Every year you spend thousands of dollars on your swimming pool heating, and with energy prices on the up, it seems the amount keeps increasing year on year. A popular option favored by pool owners is to install solar as a method of heating your pool. In fact, solar heating systems are the most cost-effective devices when it comes to pool heaters, beating both gas and heat pump pool heaters.
Let’s get to the point: How does switching to solar heating save you money?
There are a number of ways using solar heating for your pool saves you money. First off, you save money immediately when you buy and install a solar heating system. The actual solar unit can be cheaper than other methods, so that’s an upfront saving of between $3000 and $4000.
Also, depending on your system and fuel costs, you get your initial costs back in 1.5-7 years due to the savings on paying for gas or electricity. This is even more appealing when considering, with proper maintenance, your system can last 10-20 years. It’s noteworthy that solar heating systems require very little maintenance if you keep your filter and chemicals in check. As a result, the yearly operational costs of solar-powered systems are very low.
These figures are significantly better than that of gas and heat pump pool heaters, which are costly and require high maintenance and operational costs. Most importantly, they are built to last only 5-10 years. Therefore, you save less than you spend on these devices.
To get the most out of a solar heating system, these four practices can be useful for you.
Assess the illumination of your locality
Before getting a solar heating system for your pool, you must make sure your location receives enough sunlight; this will decide what kind of solar heating system you need and how efficient it will be. This is nothing to worry about as solar pool heaters use direct and diffuse sunlight both. So your system would, most likely, still work fine even if you don’t live in a warm and sunny place. You can refer more to get a proper solar heating system from a solar company.
Get a cost-effective system
Cost-effectiveness depends on two things: TIC (total installed cost) of system and efficiency. Your system shouldn’t only be inexpensive but highly productive as well.
To decide which system to buy and how much money you’ll save, you can quickly estimate and compare the costs of different systems. For this, you can use this simple formula:
BTUdayper dollar=Thermal Performance Rating of Collector in BTUdayNumber of collector panels needed to heat your poolSystem TIC (in $)
You can estimate this only with collector price and Thermal Performance Rating as well:
BTUdayper dollar=Thermal Performance Rating of Collector in BTUdayCollector price (in $)
As far as efficiency is concerned, you can estimate it using the collector’s thermal performance rating. Other than BTU/day, the efficiency is measured in BTU/(ft2day), MJ/day or MJ/(m2day). If the number with these units gets bigger, the efficiency increases.
Highly efficient systems require less operational costs and collector area to give you the desired heating.
That being said, you mustn’t rely too much on these numbers as they are just estimations and ignore many real-life factors.
Get the right system size
System size depends on pool size, pool usage, sunlight intensity, average local temperature, desired pool temperature, system efficiency, pool cover, collector direction and inclination. For good performance, your solar collector area must be at least 50% of your pool area. This ratio increases the more you move towards cooler regions.
Also, you’d have to consider buying a bigger system if your swimming season is long. If you can’t afford a larger system, a pool cover would come in handy for you.
Place the collector properly
A collector collects solar radiation and heats up the pool water that passes through it. For maximum sunlight reception, your collector must face South. If it must face another direction try for no more than 45 degrees east or west of south. Note:
This arrangement doesn’t consider factors, such as landscape features, that might affect the sunlight falling on your collector.
As for the collector inclination, it’s not that important as it doesn’t affect the performance significantly. However, they are usually inclined at the latitude angle for perennial heating and latitude minus 10-15 degrees angle for summer heating.