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Thread: Pool Heater Ideas

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    Pool Heater Ideas

    I am trying to come up with ideas on how to heat our 27' 54" above ground pool (approximately 19,000 gallons). Ideally we'll invest in an electric or gas heater but it won't be for at least a year. For this year I'd like to just gain a couple of degrees of temperature on average (kids and wife use pool almost everyday during summer when warm enough....prefer over 78 degrees).

    I've researched the solar panel idea, but I don't see how these panels would fit into our landscape layout. Unfortunately our house is over 50 feet away from the pool which makes using the roof less than ideal. I've thought about trying to build a smaller panel with circular piping (much smaller footprint) but everything I read cautions against them.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks in advance!
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Solar heating is about surface area exposed to the sun. So a smaller cooled panel is not going to do as much as a larger panel.

    There is little head loss in straight pipe, so running to the house is not likely a problem.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    You could place a small ground rack for a couple of panels on the south side of your deck or on the south side of the pool. Pretty simple to frame and not expensive.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Thanks to both of you. The area of the house directly across from the pool is two-story and I'm not comfortable going up that high to install. If we were to do a roof install it would have to be on the roof right next to the back deck (you can see the incline in the photo).

    If we were to install a rack along the south of the deck or pool, I would imagine it would take up a large area. The panels are 20' long, correct?

    How many degrees would each panel give us?
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    We are also looking to do some solar heat to extend our pool time spring/fall. Thinking of running some black garden hose on a black wooden panel or on skirting of the deck around the pool facing south. If yours is temporary, as it sounds it is from you looking to go gas in a couple years this may be a cheap interim solution. That being said we haven't set ours up yet so unsure how much hose will be enough to make a difference......just a thought.
    27' x 54" AG Morada RTR/19,300 gal/ 1hp-2spd Hayward Power-Flo Matrix/Hayward 256T sand filter

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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    How many degrees would each panel give us?
    Impossible to calculate with any accuracy.....way too many variables. The biggest one is using a solar cover religiously.
    Dave S.
    42k vinyl and concrete pool, 1.5hp pump, 140gpm filter
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    Charlie_R's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    I would suggest a rocket stove type heater that you could build yourself, but I think maybe your neighbors or HOA would object.

    I've put one together for my 15'x48" Intex, and burn scrap wood from construction sites, and cast-off pallets.
    15'x48" 4500 gallon Intex pool, buried 1.5 ft. Pac-Fab Dynamo 3/4 hp pump. Hayward S180T sand filter, bought used. Taylor K-2006 test kit. Rocket mass heater based wood fired pool heater.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by pmsmith2032 View Post
    Thanks to both of you. The area of the house directly across from the pool is two-story and I'm not comfortable going up that high to install. If we were to do a roof install it would have to be on the roof right next to the back deck (you can see the incline in the photo).

    If we were to install a rack along the south of the deck or pool, I would imagine it would take up a large area. The panels are 20' long, correct?

    How many degrees would each panel give us?

    Panels are available in several sizes, but the most common for the above ground style are either 2X20' or 4X20'.

    There are a few options for racks in This Thread

    Another possibility is to build a pergola shade structure to hold the panels and provide a shaded sitting area. The extra height adds a little cost, but the space serves two purposes.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Thanks to all! After further research I think some sort of wood heater is the best option. Here are a couple of questions/comments I've run across as I researched:

    1. I am actually in the process of creating a new fire pit area (blue circle on aerial photo). This fire pit will be built into the ground and surrounded with field stones. We also have an old chimney fire pit (see attached picture) that could be used. I know we'll be using the new fire pit in the evenings (we like to swim and sit around the fire pit in the evenings). Any opinion on either of these options?

    2. I was thinking of burying the plumping to and from the pool to the fire pit to reduce the "redneck" aspect and make it look more professional. Any opinions on this idea?

    3. The filter pump could be used to facilitate water flow or a separate pump could be bought. Any opinions?

    4. As anyone built a similar system? Do you have any pictures? Any good links I should check out?

    Thanks again!
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Wood heat isn't nearly as effective as you might imagine. It takes a lot of wood to heat a pool.
    TFP Moderator
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Thanks John. We actually have a lot of wood (old wood from a tree my grandparents cut down, leftover wood from past winter for fireplace, scrap lumber). That's why I thought the fire heater was the best option.
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    Charlie_R's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    I agree with John, it does take a lot of wood to heat a pool. For me the wood is free, except for having to go pick it up.

    Here is the "redneck" system I used for the last couple of years, photobucket album link. The heater is on page 2.

    This year I've built a rocket stove type, and will upload pics soon. Yes, I'm one that uses what I have on hand. I enjoy repurposing things that otherwise would go to the landfill.
    15'x48" 4500 gallon Intex pool, buried 1.5 ft. Pac-Fab Dynamo 3/4 hp pump. Hayward S180T sand filter, bought used. Taylor K-2006 test kit. Rocket mass heater based wood fired pool heater.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by pmsmith2032 View Post
    Thanks John. We actually have a lot of wood (old wood from a tree my grandparents cut down, leftover wood from past winter for fireplace, scrap lumber). That's why I thought the fire heater was the best option.
    I've seen people report needing two pickup loads a week in a well insulated boiler. The heating load from the pool was higher than the load for heating their house in the winter.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Yikes! Looks like heating the pool might not be in the cards this year.
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    SuzyAbbott's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    We have a 24x54" and have 4 20" panels for it. Worked fantastic!!
    24' Sharkline Matrix. Coral Reef Liner. Clearwater II Cartridge Filter. Saltron Retro Salt WaterGenerator. 4x20 Ecosaver Solar Panels, Rover Jr. robot vac. Fiberglass Steps and Lifesaver pool fence/gate.

    Previous pool: 9x18 intex with salt water generator and vinylworks 5x10 deck.

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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Each panel is close to $180 right? Once you add in the plumbing I bet it would be over $200 which is not in the budget for this year.
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    I appreciate everyone's suggestions but have decided to go the diy route. I understand that the commercial panels are more efficient for the cost but they are not an option for us because 1. One panel would cost over $150 installed 2. The footprint on the panels (especially the 20' length) is too large for our application 3. I am skeptical that a 2'x20' panel actually offers 40 sq ft of heat absorption. I'm not sure exactly how the panels are constructed and function, but I would imagine there are tubes running through them. The sq ft would be the "facing surface" of the tubes if comparing them "apples to apples" with a diy coil system. Anyway, I am looking for opinions on the following:

    1. What would be the best type of tubing to use? Poly tubing (irrigation)? PVC? Black garden hose? Is a smaller diameter (like 1/2") better or worse than a larger (like 1")?

    2. Are there advantages/disadvantages to a coil system as opposed to a lateral system?

    3. Would enclosing the system help efficiency? For example, would enclosing a system in wood and plexiglass help? I would imagine the air temperature would be higher inside such a box, but I also think I read somewhere that the plexiglass would block some of the strength of the sun.

    4. I have an old sump pump I can use to power such a system......does this sound like a good idea?

    Thanks in advance and have a great weekend!
    Wil-Bar 27'x54" Quest AGP
    Hayward 1HP Powerflo Pump
    Hayward 256 T Swimpro Sand Filter

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    You will not be able to come even remotely close to the efficiency of a commercial panel with a DIY setup. Commercial panels are highly efficient and make effective use of their entire surface area. DIY panels are typically less than 1/4 as efficient per unit area, and often end up costing just as much.

    Enclosing the panels is only worth it if your air temperature is quite low. Enclosed panels are used for home hot water in the winter, but lower efficiency when the air temperature is 60+ degrees.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Mod Squad woodyp's Avatar
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    Just to get by for a year.......I'd go the simple solar cover route myself.
    16x32x52" Steel Cornelius Miramar AGP Vinyl liner 13,100 gal. Buried 2 ft.
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    Re: Pool Heater Ideas

    First, I don't believe you save any money by DIY if you try to build a system that can add any reasonable temperature to the pool, but a small DIY system is how many of us (me included) get started in this.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmsmith2032 View Post
    1. What would be the best type of tubing to use? Poly tubing (irrigation)? PVC? Black garden hose? Is a smaller diameter (like 1/2") better or worse than a larger (like 1")?


    2. Are there advantages/disadvantages to a coil system as opposed to a lateral system?
    1/2 irrigation tubing, in multiple coils, plumbed in parallel. A coil will be the most cost efficient and simple to build. 1/2" to maximize surface area contact with the water...a larger pipe has more water "in the middle" that is not touching the tube. If using the pool pump, you will need some sort of bypass to limit the water flow going through this. A commercial panel can handle and heat 44gal/min, which is way above what a few 1/2 irrigation coils can handle.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmsmith2032 View Post
    3. Would enclosing the system help efficiency? For example, would enclosing a system in wood and plexiglass help? I would imagine the air temperature would be higher inside such a box, but I also think I read somewhere that the plexiglass would block some of the strength of the sun.
    No.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmsmith2032 View Post
    4. I have an old sump pump I can use to power such a system......does this sound like a good idea?
    If it's a utility (lower than pool pump flow) pump, then sure. That would be perfect. If a it's a pool pump, you need to figure out flow control, and are probably better off running off the main pump. 3/4hp single speed pool pump will push about 44gal/minute in many setups.

    Additionally, if it runs when the sun is not out, it may actually cool the pool. Keep how you control this thing in mind when you put your plans together. A professional system includes a controller that automates control to only run when heat is available.
    Fayetteville, NY -17K gal, IG vinyl, Hayward SP2300VSP Max-Flo Variable Speed Pump, FlowVis Flow Meter, Sand filter
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