Solar heating collects the sun’s rays to warm the water in your swimming pool, so you can swim for longer without having to pay high heating costs.
“It’s too cold!” A familiar cry in backyards around Australia, as kids and adults dip a toe in the freezing water of their swimming pools. Without heating, many pools sit unused for much of the year simply because the water – tempting as it looks – is too cold to swim in.
If you’re looking to solve this problem by installing a heating system, then it pays to do some research. You will probably discover three options for heating your pool: gas, heat pump or solar and as we discuss below, solar is highly likely to be the most energy efficient and cost-effective solution.
How solar pool heating works
Solar pool heaters use the same principles as household solar hot water systems. These systems use direct heat from sunlight to warm up water that is being pumped through a system of tubes (think of how warm the water gets in a garden hose left lying in the sun). Bear in mind that, at night or on very cloudy days, they may not warm up the water at all.
There are a few components to a solar heating system:
- Solar collector – can be made up of tubes or panels (which, in fact, contain a series of very small tubes), through which your pool water will travel. Generally, the solar collector is installed on the roof or on the ground near the pool.
- Pump – pumps the water from the pool to the solar collector and back again.
- Temperature sensor – many systems include a sensor that will automatically divert water from the solar collector when your ideal temperature is reached.
The time it takes for a pool to heat up using a solar heating system can depend on where you live in Australia and the month of the year. The efficiency of the system can also depend on whether you have a pool cover or not. Generally, a pool cover will help a swimming pool reach desired temperature faster.
How much does solar pool heating cost?
Upfront, there’s not much difference between the cost of a gas, electric and solar heaters. Solar pool heating can range from about $3,000 up to around $5,0001 – depending on the size of your pool and the quality of the system you go for.
It’s in the running costs that you start to see where solar pool heating really pays off. From one energy bill to the next, solar can be vastly cheaper than other forms of pool heating – when you think about how much you could save over the lifetime of the pool, then solar really shines.
Is solar pool heating worth the investment?
The only person who can really answer this question is you! A good place to start is to look at how often your pool is being used now (without heating). If the cold water discourages you from taking a dip on all but the hottest of days – and you want to use your pool more often – then perhaps the answer is yes.
Then, it may be a good idea to have a chat to your local pool specialist about the size of the solar system you’d need for your pool, and how it would be installed. They may also be able to give you a payback figure – that is, how quickly the solar pool heating system would pay itself off compared to other heating options.
The final word
Solar heating is a cost-effective, energy efficient way to warm the water in your swimming pool. You can enjoy a swim in the comfort of your own home - guilt-free, knowing that you’re simply harnessing the sun’s free rays.
- 'Solar pool heating - the complete buyer’s guide | My Perfect Pool.' http://www.myperfectpool.com.au/solar-pool-heating-the-complete-buyers-guide. Accessed 3 July 2018.