SOLAR POOL HEATING
Today, more solar energy is used for heating swimming pools than for any other single use. Over 200,000 pools are heated by solar in the United States alone. The oldest systems have been in use for more than 25 years, and are cost-effective, highly reliable and require minimal maintenance. Customer demand has spawned a thriving industry that now spans a large portion of the country. The solar option offers many important benefits for both existing and future pool owners. This brochure answers the most frequently asked questions that pool owners have about solar pool heating systems.
1.Why should I heat my pool with solar? 2.Can my home accommodate a system? 3.How do solar pool heating systems work? 4.What about operation and maintenance? Do I live in an area with enough sun to heat my pool?
WHY SHOULD I HEAT MY POOL WITH SOLAR?
A swimming pool is usually an expensive investment, which can range from several thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars depending on the type of pool. Most people buy a pool for recreational or exercise purposes, and usually plan to use the pool on a regular, ongoing basis, making it the center of their at- home activities. In many cases, new or existing pools have no pool heater. Some pool owners are satisfied to some extent with a very limited swimming season and naturally occurring pool temperature. Most, however, wish to heat the water and get more use out of their investment by using their pool during a longer and more comfort- able swimming season. In some cases, a pool purchaser may elect to have a natural gas, oil or electric heater in- stalled for pool heating purposes. However, the annual cost of operating these types of heaters can range from $750 to $2,000 or more, depending on such factors as the method of heating and the size of the pool. Thus, heating the pool becomes an ongoing financial drain. Most solar pool heating systems cost between $3,000 and $5,000; however, price varies on the size of the pool and other site-specific installation conditions. If solar systems are installed in order to reduce or eliminate fuel or electricity consumption, they generally pay for themselves in energy savings in two to four years. For those pool owners that desire to heat their pool, solar has been proven to be an effective method. If a pool is not already being heated, a solar system improves the comfort level and extends the swimming season. Whether or not your pool is currently heated, a solar pool heating system is a wise investment. You pay for the equipment only, because the energy source — the sun — is free.
CAN MY HOME ACCOMMODATE A SYSTEM?
Most homes can accommodate a solar pool heating system. Although solar collectors are often installed on a roof, they can be installed wherever they can be in the sun for a good portion of the day. The type of roof or roofing material is not important. The appropriate square footage of solar collectors required for a given swimming pool is directly related to the square footage of the pool itself. The proper ratio of pool area to solar collector area will vary according to such factors as location, the orientation of the solar collectors, the amount of shading on the pool or solar collectors, and the desired swimming season. In general, however, the square footage of solar collectors required is usually 50% to 100% of the pool surface area. A solar pool heating professional in your area will usually provide a free estimate for you.
HOW DO SOLAR POOL HEATING SYSTEMS WORK?
For most residential pools, the solar system operates directly with the existing pool pump and filter. In a few cases an additional "booster pump" or a slightly larger filtration pump may be needed. Today's most efficient systems employ the use of an automatically controlled diverting valve. The pool's filtration system is set to run during the period of most intense sunshine. During this period, when the solar control senses that adequate beat is present in the solar collectors, it causes a motorized diverting valve to turn, forcing the flow of pool water through the solar collectors, where water is heated. The heated water then returns to the pool. When heat is no longer present, the water bypasses the solar collector. Thus, most systems have very few moving parts which minimizes operation and maintenance requirements.
WHAT ABOUT OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE
The simplicity of solar pool heating systems means that operation and maintenance requirements are minimal. In fact, in most cases no additional maintenance beyond normal filter cleaning and winter close-up is necessary. The system should be drained in the winter months; however, in some cases even this may not be necessary because the system drains itself. Your solar pool heating professional will alert you to any special requirements for your particular system. In addition, solar pool heating equipment is so reliable that many solar pool collector manufacturers provide warranty coverage for their products which far exceeds that of automobiles and household appliances. Solar pool heating systems are being used in virtually every area of the United States. While it is true that they are popular in the Sunbelt region, they function well and are cost-effective for the swimming season even in northern climates. Systems can also be designed for indoor pools as well as for larger municipal and commercial pools.
The US Department of Energy has identified swimming pools as a huge consumer of energy across the country, and has recognized pool heating as one of the most cost-effective means of reducing energy consumption. Solar pool heating systems are the best investment a pool owner can make. So, why not look into it for your pool today?
Written by: Solar Energy Industries
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