If you have a swimming pool and would like to use it more, but it’s too cold for much of the year, then a solar pool heater is going to be a good investment.
The chance are that if your pool has an ordinary heater installed, you’re too scared of the bill to even turn it on. Many pools don’t have a gas or electric heater, probably because of that reason, and people usually take the view that they use their pool during the summer season, when the water is naturally comfortable. We won’t get into discussion of what is comfortable here, as that is a personal matter, but some folks won’t even get in their pools until it’s too warm for others to want to swim in it.
Swimming is said to be excellent exercise, and anything that can extend the season during which you can do it is therefore money well spent. The experts give us great payback periods for solar pool heaters, but that seems irrelevant, as anything that allows use of the pool for more months of the year is invaluable. The fact is that an investment of $3,000 to $4,000 can allow you to use your pool for twice as long, and considering the cost of the pool that’s money well spent.
Solar pool heaters come in various forms. They use the direct sunlight to heat water circulating in collectors, which can be plastic or metal but are invariably black to catch the most heat. They use the power of the existing pool pump to circulate water, and that increases the pumping bill slightly, but otherwise the solar heat is free. You may see it done both ways, but if only part of the circulating pool water is diverted to the heater, you will keep the pumping bill down compared to just sending it all through.
The solar panels can be on the roof of an adjacent house, or mounted on a frame on the ground. You’ll need up to the area of the pool for the panels, depending how much you want the pool to heat up, and if on the roof you may need to get the structure checked out because of the added weight. The panels should face south to capture the heat.
When you’ve done the installation, what can you expect? Studies show that a pool with solar heating, even if not covered, is warmer than a pool that is covered. If you cover it up as well, you may get 15° more, and your swimming season will be extended by two or more months at the beginning and end of the summer! With the investment you’ve already made in the pool itself, it’s a no-brainer to invest a little more to use the free solar power for your extended enjoyment.