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Old 07-05-12, 08:00 PM   #1
jemshkoj
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Default What is the start up cost for pool solar heating systems?

I am curious to know if anyone can give me a ballpark figure on what the start up cost to install a solar heating system for my 30'x17' inground pool? If new shingles are required in a few years on the roof, does having solar panels on it add significant cost to this job?

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Old 07-05-12, 08:04 PM   #2
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Most pool solar heating systems on the market are glorified black air mattress-like water bags that are plumbed directly to your existing pool plumbing. Basically, the sun heats the water filled bags (usually 4'x20' or similar size). For your pool size, one water bag should be enough.

You can lay them down anywhere but if they're going to be mounted on the roof you'll need the extra piping and pump power to pump water up to the height of the roof.

Keeping in mind that there are many different brands available, expect to pay about $600 for the water bag. If extra piping is required plus the professionals to plumb the heater into your existing system then you will be paying more for materials and labour (maybe $1000 more depending on how evil the installation is).
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Old 07-05-12, 11:13 PM   #3
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Hi,
I'm experimenting around with the pool heating panels as part of a cheap and easy to build solar water heating system -- this link shows the 80 sf of Fafco panel I bought and how its installed on the roof -- its pretty simple and pretty cheap: Off The Shelf Solar DHW -- Cheap and Easy DIY Solar Water Heating
The collectors are made from polypropylene and have many closely space water channels -- the pool water is pumped directly through them and normally your regular pool pump will be able to handle the panels.

As the link shows, the panels are mounted to the roof with simple plastic coated metal straps -- in mine, the strap is secured to the roof using stainless steel screws and roofing cement. If you had to re-roof, I'd think you could take the panels off in a couple hours and put them back in in a bit more than that, but I'm not sure.

I paid $2 per sqft for the 80 sf I bought, this included the mounting straps and the couplers to hook the panels together. I got them on ebay. In addition to this you will need some PVC pipe, a vacuum relief valve, a diverter valve to send the water to the collectors or not and a few other odds and ends -- nothing really expensive. If you want to automate the system you will need a differential controller for swiming pools -- Google Goldline.
If you get them from ebay, I'd pick one of the places that operates a pool supply place and call them and tell them what you want to do, and they can help you pick out the right kit of fittings, valves, ...

The very rough rule of thumb is that you should have a collector area equal to half of the water surface area of your pool, so this would be up toward 400 sf -- but, it depends a lot on where you live, how hot you like the water, and how long a season you want. Some good guides and calculators here: Solar Pool Heating
You need to use a pool cover -- if you don't, its kind of like trying to heat a house with no roof.

Solar pool heating is the best payback under the sun -- pretty hard to go wrong.

Do you have a heater now? If so, what's it costing you to run it?

Gary
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Old 07-09-12, 02:35 AM   #4
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Just a thought..... We had a above ground pool with the water temperature in the 60's and our young kids begging me to jump in, I had to rethink what I had done setting up that pool.

I took a large car radiator, placed it in the attic with a fan blowing across it and pumped the cold water thru it. The pool got up to 90 degrees in about a week. Before the heat exchanger, the attic was around 130 degrees and higher. After that, the house was a whole lot cooler.

I thought I was going to be rich until I did an internet search and found that there was a patent on it already.
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Old 07-09-12, 09:31 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo NR Gee View Post
Just a thought..... We had a above ground pool with the water temperature in the 60's and our young kids begging me to jump in, I had to rethink what I had done setting up that pool.

I took a large car radiator, placed it in the attic with a fan blowing across it and pumped the cold water thru it. The pool got up to 90 degrees in about a week. Before the heat exchanger, the attic was around 130 degrees and higher. After that, the house was a whole lot cooler.

I thought I was going to be rich until I did an internet search and found that there was a patent on it already.
Hi,
I've seen those advertised and wondered if they did anywhere near as well as the ads claim.

Could you provide a bit more detail on yours?
- How big is the pool?
- What would a typical day temperature gain be?
- What kind of radiator and how big? Is it the type with the fan built in?
- What kind of pump did you use? Any idea what the flow rate is?
- Were you able to provide some sort of leak protection if there was a leak at the radiator?

Thanks -- Gary
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Old 07-09-12, 11:06 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GaryGary View Post
Hi,
I've seen those advertised and wondered if they did anywhere near as well as the ads claim.

Could you provide a bit more detail on yours?
- How big is the pool?
- What would a typical day temperature gain be?
- What kind of radiator and how big? Is it the type with the fan built in?
- What kind of pump did you use? Any idea what the flow rate is?
- Were you able to provide some sort of leak protection if there was a leak at the radiator?

Thanks -- Gary
-The pool was the Intek. Its 18' round x 4' high. 5455 gallons. Amazon.com: 18' x 48" Intex Easy Set Pool Package: Toys & Games

-We started the pump after the temperatures were above 90 degrees in the attic, usually around 11am. We had dark brown roof shingles and at one point, I covered the vents to build up more heat. It was 10 years ago, so I don't remember all the details.

-We used a 4 core car radiator with a standard box fan blowing on high. The pool got the pool up to about 80 (from around 55-60).

-After about 2 weeks, I found a larger 24" x 24" x 6" heat exchanger and a stronger fan. Those additions increased the heat exchange much faster. One reason why I had to cover the vents to build more heat.

-We used the filtration pump (approx. 1500 gph) supplied with the pool and a Harbor Freight water pump. I don't remember the size, but it was around $100. The second pump was needed to get the water up to the attic about 15' approx. from the ground through the exchanger and back to the pool. There is no way to use only the pools supplied filtration pump. I tried.

-I did learn that the speed of the flow with my setup was very important. Too fast and the heat exchange wasn't as effective.

-The leak protection consisted of a large plastic catch basin under the unit with a 4 inch drain to the outdoors. I put a water alarm in the catch basin to warn me of a problem. Water Alarm from Basement Watchdog | The Home Depot - Model#: BWD-HWA Of coarse the system was drained in the colder time of the year.

- I think that there was some condensation on the coil, for some reason, but its been about 10 years ago. Another reason for the catch basin.

-We were able to set the pool up in April and heat it with some success, but in the summer months, it would get too hot if I didn't monitor the temps. From what I remember, around 90 to 95 was very comfortable.

-The circulating water pipes were all wrapped in a foam pipe wrap and taped.

-I had to cover the pool with a bubble wrap insulation when not in use to keep the pool heated.

-The hot incoming water was just like you would find at a hot springs spa. I measured the temps at one time, but forgot how hot the water came out. It was warm enough to get me in the pool!

-More than once I forgot to turn it off and it began cooling the pool. I added a couple of timers after that.

-We used this set up for at least three years. I don't recall how much the electric fan and pumps added to the utility bill, but I don't believe it was that much.

-If we had a pool now, I would hack an A/C unit and exchange the heat that way. There would be protection in place for a automatic pump shut off in case of a leak in the system. Also, I would put in adjustable vent dampers to open and close off the vents.

-A drawback with this type of pool heating is that when you have a cloudy, lower temperature day, you would have to rely on some other type of heating to get the pool up to a friendly tempeture. Talk about spoiling the kids when the pool is now a heated pool and now they have to wait....

-We noticed that the house was more comfortable in the summers.

-Even for those folks that don't have a pool, just think about all of that usable heat we could use to heat our hot water tanks.

Gary, I hope this answered a few of your questions.....

-Geo-
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Old 07-10-12, 12:25 PM   #7
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I have a 6000 gallon 18' diameter 4' deep ring pool and have had great success with cutting black trash bags and putting them at the bottom, no plumbing required and the water stays much warmer than the stupid blue(why aren't they dark?) bubble wrap things that they sell to put over the top. Heat from within, it heats the water directly and works well for me. I don't have it near tall trees so I don't get any debris in it so there's little need to cover the pool but the higher the temperature that you keep the pool, the higher the chlorine replacement requirements are for algae control and more importantly safety/cleanliness.
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Old 07-10-12, 04:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geo NR Gee View Post
-The pool was the Intek. Its 18' round x 4' high. 5455 gallons. Amazon.com: 18' x 48" Intex Easy Set Pool Package: Toys & Games

-We started the pump after the temperatures were above 90 degrees in the attic, usually around 11am. We had dark brown roof shingles and at one point, I covered the vents to build up more heat. It was 10 years ago, so I don't remember all the details.

...

Gary, I hope this answered a few of your questions.....

-Geo-
Thanks Geo -- good stuff

Gary
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Old 07-10-12, 04:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MN Renovator View Post
I have a 6000 gallon 18' diameter 4' deep ring pool and have had great success with cutting black trash bags and putting them at the bottom, no plumbing required and the water stays much warmer than the stupid blue(why aren't they dark?) bubble wrap things that they sell to put over the top. Heat from within, it heats the water directly and works well for me. I don't have it near tall trees so I don't get any debris in it so there's little need to cover the pool but the higher the temperature that you keep the pool, the higher the chlorine replacement requirements are for algae control and more importantly safety/cleanliness.

Hi,
The main purpose of the cover is to stop heat loss due to evaporation, which, for most pools, is the biggest heat loss.

Here is another practically no work way of making an above ground pool run warmer: A VERY SIMPLE pool heating idea
Basically pain the sun facing side of the pool black on the outside.

Gary
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Old 07-10-12, 11:54 PM   #10
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"Basically pain the sun facing side of the pool black on the outside."

Black on both the inside and the outside. There's plenty of sun that gets in the pool and if its not reflected out it should heat the pool more than covering it and not letting the sun heat the interior black surface.
For the cover, works great when there's no sun to hit the black.

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