Solar Pool Heater Question

Question:

Hello, We live in Austin Tx and are just getting ready to have built a 15X30 in ground pool.  We are interested in putting in solar heating for it and was wondering if anyone had any recommendation of a company that is reputable?  Also I have a brain storm about a design.  The collectors will have to be installed on the south side of the carport which is on the front of the house so the pipes will have to go over the top.  What I would like to do is have the pool builder put in a two speed pump instead of the 1-1/2 hp single speed he quoted us..Install a solar system with the automatic controller.  Have the filter run in the evening at high speed, and have the solar controller turn on the pump and run at low speed for the solar system therefore saving electricity.  Has anyone done or tried this?  Any recommendations would be great.  Please respond by email.  Thanks!  John Winn

Response:

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – Hello, We live in Austin Tx and are just getting ready to have built a 15X30 in ground pool.  We are interested in putting in solar heating for it and was wondering if anyone had any recommendation of a company that is reputable?  Also I have a brain storm about a design.  The collectors will have to be installed on the south side of the carport which is on the front of the house so the pipes will have to go over the top.  What I would like to do is have the pool builder put in a two speed pump instead of the 1-1/2 hp single speed he quoted us..Install a solar system with the automatic controller.  Have the filter run in the evening at high speed, and have the solar controller turn on the pump and run at low speed for the solar system therefore saving electricity.  Has anyone done or tried this?  Any recommendations would be great.  Please respond by email.  Thanks!  John Winn

Dear Bearcub I don’t know about installation companies in your area, but I can recommend a solar panel product. Fafco. They have been in the business longer than most and do produce a very good panel. Shop around and get comparable quotations, but haggle for a good price, and buy Fafco. As far as the piping having to over the top of the roof, that should not be a problem. A 3/4 hp pump  can push water over a 40 foot roof. If you want to do yourself a favour, have the pool installer use 2" piping around the pool, rather than 1 + 1/2 ", along with an over-sized filter , 24" +. This will allow higher filtration with less hp, and save you a lot of money over the life of your pool. Don’t be fooled by the 2-speed pump. You shouldn’t ever need a 1+1/2 hp pump. That sucker will cost a fortune to run. When it cuts to slow speed, typically rated at 1/6 hp, it still uses 50 % of the electricity the full-speed  speed. Check the amps if you don’t believe me. You need the higher flow rate during the day when you’re running your solar system. You want to push as much water through your solar panels as possible, to keep them cool, and maximize their efficiency. If you must use a two speed pump, use the low speed over night. I would highly recommend the use of the automatic controller. Fafco makes a unit that will not only control the heating of your pool to the maximum temperature during the day, but also the cooling-off of your pool to a minimum temperature overnight (useful in areas when pools overheat during the summer – like Texas. We don’t have that problem much here in Ontario, Canada !-) For simplicity’s sake , I would avoid tying the operation of the pool pump to the solar system controller. Use a solar controller that has a diverter valve. That way if there ever was a problem with the solar controller, you could shut it off and still operate your pool pump. Good luck with the solar pool heating system. They really do work well if they are properly designed and installed. (remember a MINIMUM of 50% of the pool surface area AND use a solar blanket to keep the heat Andy

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.  Does anyone have any experience with these things?  Are there any companies/products to stay away from?  Is there maintenence on them?  The company provides a 15 year warranty, but that doesn’t mean a lot.  It seems like there have been a lot of advancements recently, and the products are much better.  But the choice is broad, and the prices substantial. Any help? Steve

Response:

It depends on where you live if it is worth it. If you will also have a gas boiler to heat it you can save money long term by using solar. If you live in cold climates you need gas heat but the solar wil pay for itself in time and then save you money. Only buy solar if you plan to live there for the payback Hon. candice

Response:

Steve writes: I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.

Why?

Response:

Steve writes: I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why?

months a year? Steve

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year?

He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.  Does anyone have any experience with these things?  Are there any companies/products to stay away from?  Is there maintenence on them?  The company provides a 15 year warranty, but that doesn’t mean a lot.  It seems like there have been a lot of advancements recently, and the products are much better.  But the choice is broad, and the prices substantial.

I’m still planning mine and don’t know how well it is actually going to work. I’d go excessive on the heaters if you have the roof space. If solar can work here in Seattle, it should work for you. However, I think a pool is warm when it is over 70 degrees. You can also use the panels for nighttime cooling if your pool gets too hot in the summer. I don’t know if you’re going to hire it out or do it yourself. However, there are some design issues covered here: http://www.powermat.com/pools/ Then try their home page to see some things they sell. The solar collectors you may find cheaper than this place, but they have a lot of the other things you will need, and a lot of information. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

Solar can take you to whatever temp your willing to pay for. — Jack         I’m just glad I don’t get all the government I pay for.

Response:

solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money.

Do-it-yourself unglazed will usually give a payback in a couple of years through lower energy costs, but if the temperature for that is too low, it seems that only double-glazed is the practical alternative.  It can give 50-60% efficiency in 50F weather, while single-glazed may not even reach 20%.  Mylar applied under the glass gives good double glazing, but I’ve seen it tear unless hung loosely because it shrinks with heat. Something like Mylar is needed to take the high temperature that can develop.

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Inthe summer, I could probably use the pool to boil seafood.  It gets so hot that you have to turn the the thing off.  What it is for is the cooler months. Steve

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money.

I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. — Mark Kent, WA

You can generate 600# steam if that’s your goal. — Jack         I’m just glad I don’t get all the government I pay for.

Response:

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage.

Which is the main issue with pools.  You simply don’t have enough square footage to raise the temp vcery far on that much water.  Spas are one thing, as is domestic hot water.  You’re heating 80 to a few hundred gallons, not 20,000. Jeff

Response:

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. ten months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. Which is the main issue with pools.  You simply don’t have enough square footage to raise the temp vcery far on that much water.  Spas are one thing, as is domestic hot water.  You’re heating 80 to a few hundred gallons, not 20,000. Jeff

I still don’t see it as impractical, just slower. If you’re expecting to take a cold pool up 10 degrees in a day, that is not realistic. Solar heaters are utilized while you’re running the pump in during the day with no recurring cost. Our pool hovers aroung 65-70 in the summer, and may hit 75 if I keep a solar cover on it. A reasonable solar heater can easily increase the numbers by 5 to 10 degrees. If your house or garage is oriented well, that area can be used to heat a pool. I have plenty of space to accomodate solar collectors, I would just prefer that they be on raised platforms. There really isn’t a limit on how much solar you can have except for area and initial cost. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.  Does anyone have any experience with these things?  Are there any companies/products to stay away from?  Is there maintenence on them?  The company provides a 15 year warranty, but that doesn’t mean a lot.  It seems like there have been a lot of advancements recently, and the products are much better.  But the choice is broad, and the prices substantial. Any help? Steve

Response:

It depends on where you live if it is worth it. If you will also have a gas boiler to heat it you can save money long term by using solar. If you live in cold climates you need gas heat but the solar wil pay for itself in time and then save you money. Only buy solar if you plan to live there for the payback Hon. candice

Response:

Steve writes: I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.

Why?

Response:

Steve writes: I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why?

months a year? Steve

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year?

He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool.  Does anyone have any experience with these things?  Are there any companies/products to stay away from?  Is there maintenence on them?  The company provides a 15 year warranty, but that doesn’t mean a lot.  It seems like there have been a lot of advancements recently, and the products are much better.  But the choice is broad, and the prices substantial.

I’m still planning mine and don’t know how well it is actually going to work. I’d go excessive on the heaters if you have the roof space. If solar can work here in Seattle, it should work for you. However, I think a pool is warm when it is over 70 degrees. You can also use the panels for nighttime cooling if your pool gets too hot in the summer. I don’t know if you’re going to hire it out or do it yourself. However, there are some design issues covered here: http://www.powermat.com/pools/ Then try their home page to see some things they sell. The solar collectors you may find cheaper than this place, but they have a lot of the other things you will need, and a lot of information. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

Solar can take you to whatever temp your willing to pay for. — Jack         I’m just glad I don’t get all the government I pay for.

Response:

solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money.

Do-it-yourself unglazed will usually give a payback in a couple of years through lower energy costs, but if the temperature for that is too low, it seems that only double-glazed is the practical alternative.  It can give 50-60% efficiency in 50F weather, while single-glazed may not even reach 20%.  Mylar applied under the glass gives good double glazing, but I’ve seen it tear unless hung loosely because it shrinks with heat. Something like Mylar is needed to take the high temperature that can develop.

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. Why? months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. Jeff

I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Inthe summer, I could probably use the pool to boil seafood.  It gets so hot that you have to turn the the thing off.  What it is for is the cooler months. Steve

Response:

I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money.

I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

- Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. — Mark Kent, WA

You can generate 600# steam if that’s your goal. — Jack         I’m just glad I don’t get all the government I pay for.

Response:

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage.

Which is the main issue with pools.  You simply don’t have enough square footage to raise the temp vcery far on that much water.  Spas are one thing, as is domestic hot water.  You’re heating 80 to a few hundred gallons, not 20,000. Jeff

Response:

– Hide quoted text — Show quoted text – I am going to add a solar heater to my pool. ten months a year? He probably asked because solar can only take you 5-7 degrees above ambient (10 if you’re lucky…).  That means when it’s 50 outside, it’s still only 55 or so in the pool. Depending on your area, solar may be moderately viable or a waste of money. I meant to comment on this too.  Most pool solar heaters today are not glazed, they are just plastic mats that don’t get super hot. A coworker of mine heats his hot tub with this style. Here in Seattle, he has gotten his tub up to 120 degrees with this type of panel, and that was with daytime temperatures in the 80′s with full sun. He has more solar square footage than many pools would have (about 400 sq ft). So this means you can raise the pool temperature quite a bit above ambient. How quickly will depend on panel square footage. Which is the main issue with pools.  You simply don’t have enough square footage to raise the temp vcery far on that much water.  Spas are one thing, as is domestic hot water.  You’re heating 80 to a few hundred gallons, not 20,000. Jeff

I still don’t see it as impractical, just slower. If you’re expecting to take a cold pool up 10 degrees in a day, that is not realistic. Solar heaters are utilized while you’re running the pump in during the day with no recurring cost. Our pool hovers aroung 65-70 in the summer, and may hit 75 if I keep a solar cover on it. A reasonable solar heater can easily increase the numbers by 5 to 10 degrees. If your house or garage is oriented well, that area can be used to heat a pool. I have plenty of space to accomodate solar collectors, I would just prefer that they be on raised platforms. There really isn’t a limit on how much solar you can have except for area and initial cost. — Mark Kent, WA

Response:

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