How to heat your pool with solar in any season

Spring is well and truly upon us and it’s that perfect time of year where there’s a mixture of sunshine, cool breeze, warm days and pleasantly chilly nights. For those who are fortunate enough to have a swimming pool you may be getting ready to heave off the cover and go for a dip! But you can bet it’s going to be pretty nippy, unless you’ve got some sort of pool heating to get your pool to that desired, comfortable temperature.

Pool heating is viewed as quite a luxury to have in Australia, with our climate and temperatures being reasonably warm for a large portion of the year. However, if you’ve gone to the trouble of having a pool installed, buying a house with a pool or even keeping the maintenance up on your pool, wouldn’t you want to get the most out of it all year round?

By adding a pool heating device, your family’s pool usage could go from 3 months a year in Summer to 9 months, being able to make full use of your pool in Summer, Autumn and Spring.

The downside? Heating a pool can be expensive. In fact, any type of water heating within the household (showering, washing clothes, kettle) is costly and is usually one of the biggest contributors to electricity bills. However, these days renewable energy, particularly solar is a cost-effective solution to this.

Much like how some households may have a solar hot water device for heating the water within a household, you can also have a solar pool heater specially to heat your pool. Another alternative to this is having a conventional electric pool heating system but have a solar pv system installed to reduce your overall electricity bills.

Solar Pool Heaters

­If you’re looking at directly heating your pool as opposed to reducing your overall electricity in conjunction with heating your pool, then a solar pool heater is going to be the more affordable option in terms of upfront costs. When exploring solar pool heaters, you’ll find two options in the market; Pool heaters with Flat Panel Solar Collectors or Evacuated Tube Collectors. Both of which are effective ways of heating your pool, however one may be better suited for your circumstances or location.

Solar Pool Heater – Flat Panel Solar Collector System

This type of heating operates by the pool water circulating through a flat panel which is mounted on a roof to ensure maximum exposure to the sun. The water is heated by the sun before returning to the pool. Flat panel solar collectors can bring a pools temperature up by 5-10 degrees and usually come with the ability to be controlled automatically or manually.

Flat panel solar collectors are more suited to households located in warm, sunny climates and aren’t as effective in cooler environment, however they are the cheaper option when it comes to solar pool heaters.

Solar Pool Heater – Evacuated Tube Collector System

Solar Pool heater Evacuated Tube

An evacuated tube collector system is the most direct and effective way of heating a pool through solar and can work in all climates including cold and overcast. The system works by a panel of large glass tubes mounted on a roof. Within the large glass tubes are small glass tubes which create a vacuum. As the sun heats the glass the temperature is caught within the tubes and transported to a heat exchanger attached to a water box. The pool’s water is then sent through the water box and heated before returning to the pool. As the heat is insulated during the process, these types of systems can work well in even cool climates. However, you will find solar pool heaters with evacuated tube collectors much pricier than a flat panel collector.

 

Heating Your Pool with a Solar PV System

solar house with swimming poolIf you already have a heated pool with a conventional heat pump, you might be just looking for a way to reduce the costs of running it. As discussed earlier any type of water heating is costly and is usually one of the biggest contributors to electricity bills. While installing a solar PV system can’t directly heat a pool it will reduce the costs of running it, which you’ll see through reduced electricity bills. This is also an option if you want the choice of heating your pool on occasion, but also want to reduce your household electricity bills all year round.

Conveniently there’s never been a better time to install a solar PV system in Australia due to the drop-in prices and current Government Rebates that are available.

 

Read more on Why Now Is A Great Time To Install Solar or request obligation free quotes from local solar installers and find out how much you can save!

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Understanding Batteries

Off-Grid Systems

For some households a battery system can be of great benefit and minimise a home’s reliance on the grid. However, it’s important to understand for a battery to be useful your solar system needs to be generating excess energy for the battery to store, which you can then use at night or when the sun is not out.

When selecting a battery, you’ll want to invest in a system that is most suited to your home and can drive the best return on investment (ROI). Despite a larger upfront cost, a higher quality battery may significantly increase your ROI.

    Battery systems start from $6,000 and costs can vary greatly based on the following factors:

  1. Cycle Life-Time

    The number of times a battery can fully charge and discharge.

  2. Battery Power (kW)

    How fast it can be charged or discharged.

  3. Storage Capacity (kWh)

    The maximum amount of energy a battery system can store.

  4. Battery Management System (BMS)

    An electronic ‘smart’ system that gathers data and manages the battery ensuring it does not overload or operate outside of its safe functioning zone..

  5. Inverter

    Battery systems require their own inverter if your solar system does not have a hybrid inverter.

  6. 'All-In-One Unit’

    A system which includes the battery, BMS and an inverter all in one unit.

  7. Warranty

    Length of time or cycles the battery system is under guarantee.

  8. Blackout Protection/Backup

    It’s important to note this is not a common feature of a battery system and could cost thousands of dollars to include. Blackout protection not only requires additional components but also a specialised installation and rewiring. For grid-connected homes, the cost for blackout protection can outweigh the benefit.

Additionally, if your purpose for adding battery is to go Off-Grid and become completely independent from the grid you will need to ensure your solar system can generate enough energy to power your home and your battery system is large enough to store this energy. For homes in metro areas going Off-grid is not cost effective and is only recommended for those in remote areas with limited access to the grid. Off-grid solar systems with battery start at approximately $30,000.