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2013 “Top 50 Pool Builder” explains how heating your vinyl lined or gunite pool with solar heat, can reduce heating expenses by 80%. Bergen County, Northern NJ.

Whether you consider yourself to be a “tree-hugger” or just an individual who wants to reduce the operating cost of your inground swimming pool, utilizing solar energy should excite you, because it leaves nearly no carbon footprint, utilizes no finite resources, and doesn’t contribute to the constant stream of environmental pollutants.  Pool designs with solar heating can also save you enormous amounts of money on your energy bill.

How Does it Work?

Solar heating systems operate by initially installing solar collectors on either the roof of your home, or cabana.  Your pool pumping system is then subsequently connected to these collectors via a discreet piping system.  Depending on which type of system you ultimately purchase, the pool water is either then directly run through the solar collectors on the roof, or through a heat exchanger in an alternate location.  Once the pool attains the preferred temperature, the system instinctively shuts itself off, and it then automatically turns on again once the water temperature begins to fall. On a day when the sun is prevalent, the solar heating system can raise the pool anywhere from 1-2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is astonishing given the fact that it is completely FREE heat.

How Many Types of Solar Heating Panels Are There?

There are two main types of solar heating panels that are applicable to your swimming pool:

  1. Unglazed solar collectors do not include glass covers (which the glazed panels do include) and are instead composed of plastic or rubber and treated with a chemical compound that obstructs ultraviolet radiation, which increases its lifespan and durability. Due to their inexpensive components, these panels are an average of 25% cheaper than their glazed counterparts. Utilizing these panels, the water is run through pipes and then sits in the panel where it is warmed, before being returned to the pool. The solar accumulators require a large amount of area to function properly, usually around 65% of the total pool area.
  2. Glazed solar collectors are generally composed of an aluminum plate resting on copper tubing, and are covered with iron-tempered glass. This structure employs a heat exchanger, which quarantines the heat more proficiently, and thus requires significantly less roof space, usually around 20% of the total pool area. These panels give off a powerful glare however due to their reflective nature, and do not usually merge in with the roof coloring like the unglazed solar panels do.

How Much Will Having a Solar Pool Heating System Actually Save Me?

On a 900 square foot pool with a waterfall and spa, a conventional gas heater will cost the homeowner an average of $1200 per month in energy bills.  Using a solar heating system has nearly no costs, so even if you use the gas heater as a backup, which can cost around $200 per month, you can actually save around $1000 per month, given relevant conditions.  Thus, depending on habits and use, your savings can pay for the cost of installing the solar heating system in an average of 3 years.

Our Recommendation:

There are some limitations to a solar heating system. If you have a spa you will require a gas heater in order to reach 102 degrees. Further, we firmly believe that a solar heating system, though certainly worthwhile and efficient, should always be supported by a backup natural gas heater for your swimming pool.  This is due to the fact that solar heating systems are not adept at quickly heating up the pool, but rather slowly raise and maintain the temperature of the pool water.  If you want to warm the water up quickly, or endure several cloudy days, it is imperative that you have a gas pool heater to fall back on.