Is solar pool heating worth it?

Considering a Solar Heated Pool?

Time, they say, is money. The luxury of owning a swimming pool will cost you both, but you can enjoy it to the fullest by extending your swimming season for as long as possible. 

 

For that you need to add a touch of sun to your swimming pool to trump colder temperatures.9iooooo

 

The solar solution

Being responsible with the planet’s resources is all the rage, and making use of renewable energy certainly falls into this category.

Renewable energy is defined as energy sources that are constantly being replenished. We can use these resources, such as the sun and the wind, without worrying that we will run out.

 

This is a fantastic alternative to using energy that comes from fossil fuels such as coal, because running out of these will be final, at least in our lifetimes. While this is all great for our planet, what does it mean for you and your wallet?

 

The good news is that solar heating for your pool is not likely to leave you too broke, and it’s not very complicated either. It simply means that you will be using the sun to warm your pool.

No electricity is involved in the use of solar heating. We are using what nature gives us, and there is enough for everyone. 

 

The shapes and sizes of solar

If you want to use solar heating to warm up your pool, you are still left with decisions to make. Solar energy can be harnessed in different ways. The two most common options are solar panels and solar pool covers.

 

What is it? Solar panels

How does it work? The panels get installed onto your roof, or another suitable surface that is exposed to the sun.

 

Heat from the sun gets absorbed by the panels. Water from the pool then travels to the solar panels via the pool’s normal pump and filter system. Here the heat from the sun gets absorbed by the water, and this warmed up water then travels back to the swimming pool. 

 

Pros This environmentally-friendly option does not require you to make use of additional electricity (apart from that already used by your pump and filter system), and no waste is created.

Solar panels have a long lifespan and can last up to 20 years. This more than compensates for your initial investment.

 

Cons You need a steady supply of sunlight to get the desired results. Generally that isn’t a problem in our sunny African abode, but you will need to ensure that you have the perfect spot to install your panels.   

 

Solar panels can become a bit pricey, depending on how many you will need. This is determined by the size of your pool. A general guideline is one solar panel for every 10 000 litres of water. This will increase temperature by eight to 10℃. 

Another factor that can influence the number of solar panels you will need include the amount of sunlight your panels receive daily. The distance between the panels and the pool also plays a role.

Average cost You can expect to pay R2 000 upwards per panel, excluding the installation fee. 

 

What is it? Solar cover

How does it work? The majority of a swimming pool’s heat is lost through evaporation. A solar swimming pool cover lies over your pool, covering the surface like a blanket. The water cannot evaporate through the blanket, so the pool stays warmer.

The solar blanket looks a bit like bubble wrap, with the function of the little bubbles being to capture the heat from the sun, and redirect it to the water.

 

Pros

  • Increases water temperature between five and 10℃.
  • Lightweight and easy to handle.
  • Reduces the rate at which pool water evaporates and needs to be replaced.
  • No running costs.
  • Prevents dirt from falling into the pool.

 

Cons

  • Considerably shorter lifespan than solar panelsup to three years.
  • It needs to be removed before every swim and replaced afterwards. If you want to store it away for a while it would be wise to take the time to clean it first.
  • A pool cover can be a safety hazard, increasing the risk of drowning. This is because the cover can make the pool appear safe to step on to a child. Once they do that, it’s easy to slip underneath and disappear from view.

 

Average cost Once again this will depend on the size of your pool, but a solar blanket will, in the short term, be easier on your pocket than solar panels.

 

Are there other options?

You might also come across solar rings and solar liquid.

Solar rings work on the same concept as the solar blanket. The biggest difference is that, instead of a large blanket that covers the whole pool, these are smaller disks.

 

Solar liquid covers your pool and prevents evaporation by forming a very thin, invisible to the naked eye and perfectly safe film on the water surface.

 

These are far less common though and opting for either solar panels or a cover will have you splashing away sooner when the mercury starts to drop.

 

Solar vs non-solar

A heat pump does not generate heat, but rather uses electricity to power a fan which draws in warm air. The water circulates through the heater where it gets warmed up. The cooler the air outside, the more energy is needed to produce heat, resulting in higher electricity costs.

 

The major advantage of a heat pump is that it can keep you relaxing in a warm pool all year round, no matter the weather. However, it’s best to still use a pool blanket, as even the slightest breeze can significantly cool down your pool, resulting in a heat pump that has to work harder, thus cost you more.

 

A heat pump can cost from R10 000 upwards, depending on the size of your pool and the brand you are buying. Also budget for the installation fee.

 

(Pool) size matters

The decision whether solar heating is worthwhile will ultimately depend on your circumstances, the most important being pool size and the climate where you live. 

 

To get the most out of solar heating you obviously need sun, but it’s a welcome bonus that the running costs are zero.

 

A heat pump uses electricity which costs you money, not to mention literally leaving you in the cold when load shedding strikes. Your wallet will suffer more damage with a larger pool, both with solar and non-solar heating options.

 

Lastly, let’s not forget the earth, and make an effort to upgrade our lifestyles while still keeping her welfare in mind.

 

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