Solar home heating is becoming more popular with residential homeowners, and so too are other forms of solar power. Passive solar heating systems have been used for ages to make bathing and swimming more fun. Modern systems use a pump to drive water through tubes in a solar collector to make the system more efficient and cost-effective. Most pools already have a circulation pump to filter the water. A solar collector can be added to warm the water before it returns to the pool.
Pools usually have a circulation pump that cycles the water through a filter, an electric or gas heater, and then back into the pool. A solar heater can be added beside the existing heater so that water will be diverted through the solar collector and then back into the pool.
Solar collectors - devices that store the sun's energy - differ in size and shape but all have a large, dark surface containing tubes to absorb solar heat. As the water passes through these tubes, it absorbs the solar radiation and the temperature of the water increases.
The water coming out of the solar power pool heaters typically increase in temperature by 1 to 2 degrees. The amount of heating depends on:
Over the course of several days, the pool can gradually be heated to the temperature the pool owner desires.
Reduced heating costs are attractive, but these systems aren't for every pool owner. The first thing to consider is yard space and access to available sunlight. Solar collectors are large and flat and require full exposure to the hot afternoon sun. The circulation pump moves the water through the heating system and should do so when the most amount of free solar energy is available.
The size of the solar collector should be appropriately sized for your pool and your climate. If the system is too small, the time it takes for the system to pay for itself can be as long as 20 years! If the system is too large, then a larger circulation pump will be required to push the water through the extra plumbing. Again, the extra cost will take longer to recoup.
Solar collectors take up a lot of space. As such, the aesthetics are important - not just for the homeowner, but for the neighbors and the community as a whole. Solar collectors should be mounted at ground level, close to the pool. Roof mounting on a garage or home is possible but a more expensive two-speed circulation pump may be required. The higher speed is to pump the water vertically up to the roof while the slower speed is for the conventional heating system.
Solar power pool heaters are an option for pool owners who want to see noticeable savings on heating costs. However, just like with all solar energy systems, each owner must decide whether such a system is worth the cost and whether it will suit their lifestyle.