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Thread: Solar pool heating

  1. Back To Top    #1
    divaofsongs's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Buckeye, AZ (Phoenix Area)

    Solar pool heating

    I have some questions about solar heating and would love some opinions/advice from any of you......

    As most of you have read, this pool is mainly being used for medical therapy and I need to be in it every day, as many days a year as possible, so I am thinking of using solar heat to extend the swimming season to 9-10 months. I can't afford the bill increase for using traditional heating for the pool so I am serious contemplating the solar route because once it is installed, it is free energy from the sun.

    I called several places and the quotes were right around $4.5 to $5k to provide 80% solar panel coverage and the whole system, including installation, however, I did find a company that has locations in Vegas and San Diego but just opened their first Phoenix location about a month ago and they are offering to do the whole thing for $3200, which is a substantial savings and something we would possibly scrape up to afford. I spoke with the owner and he explained that they were offering to do the systems at close to their cost, with a little profit, so they can establish their name here in AZ and after a year of garnering reviews and building their reputation, they would then be going up on their prices to be competitive with others. I understand this concept because I owned a website design firm for almost 15 years and we did the same thing in our infancy to help establish our name and reputation. Their system comes with a 10-year warranty and is backed by Solar Industries, Inc., which is the largest manufacturer of solar panels for pool heating in the U.S. I checked this company's other 2 locations out and they are well-rated and have good reviews but this particular location in AZ is new. I asked how things would be handled if something went wrong and we needed service under the 10-year warranty but they ended up going out of business and the guy said that Solar Industries backs their product up with the warranty for 10 years, whether they stayed in business or not. I do feel pretty comfortable with this new company as the owner is also the owner of another local business that has been around for almost 40 years and they are a well respected company with great service and integrity. Since that same man owns this company, I feel better about it.

    So, these are some of my questions and I am sure I will come up with more as the discussion progresses:

    1. Is anyone familiar with solar heat, how it works, and how effective it is?

    2. Would a heat pump be a better option? If so, what type of costs are there upfront and monthly to run one?

    3. I am originally from Ohio, and although my blood has thinned out some since I have been here for 12 years, I still prefer my pool water to be tepid, as opposed to warm. I hate being hot and with my MS, I have a lower tolerance to heat, so I would be comfortable swimming in 72 degree or higher water. It is said that the solar panels will heat the water to about 3-5 degrees less than the current temp, which means I could use the pool all year, except Dec, Jan, and Feb. Does this seem feasible?

    4. I found a complete solar system and the accompanying install kit on Amazon for about $1200, all I would need to do is find someone to install it and I could potentially save a lot of money, BUT, if something goes wrong, I am on my own without a warranty. Does anyone know of someone or a company that would install the system if I bought the parts/supplies? Or, would it make more sense to go with a company that will give a 10 year warranty on it and make sure it is properly installed in the first place?

    This is scary for me because I am on a limited budget, on disability and need this pool desperately so I can have a chance to walk again so I have to make sure every penny is well spent. I appreciate any help and insight.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    SW Louisiana

    Re: Solar pool heating

    It is hard to give specific advice without specific information, so I will try to stick to generalities here, and these are my personal opinions after doing a good bit of research on the subject and doing a self design and installation of solar panels for my pool, although I did hire out the actual roof top labor.

    Anyway here goes

    1, yes, but each installation is different, I assume you are somewhere in AZ, we do have a few members with solar heat in your area that can perhaps give location specific advice.

    2, again see #1, they can both provide heat, but solar heat is much more about accepting its opportunistic nature, think of solar heating as a sailboat and a heat pump as a power boat, with one you are much more dependant on how the wind is blowing that day.

    3, Solar panels tend to perform best when the target water temperature is within about 15-20 degrees of the peak daytime temperature, so 72 degree swim water is likely fairly easy to obtain with the addition of a solar pool cover when the pool is not in use for most of the year again see #1

    4, While quality DIY kits are out there I have yet to see one on Amazon that I consider a quality kit, as to the warranty question I generally feel most of these warranties are not worth the cost as many of the warranties do not cover freight for replacement panels which depending on the type must be sent truck freight, and typically cost around half as much as the cost of the panel. In addition many of the warranties do not cover labor. Also you should be aware that many panels are sold through multiple distribution channels such as private label programs where the Techno Solis brand panels which are mostly sold through local installers are also sold as Vortex panels by Solar Direct. The same it true of some Aquatherm panels and Elm Distribution. This lets the same panel be sold at a lower price with a shorter warranty, or to the DIY crowd without directly effecting the installer distribution channel.

    As to the specific deal, it is hard to comment with no specifics

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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    DFW, TX

    Re: Solar pool heating

    With an adequately sized panel array facing south or south and west and a solar cover to retain heat on cool nights you will be able achieve temps higher than the daytime temperature. I have about 35% solar with some shade on the panels from trees and no solar cover and I can usually maintain temps around the high temp. Too much wind or rain can set me back a few days sometimes. I will be installing a small heat pump and a solar cover this spring to try to cover some of those cooler nights and losses and try to extend the swim season a little. Also very important to successful solar panel operation is a solar controller that will open and close the solar valve when heat is available. The first year without a controller there would be days when we would cool the pool, not heat it, due to wind or rain. I assume you are in AZ, not sure where Buckeye is. But in AZ with more sun and less rain and 80% coverage you should easily be able to heat your pool above the daytime temps. Especially if you are ok with 72* water, my target is 85.

    Another thing we did was buy a fairly inexpensive ($3500) hot tub for the winter months. It really helps a lot for us, maybe that will help you through the colder months. I was really surprised how good the hot tub is for aches and pains. We use it at least several times per week except in peak summer heat months.

    Solar will certainly give you more comfortable swim days, ours is very good for that. If you find that you need a little more you can buy a small, fairly cheap heat pump ($1500) to supplement your solar and let solar do most of the work for free and the heat pump get the last few degrees.

    It sounds like this company you are talking to is reputable, will do a good job and save you some money. Installing solar panels is a fairly straightforward job, I did my own full installation and it was not that complicated or difficult and there isn't a lot that can go wrong. And solar panels last a long time. It seems like you would be fine with them.
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