Solar Pool Heaters – Are These Really A Viable Option?

If you want to maximize the health benefits of having a swimming pool you will need to heat it (in almost all locations). One option you might consider is using solar power.

Solar pool heaters employ solar energy to heat your pool/spa. This obviously has the major advantage of being free and at the same time very environmentally friendly.

There are additional advantages also:

System will last – A solar pool heater will last a long time and hence maximize the return on your investment. This is illustrated by the fact that some manufacturers offer 15 year guarantees.

Does not need a professional installer – Whilst solar pool heating can be installed professionally, solar heating kits are available that go with both above ground pools and in ground pools and are easy to install. In this case there is no requirement for qualified gas contractors or electricians. The key task is setting up the solar panels and locating these properly will be the prime factor in determining how effective the system is. Ideally these will be installed on a roof or on a suitable framework, such that they face the sun.

Minimal maintenance requirement – Once it is up and running a solar pool heater does not require much maintenance in comparison to gas heaters or heat pumps.

However there are a number of disadvantages to consider:

Not a cheap alternative – Most of the cost relates to the solar collectors and the number of these you need depends on the size of the pool. For an in ground pool it can work out more that a gas heater. Of course the running costs will compensate for this over time.

Large space needed for solar panels – As a rough guide the area of the solar collectors will be similar to the surface area of the pool. Even with a small pool this can be a significant space requirement. In addition the positioning of the solar collectors may be forced by your location and this may have a negative impact on your local environment.

Effectiveness highly dependent on correct conditions – How effective a solar pool heater will be in practice depends on a number of factors including local temperature, wind, the amount of sunshine and particularly the orientation of the solar panels. To work at their best the solar collectors need to be facing south and not be shaded by trees or anything else at any time of day.

Not as powerful as gas heater or heat pump – It has to be accepted that even in the best location the energy generated will not match that of a gas pool heater or heat pump. Solar heating will still work on overcast days but the output will not be as high as on a sunny day.

So ought you go for solar heating? Well there are couple of important things to consider, your location and the period you need to heat your pool.  If you are able to locate the solar collectors to get best results and are not looking to extend your season into the colder months then you ought to give serious consideration to a solar pool heating system.