Pros and cons of solar heating systems for swimming pools

October 10, 2014

If you're ready to replace your old pool heater with something less costly to run, ask yourself:what are the pros and cons of solar heating systems for swimming pools?
If you’ve already invested in high-efficiency heating and cooling for your house, you may be wondering if the initial cost of installing solar panels for heating your pool is worth it. Good question. But it begs other questions, namely:

  • Is it feasible to heat a residential swimming pool with solar heat alone? How does the process work?

The process is simple

Here’s how it works. You have a swimming pool with an existing pump and filter, right? All you need, then, for solar heating is a kit that includes some solar panels and a few installation necessities. While a very handy person probably could do the installation, it’s a good idea to have a professional do it. (Usually the store where you bought the kit will have an experienced installer who can do the work.)

When installed, here’s how your solar panels will heat your swimming pool:

  1. Pool water will travel through your existing pump to the newly-installed solar panels near your pool. They can be on your home’s roof or even on the pool deck.
  2. The water will travel slowly through the black panels, which absorb the heat of the sun.
  3. The heated water will flow back through your pump and filter, and into your pool.

Pros of solar heated swimming pools

So here’s how solar panels stack up against natural gas or electric pool heaters:

  • Beyond the initial kit purchase, solar energy is free. No more sky-high monthly bills!
  • Solar energy is environmentally safe. Forget carbon monoxide emissions and ozone depletion.
  • Solar energy allows you to use your pool earlier in the spring and later in the fall, extending your swimming season by a month or more.
  • Solar energy results in 10-15-degree warmer water, since the water exchange is continuous. Gas or electric heaters heat only sporadically. (If the water becomes too warm, you can turn off the flow to the solar panels.)

Cons of solar heated swimming pools

Like other heating methods, solar heating does have its drawbacks:

  • What if the sun’s not out? On windy or cloudy days, solar energy obviously won’t do the job adequately. Best to have a backup natural gas or electric heater if you want to swim on those days.
  • Black solar panels can cover most of your roof. This may not be the aesthetic you’ve dreamt of.
  • The initial solar heating kit and installation can be costly. The good news? With continued use it will pay for itself many times over.

Choose solar energy if…

In short, solar heating for your swimming pool makes sense if you live in an area with a reasonable number of sunny days per year and if you plan to use it for some time to come. For more information about possibly solar heating your swimming pool, talk to your neighbourhood swimming pool dealer.

Pros and cons of solar heating systems for swimming pools
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