The cost of getting solar pool heating might be steep, but the running cost is way below any other available option for heating pools.
How much does it cost to get solar pool heating? On average, the cost of solar pool heating systems falls between $3000 and $6000. The cost may spiral as high as $11,000, and it can also be as low as $1,500. It all depends on the factors that apply to you.
You might spend as much as $11,000 on getting a solar pool heater. However, in a year, you may not spend a dime running it. But even if you do incur some running cost, it may not exceed $100. Besides, solar pool heaters have relatively long lifespans – most of them are expected to last for 15-20 years. Unlike the alternatives, which typically last for 1 to 5 years.
Factors That Affect Solar Heating Cost
Availability of Solar Radiation at the Site of the Swimming Pool
Energy from the sun can reach the solar pool heater directly or diffusely. However, if the total amount of solar energy in the area is insufficient, you may have to get more expensive solar pool heaters like glazed solar panels or high-temperature solar collectors. Also, if the optimal site for sunlight reception is far away from the swimming pool, you will spend more on tubing and installation.
The Size of the Solar Pool Heating System
Dimension of the Pool
Larger pools will have more pool water. With more pool water, the heaters work extra to raise the temperature. To sustain such high levels of solar pool heating, the pool will need a collector of the corresponding size. Consequently, the overall solar pool heater cost will be higher. Also, the larger the surface of the pool, the faster the rate of heat loss. If your pool is losing heat quickly, you will need a larger collector to sustain the heating.
The Swimming Season
generally, the longer the season, the higher the square footage of the solar pool heating collector needed for a pool. So, for instance, in an area where the pools are used all year, the square footage of the pool heating collector can be equal to the square footage of the pool. Conversely, in another area where the pool season is only about 8-10 months, the square footage of the solar pool heating collector maybe about 70-80% of the pool’s square footage.
The Use of a Heater Solar Pool Cover
With a heater solar pool cover, more heat is retained. Consequently, the collector area needed to heat the water is smaller, and you can spend less.
The Regional Temperature
In areas with lower average temperatures, your solar pool heating system will have to do more work to heat the pool. Therefore, you will need more collector square footage. This applies conversely to areas with higher average temperatures.
Position of the Pool
If your swimming pool is positioned above ground, you may need a larger collector relative to an in-ground pool of a similar surface area. In-ground pools have the insulation of the soil to retain pool heat. On the other hand, above-ground pools are not insulated. So, they need larger collectors to counter the effect of heat loss.
Cost of Solar Pool Heater Installation
On average, the minimum cost to install a solar pool heating system is $500. However, this value might be higher (as much as $2500) depending on the size of the unit, the distance of the unit from the pool, the ease of installation, and the size of your pool.
In installing a solar pool heating system for large pools with complex systems, the installer can spend days – even up to 2 weeks. In some cases, it would require more than one worker to complete the installation. Of course, these will affect the total cost of solar pool heater installation systems.
Also, if your solar collector is far from the swimming pool, you will need longer tubing. Longer tubing means you will have to spend more.
If you work with professionals, the good news is the cost to install a solar pool heater would be worth it in the end. Also, the average daily pool heating costs of solar pool heaters are less than 1 dollar per day, making them more cost-effective than other pool heating options.
Types of Solar Pool Heaters
On average, propylene mats cost $500 to $3000, depending on the size. Propylene mats are not as expensive as the other 3 options. As the name reveals, the mats are made of propylene fabric with coils running through them. They are pretty effective in warmer climates like Florida and California. But in milder regions, they are less effective.
Glazed Solar Panels
Depending on the size of the system, the average cost of glazed solar panels falls between $3000 and $8500. Glazed panels are basically solar panels with iron-tempered glass covering copper tubing laid out on an aluminum plate. The benefit of this design is energy capturing. The glass captures and retains more solar energy than an unglazed solar panel. Hence, it is suitable for areas where the sunlight is not long or hot enough to generate sufficient solar energy. Another benefit of glazed solar panels is that you can heat your pool year-round, unlike unglazed solar panels.
Unglazed Solar Panels
Unglazed solar panels come cheaper than glazed solar panels. On average, you will spend between $1500 and $4000 to get one of these. Unglazed solar panels differ from glazed solar panels because, in place of glass covering, they use heavy-duty rubber or plastic infused with UV inhibitors. The UV light inhibitors prolong the panel’s lifespan by blocking out the light contributing to panel deterioration. Since unglazed solar panels do not use glass covering, they will heat your pool more effectively in warm months than cold months. So, you may not enjoy them year-round.
On average, this type of heater costs between $9000 and $11000. High-temperature solar collectors appear to be the most expensive option amongst the 4 solar heaters. High-temperature solar collectors work with mirrors (usually parabolic mirrors). The mirrors concentrate the sun’s energy, increasing the amount of sunlight used in heating the water. The advantage of this design is that even in areas that do not get so much sunlight, the solar pool heater will still function. Also, since these solar collectors heat the water to a very high temperature, they are pretty efficient in cold areas.
Cost of Solar Pool Heater by Collector Size
As you know by now, high-temperature collectors are the most expensive solar pool heaters, while propylene mats are the cheapest. However, the type of solar pool heater is not the only factor that affects the price. The size of the collector does too. The size of the solar pool heater you will need depends on the size of the pool, the position of the pool (in-ground or above-ground), the climate, and the presence or absence of a pool cover.
On average, a solar pool heater by size ranges from $3000 to $8000. A single solar panel typically measures 4’ x 20’ or 4’ x 10’. Some collectors use 4 panels, some use 6 panels, and some use as many as 10 panels. As a rule of thumb, the surface area of the solar collector should be around 50% to 100% of the pool surface area. So, if the surface area of your pool is 200 square feet, you will need three to five 4’ x 10’ panels. This costs around $2500 to $5000. If the pool were 800 square feet, you would need ten to twenty 4’ x 10’ panels. For ten panels, you may spend around $6000 to $8000.
Cost of Solar Pool Heater Pumps
Besides the solar pool heater cost for installation, the collector size, and the type of solar heater, the cost of the pump will also affect how much you spend. Note that if your pool already has a pump, you may not need a new one.
The average cost of solar pool heater pumps falls between $50 and $1300. How much you get yours depends on the size and the style of the pump. Speaking of the style, some pumps are solar-powered, while others use electricity, propane, or natural gas. Typically, solar-powered pumps are more expensive, but their operating cost is less.
The size of the pump you will need depends on the size of your pool. The larger the pool, the larger the size of the pump you will need. The size of the pump usually correlates with its horsepower (HP) rating. So, while a 0.5-HP pump can cost $50-$500, a 3-HP pump will cost around $700-$1300.
How Warm Does a Solar Heated Pool Get?
How warm a solar heated pool gets depends on pool size and the type of solar heater used. But generally, the pool can become warmer than an unheated pool by 5°-12° on a sunny day. Typically, the temperature of the heated pool on such a day will be around 75° to 85°.
How much your solar pool gets heated also depends on the exposure to sunlight. While it can get warmer by 5° to 12° on a bright day, it may only rise by 2° to 3° on a cloudy day. In fact, the pool water may even get cold if the sky is too cloudy.
How Much Does a Solar Pool Cover Heat a Pool?
The solar pool covers work in two ways: heat the pool and reduces heat loss from the pool. The degree to which a solar pool cover heats a pool depends on 2 factors: the amount of direct sunlight it gets per day and the total surface coverage it offers.
If a solar pool cover gets no less than 6 hours of direct sunlight and completely covers the pool, it can heat the pool by up to 10-15°.
How Much Does It Cost to Get Solar Pool Covers?
Pool solar covers are pretty inexpensive. A solar cover can go from $75 to $225. However, you can get something of even higher quality if you spend more.
Do Solar Pool Heaters Work in the Winter?
The effectiveness of solar pool heaters drops in winter. In areas with less sun and cooler winters, the solar pool heaters will not heat the pool warm enough for a swim. Even if they do make the pool warm enough, they will not sustain it long enough for you to swim. Luckily, heat pumps will work in such cases, ensuring the weather does not stop your pool season. In sunny regions like Florida, Arizona, and California, solar pool heaters work in winter. But this only applies when the temperature does not drop too low. In these regions, when the temperature gets around 50°F, you may have a shorter swimming season without alternative heaters.
How Much Does It Cost to Heat a Pool per Month?
The operating costs of heating a pool per month depending on the type of heater used. You may spend between $200 and $850 per month heating your pool with propane pool heaters. This makes propane heaters the most expensive option. Electric heaters are slightly less expensive than propane heaters. However, monthly pool heating costs can be $175-$600 for an electric heater pool. Natural gas pool heaters are about the same range as they cost around $200-$400 per month.
Heat pumps are less expensive than electric heaters and propane heaters. With a heat pump, the monthly heating costs will be around $120-$200 monthly. Solar heaters are the most cost-effective amongst these 4 heaters. You can heat your pool for free with a solar system, or at most, and you spend $10 per month.
Apart from having the cheapest operating costs, solar pool heating is eco-friendly. For one, it does not emit air pollutants like propane or natural gas heaters. Also, it is powered by a renewable energy source – the sun – but every other heating option is usually powered by non-renewable energy.
Once you are aware of every factor, you should consider, estimating the cost of getting a solar pool heating system should be a breeze for you. Alternatively, you can get an estimate for free using any of the various pool heating cost calculators available online.
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