Solar Pool Heater: Installation, Cost, and Working

What Is A Solar Pool Heater?

A Solar Pool Heating system involves pumping pool water through a series of tubes, known as a Solar Collector or Solar Absorber mounted on the ground or roof of a building. The sun’s free energy heats the circulating water, returning it back to the pool at an elevated temperature.

Solar pool heating systems work seamlessly with your pool equipment and are fully automatic. You set the desired water temperature on the solar control. And when solar energy is available on the solar collectors.

An automatic motorized valve directs the water through the solar panels and directs the solar heat back to the pool. This process continues until either the pool’s filter pump is switched off for the day or the desired pool temperature has been reached. For more detail read – How solar energy work?

In most cases, the existing filter pump can easily deliver sufficient flow to the solar panels. The only requirement is that the filter pump must be operated during the day (10:00am to 5:00 pm).

This is the time most pool professionals would recommend running your filter, whether you have solar or not. It is also the time when the pool is most likely to be used and the time when good circulation is required for sanitizing chemical distribution.

How Does Solar Pool Heater Work?

Solar pool heaters work by collecting a fraction of this sunlight and using it to pump the water from your swimming pool through your filter and back. Along the way, the water passes through a group of solar collectors, warming it.

A solar pool heater uses thermal energy from the sun to warm your pool water. Similar to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar energy collectors are typically mounted on your roof. Water from your pool is pumped through a filter and up to the solar collectors on your roof to the collectors.

These solar collectors look similar to PV panels but include tubes throughout the inside so that pool water can circulate in the collector and absorb heat.

What’s more, you can save money with a solar pool heater! Heating a pool with solar energy is eco-friendly and helps save you money because you’ll be relying on free energy from the sun instead of purchasing the fuel you would otherwise use to heat your pool.

The amount you’ll save transitioning to a solar pool heater will depend on the existing source of heat for your pool, the efficiency of your system, the upfront cost, and more.

Many solar pool heaters also include flow control valves and automated sensors. These components will detect the temperature of the water coming from the solar collectors compared to the desired temperature.

If the pool water is cool and it’s sunny out, the flow control valve diverts water through the solar collectors to be heated and enter your pool. Alternatively, if your pool is too hot, the control valves ensure that additional hot water doesn’t enter your pool.

Solar pool heaters work by collecting a fraction of this sunlight and using it to pump the water from your swimming pool through your filter and back. Along the way, the water passes through a group of solar collectors, warming it.

Most solar pool heating systems include the following component:

  • A solar collector. The device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
  • A filter. Removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
  • A pump. Circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
  • A flow control valve. An automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector.

How Does Solar Pool Heater Work Step by step:

  • Set your desired water temperature and a sensor determines when the system turns on and starts heating water
  • Your pool pump sends cold water from the pool through a series of channels in the solar collectors
  • Solar collectors use the sun’s energy to heat to your cool pool water as it moves through the panels, returning the water to the pool with a significant temperature gain
  • Solar heated water flows back into your pool until it’s heated to the desired temperature

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Solar Pool Heater?

The average solar heating system falls between $2000 and $4000 and this cost greatly depends on the type of panels you choose to install. Keep reading for a better idea of factors that influence your costs.

  • The national average cost of installing a solar pool heater averages between $3,000 and $7,000, with most people paying $5,000 for a glazed solar panel pool heater for a 12-foot x 24-foot in-ground pool.
  • On the lower end of the spectrum, unglazed solar panels can cost as much as $2,000 for a 10 foot x 20 foot in-ground pool mounted on a platform near the pool.
  • On the high end, you might pay $10,000 or more for a high temperature home-mounted collector for a large 18-foot by 36-foot pool.

Solar Pool Heater Installation Cost

National average cost$5,000
Average range$3,000-$7,000
Minimum cost$2,000
Maximum cost$10,000

Solar Pool Heater Costs by Type

A solar pool heater cost is between $500 and $11,000, depending on the type. All solar pool heaters work similarly, but are made of different materials and come in different sizes. There are four types of solar pool heaters. Some types work better than others in certain pools depending on the type of pool and material.

TypeAverage Cost (Installed)
Propylene Mats$500 – $3,000
Unglazed Solar Panels$1,500 – $4,000
Glazed Solar Panels$3,000 – $8,500
High-Temperature Collectors$9,000 – $11,000

1. Propylene Mats

Propylene mats are the most cost effective system. The mats range from $500 for a small pool to $3,000 for a larger pool. Sometimes called unglazed solar heating, it is made up of a mat of fabric with coils running through it.

In warm, sunny climates such as California or Florida, the mat is a good choice. However, it is less effective at heating pools in temperate climates.

2. Unglazed Solar Panels

Unglazed solar panels are simpler and cheaper than glazed solar modules. These panels are made of plastic or heavy duty rubber mixed with UV light inhibitors to extend the life of the panel. They just don’t have the same glazing or exterior glass cladding.

Unglazed solar panels behave the same way as glazed solar panels in the warm months, but the glass cover allows glazed solar panels to perform better in the cold months. Expect between $ 1,500 and $ 4,000 for these panels.

3. Glazed Solar Pool Heater

Glazed solar panels cost between $3,000 for a small system and $8,500 for a large system. When you think of solar panels, you usually think of a glazed system made of glass. This system is better suited for areas where more heat is needed or where there are not enough long, sunny days to generate enough solar heat.

Glazed solar pool heaters are made of copper pipes attached to an aluminum plate and covered with iron-hardened glass. The design is more efficient at capturing solar heat in cold weather areas than unglazed systems. A glazed solar pool heater can be used all year round.

4. High-Temperature Solar Collectors

Solar collector collectors cost between $9,000 and $11,000, depending on their size and type. If you live in an area where there is not much sun, you can still use solar pool heating. However, you will likely need a system called a high temperature collector that uses mirrors to increase the amount of sunlight that heats the water.

These collectors are designed to significantly increase the heat of the water. This is a great benefit in colder areas or in places that don’t get a lot of sunlight.

Solar Pool Heater Cost by Pump Size

Solar pool heater pumps range from $50 to $1,300, depending on the size or style. Some solar pool heaters require a pump to effectively circulate the warm water with the cooler water. This pump can be operated with solar panels or with electricity.

Pump SizeGallons per MinutePump Cost (Materials Only)
0.5 HP40$50 – $400
1 HP60$150 – $600
1.5 HP68$200 – $700
2 HP76$500 – $750
2.5 HP80$600 – $800
3 HP85$700 – $1,300

Solar Pool Heater Prices by Collector Size

Pool Heater costs between $ 2,800 and $ 8,000, depending on size and performance. Solar panels vary in size, but many are 4 “x 10” or 4 “x 20”. The number of panels needed in a system depends on many factors including the size of the pool, your climate, whether it is an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool, and whether you are using a pool cover.

Number of 4’ x 10’ Solar PanelsPool Surface AreaCost (Materials Only)
4288 sq.ft.$2,500 – $4,500
6512 sq.ft.$3,100 – $5,200
8648 sq.ft.$5,000 – $7,200
10800 sq.ft.$6,100 – $8,000

Other Types of Solar Gadgets for Your pool

You don’t need to install a complete solar pool heater to benefit from solar energy. Here are some other solar powered devices you can use for pool time:

1. Solar pool pumps

You can use solar energy to power the motor in your pool’s pump. This component is responsible for pushing water through a filter and returning it to the pool. There are a number of ways you can do this, including powering your existing electric pump with a solar PV system, buying and installing a DIY solar pool pump kit, or using a standalone solar pool pump built right in your Pool floats and no installation required.

Check out the cost of Standalone solar pool pump.

2. Solar pool covers

If you are looking for a lower-cost solution to heating your pool, you may want to purchase a solar pool cover. Solar pool covers are more translucent than standard pool covers, so sunshine can warm your pool and keep the water clean of debris. Covering your pool with a solar cover or a conventional cover will also help trap the heat and prevent evaporation.

Check out the cost of Solar pool covers.

3. Solar Sun Rings

Similar to solar pool covers, solar sun rings float on the surface of your pool and absorbs solar energy to heat the water underneath. These rings are also useful for preventing evaporation.

One of the biggest differences between Solar Sun Rings and pool covers is the shape; Solar sun rings are smaller and circular in shape, and you will likely want several of them to cover the surface of your pool.

Because they are smaller, they are easier to remove and are better suited to uniquely shaped pools that may not be the perfect shape for a standard solar pool cover.

Check out the cost of Solar Sun Rings.

4. Floating solar lights

If you want to light up your pool at night, consider floating solar lights as a solution. Many companies produce colored lights that absorb solar energy during the day when floating on the surface of the pool and use that energy to illuminate at night.

Check out the cost of Floating solar lights

The Cons of Solar Pool Heaters

There’s factors beyond cost that may render a solar pool heater the wrong choice for your home…

  • Time Intensive. Solar pool heaters can take a long time to heat up your pool. However, the exact time depends heavily on the pool size and the outside temperature. These heaters probably aren’t for you if you’re looking for quick heating options. Solar pool heaters can take a full day to warm your pool by 5-7 degrees even in constant sunshine.
  • Requires sunshine. The catch with solar pool heaters is that they need bright sunny days to work. But the temperature on these days is high enough that you may not need a heated pool. Warm water is a blessing on days when the sun isn’t shining and it’s cold outside. However, without steady sunlight, solar pool heaters cannot transfer thermal energy to your pool water.
  • Solar pump. Your pool water will not be heated for free without a solar pump. They need electricity to pump the water to the solar panels. This can add to your energy bills. But as we said earlier, the increase in utilities is minimal, especially when compared to other pool heaters options.

Solar Pool Heater Advantages

Solar pool heaters come with a variety of pros that offset the disadvantages by a large margin. Here are some of the more obvious ones:

  • Easy maintenance. A solar pool heating system consists of only a few parts. Therefore, little to no maintenance is required over many years.
  • Adequate heating. If you live in a place with lots of sunlight, solar pool heaters will have no problem raising the temperature of your pool. And when you pair the heating with a solar pool cover, you are in good shape to take a warm bath at any time.
  • Use automatic switching valves. With a little extra investment, you can get an automatic diverter valve that will automatically sense the pool temperature and divert water to the solar panels. This means that the system can be automated to keep your pool constant within a certain temperature range.

FAQs.

What Is A Solar Pool Heater?

A Solar Pool Heating system involves pumping pool water through a series of tubes, known as a Solar Collector or Solar Absorber mounted on the ground or roof of a building. The sun’s free energy heats the circulating water, returning it back to the pool at an elevated temperature.

How Does Solar Pool Heater Work?

Solar pool heaters work by collecting a fraction of this sunlight and using it to pump the water from your swimming pool through your filter and back. Along the way, the water passes through a group of solar collectors, warming it.

How much does a solar pool heater cost?

The average solar heating system falls between $2000 and $4000 and this cost greatly depends on the type of panels you choose to install. Keep reading for a better idea of factors that influence your costs.