Solar Pool Heater - A Viable Option? A solar pool heater uses energy from the sun to heat your pool. The big advantage here is that this energy is free and in addition you are being friendly to the environment. There are other advantages as well: Can be installed by pool owner - Although a solar pool heating systems are often installed by professionals, solar heating kits are available that suit both above ground pools and in ground pools and are easy to install. As there is no gas or electrical work involved there is no need for these professionals. The main issue is the installation of the solar collectors as the location of these is critical to the effectiveness of the system. Ideally these will be installed on a roof or on a suitable framework, such that they face the sun. Minimal maintenance requirement - Once installed the a solar system requires little maintenance which compares favorably to gas pool heaters and pool heat pumps. System will last - A solar pool heater should last many years and turn out to be a good investment. This is illustrated by the fact that some manufacturers offer fifteen year guarantees. But we have to accept that there are also several disadvantages to bear in mind: Large space needed for solar panels - Although it is only an approximate guide, the area of the solar panels needs to be about the same as the pool surface area. Even if you have a small pool this means that the solar collectors will take up a significant amount of room. In addition the positioning of the solar collectors may be forced by your location and this may have a negative impact on your local environment. Low powered compared to gas and electric alternatives - It has to be accepted that even in the best location the energy generated will not match that of a gas pool heater or heat pump. Solar heating will still work on overcast days but the output will not be as high as on a sunny day. Effectiveness highly dependent on correct conditions - How effective a solar pool heater will be in practice depends on a number of factors including local temperature, wind, the amount of sunshine and particularly the orientation of the solar panels. To work at their best the solar collectors need to be facing south and not be shaded by trees or anything else at any time of day. Not a cheap alternative - The cost of buying a solar pool heater system depends on the area of solar collectors you need. If you have a medium to large pool the cost is likely to be more than a gas based system. Having said this the low on-going costs will make up for this in time.
So should you go for solar heating? Well there are two key things to consider, your location and how long you want your swimming season to be. If you can locate the solar collectors to get best results and are not looking to extend your season into the colder months then you should give serious consideration to a solar pool heating system.