Have you been thinking of installing solar panels to warm up your swimming pool? Excellent news! Solar panels that heat water are rather cheap to buy. You can even construct them yourself for less than $100 in supplies and less than a weekend’s worth of your time. The best news is that once you have paid for the cost of installation, you won’t have any ongoing fuel bills.
But before you make your mind up, you’ll need to answer some questions. First, will your solar panel system get an adequate amount of sunlight during the day? The solar panels used for heating pools are simple passive collectors. They’re typically made of plastic coils filled with water and sandwiched between sheets of shatter-resistant glass. As water collects in the coils, it gets heated by the sun then pumped into the pool.
If your property is covered with tall trees that shade your house and yard, it may not get an adequate amount of sunlight for a passive pool heater. But an unobstructed rooftop that faces south or west is a wonderful location for solar panels to get full exposure to the sun throughout the day.
Next, how much difference is there between the outside air and the temperature you require the pool to be? For example, if you’re thinking about heating an outdoor pool in Minnesota to 80 degrees during a below-zero winter, stay with pool covers and a heavy-duty gas heating system. But if you want to heat an outdoor pool in California to 80 degrees during a 50-degree winter, a solar pool heating system is perfect.
Even with your new solar heater installed and working, you’ll want to use a solar cover or blanket whenever the outside air is colder than your pool’s water temperature. Any time you see steam rising from the swimming pool, it’s sensible to use the pool cover to keep the heat in. That way, the heat will stay in the water as opposed to dispersing it into the air.
Here’s a note of advice if you’re just learning about solar heating systems. Some people think they may be able to save even more money by using their pool’s solar heater for hot water in their house. Sorry, but the tow systems don’t blend well. The water in your pool is being conditioned with chlorine and muriatic acid. It will not hurt you to swim in it or to ingest a couple of mouthfuls of it, but you really don’t want to add it to your home’s drinking water system. Solar water heating for your home is an entirely separate project.