|For over 25 years, Solar
Energy has been used to heating swimming pools and spas throughout the
are over 200,000 systems installed in the United States today. Solar pool heating systems are very cost effective, highly reliable and require minimal maintenance. Solar
pool heating systems extend
the swimming season of your pool using nonpolluting energy... FROM THE SUN!
.1..Why Should I Use Solar Energy For Swimming Pool Heating?
.2..What Are The Different Types Of Systems On The Market?
.3..How Do I know If The System Proposed For My Pool Has Enough Solar Panels?
.4..Give Me Some Tips, As A Non Technical Potential Buyer, For Selecting
mmSolar Pool Heater Installation And Installer.
For those pool
owners who currently choose not to heat their pool at all, the decision
to heat their pool so it can be used or allow their rather large investment to sit unused for the
majority of the year because it is too cold to swim in. Installing a solar pool heating system
can extend your swimming season to at least 7 months a year in California. Plus, solar pool
heaters also produce "clean" energy and don't pollute the environment as many conventional heating
sources do. Back to top of page
What are the different types of systems on the market?Advantages: Over the years,
a wide variety of
panel types have been introduced, each with their intrinsic advantages and disadvantages. Four
primary types of solar pool collector designs are:
(A) Rigid black plastic panels (polypropylene).
(B) EPDE rubber mat or other plastic/rubber formulations.
(C) Tube and fin metal panels with a copper or aluminum fin attached to copper tubing.
(D) Plastic type systems.
PLASTIC PANELS are modular in shape and are usually four feet wide and 8, 10, or 12 feet in
length. Individual panels are coupled together to achieve the desired surface area. Advantages:
They are very light, chemically inert, and their many individual tubes, called risers, keep efficiencies
high. They are durable, can be mounted on racks easily, and are available in a glazed version for
windy or colder areas. Disadvantages: They require numerous attachments to the surface to which
they are mounted, their modular design can limit mounting locations.
RUBBER MAT systems are made up of parallel pipes, called headers, with extruded lengths of tubing
in mats stretching between them. Both the length and the width of the mat is adjustable and typically
custom-fit for each application. Advantages: Mats are very flexible and adaptable to roof obstructions,
like vent pipes, they require few if any roof penetrations to install, and they have similarly high efficiencies.
They also may be less subject to freeze expansion damage because of their greater expandability. Disadvantages: The mat itself is glued to the roof and can be difficult to remove without damaging
either the roof or the solar panel in reroofing situations, and due to its flexibility, it's very difficult to
rack without total support of the complete mat.
METAL PANELS consist of copper waterways attached to either copper or aluminum fins. The fins collect .....
the solar radiation and conduct it into the waterways. Advantages: They are rigid and can be easily ....
racked. Glazed versions of these panels work very well in windy or colder areas. Disadvantages: They ....
require more surface area than other systems, because of lower efficiency, and are usually warranted by .
the installer rather than the manufacturer.
PIPE SYSTEMS are not as common as any of the other types mentioned.
They consist of lengths .....
of plastic pipe either in parallel or circular configurations. Advantages: May be used as overhead "trellis" .......
for deck installations, and can be inexpensive if home made. Disadvantages: They require more surface .....
area than other systems, because of lower efficiency, and are usually warranted by the installer rather than the manufacturer. Generally speaking, the efficiencies of most solar collectors for swimming pool heating (with ..
the exception of plastic pipe) are within a few percentage points of each other. The Florida Solar Energy .
Center and the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation test the efficiency of most solar collectors .......
available in California. Back to top of page
do I know if the system proposed for my pool has enough solar panels?
of the most important considerations when selecting a pool heating system
is the amount of panel surface area that is required to heat the pool.
The relationship of the solar collector area to swimming pool surface area
be adequate in order to ensure that your poll achieves the temperatures you expect, generally in the high ....
70's to the low 80's at a minimum during the swimming season. The percentage of solar panel surface area ......
to pool surface area which should be installed varies with geographic location, and is affected by factors ......
such as local "micro-climates", solar collector orientation, pool shading, and desired heating season. .....
Generally, it is desirable to mount the panels on a southerly exposure, however, an orientation within .......
45 degrees of south will not significantly decrease performance as long as shading is avoided. A due west exposure will work well if the square footage of solar collector is increased to compensate, however a due ....
east exposure is generally avoided unless significantly more solar collectors are used.
Keep in mind
that solar energy is a very dilute energy source. Only a limited
amount of useful heat falls
on each square foot of panel. Consequently, whatever type of solar system is used, a large panel area
is needed to collect adequate amounts of energy.
California, where there is abundant sunshine and warm temperatures, the
swimming season is ..
usually between April or May and September or October. To heat a pool during this period, it is necessary ......
to install enough solar collectors to equal a minimum of 70% of surface area of the swimming pool, when ...
the solar panels are facing south. Most residential pools are between 300 to 500 square feet. Based on ...
this, if the system is oriented directly south, then minimum solar panel area would range from 210 square ....
feet to 350 square feet. In Northern California, systems are typically smaller, because the swimming .......
season is generally shorter.
As the orientation
moves away from ideal, sizing should increase to 80% to 100% or more for
west or southeast orientations. If climatic conditions are less favorable, such as near the ocean, even ....
more coverage may be required. If there is sufficient space available, it is always recommended to .
exceed the minimums to offset changing weather patterns. However, there is a point of diminishing .
returns, where more panels just won't add significantly to the pool heating function. For instance, in ....
midwinter when the energy from the sun is low, days are short, and heat loss from the pool is great due to ..
cool ambient air temperatures, a solar heated pool will still need supplemental heating from a conventional ..
heater if a warm pool is desired. It is strongly recommended that a pool cover of some sort be used to .
keep pool surface heat losses as low as possible if winter heating is desired. Back to top of page
Give me some tips, as a nontechnical potential buyer, for selecting the
right solar pool
heater installation and installer. Use the same common sense you would when investing in a roofing
job or other home improvement work, such as:
a) Buy only from a licensed contractor and check on their experience and reputation.
b) Be ware that several factors should be considered when evaluating various system configurations. ........
More solar panels generally means your pool will be warmer. If you will use a pool cover, if your roof is ........
flat or sloped, and the temperature range you wish to keep your pool at will all effect the sizing of the ........
c) Make sure the system is sized properly. An inadequately sized system is guaranteed to make you
unhappy. Beware of outrageous claims, such as "90 degree pool temperatures in December with no ........
backup heater". No solar system can do this.
d) The contractor should produce evidence of adequate Worker's Compensation and Liability .....
Insurance. Insurance certificates should come directly from the insurance company and not the contractor.
e) Check referrals before buying.
f.) Get a written description of the system, including number of solar panels, size of panels, and the .......
.make and model number.
g) Get a complete operation and maintenance manual and start-up demonstration.
h) The price should not be the most important factor. But it should also not be dramatically different .....
from prices of competing bidders for similar equipment. For instance, if you get three bids, and one is ........
much lower, something is wrong.
I) Be sure the contractor obtains a building permit if required.
j) If you need help in finding a qualified solar installer/contractor, call CAL SEIA. Our member companies .....
have agreed to adhere to a Code of Ethics which is designed to ensure high standards of integrity in ...
business. Back to top of page
have any questions
after reviewing this page,
phone us at
Bob Ellis - CEO
Environmental Solar Design, Inc.
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