Solar Panel Test


Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
Northern Illinois
After doing quite a bit of research I am starting to think that using solar panels might be our best option to heat our pool. Before making a huge investment though I would like to buy one panel as a "test" to see how such a system would work. My wife is apprehensive about the panels (someone she works with had one and said it didn't work) so this will hopefully help convince her. If this panel works out well we would add more, build a ground rack and purchase a controller. So my questions is what would be the best, cheapest "starter panel" that we can add onto later? I can lay the panel right next to the pump (full sun) so won't need to run a lot of pipe. The cheaper, the better. Thanks!


Well-known member
Aug 30, 2016
Riverside, CA
I think that without a controller the test will not yield results in agreement with what you would get otherwise. When it is cool at night it will actually cool the pool.

Additionally, you'll need to procure a whole lot more than just a panel.

If you have automation right now you may not need a controller at all.

Whoever told your wife they didn't work may or may not have it optimized by controlling run times and location too.

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Well-known member
Jan 11, 2011
Northern Illinois
Thanks Sammy. Unfortunately we have no automation. My plan was to turn the panel on only on sunny days (off on cloudy days and at night) initially. I understand that one panel isn't going to have a significant, noticeable effect on the pool temperature. My goal was more to see/show her that the temperature of the water coming out of the panels on a sunny day was warmer than the pool water. I also wanted to get an idea of the size of a panel, see how it fits into our current landscaping, and get an idea of the plumbing needed.


LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Feb 6, 2015
Chandler AZ
Pool Size
Liquid Chlorine
Instead of buying a cheap solar panel, you can try this for free. Have her fill up a 50' garden hose with pool water. After it's filled, screw both ends together and lay the hose in the sun for an hour or two. Then have her unscrew the ends and pour the hose water over her hands. She should easily be able to feel the difference between the pool water temp and the hose water temp.

That's basically how the solar panels gain the heat - but much slower, as the pool water is constantly flowing through the panels. Trying this with only one panel isn't going to prove much to her as I doubt you will notice much of a temp difference between the pool water and the water flowing out of the single solar panel. I seem to remember someone here stating the optimal temp difference is only around 2 degrees or so - you don't want the water exiting the panels to be "hot".

Other options would be to talk with friends/neighbors who have pool solar panels and to take her to a retail outlet and have them explain the operation and benefits.
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