If you are looking for an easy way to lower the operating costs of your backyard swimming pool, replacing your current electric or gas pool heater with a solar pool heater is one of the most practical investments you can make. Solar pool heaters use free energy from the sun and are better for the environment than conventional pool heaters that use fossil fuels. Budget-minded pool owners can save thousands of dollars up-front by opting for a do-it-yourself solar pool heater vs. a professionally-installed solar pool heating system. Here are answers to some common questions about solar pool heaters and DIY solar pool heating kits.
How Does a DIY Solar Pool Heater Work?
A DIY solar pool heater uses your existing pool pump. Pool water is pumped through the filter first and then diverted to the solar collectors where it is heated by the sun before it is returned to the pool. In hot climates, a solar pool heater can also be used to cool pool water during peak summer months by circulating the water through the solar collector panels at night.
What are the Benefits of a Solar Pool Heater?
- Free fuel to heat your swimming pool.
- Extends the length of the swimming season by providing warm pool water in spring and fall.
- Simple design means low (or no) maintenance costs or broken parts.
- Easy upkeep — drain in the winter (in cold climates) and repair occasional leaks.
- Uses clean, renewable energy from the sun.
- Long life — typically up to 15 years under normal conditions.
- Easy to expand if you upgrade to a larger pool.
How Much Does a DIY Solar Pool Heater Cost?
A DIY solar pool heater kit costs less than $300, compared to $3,000 to $5,000 for a system installed by a pool service company. Top-rated DIY solar pool heater manufacturer SmartPool offers two styles:
In-Ground Pools — The SunHeater Solar Pool Heating System features lightweight solar collector panels that are installed easily on a roof, rack, fence or on the ground. Your existing pool pump pushes pool water through the SunHeater’s many tubes where it is heated by the sun and then returned to the pool. SunHeater can raise pool water temperature by up to 10°F (6°C) or more.
Above-Ground Pools — Compact pool heating “Solar Arcs” for above-ground pools install in-line with your current plumbing and take up less space than traditional panel systems. One Solar Arc can raise the temperature of the pool water up to 5°F within two days of sun. Comes with two 12-inch legs that allow it to be easily positioned for maximum sun absorption.
Will it Work if My Yard Doesn’t Have Full Sun?
Both DIY Solar Pool Heater systems by PoolSmart work anywhere you get at least 6 hours of full sun during the day. The longer the collectors are in full sun, the better they will work. With the SunHeater system, the collectors should face a southerly direction if you are mounting the solar on an angle (like a roof or rack).
How Efficient is a Solar Pool Heater?
A DIY solar pool heater can achieve the same results as pool heaters that use electricity or other fuels. On days when it’s warm enough to lounge by the pool wearing a swimsuit but the water is still too cold to go in, a solar pool heater can heat your pool to a comfortable temperature for swimming using no-cost energy from the sun.
In addition to being efficient, solar pool heaters are very cost-effective. A solar pool heater provides the lowest annual operational costs of any other pool heating technology. With the cost of heating a pool with gas running as high as several hundred dollars per month, a DIY solar pool heater will pay for itself in only one or two months!