When it comes to swimming pool maintenance, most people don’t realise just how expensive it can be. And the heating costs are by far the most costly element.
If you want to save money, you might want to consider getting a solar heating pool. Indeed, solar heating is one of the more cost-effective ways to warm up the water during colder seasons.
For those who are looking to invest, here are the key things that you need to know about solar heating pools.
How it works
A solar heating system is made up of four main components: the pump, the filter, the solar collector and the control valve.
The water pump transports the water from the pool through to the solar collector. In residential applications, you will often see the use of centrifugal pumps, axial flow pumps or positive displacement pumps. Before the water reaches the solar collector, it will have to go through the filter. This removes any contaminants from the water.
The solar collector is made up of a series of panels that collects energy from the sun. The collector can be made of rubber, plastic, copper and/or aluminum. It is typically placed on a nearby roof or, if there’s enough space, on the ground. The solar collector also has tubing that connects it to the water pump and the rest of the pool system.
While the water runs through these tubes, the solar collector heats it up via solar energy. It then transports this heated water back into the pool.
A control valve is used to control the flow of water. If you no longer require heating, the valve is closed so that pool water goes from the pump and back into the pool, bypassing the collector.
Usually, a digital controller is used to automate this process. For example, if the sensors find that the temperature in the collector is similar to the temperature in the pool, it will close the valve. If the temperature difference increases (i.e. the pool has gotten colder), it will open the valves again and the heating will resume.
Factors to consider before installation
Not all solar systems are made the same. These systems differ in size, materials and orientation.
The type of solar system that you require will depend on a number of factors
- The amount of sunlight
Since a solar system runs on sunlight, it’s important to consider how much sunlight (solar resource) you get. The amount of direct sun you can access will determine how large your solar panels need to be.
It’s also important to note that solar heating relies on sunlight rather than heat. So, even if you live in a colder climate, you can still benefit greatly from solar energy. This is so long as your property is exposed to direct or diffused sunlight.
The next thing to consider is the orientation of your home. Since Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, solar panels will get more sunlight if they’re facing north.
How much solar energy your home is getting will directly determine the sizing of your panels.
- Pool use
If you’re going to be using the pool year round, you need to make sure that your solar system is up to the task. For year-round use, it is recommended that the surface coverage of your panels is similar to the surface area of your pool.
You might also benefit from a glazed solar collector. These collectors are typically made of copper and aluminium. As the name suggests, they also feature glazing in the form of tempered glass. Glazed collectors are more efficient than their unglazed counterparts and can be used for longer periods of time.
For those who will only use their pools for half a year or so, it is recommended that the surface area of the panels is at 60-70% of the pool surface area.
In this case, unglazed collectors will generally suffice. Due to the use of cheaper materials (like rubber and PVC) and the simple design, these cost significantly less than glazed collectors.
- Existing systems
If you already have a pool and are looking to add solar heating, you might have to make modifications to your existing system. For example, in order to carry the water through to the solar collector, you might have to install a bigger water pump. Alternatively, you can install a separate pump for the collector.
Also, if you already use a pool cover, you might be able to reduce the number of panels that you require.
Benefits of solar heating
Now more than ever, it’s essential that we transition from fossil fuels to more renewable resources. Doing so will help us protect our environment from further pollution.
With this in mind, perhaps the most important advantage of solar heating is its use of renewable solar energy. This reduces our reliance on fossil fuels and therefore reduces our carbon footprint. Secondly, since the sun’s energy is free, you won’t have to worry about running costs.
Nowadays, a lot of areas offer rebates for efficient energy saving systems. This can help you if you can’t fully afford the initial costs of the solar heating panels.
Other benefits include:
- Lower energy bills
- Longer lifespan compared to gas heating systems
- Improved property appeal
That was just a quick look at solar pool heating. If you think it can benefit you, contact your local supplier today. They should be able to give you advice on sizing, orientation and materials. With solar heating, you’ll be able to have a comfortable pool without worrying about harming the environment.