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Thread: Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    High Point, N.C.
    Posts
    37

    Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

    Does anyone know if a solar cover would extend the swimming season or should I get a heat pump?

    I live in North Carolina and the air temp gets pretty comfortable around April, but my pool water stays below 75 degrees until about a month or so later. Likewise in the fall it would be nice to swim into October, but water temp cools in September.

    I have a solar cover that I have never used. If I bought a heater it would probably be a heat pump. I've never checked water temps here in April, so don't know how much heating would be required to swim then. I have heard you can get 10 degrees with a solar cover. Would that be enough for April in N.C.?

    Thanks, Ken
    20,000gal, inground, vinyl liner, 1.5hp Hayward Superpump, Hayward sand filter, Heat Pump, CircuPool SWG, BBB w/o Borax, one skimmer, Caretaker floor popups, two return jets at stairs, waterfall.

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
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    2,690

    Re: Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

    A solar cover wont do too much to put heat in a pool, but it works tremendously well at keeping heat in. If you want to heat the pool, you need a heater. A heat pump would probably work ok in your area, but i'm partial to a gas heater myself.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    High Point, N.C.
    Posts
    37

    Re: Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

    bk406, do you use both the heat pump and the propane heater? If so, why? Do you mind sharing your propane usage and expense?
    20,000gal, inground, vinyl liner, 1.5hp Hayward Superpump, Hayward sand filter, Heat Pump, CircuPool SWG, BBB w/o Borax, one skimmer, Caretaker floor popups, two return jets at stairs, waterfall.

  4. Back To Top    #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
    Posts
    2,690

    Re: Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

    I've only had the propane heater since last April, so I can only give you rough numbers based on one season. And, my climate is a bit different than yours as well, so YMMV.
    My heat pump works really well during our swim season, which is basically late May thru the end of August (if you dont have a heater). I keep the water around 84 so in mid may to mid June and late august to early september, the HP runs quite a bit to maintain that temp, maybe 5-6 hours a day. And, sometimes i cant get 84 degree water temps either, even running it for 12 hours. But, our low temps even at that time of year can get down into the mid 50's and take awhile to recover. A heat pump needs consistently warm air to work well. Now, if you like your water a little cooler, it might work better. In general, what I've found is that in real world situations, a heat pump works well with air temps above 65 degrees, and better at 70+. The longer it takes to get to 65-70 in the morning, the longer it will run, and the longer it takes to heat the water. Cool, rainy days and you might as well turn it off. As I said, I like it, but at least up here in Massachusetts, it doesnt extend my swim season at all. For you, it would probably extend by a couple weeks on either end, give or take, and in the summer, it would work realy well. Again, it depends on how warm you want the water, and how many hours during the day the air temp is above 65.

    I got my propane heater last April since i wasnt satisfied at all with the HP in late April, May, and late August-mid October. We get some really great swim weather then, but not enough daytime heating for long enough for a heat pump to work well. For example, we might hit 80 degrees in early May, but the low might be 52 and take until 2 pm to hit 80. So a heat pump is pretty useless. I used my propane heater in May of last year pretty exclusively, as well as late august and all of September. I dont keep it continuously warm though like i use the heat pump. I used it on warm weekends, or 1-2 times during the week depending on the weather and if my kids wanted to swim after school. Even during the summer I used it a few times when I got impatient waiting for the heat pump. In general, I'd put around 8-10 degrees in the pool each time i ran it, sometimes maybe 4-5 degrees in the summer. So in one season, I used ~200 gallons of gas. I pay $2.75 a gallon so about $550 worth of propane last season. It's not cheap. If I had to use propane all season with no heat pump, it would get expensive. Thats why i got the heat pump to begin with. I dont have NG on my street (cheap builders!) so i'm forced to use propane. If I had NG, i wouldnt have the heat pump. For my NG rates and electric rates, NG would cost a touch more than the HP, but not tremendously so. For me, a HP and the propane heater are a nice combo. But, i also spent over $7000 for both heaters, electrical hookup, and the propane install.
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Rafael, CA USA
    Posts
    12,082

    Re: Solar Cover versus Heat Pump

    A pool cover will lower the rate of heat loss by at least 50% and up to 75% if you get a quality bubble-type cover. In my pool during the summer, without any cover and with the pool kept warm at 88ºF the pool loses around 4-6ºF overnight where average lows of air temperature are 52-54ºF. With a relatively thin mostly opaque electric safety cover in place, it loses about half that or around 2-3ºF overnight, mostly through elimination of evaporation. If I were to use a bubble-type cover, I'd probably lose around 1-1.5ºF overnight through its additional savings from reducing losses from conduction/convection. This difference may not seem like a lot, but it's huge with regard to solar heating being able to maintain a specific temperature. If the solar system was just barely getting to 88ºF at a 2.5ºF overnight loss, it would only be able to get to around 80ºF with a 5ºF overnight loss. The use of a pool cover is absolutely essential when using solar unless you are in an area where daytime temps are extremely high (e.g. desert areas) or keep the pool cooler. With a heat pump, figure the cost of an extra 3-4ºF per day of heating you would need if you didn't use a cover.

    Figure that a solar cover alone will have the pool get to 10-15ºF warmer than the average day/night air temperature while using solar with a cover can get you to 20-25ºF warmer during the summer.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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