Solar Pool Heating - The Cheapest Way to Heat Your Pool  

by Pool Builders on 06-03-2012 in Articles

Let's face it, having to heat your swimming pool is an expensive task! So taking advantage of a Solar Pool Heating System is more than an attractive option - lowering your expensive energy bills whilst keeping your pool at a comfortable swim temperature. A solar pool heating system can last for many years heating up your swimming pools water using the immense solar energy radiated by the sun by converting it into something useful for your home.

As most people with outdoor pools are aware, it's during the early spring and late autumn months that you need some form of pool heating system - when the air temperature is warm but the water temperature is much cooler as the pool is not sufficiently warm enough for a comfortable swim. In fact, using a solar pool heating system to heat your pool you can extend your swimming season by more than three or four months per year!

Previously the only way to do this was to a gas or electrical heater, or to use a pool cover to try to conserve the small amount of heat within the pool especially during the night. But by using flat panel solar collectors and a system of pipes for the water to run through, it's now possible to use the power of the sun to heat any size of pool in the back yard.

A solar pool heating system is simple to use and easy to install. Not only can it be used for a swimming pool of just about any shape or size, but you can also use them for heating the hotter water require for an exterior spa or hot tub as well.

Because a swimming pools water temperature is much less than that of bath or shower, and flat solar panel collectors are particularly efficient at heating water at lower temperatures, this makes them especially well suited to this sort of job. So long as the heating system is properly sized for the amount of water it needs to heat, you can happily gain an average 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit on the temperature of your pools water.

So How Does a Solar Pool Heating System Work?

Typically, the heating system for a pool is extremely simple, consisting solely of a standard flat plate solar collector, a pump, some tubing and maybe a filter. The flat plate solar collector(s) is fixed in a suitable sunny location (perhaps the pool house roof where the filter system is located) or adjacent to the pool itself.

After the water goes through the pool's filtration system, before it returns back into the pool it flows through one or more solar thermal collectors. This pool water circulating through the collector absorbs the suns heat energy warming it up. The heated water is then circulated back into the pool from where it came using copper or plastic tubing and the whole process just repeats itself heating the water a little more on each path so long as the pools pumps are working.

If required, and depending on which type of pool circulation and filtration system you have, an optional pool filter can be fitted just before the cool water goes through or over the flat plate solar collector to remove any debris.

A swimming pool doesn't require an additional storage tank for the solar heated water, because the swimming pool itself acts as this reservoir. In extremely hot climates, when the pools temperature rises too high, it can even be possible to use your solar pool heating system to cool the water. This is done by continuing to recirculate the water through the collectors during the night time. In this way the flat plate solar collector act more like a radiator, dispelling the heat of the water into the cooler outside night time air.

If you choose to use your pool and want to heat its water throughout the cooler months of the year, it might be necessary to use a closed loop heating system which protects against lower water temperatures and the possibility of the circulating water freezing by using an anti-freeze solution in the water which is kept isolated from the pools main swimming water.

Which Type of Solar Pool Heating System is Best for Your Pool?

There are so many types of solar pool flat plate collectors available on the market which you could use to heat your pool. Each has good points and bad points, and the type you should purchase will be dependent on many different factors which may include:

  1. The shape, size and volume of water in your pool.
  2. The length of your swimming season you require.
  3. The weather conditions in your location.
  4. How warm you want your pool water to be.
  5. Shade cover and wind conditions.

However, in general you may require a solar pool heating system that contains about 50 to 80 percent of the pools surface water area (not volume of water), to sufficiently heat the water to a comfortable temperature.

Standard flat plate solar collectors come in a variety of sizes and are either glazed or unglazed. Mounting them on the roof of a pool house makes for a convenient and easier installation of the system, but this isn't completely necessary. A glazed system is a little more expensive, and heavier, but is more efficient at heating the pools water in colder ambient temperatures.

They are usually quite large, and are made up of welded copper tubing and a heat absorbing aluminum plate with a glass-tempered cover. These kinds of solar thermal collectors could also be installed and used to efficiently heat domestic hot water as well.

In addition to the reduction in your utilities energy bills, using a solar pool heating system for your pool means that you're not adding to the global emission of greenhouse gases. As a superior method of heating your pool (or using it for a domestic water heating system), solar power is one of the best methods available.

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