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Want A Homemade Solar Pool Heater?

Basic Instructions For A Homemade Solar Pool Heater

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homemade solar pool heater

Unless you are into ice cold pool water, some kind of pool heater is usually needed in most places. The possibility to heat the pool without having to add to the electricity bill, makes a solar pool heater attractive. And since they are neither very complicated nor contain very expensive materials, homemade solar swimmingpool heaters are quite popular. (Well, readymade heaters are popular too, take a look at this one, for example.

While for most people, buying a solar pool heater is certainly the most logical choice, building your own can actually be a good option too. A homemade solar pool heater can be built and installed installed in your home without using very much technical knowledge or money. So if you are into DIY solar projects, why not give it a go?

Homemade Solar Pool Heaters Explained

Ready to learn more about solar home designs? You will find more detailed information at the bottom of the article as well.

Components of swimming pool solar water heater

A homemade solar pool heater generally includes the following equipment:

  • Solar pool collectors: This is the most important part of the solar pool heater. What it does is to allow the heat to warm up the pool water while it is transported through the collector. The easiest and cheapest solar heat collector used when building a homemade solar pool heater is simply a long black polyethylene pipe (called poly pipe) mount onto a back board. Another option is an unglazed, plastic, flat plate collector. Regardless of type, it shoulg generally installed near the pool or over the roof. You can read more about solar collectors here.
  • Filter: The filter removes debris from the pool water prior to the water being pumped through the collector. If you have an electrical pool heater installed, you might have to invest in a more powerful pump.
  • Pump: The pump circulates water through the filter and solar collector back into the pool
  • Pool Cover: A must really. Installation of a pool cover will save around 300% of energy by hindering water evaporation by the wind.
  • Diverter valve: This valve will help in sending water back to the pool from the collector or from the pump.
  • Associating piping: As in all pool heating systems, pool water is pumped through the filter and then through the heater (in this case a solar collector), where it is heated before it is returned to the pool. With solar pool heating the collector can also be used to cool the pool during peak summer months by circulating the water through the collector at night in hot climates.
  • Solar PV panel: You will also need a solar PV panel to run your pump, unless you want to plug it into the regular electricity network.
  • Automatic control: This is optional. You can install an automatic control valve, which allows you to specify the temperature you want in the pool. The solar pool heater will then shut off when the correct temperature is reached.

Most commercial systems include automatic sensors or possiblly a manual valve which diverts water through the collector when the collector temperature is significantly higher in the collector than the pool temperature. Filtered water bypasses the collector if the collector temperature is similar to the pool temperature.

If you are not very used to building your own solar items, I would skip the autmatic control valve. Start will a small project to get anything done at all!

How to get the most from your pool heater?

The most important part of a homemade solar pool heater is its collector. So a perfect positioning of the collector will make a difference. You have to place it either near the pool over the ground or over the roof so that maximum amount of sunlight gets trapped in it. So be careful when installing the collector.

How many collectors do I need for a swimming pool?

If you are doing your own calculations the surface area of your solar collector should equal a minimum of 50%-100% of the surface area of your pool. If you live in a cooler climate or you are in an area with a lot of cloud cover, you may need to increase the ratio between the collector area and the pool surface area. If you add additional collector square footage it will enable you to lengthen your swimming season. You can usually decrease the required collector area by using a pool cover at night to retain heat.

Installation of solar swimming pool heaters

The very first thing you have to do is to arrange the collector. After that, connect your collector to a PV-driven submersible pump. After that connect the solar PV panel to the pumps. The valve should be connected to the pump properly. You need both a filter pump and a heating system pump or one that does both. The filter pump can run for two hours a day in the night time, but the solar collector should run in the daytime.

Here is a video that will show you the process:

Add a Solar Pool Cover

Adding a solar pool cover decreases the need for heating and lowers the initial cost of a solar heating system. Evaporation of swimming pool water accounts for a whopping 70 percent of a pool's total heat loss. This goes for both indoor and outdoor pools. The best solution to curb this energy and money drain is to invest in a solar pool cover.

There are many type of solar pool covers. A simple "bubble" cover, like this one - similar to bubble packing material - usually can be purchased for less than US$100.

Vinyl covers are more durable and long-lived, but also are more expensive. They are available insulated or uninsulated, and can be integrated with an automated roll-up system to make coverplacement and removal hassle free. Prices range from a few hundred dollars for a basic cover to more than US$1,000 for covers that come with a motorized reel.

Learn More

If you are still considering to get yourself a homemade solar pool heater, we also recommend that you learn more about solar water heating, for example through one of the books below.

  • Solar Water Heating: A Comprehensive Guide to Solar Water and Space Heating Systems
  • GreenSense for the Home: Rating the Real Payoff from 50 Green Home Projects
  • The DIY Solar Water Heater e-book

To learn more about solar pool heaters, click here.


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