A swimming pool can be a good way to boost your health and fitness but, unless it is heated, the weather will determine when you can use it. Whilst a pool heater is easy to buy and install it is likely to be expensive to run so what about using free energy from the sun? As well as being free this of course carries the key advantage of being environmentally friendly.
There are other benefits as well:
Does not require professional installation – Whilst solar pool heating can be installed professionally, kits are obtainable which suit both above-ground and in-ground pools and can be set up by a competent handyman. In this case there is no need for qualified gas contractors or electricians. The key task is setting up the solar panels and locating these properly will be the major factor in determining how effective the system is. Ideally these will be set up on a roof or on a suitable framework, such that they face the sun.
Little maintenance – Once it is up and running a solar pool heater does not require much maintenance in comparison to gas heaters.
System will last – A solar heating system will last a long time and hence maximize the return on your investment. This is illustrated by the fact that some manufacturers offer fifteen year guarantees.
But we have to accept that there are also several disadvantages to bear in mind:
Needs large area for solar collectors – Although it is only an approximate guide, the area of the solar panels needs to be about the same as the pool surface area. 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.
Not as powerful as gas heater or heat pump – Even in ideal conditions the heat output from a solar pool heater will not match that of gas pool heaters and electric heat pumps. Solar heating will still work on overcast days but the output will not be as high as on a sunny day.
Dependent on Local Conditions – The effectiveness of a solar pool heating system will depend 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.
Can be expensive – Most of the cost relates to the solar collectors and the number of these you need depends on the size of the pool. If you have a medium to large pool the cost is likely to be more than a gas based system. Having said this the low on-going costs will make up for this in time.
Whether a solar pool heater will work for you really depends on your location and the period you wish your swimming season to be. If you can locate the solar collectors to get best results and aren’t seeking to extend your season into the colder months then a solar pool heater is well worth considering.