Solar Heater for Pool
Don’t we all just love a relaxing dip on the beach or in the pool now that the sweltering heat of summer is upon us? Sadly, going on beach trips every weekend isn’t exactly cheap, and the travel can be exhausting at times. This is why swimming pools became a thing; no one has ever said that sun-bathing can only be enjoyed by the sea.
While we’re on the subject, here’s a fun fact about swimming pools: Did you know that they have been popular since mid-19th Century? Since the 1896 Olympic Games, swimming races have been included as an official event in the tournament.
But even during the ancient times, people were already fond of watering holes or bathing pools where they enjoyed long and luxurious baths. It is said that the first swimming pool was built by the Romans, as swimming was introduced as a part of elementary education for boys in Rome.
Fast forward to today — modern pools are often jam-packed during the summer as people take a break from the heat. But what happens when sunny days are over and it gets unbearably cold to swim? This is when a solar pool heater comes in handy. Read on and we’ll tell you all you need to know about this invention.
What are Solar Pool Heaters?
Just like a regular solar panel, a solar pool heater uses sunlight as an energy source. By utilizing the sun’s rays, there is no need to use electrical power or fuel to operate the heater, thus no damage can be inflicted to the atmosphere. Its mechanism is quite simple; photo-voltaic sun-powered panels when exposed to the sun, absorb the sunlight’s energy, and convert it to useful power.
Like most solar-powered cells, the panels used on pool heaters are usually installed on the roof where it can get maximum exposure to the sun. The solar cells are equipped with tubes or pipes with filters where water can circulate, and a water pump brings the water up to the roof and back to your pool.
So how does the water get heated up? Once the panels have enough heat, the water pumps push the water up through the filtered tubes; the filters use the heat acquired by the solar cells to warm the water up and once it’s warm enough, the pump brings the water back down to the pool.
Usually, most solar heaters come with controllers that manage the water temperature so that it matches the user’s desired temperature. The controller settings are often fully customizable depending on the user’s preference, which means that your pool can stay warm no matter what season it is.
Main Pros and Cons of Heaters
Aside from the obvious fact that solar panels are 100% eco-friendly, utilizing the sun as a power source can help save money in the long run. If you’re still not convinced to go green and use pool solar heater, let us help you by listing the pros as well as the cons of opting to go solar.
- Affordability – Using solar heaters is a lot cheaper than using electric ones. The sun’s energy is free and sustainable, and unless an apocalypse or another big bang occurs, the sun will continue to shine for millions or even billions of years. Sun-powered panels will continue to absorb sunlight and produce energy powerful enough to provide cozy warmth to your pool as long as you need it.
- Ecological – It has already been mentioned that going green is the best way to go, and what better way to do it than to use our natural resources. Most resources that we have been utilizing for the longest time, like electricity or fuel, have already caused the vital ozone layer to be thinned out. But with the sun’s energy, we can expect an unlimited source of power without causing any harm to the environment.
- Easy installation and maintenance – Traditional electric heaters require the help of plumbers or handyman to get the fixtures installed. Aside from the solar kits and panels, all you need is a drill and drill bits, and you should be good to go. As for maintenance, always check the filtering system to ensure that there’s a continuous flow of temperature-controlled water and that the solar collectors are clean.
- Long-lasting – Most solar-powered panels will provide at least ten to twenty years of seamless performance as long as the product is used properly. Compared to its electric counterparts, a pool solar heater can last longer with very minimal glitches. A long-lasting product means more future savings.
- Unaesthetic – This is because these solar heaters are not easy to hide, in fact, they’re pretty visible and maybe even ugly. Because of that, some people don’t like them for aesthetic reasons. They want their heaters to be well-hidden so as not to affect the overall appearance of their pool’s ambiance.
- Varying output – During cloudy days, the performance of the solar cells will not be as good compared to when they are being hit with direct and maximum sunlight. Also, when there’s heavy rain or snow, you cannot expect that your solar heater will provide as much warmth when it’s not getting enough heat from the sun. This is why it’s advisable to place the photovoltaic panels on the roof where they’ll be exposed to the sun’s rays most of the time.
- Space-hungry – pool solar panels require a certain amount of space. The solar panels occupy the most space, which is why most people prefer to install them on the roof.
How Much Solar Heater for Pool You Need?
One important factor when purchasing a thermal heater is the size and depth of your pool, as this will help you determine whether you need just one or a couple of solar pool heaters to get the right amount of heat for the volume of water of your swimming pool.
The next thing to consider is the actual area where the solar collectors will be situated. Since most solar-powered heaters are installed on the roof, you need to know the exact dimensions of your roof to make sure that the panels will fit perfectly.
Another factor to think about is how much heat you require your device to provide. The more solar collectors or heaters you have, the higher temperature you can get. One last thing to ponder on is the frequency of use. Do you go for a dip only a few months of the year? Or do you swim almost every day?
This will help determine how long you will require the solar heater to work. A good rule of thumb is to purchase one or two panels at a time. You can always buy more if you need to, and this will prevent you from wasting a few hundred bucks on something that won’t be used.
Installing Solar Pool Heaters
If you’ve now decided to get PV or solar-powered heaters for your swimming pool, let us walk you through the process of installing them — if you prefer to DIY. Here is the step-by-step procedure:
1) Know the perfect location for the solar collectors
This means checking your surroundings to ensure that when installed, the panels will get hit by direct sunlight without any obstructions such as tall buildings, large trees, or high walls. Another thing to consider is that if you live in an area where the weather is severe or unpredictable, choose an area where the solar heater for pool won’t be damaged or even blown away.
2) Set a three-way pool valve in place
The pool valve helps maintain the flow of water from your pool, to the solar collectors for heating, and back. The valve also helps adjust and control the volume of water that circulates from the pool to the panels, and vice versa. With the help of the pool valve, it ensures that there will be no blockages on the return flow of water.
3) Install a T-pipe fitting where the pool valve is located
The T-pipe is installed on the poolside where the return flow is situated. This is where the heated water from the panels flows back to the pool with your desired temperature.
4) Ensure matching pipelines
Make sure that the pipelines match throughout so that there will be no overflows or leaks when the pool water comes up to the panels and back to the pool. Also, if the solar panels will be installed on the roof, secure them in place by using plastic conduit pipe hangers. For ground-mounted panels, union fittings can be used.
5) Bolt the solar panels in
For roof installations, it may be necessary to fasten stainless steel hanger bolts using a drill onto the roof’s rafters. It is advisable to use a sealant on the bolts to prevent leaks or overflow of water.
Once the bolts have been locked in place, secure the panels in place by strapping or hanging them using an aluminum bar on the hanger bolts. Use washers or nuts to ensure that the panels won’t fall off or get detached from the bolts.
6) Connect the panels
The final step of the installation is to connect the panels together, which is done by using union fittings to secure them together. Pay close attention to which pipe says water in or out.
If installed incorrectly, there’s a risk that air will get trapped in the panels and the heating system won’t work properly. Once the panels are properly connected and the pipes are attached, you can turn on the pump and the valve.
Tips for Taking Care of Pool Solar Panels
You may have purchased the best solar pool heater on the market, but if it’s not taken care of, and well-maintained, the heating system won’t work to its full potential. Here are some tips to keep in mind for taking care of your solar pool heating system.
- Winterizing your heater is key – Your heating system is made to withstand and endure hot temperatures and water pressure, but the materials used for the kit are not tested for the extremely cold temperatures of winter. It is advisable that you disconnect your pump and unmount the solar panels during extreme winter seasons. Remember to completely drain it before storing it somewhere where the temperature is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use a bypass valve – The bypass valve will help control and the water flow as well as the pressure that circles back and forth from your solar collectors to your pool.
- Add a solar cover – Using a solar cover can help maintain the warmth of the water that was produced by the solar heater. This is especially helpful when it’s too cold outside. To ensure that the water is kept at its desired temperature, it is best to add a solar cover or blanket over your pool.
- Keep the filter squeaky clean – During fall, it’s impossible to avoid leaves and other litter falling into your pool. It is best to check the filter regularly to make sure that the only thing that can enter your heater is water and nothing else. Blockages can damage the whole heating system, and so the filter must be well-taken care of.
- Check the solar collectors or panels – The panels should always be cool to the touch. If you do a touch test and they feel warm, get help from professionals to check if there’s something wrong with the solar collectors.
Swimming pools are costly to install and maintain, so of course, owners will want to make the most out of them. What use would it be if you can only take a swim during the summer? In this case, a solar pool heater is what you need to make sure you can make use of your bathing pool all you want, all year round — without limitations.
Swimming is not only relaxing and fun; it’s also good exercise. So, if you have a pool at home, why not consider installing a solar pool heating system and help reduce the damage to nature?