Solar Heaters

xycosse

Member
May 15, 2019
18
california
Hi,
Does anyone have any experience with solar pool heaters? I'm debating between getting solar heaters and a gas heater (Gas heater is going to cost about $6500 due to difficulties running a gas line). I live in southern california, so I get lots of sun, and I have the roof space for quite a few panels.

My problems:

1) It seems most if not all solar pool heaters have awful reviews online, mostly that they all leak quickly. Are there any high quality brands that will last many years without leaks?

2) Sizing. I'd like to be able to use my pool year round, or at least 9-10 months out of the year. Every website seems to have a different method of sizing and often without an explanation for results. Are there any good trusted guides out there for this? I have an ~18,000 gallon in ground pool.

Thanks!
 

xycosse

Member
May 15, 2019
18
california
Also.... I was planning on putting this on a flat roof of an add-on to my house that has no attic. Am I going to be cooking that room to be extra hot when the panels aren't in use?
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
42,355
Tucson, AZ
1) I self-installed used Helicol panels and have not had a leak in the 5+ years I have had them. Just need to ensure they are drained if there is any chance of the weather dropping below freezing. If you buy the cheap panels online, then I would not be surprised they are more likely to leak.

2) The bigger the array, the more heat you will add. If you can approach having the solar area 100% of the pool surface area, that would be good. I am not sure what your weather is like, but 10 months out of the year is going to be pushing it. I think we realistically get about 7 months in Tucson without a pool cover. If you add a pool cover, you will be able to extend that a good amount.

I don't think the panels sitting there not in use are going to have any noticeable impact to the room below.

I would tend to suggest that even though the roof is flat, that the panels are sloped a bit to facilitate draining, but in your climate, that may not actually be needed.
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
212
If you live in SoCal you should seriously consider the HotSpot FPH pool heater. It hooks into your home's AC system to use the waste heat from your house to heat your pool. Win/Win scenario. And, it could be considered a form of solar since the sun is heating your house.

It has a number of very real advantages vs solar, including less surgery to your pool equipment, no surgery to your home, has a vastly smaller footprint and is far less visible.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
42,355
Tucson, AZ
The issue with that system is you have to be running the A/C to heat the pool. Around here, I need the pool heated in the spring and fall when I am not running the A/C. In the summer when it is hot and need the A/C, the pool is already warm enough and I don't need to add any heat to the pool.

And if you have a well insulated house and not running the A/C much, then you are not going to be adding much heat to the pool either.

So, I do not think that system would work well for me at all.
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
212
Ok, I get that. I don't use the system to extend the season. I use it to heat the pool during the high season. I don't think solar would work well for that either and for the same reasons, though I would like others with solar to chime in on that.

if you want to extend the season the most surefire way of doing that is an active heating solution like gas or heat pump.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
42,355
Tucson, AZ
Depends on your weather. I can add 8+ degrees to the pool water in a day in Feb/Mar. Although without a cover at night, I lose almost as much.
In the summer, I do not need to add heat to the pool. In fact, with solar panels, you can run them at night and cool the water if desired.

@Joshii ... where are you located? You did not list a location in your profile.
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
212
Oh, I thought I did. I'm in Boston, where we haven't seen the sun in a month. And it's freezing cold and I'm supposed to open this weekend. God bless the northeast.
 

borjis

LifeTime Supporter
Aug 19, 2014
2,809
Pacific NW
My first home/pool had solar heating and it worked great!

Between early May and late Sept on sunny clear days it would show 8 degrees warmer coming out of the collectors.
I imagine it would work in a wider window of months in socal. An angled south facing roof has the most potential for heating temps i think.

The panels were "Solar Industries" brand. The first company to offer commercial solar heating for pools.
I had heard they were on the upper spendy side, but the ones I had were 17 years old at that point and still perfectly working.
The literature said something about lasting 20 years.

I have gas heating at the place I have now and will just leave it that way.
In my region gas is not very expensive and it seems less costly in the long run to just go that way. For now.
 
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Dan-H

LifeTime Supporter
May 28, 2011
166
No. CA
I have Fafco 4x10 and 4x8 panels. I've had them since 2011 when I upgraded my equipment. Only leak was at a clamp at the start of a season 1 or 2 years after they were installed. Easy to hand tighten the clamp with a socket wrench.
 

xycosse

Member
May 15, 2019
18
california
HotSpot FPH is a neat idea, but I would like it heated outside of times I'm using the air conditioner.

I'd also love to just go the gas heater route, but the gas line goes under an add-on to my house and is leaking underground, and its concrete all the way from the meter to the heater 70 ft away, so It's going to be very expensive to go the gas heater route sadly.

Then again, looking at the brands recommended here, it looks like its going to cost close to $5000-$6000 anyways... I suppose I wont have to pay for gas that way, though. Hmm.......

Thanks for the input, everyone!
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
42,355
Tucson, AZ
Yeah, solar is expensive up front (unless you go used and DIY ;) ), but then the heating is basically free. Although, the heating is slow and relies on the sun.
Gas is faster and heat can be added at any time, but you are always paying when you are heating.
 

xycosse

Member
May 15, 2019
18
california
Yeah, solar is expensive up front (unless you go used and DIY ;) ), but then the heating is basically free. Although, the heating is slow and relies on the sun.
Gas is faster and heat can be added at any time, but you are always paying when you are heating.
I can DIY no problem, not seeing any good used panels where I am though. I'm thinking I may wait a month or so and hope someone posts some on craigslist.
 

CaptainCannonball

Silver Supporter
May 18, 2016
266
Woodland, Ca
If you live in SoCal you should seriously consider the HotSpot FPH pool heater. It hooks into your home's AC system to use the waste heat from your house to heat your pool. Win/Win scenario. And, it could be considered a form of solar since the sun is heating your house.

It has a number of very real advantages vs solar, including less surgery to your pool equipment, no surgery to your home, has a vastly smaller footprint and is far less visible.
Rubbish... no surgery to your home? How about voiding your HVAC warranty?

Less surgery to your pool equipment? Explain that.

I’ll give you the footprint point, only the golfers can see mine though.

It is only a win if you have an improperly sized AC that runs 100% of the time or your house is poorly insulated. A three ton AC unit running non stop moves 36000 btus per hour while my worst case north facing solar moves over 500000btus per day into my pool in early spring and more than 750000btus per day during the summer.

Every case is different, but I have a difficult time even coming up with a scenario where that system makes sense. It adds heat, just not a lot for the cost and at the wrong time for most.

Said my yearly piece on that :cool:
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
212
Rubbish... no surgery to your home? How about voiding your HVAC warranty?

Less surgery to your pool equipment? Explain that.

I’ll give you the footprint point, only the golfers can see mine though.

It is only a win if you have an improperly sized AC that runs 100% of the time or your house is poorly insulated. A three ton AC unit running non stop moves 36000 btus per hour while my worst case north facing solar moves over 500000btus per day into my pool in early spring and more than 750000btus per day during the summer.

Every case is different, but I have a difficult time even coming up with a scenario where that system makes sense. It adds heat, just not a lot for the cost and at the wrong time for most.

Said my yearly piece on that :cool:
If you're interested you can see my install pics from my review thread. The install is virtually invisible and adds 60 feet of additional line. That's it. My existing pump was fine with no additional head required. That's what I call minimal surgery to pool equipment.

As for BTUs...you're math is one thing, your analysis is another. It works very well for me. Doesn't extend my season. Keeps my pool super warm during the months I want to swim anyway. I couldnt be more clear on either point.
 
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