Solar Heater in Charlotte NC?

Tcadwall0

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May 19, 2021
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Charlotte, NC
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Hey guys - I did do some searches, but found rather old threads, also didn't see anyone with experience in my climate region. (Charlotte, NC)

When I did the pool install last year, I was not sure about what the temperature of my pool was going to average, and whether I might want a heater / chiller, or just a heater for instance. I have had some experience here where some pools that were in 100% sun get warm enough in the summer that I did not find them refreshing or enjoyable.

So I held off on deciding between gas or electric heater/chiller combo.

Into my second season, and I am really thinking that solar might be a good option. I have enough shade from trees and my house, that I have only hit 90+ a few times (plenty hot for me, but doable). Solar does not seem popular at ALL around Charlotte though, and I am curious to see if I have any 'neighbors' that have tried this, and with what level of success. I am specifically asking about manufactured panels, not the ones you make yourself (I have done that for a small pool with success, but the low flow rate required would not make a sufficient difference).

I did some research and other than location specific feedback, it seems that it might be a good way to go for my situation. I have a roof over an addition with easy access to my current equipment, as well as low height, and probably a good angle. My goal would really be to extend the season by about a month on either side of summer. Personally, I like about 82deg water, but I will start swimming when the water is around 74. I use a solar blanket at night to retain the heat in the spring and fall, so that would also be used in conjunction with the solar heater.

I think my EasyTouch can control the system, but I'd probably have to confirm that.

Thoughts? Experience? Additional things to consider?
 

Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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I live in the area and I have looked around to inquire about solar as well. Your right, no one around here seems to install them. They don’t even seem to like to talk about them at all.
 

Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Yeah - I asked my PB about it recently. He wasn't aware of people in the area that have done this. There has to be someone though, right?
I had two mention some guy that might still do it and they would check with him and get back to me. They never got back to me. I was under the impression that he was out of Spartanburg SC. So there might be some old timer somewhere in Spartanburg…… possibly….. 🤷‍♂️
 

Tcadwall0

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May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
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I feel that I could make the installation a DIY thing. There really wouldn't be any rush and the installation guides and kits available make it look quite simple. I just don't want to spend the initial investment and regret not doing a gas install. I'm pretty confident that this is a better DIY project than adding a heater myself as it seems DIY heater installs rarely carry any warranty.
 
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Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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The way I see it. Installing it isn’t the issue. You have to be able to calculate how many panels (how much surface area) flow ect you need. If I’m going to invest in it, I want someone that knows what they are doing, and I don’t with these systems.
 

Tcadwall0

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May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
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Fiberglass
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
If I’m going to invest in it, I want someone that knows what they are doing, and I don’t with these systems.
I found an online retailer that I had a fairly long IM conversation with. I could get slightly under ideal SQFT on my addition roof which is the ideal place. If I needed to go to my larger main roof, I would have to work around venting pipes and such, I would want to replace the roof first, it would have an extra 15' of rise.... etc. According to him, my pump should be able to handle what I would purchase. The less than ideal part is that the roof 'faces' East. but even so, it is in full sun for a good part of the day, especially in the spring before the trees have full foliage.

I am considering taking my chances but would like to hear of some positive experiences around here.
 
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Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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I found an online retailer that I had a fairly long IM conversation with. I could get slightly under ideal SQFT on my addition roof which is the ideal place. If I needed to go to my larger main roof, I would have to work around venting pipes and such, I would want to replace the roof first, it would have an extra 15' of rise.... etc. According to him, my pump should be able to handle what I would purchase. The less than ideal part is that the roof 'faces' East. but even so, it is in full sun for a good part of the day, especially in the spring before the trees have full foliage.

I am considering taking my chances but would like to hear of some positive experiences around here.
I have never seen a solar system around here. If someone has one, I’d like to hear from them as well. It would be the easiest most likely option for me as well. I don’t have an adequate enough electrical system going to my shed where my equipment is and I also don’t have a gas line going there either. Plus those would be expensive to run.
 

Tcadwall0

Gold Supporter
May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
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Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
ok... I want to show patience and get some locals, but that may not happen.... but I do see another thread with activity on this subject that I somehow missed, and they tagged @mas985 who seems to be in CA. Any thoughts on how this would work in the Charlotte climate? It could be that popularity gives way to ease here. I am not sure why we would not be a great area for solar, but it doesn't seem to have any popularity here and I am concerned there may be a reason.
 
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Bugman1401

Well-known member
May 6, 2022
51
Charlotte, NC
I have a 400kbtu gas heater, but like my 26k gal pool at 88deg. I also like the ability to heat to the desired temp within an hour or so, day or night. My pool gets mostly full sun, but never gets above 80deg on its own. Had a buddy, also in CLT, who tried DIY solar and didn’t like it. It never heated the pool hot enough or fast enough for his wife or kids. Its really about personal preference. With your size pool and temp pref, electric would be a good option.
 

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Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
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Rock Hill, South Carolina
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
I have a 400kbtu gas heater, but like my 26k gal pool at 88deg. I also like the ability to heat to the desired temp within an hour or so, day or night. My pool gets mostly full sun, but never gets above 80deg on its own. Had a buddy, also in CLT, who tried DIY solar and didn’t like it. It never heated the pool hot enough or fast enough for his wife or kids. Its really about personal preference. With your size pool and temp pref, electric would be a good option.
I don’t understand how your pool never gets above 80 with full sun. Do you get a lot of wind? Interesting. Mine is about 20k gallons and I only get about 2-3 hours of direct sun a day. My pool is 82 right now.
 

Tcadwall0

Gold Supporter
May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
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Chlorine
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
Had a buddy, also in CLT, who tried DIY solar and didn’t like it.
Was this like DIY coiling irrigation / pex? or was it a DIY installation of a real solar heater? There really isn't a comparison.

No offense intended, but if you are saying you get full sun in Charlotte and your pool does not go over 80 then I have to discount your opinion immediately. I have a heavily tree'd lot, but do get several hours of sun on my pool. It consistently reaches over 80 degrees. This morning it was 79. By 5pm it was 82, and I put the solar cover away 2 weeks ago. I also in the past have been at friend's / family's community pools where there are no trees and full sun, and by July, the water is warmer than pee. Good for a hot tub maybe but not for a refreshing swim in my opinion.

The point is, I am looking for a long-term solution to extending the season without the extra expense (other than an up front cost) of gas or electric heating. I can't understand if there is a reason that Charlotte area has not adopted this.... Maybe I have a business opportunity here..... hmmm.

I don't want to take down more trees (other than the Dang sweet gums and pines). But I would like to extend the season without having to think before I turn the heat on. The pump has to run for the SWG - why can't it be heating at the same time?
 

mas985

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May 3, 2007
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Solar works anywhere the sun shines. However, the reason that some areas of the country see less solar installs is because other methods may be more cost effective.

For areas with a lot of cloud cover, you need a lot more panels to get the desired average heat gain. Often times, these areas may have cheaper electricity or gas rates making these methods more cost effective. It just depends on local factors.
 

Tcadwall0

Gold Supporter
May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
Surface
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Chlorine
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SWG Type
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Thanks Mark!

The funny thing is, NC is known for the "Blue Skies of the Carolinas". I really don't understand why it isn't a thing here. It seems to be big in FL. But Heat Pumps would likely be very effective there - year round! I also see posts from the North... like much more North. But then again, I used to fly a lot from Charlotte to Buffalo, and it always made me think... There are more pools in Buffalo back yards than in Charlotte. Maybe people here that have pools don't explore all the options. Maybe pools just aren't as popular here - so people aren't looking for other options than the easy sell by the pool builder.

I think I have learned a lot, and may really step up the risk and do this and see how it works. I still would like more than anecdotal evidence..... lol.

Tanks again for posting your thoughts. Maybe energy costs aren't what they once were, and no one has yet adjusted. For me, I am running my pump anyway to produce the chlorine from the SWG. Why not heat with no additional cost.... or maybe the rpm has to go a little higher so MINIMAL extra cost.
 

Orion7319

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Jul 1, 2020
1,146
Rock Hill, South Carolina
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Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Solar works anywhere the sun shines. However, the reason that some areas of the country see less solar installs is because other methods may be more cost effective.

For areas with a lot of cloud cover, you need a lot more panels to get the desired average heat gain. Often times, these areas may have cheaper electricity or gas rates making these methods more cost effective. It just depends on local factors.
I see mostly gas heaters around here. I heat the house with gas in the winter and it’s so much cheaper then the electrical rates to cool the house in the summer. Still though solar is free to run so I’m not really sure why there aren’t really any installers. We don’t get excessive cloud cover, though in the summer we get late afternoon thunderstorms all the time. Usually I’m only looking for a bump in temp from around 5 degrees or so.
 

Orion7319

Well-known member
Jul 1, 2020
1,146
Rock Hill, South Carolina
Pool Size
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Vinyl
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There are more pools in Buffalo back yards than in Charlotte. Maybe people here that have pools don't explore all the options. Maybe pools just aren't as popular here - so people aren't looking for other options than the easy sell by the pool builder.
I do know that they don’t add any financial value at all to the value of the property around here for some reason. You really can’t find a builder around here that will install a pool for less then $150k, and the housing prices around here are much cheaper then most places in the country. So it makes more financial sense here to buy a house with a pool then to build a new one. If you build your own pool here your most likely eating the entire cost of that investment when you move. In Florida and Arizona most people are looking for a pool and they add value to a home. Here it’s seen more as a liability to most buyers then an asset for some reason (my in laws were realtors). Also most of the neighborhoods have community pools, some of which are basically water parks. Most people here want a community pool and don’t want their own.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,701
Bangor Maine
Solar works but if your getting it installed by a professional then it can be very expensive. A lot of pool companies won’t do them due to insurance restrictions on how high their workers can go.

If your a DIY type of pool owner then it’s a no brainer imo. i have a lot of pools with solar systems that I either installed or helped install. All these pools can see a bump of up to 12 degrees with 6-8 hours of sunlight. 6 pools use solar as primary with heat pumps as secondary. The shortfall of solar heaters is they need sun, two days of cool rainy weather can cool your pool down mid week, then a 90 degree weekend hits and you’re in a panic to get the pool back up over 80. All my clients love their solar But are fully informed on it’s shortfalls.
 
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Tcadwall0

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May 19, 2021
189
Charlotte, NC
Pool Size
12900
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Fiberglass
Chlorine
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SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-20
All these pools can see a bump of up to 12 degrees with 6-8 hours of sunlight.
So in Maine you see that much of a bump? That would make a huge difference for me. Are these 50 to 70% sq ft of pool? or more?
 

Mr Bruce

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Mar 24, 2014
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Greenville, SC
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Keep in mind that the shoulder seasons you also get less sun (time and angle) so the benefit of solar would also be reduced then. Not trying to talk you out of it, just something to consider.

I personally get great results by being diligent about coving it at night with the bubble cover and removing it on non-windy sunny days. Mid 80s currently. And that's with this setup, only get sun from about 12-5.

mu4ozCA.jpg
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
1,701
Bangor Maine
So in Maine you see that much of a bump? That would make a huge difference for me. Are these 50 to 70% sq ft of pool? or more?
Yes, all are south facing and are 70-80% versus pool sizes, positioning against the angle of the sun determines which months are best. All my clients prefer extended spring swimming so they are mounted on 4/12 pitch roofs facing south. Three can gain uo to 15 degrees in May, as the sun rises higher in the sky as July approaches it’s rare to gain 8 degrees, August might see a 4-5 degree bump and the same for September.

Solar blankets help retain that heat gain in shoulder seasons but are rarely used in July and August up east.

Ideally if one could mount panels on a platform that follows the sun it would be super duper.
 

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