Solar Panels For Pools

by Pool Builders on 11-28-2009 in Articles

A swimming pool can be enjoyed for a much longer swimming season when you have a way to keep the water warm enough. If you currently have a pool heater and are looking for a cheaper alternative, solar panels for pools are a very cost-effective way to heat the water by using solar energy. They are competitive in price with other types of pool heaters.

Most of the time solar panels for an in-ground pool are mounted on your roof, which is feasible if your roof has the proper exposure. South is the ideal direction for the panels to face, although anywhere from 45 degrees east or west of due south is fine as long as there is no shade. They can be placed on the ground if you have plenty of space for them, and at least one manufacturer makes a system that can be mounted on a rack. A general rule of thumb is that your collector surface area should be at least half that of the pool surface area.

How does a solar pool heater work? Simply, the water goes into a collector where it is warmed by solar radiation, then returned to the pool. The process that usually takes place is the pool pump is used to force water from the pool through the pool filter, then up to a solar energy collector. There it circulates while it is being heated by the sun. Once warmed, it goes through the chlorinator and the conventional heater, if there is one, back into the pool. In very hot climates, when the pool water gets too warm, it can be circulated through the collector at night to be cooled back down.

Since most pools are not used during the winter months, the collectors are not usually glazed, or covered with a glass cover, for insulation. Unglazed collectors are made of heavy duty rubber or UV stabilized polyethylene, which makes them weigh less and cost less than a metal collector. Collectors will typically raise the water temperature by 10 degrees or more.

Solar pool heaters are cheaper than gas heaters; they last much longer than gas and heat pump heaters, are very efficient and free to operate. They require almost no maintenance, as long as the chlorine and pH levels are maintained in the pool, unlike gas or electric heaters which must be serviced every year. They are very durable, generally lasting from 12 to 20 years.

If you want to install the system yourself, you should be very handy at plumbing and electrical wiring. Most manufacturers include installation instructions along with a video that you can use.

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