A swimming pool is for fun, healthy exercise, keeping cool in the summer’s heat. It is also supposed to be for luxury and enjoyment.
A well designed and constructed pool also means improved property value, with pools adding significant aesthetic appeal to a landscaped garden. Having a pool as the focal point for outdoor living activities adds a new dimension to the outdoor living area.
To get the most for one’s money, a pool should be used as much as possible and this means keeping the pool at a swimmable temperature for the maximum number of hours in each day and the maximum number of days in each year.
A swimming pool is one of the largest single purchases a home owner can make. It therefore makes sense that it should be used as much as possible, especially when it has to be maintained and cared for, even when not in use. To examine the benefits of pool heating, it is first necessary to consider why people purchase a pool in the first place.
The main considerations for a solar heated pool are:
- Convenience – Being able to swim at home at any time, day or night.
- Luxury – The sheer sensation of owning and using their own private pool
- Aesthetic Value – Enhances the landscaping of the property. Provides a pleasant and relaxing focal point in the garden.
- Investment – Increases the value and sale-ability of the property.
- Social – Provides a focal point for social life within family and with friends.
- Health and Fitness – The therapeutic value of swimming is well recognised. Some people can only exercise in water, and the value of water-based activities for everyone as a simple keep fit measure has been well documented.
Having accepted these valid reasons for owning a pool, the arguments in favour of heating the pool are straightforward. The pool becomes more convenient to use because you can swim any time, day or night – and certainly that provides a more luxurious lifestyle.
If a pool adds prestige to a property, then a heated pool is the ultimate and the added benefits to the social and health aspects of the family through the increased opportunities to swim are self-evident.
The Mechanics of Solar Heating
The principals involved in solar pool heating are very simple. Imagine a garden hose that has been lying in the sun for several hours. When you turn on the tap, out comes hot water. That’s solar heating: the sun’s energy has been absorbed by the hose and transmitted as heat to the water inside it. The hose acts as a solar collector.
The Collector is the first functional element of a solar pool heating system. Sunlight falling on the collector heats it, just as it heats the water inside. It is usually installed on a north facing surface apart from the pool, on the roof of the house or garage, on a patio cover or specially built structure.
The other components of a solar heating system are:
- The Storage, where the heated water is stored. In a pool system, the pool itself stores the heat.
- The Distribution System, which delivers the warmed water from the collector to storage. When the filter and pump are running, a pool system simply circulates the water from the collectors to the pool and back to the collectors for more heating.
- The Controls, the devices which regulate the flow of heated water to the pool and back, according to the prevailing solar conditions.
Preventing heat loss in a Solar heated pool
Understanding how and where your pool gains and loses heat is crucial to finding the solutions required to prevent heat loss in a solar heated pool. Water flows into the pool from natural rainwater and from the municipal water supply at a temperature generally determined by the ground temperature. It acquires a few degrees of additional warmth directly from the sun and from the air if it is warmer than the water. Wind is the main enemy of the heated pool as it accelerates the cooling process.
Cooling occurs when the water changes from a liquid to a vapour. This process consumes a great deal of heat, occurs naturally all the time and accounts for the greatest heat loss.
Air currents remove heat from the surface of the pool, at a rate which depends on the wind speed and the difference in air and water temperatures.
Heat is also radiated to the sky and surrounding objects. In short, the rate of heat loss from a swimming pool is affected by the temperature of the water, the air temperature and the wind speed. The degree to which these losses are counterbalanced by heat supplied to the pool determines its temperature.
The loss of heat from your swimming pool occurs almost entirely on the water surface, not through the sides and bottom. If you’re going to conserve heat, concentrate on the pool surface.
Before you heat your pool, keep in as much of the natural heat as you can.Pool Covers to prevent heat loss in a Solar heated pool
Pool Covers to prevent heat loss in a Solar heated pool
The most effective way to prevent heat loss is to install a pool cover. Pool covers virtually eliminate evaporation and reduce convective and radiative heat loss by insulating the surface of the pool.
Pool covers have other benefits besides maintaining the water temperature. A properly used cover keeps the pool water cleaner and reduces the consumption of pool chemicals. Some pool cleaners will operate under a cover; even if your cleaner doesn’t, you will find that you need to use it far less frequently.
Some pool covers come with storage rollers which simplify the removal and replacement of the cover. If the cover is unwieldy and difficult to manage, then it is less likely to be used to best advantage. A pool cover rolled up in the corner of the yard will not keep your pool warm.