Using the sun’s natural energy to heat your swimming pool with solar pool panels is not only environmentally friendly way but will also be highly cost effective over a period of time. When using solar energy to heat water for a domestic use, you want to heat a small amount of water to very high temperatures; whereas with solar pool panels you’ll want to raise the temperature of a large volume of water by just a few degrees – an ideal use for solar heating panels.
Solar Energy and Pool Temperatures
Anyone that’s been some where sunny and used a pool in the early morning then again later in the day knows that the temperature of the water will be warmer later in the day than early on. The temperature difference is simply down to the warming effect of the suns energy; any large body of water, from a small garden pond to an ocean, will heat up as the day goes on – solely due to solar heating.
Generally speaking pool temperatures around 25 C are acceptable to everyone, old and young alike, so with an average summer pool water temperature of say 21 C – you only need to raise the temperature by a few degrees to get everyone saying “Come on in the water’s lovely”.
Types of Pool Solar Heating Panels
Solar heating panels can be engineered to suit different conditions and purposes. Most commonly ones used in residential properties for heating pools are: Medium temperature liquid solar panels for heating indoor pools and low temperature liquid solar panels for heating outdoor pools. The panels are an array of typically 200 polythene tubes 6mm (1/4 inch) in diameter.
Tube lengths can vary according to the space in which the panel(s) are to be fitted, although 2.5m (8 feet) is the usual length. If you’ve got an above ground pool there is a third option; that of a solar heating panel that’s like a ‘mat’ which can be rolled out onto a lawn, or other area, near the pool. These can be useful for heating small areas of water and avoid the costs of roof installations. However, they cannot be left out if there is a risk of frost and will impede movement where the ‘mat’ is located.
Location and Operation
To get the most out of your solar heating panels they should be mounted on a south facing roof of a building close to the pool. This will of course be subject to the surface area of the roof being large enough to accommodate the solar panels. If a south facing roof is not available you could consider building a frame out of timber that the solar panels can sit on and then align the frame so that it is south facing.
The solar heating panels can usually be connected to the pools existing pump, simply by adding a three way valve, diverting the water after it’s passed through the filter. If your pump has a timer on it, that can be set to make the most of the suns energy or you could have a control system fitted, diverting the water to the solar panels if it falls below a pre-determined temperature.
How Many Panels Will you Need
The number of panels needed for an outdoor pool, will vary according to the size of the pool to be heated. As a rule of thumb you’ll need a solar heating panel surface area not less than 50% of the pool to be heated. To help you in a rough calculation here, one panel of a solar pool heater will be about 32 square feet. Multiple panels are connected with rubber couplings in to the manifolds at the end of the panels.
The number of panels required can, of course, also be affected by the depth of the pool. So another calculation you can do to get a rough idea of the solar panel surface area you’ll need is – 1m2 of solar paneling for every 4200l of water; that’s about 1 square foot per 100 gallons of water.