way to exercise and beat the summer heat. However, installing and maintaining a pool can get expensive. Fortunately, The sun can provide the heat needed to keep your pool warm enough for a nice swim.

Before investing in a solar water heating system for your pools, however make sure that your pool is effeiciently filtering and circulating the water it has. Inefficiency costs money! In fact, installing a smaller higher efficiency pump and running less each day can save up to 75 percent in energy costs.

Which pump you choose depends on the size of your swimming pool, how much it is used and local weather conditions. One study shows that a three-quarter-horsepower or smaller pump is generally sufficient for most residential pools. At the same time, install a larger filter and make sure that pipes are as short and straight as possible. A large cartridge type filter is more efficient that the cheaper diatomaceous earth types. In addition, cartridges require about half as much power to push the water through.

What about circulation? You can save some bucks by simply cutting back on the amount of time the circulation pumps run. Many are set to run 6 to 12 hours a day. However, about one to three hours a day is typically all that's needed to keep water fresh. Cutting back may mean that the pool filter doesn't collect as much debris, but you can skim it off as needed or keep the pool covered.

What's next? Most of a pool's heat loss occurs at the surface where the heated water evaporates or radiates away. A pool cover offers an effective way of keeping heat and water in a pool by reducing surface evaporation. A pool cover can reduce water loss by one third to one half. And each gallon of 80 degree water that evaporates removes about 8,000 BTU from the pool. In addition, reducing water loss also reduces the amount of chemical water treatment required.

The best way to reduce evaporation and even take advantage of the sun's radiation is to add a solar cover to your swimming pool. Dark covers hold more heat in than clear or light-colored solar covers. A solar cover can pay for itself in energy savings within the first year, yet they have a lifespan of 3 to 5 years.

One more energy consumption tip for your solar heated pool: Install a windbreak. A fence or plants around a pool can reduce evaporation by 300 percent or more. An effective windbreak must be high and close enough to the pool to block wind from moving across the waters surface, but it can't block sunlight.

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