DIY Solar Pool Heater Installations

you can do it! DIY solar pool heater installations are easyHave you ever wanted the pool water to be a bit warmer – without the cost of gas fired pool heaters?

Solar pool heaters work well in all parts of the U.S. and Canada. Solar pool heaters work especially well if you have:

*Southern Exposure to face panels
*Unobstructed sun for 6+ hrs per day
*An area at least 1/2 the size of the pool, to mount panels, close to pump.

Even if you have less than an optimum location, as described above, you can compensate with more panels or get by with less than maximum heat output. Even just one 4ft x 10ft solar panel will add some heat to your pool water, perhaps as much as 5 degrees.

Solar pool heaters are not complicated to understand. Black plastic panels soak up the sun’s heat, and when we pump the pool water through the panels at a low rate, the heat is transferred to the pool water, and they cycle begins again. A properly sized solar pool heater, with a solar controller, can easily give a 20 degree temperature rise to the pool water, and add another month on each end of the swimming season.

In choosing your solar panel mounting location, it needs to be fairly close to where your pump and filter are located. It can be costly to run pipe underground for long distances, and you will lose some heat during a long run.

Plumbing your solar pool heater: Typically, the pipe that is returning to the pool, after the filter, is the one that is cut, and diverted to go to the solar panels. Once the pipe is at the edge of the structure, you can continue the pipe up the side of the house or shed, using plumbing fittings to go around the eave and gutters. You also need a pipe coming down the house as well, exiting the solar panels. These are usually installed side by side, bracketed securely to wall and eave. You can paint the pvc pipe using a color that matches your house color, and on the roof, the pipe can be painted black to help aid solar absorption.

For this blog post, let’s assume a typical in ground installation, placing the panels on the roof of the house, shed or garage. Our solar pool panels are available in 4’x10′ and 4’x20 panels. It is possible to install solar panels in-series, where the water would exit one set of panels, and then move to another roof surface and enter a second set of solar panels.We will want to have at least a 1hp in ground pool pump, to be able to push the pool water up to the roof.

After measuring again to double check that the panels will fit the roof, lug them up a ladder to the roof line. Use a second person to help you get the solar panels on the roof. Use caution on the roof, make sure you are qualified and feel safe to continue.

Unbox the solar pool panels, and follow the simple instructions to connect the panel segments together. Then strap the manifold assembly to the roof to hold it in place. Finally, install the side straps to help hold it in place during high winds. Then you can connect the pipes to the solar panels. Usually, incoming at the bottom, outgoing at the top, but check your installation manual to be sure.

After installing, carefully test to ensure that there are no leaks and that pressure on the filter has not increased by more than 5 psi, when the water is diverted to the solar panels. If there is still sun in the sky when you finish, you should feel the heat coming out of the pool returns immediately.

A solar controller is a good idea to make a solar pool heater operate most efficiently, and get the most heat from your solar system. Solar controllers typically have a controller box with an on-off switch, and a thermostat dial. When there is a “call for heat“, the controller will send a signal to the valve actuator, which will open the valve that sends water to the solar panels. When conditions are not right, it closes this valve. This is important, because when clouds roll in, or at night, using the solar system can cool a warm pool.

If you have any questions on how to install solar pool heaters on your in ground or above ground pool, give our experts a call at 800-288-7946.

Davy Merino
InTheSwim Staff Blogger



DIY Solar Pool Heater Installations — 2 Comments

  1. How do you get hot water for an extended period of time? When I leave the garden hose outside in the sun and I first turn on the water the water is hot, but after a minute the water originally in the hose is gone and the cold water starts coming out.

    • Hi Ron, slow flow is key. If the water flow is too fast thru the solar panels (or hose), it takes all the heat out, and won’t let it heat up again. Most solar panels work best with 5-10 gpm, which is not much water flow, but this allows the panels to continue to heat the water, without becoming too cool

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