Solar Pool Heating System: Go Green and Cut Heating Costs

The U.S. Department of Energy states that a solar pool heating system generally costs from $3,000 to $4,000, including installation. Depending on local fuel costs, the system pays for itself within one and a half to seven years. While you do have options when choosing how to heat your pool, a solar energy system is a viable choice because it saves you money and reduces your environmental footprint.

The Three Kinds of Pool Heaters

You can choose to heat your pool with an electric heat pump, a gas heater or a solar pool heating system. According to AMECO, an electric heat pump will cost about $5,000 to install, with seasonal operating costs ranging from $1,200 to $2,400. Your total cost within five years could be as much as $17,000. If you choose a gas heater, expect to spend about $2,400 to purchase and install it. Your seasonal operating costs will be around $1,800 and your total cost after five years will exceed $11,000. Installation costs for solar pool heating systems range from $3,000 to $7,000, but solar systems cost nothing to operate.

Once you decide on a solar pool heating system, investigate the covenants, local codes and regulations in your area.

Choosing the Right Solar Pool Heating System

While several kinds of solar heaters are available for pools, the most inexpensive are the molded plastic panels. The swimming season lasts only three or four months in many parts of the United States. A solar pool heater may extend your season by 50 percent or more.

Before purchasing your system, you need to tackle the following:

  • Ensure that your site is a good solar resource
  • Determine system size
  • Establish the proper direction and tilt of the collector
  • Determine efficiency
  • Compare cost of systems

You can learn more about siting your system at

Determining Efficiency of Solar Heating System

Some systems offer a collector’s thermal performance rating. This rating is sometimes measured using the British thermal unit (Btu) per square foot each day: Btu/(ft2day). Or, it may also be measured by megajoules (MJ) per square meter each day: MJ/(M2day).

Choose a solar heating system with a high number rating. Because of variances, the thermal performance of any two collectors are about the same if the ratings are within 25 Btu/(ft2day) of one another.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I increase the effectiveness of a solar heater? Yes. You can use a solar cover to trap heat in the pool when it is not in use. You can also install a dark pool liner. Dark vinyl pool liners for inground pools absorb more heat from the sun.

2. How long does installation take? On average, it takes from one to three days to install a system.

3. Is a solar heater difficult to operate? No, these systems have easy to understand, automatic controls.

4. Will the solar heater affect my chemicals? No, a correctly installed system should not affect your chemicals. You will swim more often, which means that you will use more chlorine.

Other Benefits

  • Safe for the Environment. Solar power is a clean, renewable energy without the need for fossil fuels.
  • Low Maintenance. No extra maintenance is required. Just keep your pool clean and chemicals balanced. When you shock or add a large amount of chemicals to your pool, it is best to shut off the water supply to your solar collectors and pool sweep.