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Thread: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

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    SunnyBama's Avatar
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    Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    My pool is open but still a bit too chilly for me to enjoy (water temp was 78 degrees today.) A heat pump is out of the question at this time, so I'd like to use some type of solar heating system, either panels or a solar cover, to warm the water. Opinions as to which one is better? Advantages/disadvantages?
    Intex Ultra Frame 20'x52" pool (10,600 gallons); Sand filter (Model SF80110); Krystal Clear SWG (Model CS8110); AquaBot PoolRover Jr. Pool Cleaner; TF-100 Test Kit with SpeedStir

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    I'm with you on that, I like 85 and up. It is a lot cheaper to give a solar cover a try first. Get a thin, cheap one. Take it off when it's sunny, leave it on at night or if it is windy, cold or rainy. It is not unreasonable to pick up 4 or 5 degrees. If that doesn't help enough then you can look at getting solar.
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    A solar cover is sort of a misnomer, they do little to capture heat, instead what they do is help prevent heat loss by evaporation, which may help some with your goal. Price wise a solar cover is going to be MUCH cheaper than effective solar heat panels, they are also not just an either or, but work well in combination. However if budget is a problem for a heat pump, initial purchase cost of a quality worthwhile solar heater system is not going to be all that much if any cheaper, assuming you have a good place to put it.

    You can expect a solar cover to be available mail order for under $100, a solar heater big enough to make significant difference in your pool will need an area of at least 50% the surface area of your pool, or about 280 sq ft. Or put another way about 6 4x12 standard solar panels. A basic DIY installation kit from one of the major mail order vendors (solardirect) for 6 4x12 panels, and associated roof mounting hardware, etc. would run about $1771 without solar controller or about $2144 with basic solar controller, plus probably another $300+ in incidental plumbing, this assumes you would need a larger pump.

    p.s. oops it looks like my math was off, but not by too much, it looks like 3 or maybe 4 panels would be more approriate, so knock off about $720 from those prices.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    Isaac has you covered.

    Simply: solar panels add heat to the pool. A cover retains the existing heat.
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    SunnyBama's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    Very helpful information! Thanks! I'm going to start off with a cover and we'll see how that works for now.
    Intex Ultra Frame 20'x52" pool (10,600 gallons); Sand filter (Model SF80110); Krystal Clear SWG (Model CS8110); AquaBot PoolRover Jr. Pool Cleaner; TF-100 Test Kit with SpeedStir

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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    I have a clear solar cover, and last Thursday my water was 76. We had temps in the mid 80s with full sun all weekend. By Sunday afternoon the water was 86. Mostly what a solar cover does is retain gained heat. But, I am a believer that a clear one helps generate 'some' heat. Think of it like a greenhouse. Also leaving it on during a breezy day will help keep the wind off of it. Similar to blowing a cup of coffee.
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    Re: Solar Heating: panels or cover?

    I purchased a solar cover this year, and even though we've only had highs in the 70's lately, my pool was warm enough to get in chest deep last week to do some vacuuming. Last year uncovered, it never did get all that warm, even in the height of summer. I think I'm going to be very happy once it does finally get hot around here.
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