Is it time to solar heat your swimming pool?

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ September 8, 2011

Decks and fences make for fine summertime home improvement projects. If you want to add a pool, why not evaluate energy efficiency and home improvement ideas that offer returns on your investment at the same time? Take a second look at pool solar heaters.

If you live in a climate warm enough to swim in through the spring, summer, and fall, you may want to consider heating your pool with solar energy. Solar-powered heaters have already come into vogue for free-standing and above-ground pools. There are collectors and connection hardware that begin around $250 for these small splashing pools. But what about heating large, in-ground swimming pools, and are the large solar collectors and systems that heat in-ground pools cost effective?

Solar pool heaters essentially circulate water through an expansive heat exchange surface, raising the temperature before returning it to the pool.

Not only are solar heaters comparable in price with gas or heat-pump units, they're cheaper to operate.

The basic parts, according to the Department of Energy, are a solar collector, filter, flow control valve, and a pump.

Solar pool heater cost comparisons

The technicians at Solar Direct claim that you'll spend between $1,000 and $4,800 on a solar powered system large enough to heat a 15-by-30 pool. Add another $500 - $2,500 for installation.

In comparison, you'll pay from $2,400 to $4,600 for an equivalent heat-pump/pool-heater system with another $350 to $950 for installation. The cost of the more conventional gas heater system for a 15-by-30 pool runs from $875 to $5,400, with installation costs from $350 to $850.

Then you should consider the difference in energy use, since the sun will heat your pool water while the other systems draw on gas and electric power. The Department of Energy says a solar pool heating system pays itself off in terms of energy savings from between one and seven years.

Purchasing considerations for solar pool heaters

Solar collectors use either glazed or unglazed pipe systems. Glazed systems are more expensive. They're made with an iron-tempered glass covering that, with heat exchangers and transfer fluids, allow them to work more efficiently in varying annual climates. Homeowners can even use the heaters to power the warming of domestic water during the year.

With proper installation and routine maintenance, your solar powered system can run trouble free for as long as 20 years. But choose wisely from commercial products and use only qualified installation technicians.

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