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.