With the cooler fall weather approaching, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep that pool open a little while longer? There are a range of options out there for pool heating systems and with consumers becoming more budget conscious and environmentally aware, consider taking a look at solar pool heaters.

Solar pool heater systems are typically made up of a solar collector installed on a roof or other sunny area, a filter, a pump, and flow control valve. The system works by pumping your water through the filter and then into the series of sun heated collectors and then back into your pool, a process that can result in an overall rise in water temperature of 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit after a day of circulation. Solar collectors are made out of a variety of material from heavy-duty rubber or plastic to copper and aluminum depending on climate and your heating needs.

Solar pool heaters are a lot like solar panels on a home in that they require an initial investment but then need very little maintenance over time. There is no ongoing heating cost because you are using a free and renewable resource, the sun, to heat your pool instead of purchasing gas or other fuels. Before making this investment though, you should consider the following:

•What is your pool area’s solar resource?
•What is the correct system size for your pool?

Your pool area’s ‘solar resource’ refers to the amount of sun it receives in a day based on shade and direction facing the sun. For the solar collectors to work most efficiently, you must determine that where they are mounted has adequate un-shaded and south facing areas that will receive the most direct sun exposure. Some variables to consider when considering where to mount them might be the position of a next door or large nearby trees that could potentially overshadow the collectors during the sunniest parts of the day. Solar pool heaters do not require constant and direct sun though so even if you live in a cooler and cloudier climate but your solar resource is good, a solar pool heater can still work quite well.

System size depends on a number of variables like pool length and depth, external temperature, and your pool area’s solar resource. Contractors typically estimate that you need to have enough solar collectors to cover at least 50% of your pool area. For example, a 10-by-20 foot pool would require at least 100 square feet of collectors to maintain desired pool temperatures. The amount of solar collector area that you need can increase depending on how long into the year you want to keep your pool heated. A lot of contractors will also recommend adding a solar blanket to the surface of your pool to capture the diffuse evening sun and help your solar system along in harnessing that free and abundant solar energy.

So much of what a swimming pool is about is playing and lounging in the sun so why not use that same wonderful warm light to keep you an your family happily swimming all the way through the year.