We have a 25' above ground pool (48" deep), and we are looking for ways
of heating the pool now that it's starting to get cooler outside. We
live in Texas, and though our winters aren't bad, when the temp stays
below 85'F for most of the day and 50's at night, the pool gets quite
I'm looking at some options for heating the pool so we can use it
throughout the winter, or at least a few more months into the fall now
that the 90-100'F temps are gone.
Does anyone have any experience with the solar heaters? I know even
when the temp stays in the 80s for most of the day the car is still
VERY warm, so I'd assume this is enough to heat the pool rather well
with a solar heater. We're looking at one similar to this:
We just put the pool in earlier this summer, so paying another $800 or
more for a powered heater isn't really possible -- but if we can get
good results from a solar heater, we'd like to go that route. We havep
lenty of space for it behind the pool.
Thanks for any advise or suggestions --
A friend of mine bought a used pool heater on eBay for cheap, like
$125, and it was local so he picked it up. Those things are a few
hundred bucks even for a small one. Anyway, they're still using it
after 5 or 6 years. When pool heaters are used a lot, they could
develop problems that could cost more than $100 to fix, but if you can
find a newer one for a great price, go for it. Sometimes people move
and have to take apart a pool, and can't take it with them, so they
sell the heater, and sometimes cheap too. Narrow down your eBay search
to within 100 miles of you or whatever.
Some people think heaters are only for larger pools and in-ground
pools, but if I had a pool regardless of the size I would have a
heater. There's a BIG difference between 75 degrees and 80 degrees.
There's a safety issue too, when your kids lips turn purple and they
seem tired after being in a cold pool, that is a BAD thing.
The neighbors at our previous house put in a huge pool the year before
we moved, and rarely used it because the water was always ice cold,
even when it was 100 degrees outside. One of the reasons we moved was
because we knew that it was only a matter of time before they found out
about pool heaters, and then they would be in the damn pool all day and
all night and the noise would never stop. (They weren't nice people.)
Here are a couple other ideas I have seen:
-- My neighbors have a black solar flat panel thing that wraps around
one side of their pool. It's connected to the filter, so the water that
is sent out of the filter goes through the black thing and gets warmed
before being dumped into the pool.
-- I've also seen someone put an array of copper pipes on their garage
roof, and the filter water would run through the piping and warm the
water before going into the pool. Roofs get pretty hot in the summer,
so I would imagine if there was enough piping and the water ran slow
enough, this could actually make the pool hot.
Now, the above two ideas may not help you at night, but if you're not
going to swim during the day you can heat up the pool enough so that it
would be warm for you at night.
I can attest the repair costs.
I do all my own repairs.
On my small $800 heater, I'm averaging about
$100 a year in repairs. So far I've replaced
the heater manifold, the pressure switch, the control
circuit board and the hose fittings.
I expect next year to have to replace the blower,
it's seriously rusted.
If you don't do the work yourself,
expect to pay at least double.
The first thing you need is a solar cover, That buys you a few
degrees. If you have a place for solar panels that will make a huge
difference in a covered pool. On an above ground you also may need
some insulation on the sides. I doubt you will ever get it warmer than
the daytime temp with solar.
If you go to a real (electric/gas) heater the limit is your wallet
It's been a long time since I had one. As others said a cover, any
cover, is the best. Just a cheap plastic one is adequate. It also
keeps the dirt out and the chlorine contained. Only problem I had was
the water getting too warm.
If you have low humidity the temperature drops fast if there is no sun.
When I lived in the San Fernando Valley a neighbor put up an array of
black plastic pipe on the roof of his patio and pumped his filter water
through it. Only problem there was the two foot waves during the quakes:-).
Another problem I had was the liner rotting from the sun. That is the
area just above the water. When I replaced the liner I cut a piece fro
the old one and had sort of a skirt all around the pool covering the new
liner and keeping the sun off it.
I recall a magazine article some years back where the homeowner found
the solution to be black rubber garden hose. Positioned in the yard
with ample sunlight all that was needed was to connect a pump.
If recollection is correct the biggest problem was the water became too hot!
Ours seems to be set up like this. We just moved in a few weeks ago, and
the previous owners went ahead and closed the pool for us, so I can't
say if it actually works. There is a black hose coming and going from
the machinery, and the length of the hose was coiled on a low wooden
platform/table-like thing, the surface of which has some kind of
reflective foil on it, and the hose was coiled up on that. I'm glad to
here someone mention this here, as it seemed a little duct-tapeish to
me. I think there's a solar cover in the shed as well.
Is the pool shaded? In Austin, 940 Btu/ft^2 of sun falls on the ground
on an average 48.8 F January day with a 58.8 daily max temp. An R1 cover
with 80% solar transmission would make 0.8x940 = 24h(T-48.8)1ft^2/R1,
for a pool temp T = 81 F. An R2 cover with 3 layers of plastic film and
70% solar transmission would make T = 104.
An 84 F pool with a 491 ft^2 R1 cover needs about 24h(84-48.8)491/R1
= 415K Btu/day. If 1 ft^2 of 4/12 (18.4 degree) south roof collects
940cos(18.4) = 892 Btu/day of overhead sun + 1200sin(18.4) = 379 Btu
of south sun, totaling 1271, and 80% enters an 84 F collector when
it's 53.8 outdoors for 6 hours and 0.8x1271-6h(84-53.8)1ft^2/R1 = 836
Btu/day, you might heat the shaded pool with 415K/836 = 496 ft^2 of roof,
eg buy a $129 No. 412700 27' round clear vs blue pool cover from
http://www.solarcovers.com (800) 433-4701 and put their $99 411632
16'x32' cover on a roof over wires to keep it from gluing itself to
the roof when there's no water trickling over the shingles beneath it.
With RC = R1x62.33x4' = 249 hours, the pool would cool from 84 F to
48.8+(84-48.8)e^-(5x24/249) = 71 F over 5 cloudy days.
In a cloudier climate, we might heat a pool with a cover inflated with air
during the day and soap bubble foam at night that can sink to the bottom
for swimming. In Phila, 620 Btu/ft^2 falls on the ground on an an average
30 F January day. If 0.8x620 = 6h(84-30)1ft^2/R1 + 18h(84-30)1ft^2/Rv
Btu/day, the cover needs US Rv = 5.7 at night, about 2" of foam.
To follow up on the OP's observation on the hot car:
Buy an old junker for $50 - preferably one with vinyl seats (black, of
Park it where the sun shines all day, and close to the pool
Buy 8 or 10 50 foot garden hoses and connect them end-to-end
Wrap them around the steering wheel, door handles, across the dash and seats
Connect to an inexpensive pump and let it curculate the water from the pool
Wha-La: heated water for you pool!
Three basic methods:
1 Conservation = use of a solar blanket (bubble
blanket) to delay loss of heat on cool nights.
2 Active heating, burning electricity or fuel.
3 Passive solar = adding to the pump circuit
a long length of black hose exposed to the sun.
During recirculation, this travel through sunshine
increases water temperatures 2 to 5 degrees
Celsius even in Canada. Special multi-channel
hose is sold specially for this purpose.
On Wed, 11 Oct 2006 14:15:56 -0400, "Don Phillipson"
I am very skeptical of these black hose schemes unless you have a
shitload of hose. They size solar collectors as a percentage of the
pool surface area and systems that actually work in winter tend to be
over 100% of pool surface, even in Florida. My neighbor can hold 84-85
in Jan/Feb but he has 125% of his pool surface in collector on a south
facing roof and he has a bubble cover. I don't use a cover and have
about 75% collector/pool ratio. I can get daytime ambient air temp for
an evening swim. That still buys me about 3-4 extra months tho.
You are still limited by the surface area exposed to the sun, and that
is minimal, particularly with larger pipe. You could end up with an
air buble in the top and not transfer much heat at all. Real solar
collectors have small tubes, very close together. You also have to
understand that the actual water temperature is limited by the air
temperature so you want fairly short runs in parallel not one long
run.. Once you get a few degrees above air temperature you bump up
against diminishing returns.
The "car" analogy is flawed because that is a closed area. Typical
pool collectors or the pipe ideas are exposed to the ambient air.
You might actually do better if you heat exchanged your attic.
When I lived in the San Fernando Valley (many years ago) a neighbor had
an array of that plastic pipe on his patio roof. In the ground pool.
He had it such that his filter pump pushed the water through the pipes.
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