Among the many ways to enjoy the benefits of converting the sun’s natural power into reusable energy, a plan to make your own DIY solar pool heater is one of the easiest, least expensive, and most fulfilling to achieve. Not only that, there are numerous options as to how to create this device, from a simple array of irrigation hoses to a complex heat exchanger, depending on your DIY style and budget.
As for understanding how a DIY solar pool heater works, anyone who has ever turned on the faucet to a garden hose in the summer is familiar with how hot the water is coming out from the thermal heating condition caused by the sun. The simplest method uses a significant amount of hosing arranged for direct exposure to southern facing skies in order to capitalize on this phenomenon of solar power. Cost can be from a low $100 to as much as $300 depending on your choice of hose or irrigation tubing including plywood and fittings.
The basic design uses an array of hosing in a concentric circle to avoid kinking. Whether it is 100-feet of garden hose or 200-feet of irrigation line, as long as it is black to absorb the solar power, you can use brackets or straps to secure the hosing to a plywood platform, also painted black. The plywood is fashioned as a frame to hold the hosing flat for maximum exposure. A hole drilled at the center and the outside of the frame can be fitted with elbows and hardware to secure the two ends of the hose line as it leads away from the plywood panel. This panel can be fitted with supports to allow the angle toward the sun and the whole device can be seated on the ground near the rest of your pool equipment.
The flow goes something like this:
• Water is drawn from the pool through the skimmer by use of the pump
• The pump continues the flow from the filter to the chlorinator through the T on the way to the bypass
• The bypass, fitted with a ball valve, can be adjusted to allow flow to the heater
• Water courses through the encircled hose line where it warms and then flows into the pool
There is no need to open the valve fully as it will only tax the pump and when the valve is closed, it acts as a bypass, completely eliminating the route to the heater altogether. It is easy enough to keep an eye on the filter’s pressure gauge to regulate the flow so that it does not force the pressure up.
Utilizing a solar cover is also a good idea to retain the warmth so it is not cooling down and undermine the process. Fitting the hose panel with a clear cover will also help to reduce airflow over the hose which also tends to cause some cooling. Just be sure if Plexiglas is selected that it is designed for extended sun exposure. If you get a cover that yellows over time you are, in essence, filtering or reducing the degree of solar power. Devising your own DIY solar pool heater will extend the enjoyment of your pool season by at least three months as you can still enjoy the sunshine.
Do Above Ground Solar Pool Covers Do the Trick?
Above-ground solar pool covers protect your pool investment when the seasons change and the leaves begin to fall. Solar covers keep leaves and debris from falling into the pool and promote algae growth. In addition, above-ground solar pool covers keep the pool water heating, to a certain extent, with the solar energy produced through the cover. Above-ground solar pool covers, also known as solar pool blankets, will extend the swim season by keeping the water at a tolerable temperature for a few additional weeks in the fall if the pool has no heater. If the pool is heated, the above-ground solar pool cover will reduce the energy costs to heat the pool.
Solar pool covers are available in blanket form, or as rings or sections. Blanket covers are more effective at trapping the heat and keeping the water warmer. Rings and section covers are less expensive, but not quite as effective for keeping the heat in the water. Most solar pool covers are made from heavy-duty polyethylene materials that are resistant to ultraviolet rays. However, liquid solar covers are also available that work by creating an invisible layer of film on the pool water surface. Though rings and liquid covers provide some additional heat and energy, blanket pool covers also reduce water evaporation, which also reduces heating loss.
Generally, solar blankets are the most inexpensive, yet effective, way to protect your pool during the cooler months. Solar blankets are available for most above-ground pool sizes, and the covers do not need to be customized for your pool, as with other pool covers. If a solar blanket’s size needs to be reduced, the pool owner is able to cut the excess material with heavy-duty scissors.
Possibly the best benefit of above-ground solar pool covers is that the pool does not need to be drained and taken down for the winter. Cover the pool and make sure debris and rainwater do not collect on the top of the cover enough to collapse the cover into the water, and the pool is ready to go when next summer rolls around. Just remove the cover, top off the pool with water, and add the necessary chemicals. No need to tear down the pool for the winter, and then reassemble and fill the pool when the next swim season arrives. The pool is quickly prepared and ready for summertime fun.