How Many Solar Panels Do You Need To Heat a Pool

May 14, 2024

Relaxing in the swimming pool on a hot summer day is a particular pleasure. But what should you do when the weather gets chilly? Many homeowners choose swimming pool heaters to warm the pool water during colder months.

Many households don’t heat their swimming pools due to the high expenses associated with pool heater usage. However, it is possible to enjoy the benefits of heated pools without paying more. It is possible with the help of solar heating systems.

Solar-powered heaters are great tools for saving up on monthly electricity bills and enjoying the comfort and coziness of at-home pools. Keep reading to learn more about solar pool heating, how many solar panels you need to warm up your swimming pool, and what advantages a solar pool heater can bring.

The Benefits of Solar Panels for Pools

A solar pool heater offers numerous advantages to homeowners. Solar panels for a pool can be a game changer in reducing electricity bills and improving sustainability. What are the key benefits of solar pool heating?

A Solar Pool Heater Is Cost-Effective

One of the primary reasons to opt for swimming pool solar panels is their money-saving potential. Indeed, electric pool heating options have shown much better efficiency in recent years. However, choosing to warm your swimming pool will lead you to increased energy expenses.

  • A 40-square-meter pool will cost you about $5.50 per day in electricity. It makes around $2,000 annually.

On the contrary, you can use the sun’s energy for free. Pool solar panel solutions have a typical lifespan of 10 years. It makes them much more viable compared to the expectancy of other electric heating options.

Despite the initial investment, pool solar panels have a better return on investment. A swimming pool owner can expect to reduce initial installation costs with time. This is due to the increased savings generated during the solar panel system’s operating period.

A Solar Pool Heater Is Eco-Friendly

Solar panel usage is an essential step in combatting climate change. As more people worldwide become concerned with environmental issues, supplying household needs with sun radiation is a trend.

Swimming pool solar panels excel in renewable energy. A solar-powered heater doesn’t rely on fossil fuels, doesn’t pollute the air with carbon dioxide, and demonstrates better performance than gas-haters.

A Solar Pool Heater Makes Your Pool Cozy in Cold Months

Depending on the location, most pool owners use their pools for up to three months a year. If you are one of them, installing a solar-powered heater can be essential to improve comfort and prolong pool use. You can expect to double the number of months you can enjoy your swimming pool annually.

Solar Panels for Heating Pools Are Affordable

Solar pool heaters have the undeserved reputation of being too expensive. However, you could buy a solar heating system for less money than you think. The increase in popularity has caused solar-powered heater pricing to drop dramatically recently.

Now, they are more affordable than ever. That’s why it’s vital to contact a potential solar installer to learn more about the current prices. Don’t miss the chance!

Solar Pool Heating System Installation Is Simple

Solar panels for pools can be a DIY project that doesn’t require a plumber’s installation assistance. It reduces the upfront investment and helps you obtain control over your pool heating efforts.

To set up a pool solar panel system, you’ll need basic tools and assistance from a few individuals to arrange and install the panels.

In addition, solar panels for pools are easy to maintain. If you keep them properly, they can run for dozens of years without issues. Essential routine maintenance involves checking the pool’s chemical balance and filtering system.

Solar Pool Heater Disadvantages

Unfortunately, solar-powered heaters are not free from some drawbacks. There are not many, but they are essential to consider.

Panels Need Sufficient Space

To warm your swimming pool with a solar heater, you must have enough space for solar panel installation. You should examine your property to find a suitable place for solar panels. You can install solar arrays on your roof and use your yard territory or patio.

Solar Panels Don’t Have a Stable Output

Unlike traditional energy sources, solar-powered heaters’ output can vary depending on numerous factors. Though solar panels can produce energy even during less favorable weather conditions, their efficiency declines under cloudy skies. You should be ready to have a lower output level on such days.

How Can You Heat a Pool With Solar Panels?

Adopting solar energy allows you to use solar power to supply various components of the swimming pool system, including a pool water pump, heat pump, and filters. Let’s discuss in more detail how a solar-powered pool heater works.

It all starts with water being pumped out from the swimming pool through a filter. Later, it goes to a thermal collector, which heats the water before transferring it to the pool. The system needs a sensor, a check valve, and a flow control valve to keep the optimal swimming pool temperature.

Most solar-powered heaters can automatically detect the water temperature and return it to the solar collector. The collector heats the water and transfers it to the pool. Once the water is warm enough, the flow control valve returns the water from the solar collector into the pool.

There are several solar pool heater options. If the pool is used year-round, you can install an oversized solar collector to keep the swimming pool warm, even when the temperature drops significantly. In addition, you can combine a solar water heater with gas or electric heaters to increase its performance.

Illustration of how solar heating for swimming pools works

Source: Solar Guide

Now, we should compare different types of solar thermal collectors, which come in two varieties: glazed and unglazed.

Glazed Solar CollectorsUnglazed Solar Collectors
This type of solar collector has an intricate design consisting of glass and various metals, including copper and aluminum.

Their installation requires little space. Another benefit is their improved efficiency due to their year-round use.

These collectors, produced of black plastic or heavy-duty rubber, are less expensive. However, they don’t demonstrate the same efficiency level as glazed collectors.

Their usage is limited, as they suit better warm climates where the water temperature doesn’t drop below freezing.

How Many Solar Panels Does To Heat a Pool?

Many factors should be considered when determining how many solar panels a homeowner needs to heat a pool. The main include geographic location, pool size, and desired temperature.

Consider Climate and Weather Conditions

The most important weather condition is the number of winter months per year. Solar panel system performance declines when the sun isn’t shining. In addition, solar panels can be winterized when it’s below 42 degrees outside. That’s why you should ensure proper isolation of pool solar panels during this season.

If you live in a cold climate zone, remember you can’t use your solar-powered heater when the temperature drops near zero or below. For swimming pool owners who can keep the solar pool heating system running for around six months a year, a 50-80% offset is enough.

Check Your Pool Size

The size of your solar pool heater depends on the pool’s surface area rather than its volume. Surface evaporation is the primary heat loss source.

As a result, pool owners with geometrically shaped pools can perform needed calculations more quickly. Freeform pools, however, require more complicated calculations, for which you can use Google Maps.

The formula for geometrically shaped swimming pools is as follows:

RectangularLength x Width
Circular:πr² (Radius x π (3.14)

Calculate Solar Energy Offset

The size of a solar-powered heater varies between 50% and 100% of a pool’s total surface area. For a 50% offset, it means matching half of your pool’s surface area with the total surface area of all your solar panel systems.

Imagine you own a pool with a surface area of 600 square feet. With a 50% offset, you would need 300 square feet of solar panels to heat it. Let’s consider some hypothetical scenarios.

One 4’x12.5′ solar panel’s surface area is 50 square feet. If you use a system with (4) 4’x12.5′ PV panels, it has 200 square feet of surface area. These are offsets required to meet your energy needs:

4-month swimming season50% solar offset is enough.
6-month swimming season60-80% solar offset is required.
10-month swimming season80-100% solar offset is needed.

You can use an online solar pool heater calculator if you are looking for automatic calculation options.

How To Optimize Your Pool Solar Panel System Performance?

To maximize your solar heater’s efficiency, ensure it gets enough sun exposure during the day. Solar pool heaters should ideally face south and be plumbed in parallel. If you mount the solar panels on a ground structure, ensure a solid substrate beneath the system to prevent wind from passing through the riser tubes.

Additionally, mount a system at a pitch above forty-five degrees. Such an angle increases the solar heating system’s efficiency.

How To Build a Solar Pool Heater?

Solar-powered heaters are generally inexpensive. However, you can reduce the price even more if you assemble them yourself. You can purchase all the parts at a local hardware store and put up your swimming pool solar panels twice as cheaply as a regular solar pool heater.

It is also not a time-consuming process. To assemble simple solar heaters, you need a group of three people and a couple of hours. The creative freedom you get when making a heating system yourself is worth mentioning. You can develop any design you need to fit into an extensive scheme of things in your household.

Some solar-powered heater owners find it practical to design the heaters independently since if they malfunction, they understand the inner workings and can fix them quickly.

Illustration of a solar pool heater setup

Source: Swim University

We offer a brief guide to assembling a DIY solar panel heating system:

  1. Put up a wooden tray and line it up with black paint or fabric.
  2. Coil up an irrigation hose. Remember to lie it flat on the wood and wrap it as tightly as possible.
  3. Add a clear tarp and hose attachment to your solar heater.
  4. Attach a sump pump to a hose and set up a solar-powered heater.

Is a Solar Pool Heater the Right Choice For Your Household?

A solar pool heater is an excellent choice for homeowners who want to enjoy their swimming pool for longer. They are efficient, eco-friendly, and easy to maintain. However, you should understand the efficiency limitations of your location and climate.

Depending on where you live and how long you want to use your swimming pool, you can adjust the size of your solar heating system to reach the perfect balance between cost-effectiveness and performance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How warm does a solar-heated pool get?

Expect your solar-powered heater to reach 10°C above the ambient temperature. If your swimming pool water temperature is 20°C, heat it to 30°C. A properly installed solar heating system can heat a pool by 5°C per hour.

What is the life expectancy of a solar pool heater?

On average, a high-quality solar pool heater works for 15-20 years and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Can I use solar panels to run the pool pump?

Yes, you can power your pool pump with a solar pool heater. However, you should install the proper size solar panel systems and set your pool pump timer to run midday.

How many solar collectors do I need to heat a pool?

The number of collectors required depends on location, heating demands, roof orientation, and swimming pool configurations. The bigger the solar collector, the faster you can heat the pool, allowing you more time to enjoy a comfortable water temperature.

Jed Hilton
Jed Hilton

Jed Hilton, our Founder and CEO, has over a decade of experience in the solar industry. His innovative leadership and expertise in solar technologies guide our company's vision and strategy.