Swimming Pool Solar Heaters
Swimming pool solar heaters can significantly reduce pool water heating costs. Swimming pool solar heaters will be very competitive in cost with heat pump and gas heaters. These types of heaters have very low annual operational costs. In fact, solar pool heating is very economical in many climates.
How do pool heaters work?
Most if not all of these types of pool heating systems have the following:
- The thermal collector — the device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the pool filter — the pool filter removes debris before water is pumped through the collector.
- Circulation pump — circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool.
- Flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.
Refer to the example of a typical solar pool heating system.
In this diagram, the pool's water is shown to circulate through a solar pool heating system. First, the water is run through a strainer, then though the filter, though a collector, then through the conventional pool heater provided there one. After this, the water would go back into the pool. As part of this system, there is also a check valve, flow control valve and temperature sensor.
Collectors for swimming pool solar heaters are made of different materials. Depending on the climate and how the collector will be used will determine the type of collector to be installed. Unglazed collectors systems would typically be used where temperatures are above freezing. These types of collectors do not have a glass covering (glazing). These are typically made of plastic or rubber and are treated with an ultraviolet light blocker that increases the life of these panels. Unglazed collectors are generally less expensive than glazed collectors and their parts are inexpensive and of a simple design. This type of system will work for indoor pools in cold climates if the system is designed to drain back into the pools when not in use. An unglazed system may be the most cost effective to use, even in cold weather when they may have to be shut down.
Swimming pool solar heaters with glazed collectors are more efficient than those with unglazed residential solar panels or collectors. These types of systems are made of copper tubing on aluminum plate heat exchangers and covered with a glass covering. This type of construction makes these systems more expensive.
The advantage a glazed collector system would offer is that it can be use year-round in many climes and can also be use to heat domestic hot water year-round.
Both types of collector systems (glazed and unglazed) should have freeze protection if they are to be used in colder climate conditions.
A solar pool heating system will usually cost around $3,000 and $4,000 to buy and install and have a payback ranging from 1 1/2 to 7 years depending on local fuel costs. Both types of swimming pool solar heaters outlast gas and other types of heaters.
The actual cost and payback will depend on several factors and it is important to consider all these factors before the purchase and installation. The following needs to be considered:
- Evaluate your site's solar resource
- Determine the correct system size
- Determine the system's efficiency
- Compare system costs
- Investigate local codes, covenants, zoning and regulations.
Swimming Pool Solar Heaters: Their Installation and Maintenance
There are factors that may impact solar pool heating system installations and their associated costs. It is important to consider the climate, local building code requirements, covenants, and safety issues. Because of these factors, it would be best to have a qualified contractor install a system.
There is an old axiom about maintenance. If you properly maintain something, it will last for a long time. The same thing would be true for swimming pool solar heaters. With proper maintenance, a solar pool heating system should last 10, 20 or more years. With this in mind, it is important that a contractor and the system owner's manual be consulted for the maintenance requirements. If the pool's chemical balance and
filtering system is checked regularly, the solar collector should require little maintenance. In dry climates, glazed collectors may need to be cleaned regularly as opposed to moist climates where it rains often; the collectors can be rinsed off with rainwater.
Before buying and installing a solar pool heating system, it is important to screen potential contractors. Determine the following at a minimum:
- Does the company have experience installing and maintaining solar pool heating systems?
- Choose a company that has experience installing the type of system you want and servicing the applications you select.How many years of experience does the company have with solar heating installation and maintenance?
- The more experience the better. Request a list of past customers who can provide references.
- Is the company licensed or certified?
Check with the city and county for contractor's licensing requirements to ensure your contractor meets those requirements. Also find out about any complaints that may have been filed against a contractor. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints. Ask for references from the contractor and follow up by verifying them.
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