We have a 21ft AG pool (346 sq. footage). We installed four 4x10 Enersol panels on our south facing roof. Exactly set up like this:
So with 160 square feet of panel we have 46% coverage. Sun exposure from 9-5 on panels. I zealously use my solar blanket (standard blanket that came with the pool). The kids have been using the pool alot....most afternoons, but when not in use the cover is almost always on.
Ideal pool temp for me and the kids is 83 but we'll swim at over 78+. hubby will only swim at 87+ degrees . I know.... he needs a spa.
My thoughts on the solar is mixed. Basically as the name implies you are at the mercy of the sun. I know...duh...I find the claims and assurance of pool store salesmen to be more optomistic than realistic. If you invest in solar heating you cannot get angry at the sun. You must learn to go with the flow and accept what you get. The beauty of it is knowing you can turn the solar on and not get angry at your kids if they only went in for 15 minutes or didn't go in at all. Paying to heat a pool and have that happen would make me very stressed at my kids.
The hotter/sunnier the weather is......the hotter your pool.
If you want to decide when your pool is hot....solar heating is not the way to go.
What surprised me
By leaving my hand or standing in front of the return I found that the within seconds of a cloud going in front of the sun you lose heat almost instantly. It's quite impressive how quickly it reacts. This summer has been extremely cloudy, so on average our pool goes up about 4 degrees per day....and frustratingly due to cool summer nights...loses about 3-4 degrees at night. That's with the panels running 9-5.
It surprises me because our pool is in full sun from noon to 8pm....so I'm not sure just how many degrees the panels are doing vs. direct sun on pool. According to the claims and our sun exposure, I thought the panels with a full days sun would warm up the pool 5-10 degrees.
With daytime temperatures having been around 20-25 (70 degreesish) pool temps with 9-5 solar have been between 78 and 85.
During a 2 week nice warm spell in August we enjoyed temps of 85-90 which allowed us one and half weeks of late night swimming!!!
I don't have anyone to compare with day to day....but I think our temps seem to have been generally a bit higher than others I've had casual conversations with who have no heating.
We've already spent more that we initially wanted to.....approx $2000 but also want to do the job properly.
We have room to add atleast one more panel if not 2.
We could add a goldline automatic control
I was wondering if anyone else has any thoughts on our performance...if we are maybe overlooking something. Are we expecting too much? Have we just had a crappy summer?
Also for those of you who installed a goldline controller maybe after the face....how much of a difference did it make?
RE the goldline....right now we have a 3 way valve where the water diverts to the panels and we also have a valve we shut off at the bottom of the panel plumbing to stop the water from draining out of the panels when we turn off the solar. We find that it stop all the air bubbles upon turning the panels back on the next day.
So if we install a goldline auto control....
a) aren't the panel plumbing lines always going to reempty causeing air in the lines?
b) do you need to leave our pump on high 24/7?
Hope this helps anyone contemplating solar....and thanks to any who can answer my questions