Heating Your Pool with Solar Energy

Know the simple and environmentally-friendly way to heat your pool.
Kashyap Vyas
The photo credit line may appear like thisJaySi/iStock

People who have a pool and cannot afford to heat it due to the cost of increasing energy consumption are likely to start looking at it with anticipated nostalgia when temperatures begin their decline in thermometers. However, there are clean alternatives available.

Taking advantage of solar energy to heat the pool water is not only one of them, but it is the most profitable use of solar energy in many climates. We’ll tell you how these solar thermal energy systems work, what typologies exist, and the main components of solar kits for pool heating.


How to keep water warm thanks to the sun?

In the same way that it allows for the capturing of energy to illuminate a house, feed a computer, or irrigate the ground, solar energy can be used to heat the pool water when the room temperature no longer encourages a bath. In fact, its potential for this domestic use is such that, depending on the size and type of the installation, it can keep the water between five and ten degrees above the ambient temperature.

To extend the bathing season without it translating into greater demand for energy from non-renewable sources, the panels are the fundamental piece of this setup. This applies both to systems that heat water directly, in which it circulates freely through the panel, as well as indirect solar installations.

This modality, with the highest cost, is one of the most used, offering superior performance.

How does the system work?

The solar collector is composed of polypropylene tubes, plus an additive to prevent wear by solar radiation. The collector attracts solar radiation by heating the water that circulates through it.

Coldwater enters through the bottom of the system and branches into the tubes, causing it to warm up. As soon as the water heats up, it loses density, rising to the top of the system and returning to the pool, driven by the pressure of the recirculation pump.

This is basically how the pool water heats up and allows you to extend the bathing season well into the winter.

Solar kit to heat the pool water

In general, the solar heaters used for this purpose must incorporate at least the following elements along with your pool’s existing pump and check valve:

  • Solar Collectors: In addition to capturing the sun's energy, the water will circulate through them using the pump to be heated and return to the pool.
  • Filters: With them, the water that returns to the pool will be free of debris.
  • Diverter Valve: When the water needs to be heated, the diverter valve will direct the water flow through the solar collector. If the water is hot, the valve will remain closed, and the water will circulate back to the pool.
  • Differential controller: The controller will determine when the diverter valve should be opened and closed by sensing the water temperature.

How to choose the perfect solar water heater?

Here is one of the determining points to make good use of the sun's energy to heat the water and do it at an affordable cost. The reason is clear.

The more the number of panels, the greater will be the investment. However, falling short will not achieve the desired objective.

So calculating the number of solar panels needed will be crucial.

One aspect that makes it difficult when deciding this is that there is no exact formula. The dimension of the installation depends on so many aspects that generalizing is practically impossible.

The climate in your area and the hours of exposure to sunlight in your home, are two of the determinants that you should consider. With this, the usual thing is that the dimension of the solar installation is the equivalent of anywhere between 50% and 100% of the size of the pool to be heated.

However, as mentioned, what may be worthwhile in North America will not be the same as that used in Spain, so it will be necessary to fine-tune this decision. Another important factor is the type of solar installation that is chosen, which covers the collectors without coverage and those that do have it.

While the former stands out for its lower cost, the latter does it for greater efficiency to capture heat. Again, the specific case of each individual will determine which system is more convenient.

The truth is that these types of solutions are an option to take into account the domestic use of clean energy. The savings that it entails, as well as its low maintenance cost, are some of the advantages of this alternative.

How much does a solar pool heating system cost?

Buying a solar pool heating system and getting it installed can set you back anywhere between $3,000 and $4,000. That said, they usually last a lot longer than your average gas pool heaters and are also kinder to the environment.

Therefore, before buying a solar pool heater, you must consider some crucial factors, such as evaluating the solar resource of your area/house and determining the efficiency of the system.

The local suppliers of solar systems or the installers are usually the right people to rely on for a comprehensive solar site analysis.

Additionally, there are a plethora of solar pool heating systems available in the market. They come in distinct styles and sizes.

A lot of different materials and configurations of solar water heaters have been released over the years that have attempted to transfer the energy of the sun into a pool. In fact, copper collectors were put into use in the mid-’70s, but they were eventually determined to be rather expensive.

This is because they corroded pretty quick and left deposits of copper oxide in the pool, causing stains. However, through the advancement in technology, plastic pool panels are highly common today.


At the end of the day, there are a multitude of options available to you, if you do decide to buy a solar pool heater. As already discussed, though they are a significant investment to make, they are environmentally-friendly and a great way to stay warm even during the cool winter days.

If you do not wish to buy a full-fledged solar water heater, you can also consider buying some cool pool gadgets such as solar pool pumps, solar sun rings, and solar pool covers.


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