Solar Pool Heating
Keep energy costs down with a one-time investment in solar collectors.
Solar pool heaters are the simplest and least expensive solar water-heating systems to install and use in a home. The only components needed are solar collectors and some additional valves and piping. Solar heating systems make use of the pump and filter already needed for pool operations.
Solar collectors, typically mounted on the home's roof, absorb heat from the sun. The pool pump pulls water from the pool and forces it through the pool filters, a pressure-relief valve, a check valve, a bypass valve and then through the solar collectors for heating. Once heated, the water flows through piping to the chlorinator (if used) and back into the pool. The solar collectors raise the temperature of the pool water 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit between the inlet and the outlet of the collector. The collector transfers most of the solar energy that strikes it to the water, often operating at 80 percent efficiency or higher. The series of valves added for a solar pool-heating system is important, too. The check valve prevents backflow of water from reentering the filter, and the bypass valve controls water flow to the solar collectors as needed when the pool reaches the appropriate temperature and when it needs servicing.
Various types of solar collectors are available for pool-heating systems. Site-specific factors, such as climate and the amount of space available for the collectors as well as the homeowner's preference, usually drive the choice of solar collector.
If a pool needs to be heated year-round and is located in a cold climate, the collectors need to be glazed—encased in a glass-covered insulated box—to prevent freezing. Glazed collector systems typically use an antifreeze solution and a heat exchanger to transfer heat to the pool water rather than heating the pool water directly. This setup is similar to that used for a solar domestic hot-water system, in which the water temperature needs to be raised a significant amount.
Most solar pool-heating systems use unglazed collectors, however, because the water temperature does not need to be raised a significant amount. The most popular unglazed collectors include rigid polypropylene panels, EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) rubber mats, ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) pipes, and metal tube-on-sheet panels consisting of copper tubes on a copper or aluminum sheet.
Metal tube-on-sheet collectors conduct more heat per square foot of collector area than plastic or rubber collectors, but they are more expensive. When using copper collectors, monitor the pH level of the pool water carefully. If the water becomes too acidic (lower than 7.2 pH), the chlorine in the pool water will react with the copper pipe, causing the water to leave a dark film on the pool walls. Metal is more susceptible to freezing than plastic or rubber, although if properly maintained, metal collectors will last for 30 years or more.
Plastic and rubber solar collectors are more popular than metal collectors because they are less expensive per square foot. More are needed, however, because the thermal conductivity of plastic is lower than that of metal. Unlike metal collectors, plastic and rubber collectors are not susceptible to corrosion from pH variations in the pool water. The life expectancy of plastic and rubber collectors is 10 to 15 years as long as ultraviolet inhibitors have been added to the materials to prevent damage from the sun.
Small Steps in Solar Power
If you're not ready to invest in photovoltaic panels for your home, install smaller solar products to let your utilities soak up the sun while you bask in the savings.
Maximum Value Energy Efficiency Projects: Solar
With energy costs soaring and an increase in environmental concerns, homeowners are now looking to solar power to benefit the planet and their wallet.
The True Cost of Solar Power
The sticker price of a solar system doesn't tell the whole story. Learn how to factor in financial incentives and long-term savings to calculate the real cost of solar power.
Attractive Options in Solar Power
Want to reap the benefits of solar power without the bulky panels? Consider investing in building-integrated photovoltaic products, which are designed to blend in with your home's architecture.
Exploring Solar Energy Options
From powering your home to heating your pool, discover ways you can utilize the sun's energy.
Solar Panels Help Save on Power Bills
Harnessing electricity from the sun will help cut utility costs.
Before Going Solar
Consider your home's orientation, roof size and energy usage to make the most of your solar system.
Solar Power 101
Learn the basics of solar power and get tips for incorporating this abundant source of clean energy in your home.
Real Experiences With Solar Power
Hear from homeowners who have made the switch to solar energy.
Passive Solar Power Actively Saves Energy
Windows, landscaping and a home's position can harness the sun's power.
Test Your Skills With HGTV Magazine’s High/Low Challenge
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Sep 2, 2015 by Alyssa Sparacino
Photo Friday: Cooking and Dining in the Great Outdoors
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 28, 2015 by Beth Rucker
This or That: Pick Your Favorite Vintage Find From Fixer Upper
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 27, 2015 by Farima Alavi
6 Essentials for the Perfect Tailgate Party + Win the 1 Thing You Really Need
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 25, 2015 by Farima Alavi
Discover the Winning Hue in Our Color Vs. Color Competition!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Kayla Kitts
Copy This Room: Get Beach Flip Style in Your Living Room
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 24, 2015 by Shannon Petrie
4 Ways to Personalize Your Dorm Desk + College Goodie Giveaway!
HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens Aug 21, 2015 by Farima Alavi