Heating a swimming pool using the sun’s energy is a low-cost, environmentally friendly alternative to traditional, mains powered heating systems. An ever growing number of swimming pool owners are opting to build their very own system in order to take advantage of these benefits. These homemade solar pool heaters utilise a fairly simple concept to capture solar radiation in order to heat a stream of flowing water.
How Solar Pool Heaters Work
Homemade solar pool heaters work by allowing filtered water to flow through a hose system with the help of a pump. During this process, the filtered water receives heat from the hose that has been exposed to the sun. Once the water has flowed through the hose system, it can be fed into a swimming pool at a higher temperature than it would be if it were sourced from the mains.
The above process is based around a concept that is very similar to that of a geothermal ground source heat pump in that it uses a network of hoses. Unlike a ground source heat pump, the hose network of a solar pool heater is above ground and is directly exposed to the sun’s rays. This exposure allows the hose to heat up, taking on solar radiation, which can then be passed to water molecules flowing through the hose.
If you are looking for information on solar photovoltaics instead, then we also have an article explaining how solar panels produce electricity.
Aspects to Consider
There are numerous aspects to consider when designing a solar pool heater and these are:
- Speed – Solar pool heaters constructed as per the design mentioned above will be quite sluggish. They may take several hours to provide a significant quantity of heated water for your pool.
- Seasonal – Homemade solar pool heaters using the process described above are seasonal. In order for these systems to be efficient, you need a warm, sunny day so that the hose has time to heat up sufficiently. Even though the sun may be shining in winter, this doesn’t mean the hose system will be capable of heating a large body of water.
- Exposed – If you install a solar pool heater in a location that experiences hot summers but with very cold winters, the hose system or other components will be highly exposed and may be subject to frost damage.
As a result of these aspects, homemade solar pool heaters utilising a hose network are only suited to areas that often receive hot/sunny periods throughout the year or for pool owners who only tend to use their pools on very hot days.
Homemade Solar Pool Heater Alternatives
There are a number of alternatives to homemade solar pool heaters, some of which are described below.
Rubber matting systems are compact solar pool heaters that are available commercially. These are lightweight and can be installed onto the roof of a home with ease or left at a slight angle at lower levels if required. These tend to be more attractive than homemade versions and can provide greater efficiency.
Mains powered solar pool heaters are also an option when you require a more guaranteed source of heat for your pool. These systems can run into thousands of dollars and are therefore less attractive than solar alternatives.