Dear all, first, thanks for all the great information on this site!!!!
I'd like to decrease the usage of our pool heater (save money, and the environment) but don't know if solar is right for me. Here are some facts. Any help is always appreciated. I'm just daydreaming a bit an I'm not sure how much something like this would cost.
1) we live in NY so have a short and unpredicable season. We usually only run our heater on weekends.
2) I just contacted my propane provider and the current price for propane in my area is $3.36/gallon versus $3.34 last May. This suprises me since Liquid Natural Gas decreased from ~$11/gallon to ~$3.40 during the same time period. Is there no correlation here?
3) As for solar panel space, I have a shed near my equipment pad with about 280 sq ft of roof surface in full sun. My pool is arount 45' x 20'x?? freeform "L" shape (~35,000 gallons). So the first question is, do I have enough surface are to make a decent difference?
4) Next, In what sequence shoudld the water go? If the water goes through the heater first, there wont be any benefit from the solar panels since the water is quite warm already (right?). If the water goes throught the solar panel first, wouldn't give a false reading to the thermostat in the heater?
5) Electricity? I run my main pump 12 hrs a day and a polaris booster pump for a vacuum occasionally. Would I need another pump running 12 hrs/day to push the water through the panels, or would the main pump handle this? I'd hate for my higher electric bill to offset my lower gas bill.
5) Who would you hire to do the job and do you know a ballpark cost to expenct. Our pool builder has competant people but they are stick-up artists. Would a plumber be a better choice? I'm probably not handy enough to do it myself.