In this article we look at the issues surrounding solar heating for your swimming pool in the UK and discuss the pros and cons of this eco-friendly and renewable energy source.
Energy from the sun.
There are two types of solar energy; Photovoltaic (PV) and Solar Thermal.
Photovoltaic panels turn the sun’s energy into electricity whereas solar thermal panels use the sun to generate heat.
It is possible to use PV panels to help run your pool’s pump and other equipment but you would need to access the mains supply as well and hybrid systems are complicated to install.
In most instances where people use solar energy in conjunction with their pool, they are using solar thermal panels to heat the water.
Solar thermal for swimming pools.
Most people like their pool to be heated to around 28 deg C.
Traditional methods of achieving that temperature would be by heating the water as it is circulated by electricity, gas or oil fired heaters. All these methods use up our fossil fuels and generate emissions that we are all trying to avoid.
There is also a certain amount of cost involved.
Solar energy promises an energy source that is clean and free and therefore appears to be very attractive.
A solar pool heating system comprises of a solar collector – either solar panels made up of tubes through which water is passed or a number of small solar ‘pods’ – a filter and pump and a control system.
The pool water first passes through the pump and filter and then into the solar collector where it is heated by the sun before being returned to the pool.
The solar panels should have a surface area of about 70% of the pool’s surface area and should be angled between 20° and 45° to the horizontal. The panels should ideally face south and be free from shade and shadow.
For an efficient system, the solar panels shouldn’t be too far away from the pool itself.
Of course, a south-facing house roof or the roof of a pool building would make an ideal location for the panels and in such a spot, they are neither obtrusive nor unattractive.
The system would generally use your existing pool pump to circulate the water. Sensors in the pool and at the panel compare the difference in temperature between the two and when the panel temperature is suitably higher then the pool temperature, a control valve passes the pool water through the solar collector.
A good system installed in the UK climate can raise the pool temperature by between 2deg and 4deg C.
The pros of solar heating your pool.
Once installed the system has little or no running costs.
Solar panels have long life expectancies and are often guaranteed for at least 10 years and are expected to last for more than 30 years.
A system could well payback the installation costs in somewhere between 2 and 7 years although this is dependant on many factors.
Solar heating is most efficient when it warms the water that is being used to top up the pool.
Solar heating works best in the summer when you are most likely to want to use your pool.
The cons of solar heating your pool.
You can’t set a thermostat to 28deg and expect the solar heating system to raise the pool to that temperature and maintain it there.
More expensive solar panels – those using vacuum tubes – will generate heat, even an overcast day, but the more affordable installations do need direct sunlight to work.
If you don’t have a suitable area on your property for the solar panels – either in terms of size or position – then a solar heating system may be impractical.
Solar heating your pool in the UK.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to solar heating. However, it is a clean and renewable source of energy.
Most areas of the UK receive sufficient sunlight although the south of the country probably does fair slightly better.
A solar heating system really comes into it’s own in the UK when it is used in conjunction with a traditional heating system. The solar panels top up your pools heat most effectively just at the time that you are most likely to want to use your pool taking the demand off the traditional system and reducing your fuel bills as well as the environmental impact of your pool.
If you install a DEL slatted pool cover and choose the polycarbonate slats, they will allow the cover to act as a solar cover that absorbs the heat from the sun and retains it in your pool.
You might also look at using a heat pump as a way to lower your energy bills and make your pool more environmentally friendly.
Economically priced and suitable for all types of outdoor swimming pool, DURA and DURA+ heat pumps benefit from oversized, titanium heat exchangers making them highly resistant to corrosion by salt, chlorine and bromine. Both models are suited to UK climate with the DURA+ able to provide all year heating capability and show a significant saving on energy bills. In fact, DURA+ heat pumps can save you up to 83% in operating costs over traditional heating methods.
We hope that this article has been of use to you and has shown you how solar heating could be of real benefit to you.
We can help you find your nearest pool supplier who works with solar energy and to get that process started just use the contact button at the top right of this article.
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