Solar Pool FAQ’s
Solar swimming pool heating is the most cost-effective application of solar energy. Unglazed collectors (solar panels), which are the simplest and least expensive of all collectors, are used almost universally for heating outdoor pools and spas. The heating system itself is normally already required for pools, regardless of whether a solar heating system is added.
Q Why heat my pool?
A. If you enjoy swimming in cold water, then LEAVE this web page! Otherwise, an unheated swimming pool is just a hole in the ground with water in it.
Q What type of heater should I use?
A. Here are your choices:
A GAS heater will cost about $2,400 installed. If you decide to heat your pool for the months of April to November to only 80° F, it will cost you another $1,800 for a 450 square foot pool in Southern California. After five years, your total outlay, including installation, will exceed $11,400!
A HEAT PUMP can be installed for $ 5,000, and will cost about $1,200 to $2,400 to operate for the same season, depending upon efficiency and location of the installation.
A SOLAR SYSTEM, installed, will cost from $3,500 to $6,500 and will cost nothing to operate.
Q How well will solar energy heat my pool?
A. A properly sized solar system can heat you pool to at least 80° F from April to November in Southern California. The pool will be warmer for the winter months, but probably not comfortably.
Q Can a solar system heat my pool all year long?
A. The simple answer is yes, however, the degree to which your pool can be heated varies during the year. The cold nights during the months of November to April cause the pool to lose almost all of the heat that the solar system generates, so a pool blanket or cover will help you keep the heat-loss to a minimum during the winter.
Q How long will solar panels hold up in the sun?
A. Every collector differs, but AMECO solar panels that were installed in 1974 are still functioning. Most manufacturers offer ten year (or longer) warranties.
Q Are solar pool heating systems easy to operate?
A. Yes. Today’s automatic controls are easy to understand and very reliable. Just set a thermostat and pray for sun.
Q Will solar panels cause my roof to leak?
A. If they are improperly installed, your roof may leak. Only panels that can be securely attached to the structural members of the roof (rafters) should be considered.
Q Are solar collector ratings important?
A. Many solar panels offered today are in the top ten percent of energy performance (see www.fsec.ucf.edu/). While energy output is key to selecting a solar system, it should not be the only factor considered when making a choice. Equally important is the reliability of the product and its manufacturer. How long the company has been in business, as well as its track record in warranty service, should be a primary concern.
Q Should I consider installing a solar system myself?
A. If you are proficient in the plumbing, electrical and roofing trades; are a quick study; do not mind heights; have a close friend that does not mind spending a few weekends with you on your roof; have good insurance coverage (in case your friend or panel falls off the roof and gets hurt or causes damage); and you enjoy a good challenge, you’re a real candidate for a do-it-yourself* solar pool heater. Give us a call.
Q What kind of panel is best for my pool?
A. AMECO carries a number of certified and approved solar panels. We are happy to make a recommendation after we have performed a site inspection and have conducted an interview to assess your swimming needs.
Q Will solar panels affect my pool chemistry?
A. A properly installed solar system should not affect your pool chemicals. However, since your pool will now be warmer and you may actually be swimming in it, your chlorine usage will probably increase. We can help you with keeping your pool chemistry balanced. Ask us about automatic pool chlorinators, ozone generators and saline pools.
Q My pool man says solar systems are bad for swimming pools, is this true?
A. He (or she) may have had a bad experience with a poorly executed installation. Ask him (her) for more details. Usually the system(s) in question was installed by a company that is now out of business or is the product of a solar imagineer.*
Q Why are solar panels so ugly?
A. It is always the the ugly solar panels that we remember. You might be surprised to know how many of your neighbors already own a system, but are hidden from view. Also, there are many attractive units available to select from if a hidden location is not available. If necessary, we can actually install the system in your attic, invisible to all view. This has the added benefit of cooling your home in the summer.
Q Why shouldn’t I wait until more efficient panels are available?
A. Solar panels for heating swimming pools and spas have not changed appreciably in performance in over fifteen years. At typical pool heating temperatures (75° F to 85° F), a good panel operates in the 90% efficiency range. People hear about improving efficiencies in solar, but it is solar photovoltaic panels for electricity, currently in the 10% to 17% efficiency range, that are improving.