Solar Swimming Pool Heater Tips and Tricks
Investing in a solar swimming pool heater is a great way to ensure more outdoor family time. However, it makes no sense if the system does not work properly simply because of a few oversights in the planning and pre-purchase phase. Here are a couple of tips and tricks that I believe will help to ensure that you get a good return on your investment.
Get the sizing right.
The first thing you need to consider when installing a solar swimming pool heater is the size of the system. Proper sizing of the solar system is essential for optimum performance. The size of the system determines its ability to maintain the pool’s temperature at a desired level. Most manufacturers recommend a collector surface area equal to 50-100% of the pool’s surface area. You also need to take into consideration the size and shape of your pool; shading caused by trees; geographic location; swimming season; desired pool temperature; and whether or not there is a lot of wind.
Position your collectors for optimum solar.
Collectors need to be positioned to maximize the amount of daily and seasonal sunlight that they receive. In the northern hemisphere, collectors should be positioned so that they face south. Depending on your location and collector tilt you can face collectors 45 degrees east or west of south. This will give you the ability to avoid trees or other objects that may prevent sunlight from reaching the collectors. You should also think about the orientation of your roof, objects that shade the collectors, and local weather conditions.
Get the tilt right.
The amount of tilt for your collectors varies depending on your latitude. For summer, heating collectors should be tilted at an angle equal to your latitude minus 10 – 15 degrees. Collectors for year-round heating should be tilted at an angle equal to your latitude. Don’t worry too much about your tilt angle, as it does not significantly affect system performance. The most important consideration is the orientation of the collectors.
BTUs should not be your only consideration when selecting your solar swimming pool heater.
Some systems measure their output in terms of BTUs per square foot. In general the higher the BTU, the more heat output. The average output is 900 to 1000 BTUs per square foot. BTUs are just one way to compare solar heating systems. Since many solar pool heaters are similar in performance and function, you will want to look at more than just the BTU rating of the system. Look at the size and number of panels, whether or not the system is modular, and the quality of the panels themselves. Exposure to direct sunlight can deteriorate certain materials over time. In general heavier collectors are more durable and have better life expectancy.
Keep your heat, get a pool cover.
You should also get a cover for your pool. A pool cover will help to keep the heat in the pool. Without a pool cover, a solar heating system may have to work twice as hard, and the effectiveness of your system will be greatly decreased. If you decide not to use a pool cover, increase the size of your system by 75% to 100%.
Don’t be put off by cost
Don’t let the initial cost of a solar pool heating system prevent you from installing one. Most systems will pay for themselves in three to four years. Not only will you save money, you will also be helping to save the environment.
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