solar heating for swimming pools diy

Solar Heating For Swimming Pools DIY

If you regularly find that the temperature of the water in your swimming pool is too low and that the water feels cold then there’s every chance that you’re not enjoying using it and that you, your family and your guests are not getting the best use from the pool.

Unless you are an ultra competitive swimmer or simply mad, then we really want to get some enjoyment out of our bathing, and this means that we’d like some creature comforts, including water that does not attempt to freeze our bits off – in short we would like our swimming pool to be heated and warm, so that we can enjoy it, not just on hot, sunny days but whenever we would like to take a dip.

So, to do this we need to think about our swimming pool water heating.

The problem with every swimming pool is size and quantity of water. Simply put there’s a lot.

Heating water, even by a few degrees is expensive. According to Neave Pools the average cost to heat a pool between May and September is around $1500 to $3000, and we have to remember that in addition to the heating we also have the cost of electricity for the pumps and chemicals to treat the water. 

To keep our pool warm our heater needs to run 24/7 along with our pumps.

If we have a cold night and don’t use a pool cover then it’s likely that our costs will be higher.

If we don’t heat our pool then it’s unlikely that the water will heat up by much, if anything.

Any heat captured during the sunshine of the day will likely radiate away as the day ends or be lost by convection into the ground, pipework or as water is replaced. 

Without heating the water in our pool will struggle to get higher than 70 degrees fahrenheit.

When we consider that competition swimmers normally swim in water that is closer to 80 degrees and that most leisure pools are around 85 degrees then we see that without heating our swimming pool is going to be and feel very cold.

If we heat our pool then not only will we be more comfortable but we’ll also be able to extend our season, typically into the later months of the year. Or, if we have a good setup and effective controls then it’s possible that our pool could be useable all of the year round.

Options for heating a swimming pool

There are several options available that will enable us to heat our swimming pool.

The choice is wide and our considerations when making a decision should be based upon the size of our pool, the potential for using the home heating system, when and how often the pool is used, and how warm we would like the water to be.

We’ll look at a few of the available options:

Heating your pool with solar energy

Solar energy is a clean and efficient way to heat the water within a swimming pool.

Not only is it an environmentally friendly method, it also saves money on the annual water heating bill that you have to pay.

Solar can be used in conjunction with the regular pool heater to offset costs but with the safeguard that the backup of the regular heater is there should the sun disappoint.

Heating a swimming pool with a solar water heater

Traditionally solar water heaters have been used on household rooftops to heat or pre-heat the domestic hot water supply and also for use in some central heating systems.

It is now possible to obtain solar water heaters that are specifically designed for use with swimming pools. Many of these are free standing panels that sit next to or close to the pool, in the sun, and are plumbed into the pool pump systems to warm the water.

There are some systems that not only heat the water but that also utilise the sun to power the pool pump via a phot voltaic solar panel, thus not only do you save money on energy for heating the pool water but you also save on the electricity costs of running the circulation pump.

Costs for swimming pool solar water heaters have fallen in recent years as solar panel technologies have improved and it is possible to get decent solar pool heaters from around $80 upwards.

Amazon have a wide selection of solar water heaters that are specifically for use with swimming pools and you can see some of the ones that are available via this link. Swimming Pool Solar Water Heaters

Using Photovoltaic Solar Panels to heat a swimming pool.

These panels generate electricity from sunlight which is then used to power devices. They are the type of panels that you’ve probably seen on rooftops or in solar farms.  Photovoltaic panels ( as they are known) are the most common type of solar panel, simply due to the fact that there is greater demand for electricity than water heating.

They are lightweight, easy to install, and reasonably priced and the electricity that they produce can be used to power everything in your home, not just pool equipment.

These types of solar panels come in a range of sizes, you can connect as many as you need or can afford and/or accommodate at your premises. You likely use electricity at present to heat your pool ( if you heat it ) and the energy produced by this type of panel can either replace your existing electricity supply or supplement it, reducing your expenditure and bills.

Using Dome Shaped Solar Heaters To Heat Your Swimming Pool

Dome shaped solar collectors are another common method of heating swimming pool water. 

The principle of a dome shaped solar heater is exactly the same as the more widely known water solar panels. The heater, as it’s name suggests, is dome shaped. Within the dome is a plastic hose that circles the interior of the dome, coiled up. Water enters the dome via one connection, passes through the coils which are heated via the sun, and then leaves via an exit connector to the pool. The effect is the same as if you laid a hosepipe on the ground that had water in it. After a few minutes the water inside the hose will be warm. As the pipe within the connector is coiled many times the water is heated to a considerable level making it ideal for swimming pool use.

Solar Heating For Swimming Pools DIY

Using a heat pump to heat a swimming pool

Heat pumps extract heat from the outside air  or from beneath the ground which is then transferred into the swimming pool water. Working a little like an air conditioning system in reverse heat pumps are common in colder climates and tend to be reasonably energy efficient technologies. However they do use electricity and this has to be supplied from somewhere, most commonly the household supply so savings are countered elsewhere, unless, of course a heat pump is supported by photovoltaic panels.

Heat pumps are also expensive to install, in particular the underground ones which require excavation of gardens and yards to enable the installation of the piping that is necessary to extract the heat from the earth and air. This type of project is only worth considering for your pool if you are also looking to heat your home – they amount to several thousands to install.

Using heat exchangers to heat a swimming pool

A heat exchanger uses electricity to heat an element which in turn heats the water. This is a similar effect to using a giant kettle. Heat exchangers tend not to be used in private swimming pool environments and are more typical in large commercial or community operated pools due, in the main, to expense and complexity. 

It is possible to use a heat exchanger for a pool as part of a domestic residential installation. Heat exchangers, although effective, are expensive to use. They will heat water comparatively quickly but they will chew through electricity to do so.

If you are looking for cost effective solutions to heat your swimming pool then a heat exchanger would probably not be for you.

Heating the swimming pool with wood or coal

In some parts of the world there are people that use solid fuels such as wood and coal to heat their swimming pools. I’ve even seen people make their own hot tubs and small pools and light fires underneath them to get them warm.

It does work although it might not be the most useable and clean solution available. 

As well as being dirty with lots of smoke, you’ll have to keep the fire going to keep your pool warm, You’ll also have a fire with all of it’s inherent safety risks to manage. 

At least you’d have plenty of water to hand if anything went wrong!

A safer option would be to use a multi fuel stove. You can get stoves that have built in radiators that are designed to heat domestic hot water and radiators. With a bit of plumbing creativity you could plumb in one of these stoves to heat your pool.

You’ll still have the problems of smoke and keeping the fire going though.

If you have a small pool, or hot tub and live off grid or somewhere remote then this type of heating could be good fun and a cheap solution.

Using a swimming pool cover to keep your pool warm.

Swimming pools lose a massive amount of heat from radiation and evaporation of the water. Using a pool cover is a relatively cheap and easy way to reduce heat loss and keep the water warm.

A purpose made cover will retain a significant amount of heat overnight and will reduce the amount of energy that you need to use to heat the pool. 

Even if you cannot source a proper cover, a tarpaulin or plastic sheet can make a difference. 

Using the cover whenever the pool is not in use will reduce the amount of heat lost to the atmosphere and will help you to reduce your energy costs.

Do It Yourself Swimming Pool Heaters

Solar Heating For Swimming Pools DIY Projects that can save you money

Above Ground Swimming Pool Water Heater

diy above ground swimming pool solar water heater

Many above ground small swimming pools are within reach of many homeowners. With a variety of shapes and sizes these types of pools can be fitted into most yards and gardens. The biggest obstacle to these pools, particularly if they are shaded, is heating which can leave the pool feeling cold.

An easy solution that is well within the reach of even the most basic DIY’er is this simple to make DIY solar pool heater. 

The heater is simply a coiled hose that is dark colored laid on a dark sheet of plywood, with each end of the hose placed into the pool water.  This simple pool heater can really warm the water and can be knocked up within minutes of getting the parts together.

DIY Solar Pool Panels

solar heating for swimming pools diy

Pool solar panels are a great way to heat water for your swimming pool. The options for building these are numerous and can involve old radiators painted black, coiled copper tubing, plastic tubing, in fact anything that can hold water and can be housed in a frame.

Water volumes can be high meaning that you can heat large quantities in short periods of time. This article shows how you can make a solar pool heater, from cheap parts, which can be used to heat a large swimming pool, saving you a small fortune on your energy bills.

Black Hoses in the Sun Can Heat Your Pool Quickly and Cheaply

A really easy and fast way to heat your swimming pool. Use black hoses, as in the picture, coil them up and use zip ties to hold them in the coil. Lay them out on the ground in as much sun as possible. 

Fill the hose with water and then place both ends of the hose into the pool. As the water heats in the hose it will begin to move, drawing cooler water from the pool while passing warm water into it.

To improve the process you could include a solar powered pump to move the water through the hose. Quick, cheap and heats a lot of water quickly.

Even easier pool heating with Hoola Hoop Heaters

These are really easy to make and effective. You can rope the kids in to help to make them. 

Take a hoola hoop, get a black garbage bag and some tape.

Using the hoop as a template, cut a circle from the bag that is slightly larger than the hoop and then tape the bag to the hoop.

Throw the hoop into the pool and the plastic will heat up warming the water.

Make a few and get even more heat. 

They look like lily pads when on the water. Just take them out when you need to use the pool.

Easy peasy heating.

Less than an hour to make. DIY Solar Heater for your swimming pool

The perfect bargain basement solution for swimming pool heating. Don’t waste time or money and get this heater up and running as fast as you can say ‘solar heating for swimming pool diy’…simple and a great option for using those scrap bits and pieces that might be lying around.

Solar pool heater that looks like it is part of the pool surround.

pool surround heater

Here’s an idea for a solar pool water heater that fits in well with the pool surround and looks like a natural part of the landscaping.

An easy DIY project for heating a swimming pool.

Then gravel helps with heat retention and attraction.

Solar Heating For Swimming Pools DIY