Pool Info: Solar Heaters
Solar Pool Heaters
Why Solar Heating?
The best thing about solar heating is that it is free pool heat. After the initial investment, there will be no additional cost for your heat. You can’t beat it. You won’t get the quick heat response you will get from a gas heater, but solar pool heaters will raise the water temperature comfortable for swimming and more. The response you get from your pool solar heating system will depend on your geographical area, the weather, the location of the panels, whether the pool is covered and the system you choose.
According to the United States Dept. of Energy, solar pool heating is the most cost effective use of solar energy. Also, there are no expensive parts to replace, no pilots to light, no electronic components. And best of all, no expensive fossil fuels to burn, and foul the air.
How does Solar Pool Heating Work?
Solar pool heating systems usually have four basic components. The pump, the filter, solar collectors and a control valve. The pump pulls the filtered water from the swimming pool or spa and pushes it through the filter. The water travels from the pool filter to a 3 way flow control valve. The valve regulates how much water goes to the collector panels. If there is too much water flow going through the solar panels, the water will not heat as fast as it could. If the water travels slowly enough through the solar panels it will absorb the heat, then this hot water is mixed with pool or spa water, raising the pool water temperature. There are reports of “runaway” solar systems that have heated a pool over 100 degrees, so depending on the weather, your geographical location and the position of the swimming pool solar panels, you can get and keep your pool at your desired temperature.
Solar heaters can also be used in conjunction with a conventional swimming pool heater, lowering heating costs by 60%-70%. The use of a solar blanket will double the efficiency of your solar pool heating system. Solar heating systems can also be used to COOL the pool or spa in certain geographical areas. If the pool is too warm, the solar system can be set to run during the night hours, and off during the daylight hours. This will lower the water temperature.
Installing a Solar Pool Heater System
Not too difficult to do, most in ground pool solar heaters can be installed in one Saturday. Above ground solar heaters can be installed in less than 1/2 hour.
Location is most important, so after figuring out if you will install on a roof, fence or deck, the panels can be installed. A southern orientation is best in the US, and installing at a 45 degree angle will absorb more heat. Most panels can be roof mounted in 2-4 hours. Then you connect plumbing from the return line, after the filter, to the panels on the roof, securing vertical pipes to the wall. The final step is usually wall mounting the solar controller and installing the temperature sensors. See our blog for more information on solar pool heater installations.
Care and Maintenance of Your Solar Pool Heating System
Solar heating systems require very little maintenance. It is important to keep your water chemistry balanced and your filter in good operating condition. Since the water that goes into the solar collector comes straight from the filter, if there is anything that bypasses the filter, it can potentially clog the solar collector.
Water chemistry is just as important. Improper pH and calcium hardness can cause mineral build up in the solar collectors. Low pH or high levels of chlorine can cause the plastic to become brittle. If you have very high calcium hardness levels in your pool, use a scale inhibitor on a regular basis to prevent mineral build up in the solar collector.
Although rare, splits or damage to the tubes in a roof mounted solar pool heater can be repaired with an inserted plastic sleeve. This works similar to a stint placed in a blocked artery. One of the greatest things about solar pool heaters is their reliability. Solar heater repairs and maintenance? There really isn’t any. Try to say that about gas pool heaters!
Winterizing Your Solar Heating System
Most solar heating systems have drain plugs to allow the water to drain out of the panels. It is also a good idea to blow air through the collector to remove any trapped water. This is also the best opportunity to inspect the collector panel for damage and inspect the mounting. Make sure the solar panels are secure and ready for the winter. If you have any questions, please contact our technical support professionals for assistance.