For those of us who live in northern climates, nothing is more frustrating than waiting for the water to warm up! You’ve endured a long and cold winter and the outdoor temperatures are finally nice and hot. Unfortunately, the water is just too cold to enjoy.
So what’s the fix?
We know that solar panels can get hot. This begs to question, is there a way to use this heat for my pool?
The answer to this question is, Yes, solar panels can heat my pool. But just how well they’re going to heat your pool water is going to depend on what kind of solar panels you have.
Solar Panels: Electric
The overwhelming majority of solar panel owners have panels that produce electricity. Some have made their purchase with the environment in mind, some for energy independence and some for simply saving money on their electric bill. Regardless of their reasoning, the panels in question are designed specifically to produce electricity from the sun.
These types of solar panels can heat your pool in two different ways.
- Electric heat – Just like the electric hot water heater in your home, the electricity generated by your solar panels can power an electric element to produce heat. This heat can, then, be transferred to the water in your pool and thereby raise the temperature to a more comfortable level.
* While this way might seem like the most relatable, it should be noted that it is the least efficient way to heat your pool.
- Back-panel heat – We all know that any dark surface exposed to direct sunlight will get hot. This is especially true of solar panels.
Careful engineering must be employed for the panels to operate successfully and avoid over-heating. Generally, this is accomplished, in part, by having a large thin surface whereby heat can dissipate easily.
However, another way to removed excessive heat is by running a coolant along the backside of the panels. This absorbs the heat generated by your solar panels and carries it away, allowing your panels to stay cool.
And just like the example above, this heat can be transferred to your pool water, warming things to a comfortable level.
Solar Panels: Heat
A common misconception is that all solar panels are the same. The reality, however, is that there are two main different types of solar panels; the most common being the ones designed to produce electricity and the lesser known panels designed specifically to produce heat.
Solar hot water heaters are often manufactured in panel form and can look very similar to the types of panels that produce electricity. However, these types of panels do not produce any electricity, but rather are designed to capture the heat of the sun, generally for the purpose of providing hot water to the home owner.
While not so common in the United States, solar hot water heaters are very common in places like the Mediterranean where the climate is warm and sunshine plentiful.
A solar hot water heater could be a viable option for those wishing the raise the temperature of their swimming pool.
No article regarding the use of solar to heat your pool, would be complete with mention the solar cover.
Often looking like a giant sheet of bubble wrap, this cover can be placed directly on the surface of your swimming pool.
In concept, sunshine strikes and penetrates the cover allowing for two things.
First, the air temperature inside the countless bubbles manufactured into the cover rises. This forms a sort of heated ‘blanket’ for the water in your pool.
Secondly, some sunlight will continue on through the solar cover and make its way directly into your pool. Once there, a large portion of this sunlight will remain trapped, unable to pass back through the cover a second time, retaining the heat and thusly raising the temperature inside.
Arguably, the most desirable way to heat your pool is through the use of a solar hot water heater. There are many different kinds, some being designed specifically for pool use.
These types of solar heaters are often costly, but can offer the best early and late season performance, require very little space, and are relatively easy to operate.
Solar covers are a more cost effective option, but can be quite cumbersome to operate and require some space for storing when not in use.