How Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

Can you keep your pool heated using the power of the sun? Well, it turns out you can. But how do solar pool heaters actually work? 

These unique systems harness the sun’s power to warm your pool and provide a comfortable swimming experience even in cooler weather. 

This guide will walk you through the mechanics of solar heaters, discuss their efficiency, and compare them to traditional heating alternatives. 

How Do Solar Pool Heaters Heat Your Pool?

There are all sorts of things solar power can help you do. You can bring portable solar panels with you on a camping trip to bring the comforts of home along with you, or you can use rigid solar panels like EcoFlow’s 400W Rigid Solar Panel as part of a setup to power your entire home. At EcoFlow, we offer a wide range of monocrystalline solar panels with various specs to help you harness the power of the sun.

However, PV panels aren’t the only way to harness energy from the sun. 

So, what about a solar pool heater? What equipment does that use, and how does it work? 

Solar pool heaters utilise the sun’s energy to heat your swimming pool through a series of steps that involve pumping water, collecting energy from the sun, heating the water, and returning the heated water to the pool.

Below, we’ll break down how most of these systems work. This is just a brief overview; if you choose to invest in one of these systems, make sure to research to understand all the necessary steps and components and how to get the most out of your system. 

Pool Water Pumped Through the Filter 

Firstly, a pump sends the water from your swimming pool through a filter before it goes through the solar collector or collectors.

Solar Collector Heats or Cools the Water

Once the water has been pumped through the filter, it is then directed to solar collectors to be heated before it’s returned to the pool. Different types of solar collectors are available to choose from; if you’re looking to invest in a solar pool heater, it’s essential to research the different options to choose the right one for your needs.

Water Returns to Pool

After being heated, the water is returned to the swimming pool, increasing the temperature slightly. This process continues until your pool reaches a comfortable temperature to swim in.

Water Diverted Based on Temperature

To maintain a consistent water temperature, some of these systems include sensors and a manual or automatic valve, which diverts water through the collectors if the temperature is significantly higher than the temperature of the pool. However, if the collector temperature is similar to your pool’s temperature, filtered water bypasses the collectors and returns to the pool.

Do Solar Pool Heaters Really Work?

Yes, solar pool heaters work and have proven to be an effective and eco-friendly way to heat your swimming water. They can raise the temperature by several degrees, making it comfortable for swimming even during cooler months or in areas with colder climates.

However, it should be noted that sun-powered heaters may not be the right choice for someone who prefers their swimming temperature to be extremely warm year-round. If your preferred swimming water temperature is 80º and you want to ensure it always stays at that point or can quickly get to it, a solar heater may fall short of your expectations.

Solar heaters aren’t designed to heat the water rapidly. Instead, they work slowly but consistently and can easily maintain a comfortable temperature for most people.

Another thing to note is that the solar heater may be impacted by the amount of sunshine, air temperature, or wind speed on any given day. On a sunny and cold day, it will heat the water more slowly than on a day with plenty of sunshine and warmer air.

Factors such as collector size, location, and weather conditions will affect the performance of your system. For example, a larger collector on a south-facing roof in a sunny area will generally provide better results than a smaller collector on a north-facing roof in a shady area.

How to Determine the Efficiency of a Solar Pool Heating System

The efficiency of a solar pool heating system is determined by its thermal performance rating. You can find the thermal performance rating from the manufacturer if available. It’s measured by the Btu (British thermal unit) per square foot per day. 

It’s often expressed in this way: Btu/(ft2day). It can also be measured with Btu per day, which equals the Btu/(ft2day) measurement multiplied by the area in feet squared.

Or, you can measure it by kilowatt hours per square meter per day. 

The higher the number you get from the measurement formulas above, the more efficient the solar heating system is. Note, however, that if two heating systems have ratings within 25 Btu/(ft2day) of each other, they can be considered around the same efficiency because factors like test condition constraints, instrumentation accuracies, and weather conditions may vary.

How Do Solar Pool Heaters Compare to Petrol and Electric Alternatives?

There are many differences between solar pool heaters and petrol and electric alternatives to consider. We cover a few things to consider below.

Solar pool heaters are much more affordable than petrol or electric alternatives. They use the sun’s free energy, making them more cost-effective than gas or electric options.

The only cost to your ongoing utility bill is running the pump, whereas electric heat or petrol pumps cost much more per year. Additionally, sun-powered heaters are a more environmentally friendly choice. They may require more upfront investment, but over time, they’ll save you significant money on utility bills.

While solar pool heaters may take longer to heat up your pool, they’re an energy-efficient option. 

Ultimately, there are a lot of differences between a solar pool heater and electric and petrol alternatives. Solar pool heaters offer a lot of advantages in terms of operating costs and eco-friendliness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Warmer Does Solar Heating Make a Pool?

The amount of heat added by a solar heater depends on a number of factors. The thermal performance rating of a solar swimming pool heating system can give you an idea of its efficiency.

How Long Does It Take a Solar Heater to Warm up a Pool?

How long it takes a solar heater to warm up a pool depends on a number of factors. You can expect a solar pool heater to take longer to warm up your pool than a gas alternative, but they’re an environmentally friendly method to warm up your pool.

Final Thoughts

Solar pool heaters are an excellent option for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint while enjoying a comfortably heated swimming pool. They require some initial investment, but the long-term savings and environmental benefits make them worthwhile. 

If you’re looking for an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to heat your swimming pool, consider investing in the right elements of a solar water heating system. 

Looking for other eco-friendly ways to harness the sun’s energy? At EcoFlow, we offer a wide range of power solutions, including solar panels. Browse our selection today! 

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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