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Thread: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

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    Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Another newbie issue... I'm having a 38x16 (6' deep, 20K gallon) Leisure Moroccan fiberglass pool installed on 23 April. I know I'm not going to install an electric or propane pool heater. My "plan" was to install the pool this year and then maybe add solar heating next year. But... I'm not ready to consider installing solar heating. I have plenty of roof space (detachable garage) that is directly adjacent to the pool pad. It faces WSW. I have hung and wired the EasyTouch 4 w/ IC40 panel. From what I've read I don't think I want the hassle of a solar cover...

    I'm in northern Virginia. Will a solar heater make a significant difference in heating the pool? As far as my wife is concerned a pool could not be too warm for her, she likes the warm water. If so, how "big" a system would I need? I'm a DIY and would be installing it myself, so I'm looking for a user friendly system. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated...
    N Virginia
    -Leisure Moroccan 38' Fiberglass
    -19,800 Gallons
    -Pentair EasyTouch 4 w/IC40 Chlorinator,VS3050 Pump, Clean&Clear Plus 320 Cartridge Filter,Prowler 720 Robot Cleaner
    -1 Skimmer/ 3 Returns/2 Drains/2" Piping
    -3 Fiberstar Pal Treo LED lights/Wirtran
    -TF100 TestKit

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Hey Gunnert, congratulations on the (upcoming) pool project! I am sure you will find this forum very useful for your DIY projects!

    One side note on solar heating - without a solar cover, you will lose quite a bit of heat through evaporation. If you are going to spend the money on a solar heating system, a cover would help you maximize your investments efficiency.

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    duraleigh's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Will a solar heater make a significant difference in heating the pool?
    They are not very effective if you don't use a solar cover at night. Your decision, but I don't think I would do it without the cover.

    With the cover, they are absolutely super!
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
    TFTestkits , PoolMath , Pool School

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    texasdad's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    This is a great question; I've wondered the same thing.

    This time of year what temperature could I expect out of a solar heater? The water is in the low 60's now with a solar cover on. Would 20deg be reasonable making the water swimming temperature in the early spring?
    13k gallon IG gunite pool
    Jandy 2 speed pump
    Jandy cartridge filter
    Stenner Pump and tank

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    I love mine, definitely makes our water temp more bearable. Cover is a must for us.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by texasdad
    This time of year what temperature could I expect out of a solar heater? The water is in the low 60's now with a solar cover on. Would 20deg be reasonable making the water swimming temperature in the early spring?
    I think 20 degrees would be pushing it for this sun angle (though yours is better than mine), but if you had ~ equal solar area to pool area and full sun on panels most of the day, and cover on when you are not using it...you might get 10+ consistently. IMO, temp in 70's is quite swimmable.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Solar Heat will heat up your pool, use in conjuction with a pool cover to maximize heat retension. We love our solar heat. Look at the numbers gained in our solar heat installation in the sig bar. Also keep in mind that we have close to 100% ratio of solar to pool surface area, our pool is small, and we live in North Florida. Hope this helps
    6,000 gal, IG free form,Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish,Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues,Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump,Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15,Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers,Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Pentair IntelliBrite, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer Our New Poolbuild, Jacksonville, FL yr 2009 Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    If you decide to add solar, a cover is a must during the early and late seasons. Last year I kept my cover on until June and it was back on late September. If we don't use a cover in the early and late season there is no way our water would be comfortable to swim in, we like the 80's. Last night our water temp was 84 and my neighbors pool which is uncovered and no heater was 62 degrees. This year we have been using the pool since Presidents day. I have 90% panel coverage, they are due west, and I live near the coast.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
    Hayward Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG, Jandy LXi 400k BTU NG heater, 350 sq.ft. of Sun Star solar panels, TF-100 Test Kit, Dolphin s300i Cleaner
    Test Kits . Pool Math . Chlorine/CYA Chart . The SLAM Process

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    I have a 33,000 gallon, 20' x 40' with a safety cover and 300 sq feet of helicol panels facing south angled at 30 deg. As of yesterday the water was 70 deg. My friends pool, uncovered with no solar was 55 deg. If I had more than only approx 40% of my pool area in solar I'd be in the "higher" 70's. The way it looks I'll get about 6 months with the water at 80 deg. (may / October.) When I got these installed in late August my water reached a high of 88 deg.
    DONE, 20 x 40, inground gunite, 30" raised bond beam with 3 12" sheer descents, 8' diving board, pentair 420 cartridge filter, vs-3050 pump, intellechlor ic-40, auto cvr, Tahoe blue pebble tech, 6ea 4' x 12.5' & 2ea 1' x 12.5' helicol solar panels, legend robotic cleaner.

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Just opened my pool over the weekend, let you know how it goes

    I installed this array a couple years ago, this will be my third season. I'm in the same general area as you (southern MD), last year I opened at the end of April closed the end of September. I do not expect to get in too much swimming in early April but we'll see, if we have 3 or 4 days of sun with temps in the 60's or greater I should be able to heat the water to 80. It was 58 when I opened it Friday, today is the first day of sun.

    As far as the cover goes, from mid-June to mid-August the cover stays off and I generally have no problem keeping the pool at 88 or warmer. The panels are roughly 80% of the pool surface area.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    12*24, 8,600 gallon vinyl inground, 12*18 H2otsun solar panel, Polaris ATV, 1hp Superpump

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Thanks for the reply. Please keep me updated. Pool construction begins 23 April. I'll have it plumbed installing a solar heater later.
    N Virginia
    -Leisure Moroccan 38' Fiberglass
    -19,800 Gallons
    -Pentair EasyTouch 4 w/IC40 Chlorinator,VS3050 Pump, Clean&Clear Plus 320 Cartridge Filter,Prowler 720 Robot Cleaner
    -1 Skimmer/ 3 Returns/2 Drains/2" Piping
    -3 Fiberstar Pal Treo LED lights/Wirtran
    -TF100 TestKit

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Water went from 58 to 66 today, not too warm as far as air temp goes and LOTS of wind but it was sunny.
    12*24, 8,600 gallon vinyl inground, 12*18 H2otsun solar panel, Polaris ATV, 1hp Superpump

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Followup, the pool passed 80 degrees for the first time on 4-15. Still using the solar cover at night at this point...
    12*24, 8,600 gallon vinyl inground, 12*18 H2otsun solar panel, Polaris ATV, 1hp Superpump

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    I ran my solar system several years without a cover. It can be done with large enough panels but there are some negatives.

    First, you will have quite a bit more water loss because solar will heat the water and the evaporation increases with water temperature. If you have hard fill water like me, this can mean having to replace the water more often as well.

    Second, is temperature swings. When I ran solar without a cover, the temperature would drop to about 8 degrees overnight and take all day to come back up to temperature.

    Third, because of the loss in temperature overnight, pump run time and energy use was close to 3x without the cover vs with the cover. With the cover, I only need to run the pump on full speed a couple of hours to bring the pool back up to temperature. Without a cover, it was over 6 hours on full speed.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Yes well, I'm not in California <g>. Water loss? OK, I get a metered charge twice a year - maybe $80 total but I suspect most of that is the lawn. @ 10 cents a kilowatt I don't worry about the electric much either .
    12*24, 8,600 gallon vinyl inground, 12*18 H2otsun solar panel, Polaris ATV, 1hp Superpump

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    Re: Solar Heaters, are they worth it?

    Quote Originally Posted by mdbuilder View Post
    Yes well, I'm not in California <g>. Water loss? OK, I get a metered charge twice a year - maybe $80 total but I suspect most of that is the lawn. @ 10 cents a kilowatt I don't worry about the electric much either .
    I know this is an older thread, but i'm curious if you use an actuator or 3 way to toggle it automatically when cloudy and which model you use if so.. what brand solar array is that and how many sq feet did you end up using.. i was considering this 80 sq foot for my 18'x52" pool, but maybe two boxes so 160 square feet.
    My Intex Ultra 18'52 build
    My SmartPool Solar Panel Build
    6981 Gallon + Hayward 1.5HP Matrix + 21"
    Solar S601P SmartPool 160sq feet solar panels
    Intex 7K Gallon SWG, Hayward WideMouth

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