Spring is in full swing and the sunny days just keep on coming. And sunny days lead to open window shades, and open shades lead to wandering eyes, and wandering eyes inevitably land on that long-dormant swimming pool. You are ready for another lengthy swimming season, but this year you want to keep your pool heated and ready to dive into at a moment’s notice: well, a solar pool heater is an easy, cost-efficient way to do just that. It will no doubt be the first time you’ve ever been proud to have a green pool.
Essentially, solar pool heaters work by pumping water from the pool, through solar collectors where the water is heated, and then back into pool to complete the cycle. First, the pool water is pumped through a filter to remove any debris. It is then sent through the solar collector(s), which are usually made from heavy-duty rubber or plastic treated with UV inhibitors to extend their life. If you live in a hot climate, a solar pool system can also be used to cool the pool by pumping water through the solar panels at night.
Some solar pool heaters may also have a flow control valve, manual or automatic, which diverts water to the collectors when the collector temperature is significantly higher than the pool temperature. Automatic valves are connected to a sensor that will bypass the solar collectors if there is minimal difference between the pool and collector temperatures.
Whether you use a solar, gas, or heat pump swimming pool heater you should definitely utilize a solar pool cover to maximize efficiency and save bundles in energy costs. Evaporation is easily the largest source of energy loss for a swimming pool and pool covers are an excellent tool for curbing that loss. In fact, in terms of gas and heat pump applications, pool covers can reduce energy costs by nearly 90% depending on your location and climate. The use of a pool cover can also reduce the necessary size of your solar pool heating system, which can significantly cut initial costs. Solar pool covers are similar to bubble packing material but are heavy-duty and contain UV inhibitors.
Solar pool heating is a fairly simple system, but installation is dependent on many factors, including your specific solar resource, climate, and local building codes. It is best to hire a qualified solar contractor to do the work. Depending on the style and size of your system it may cost up to $4,000 to buy and install the solar system. Yet even at this price, depending on the local cost of fuel, it can pay for itself through energy savings in as little as two years. Be sure to discuss with your solar contractor which system will work best for your home and when the mild spring turns into voracious summer heat, you’ll already be in the pool!