Advantages and Disadvantages of a Solar Heater

Eco-friendly and energy efficient, solar swimming pool heaters can be a great alternative to gas and electric models. A solar heater turns the light and heat from the sun into energy to heat up your pool. These heaters are very popular in different parts of the world, particularly areas with higher temperatures and a lot of sunshine.

How Do Solar Heaters Work?

If you already have a pump and filter set up for your pool, then all you need to set up solar heating is a kit with solar panels and a few other installation necessities. However, even if you are a pretty handy person, it is usually best to let a professional install your solar heating kit. Typically, the solar panels are mounted in an area that will get the most southwestern sunshine in a day, usually on a roof or a rack of some sort. Five to six hours of sun per day is ideal. If you do not have access to that type of sun exposure, you can still use solar heating by increasing the square footage of the solar heating panels for greater temperature rise in the water. Solar pool heaters work well in most parts of the United States and are incredibly low maintenance.

Once installed, solar heaters heat your pool by pulling the water from the pump to the black panels. The water travels through the panels, absorbing any heat picked up by the sun before flowing back through the pump and filter and into the pool.

Advantages of a Solar Heater

Heating your pool by using a solar heater provides one advantage that no other heater does: no direct operational costs. You can enjoy a heated pool all year round without having to worry about huge increases in your energy bills. People tend to use their pool heaters during peak times, which also happens to be when energy costs are the highest, but this is not a worry if you are using a solar heater.

Solar pool heaters are also more eco-friendly than most other options, since you are using natural resources to heat your pool, as opposed to using gas (which can emit carbon dioxide and other harmful elements during heating) or electricity (which requires the burning of fossil fuels to harness). If nothing else, solar heating is far more convenient and can usually be set up with whatever existing pump and filter you have, so you don’t have to worry about having to buy or set up new equipment.

Disadvantages of a Solar Heater

While there are several advantages to choosing a solar heater, there are a few disadvantages as well. Solar heaters do cost less in the long run when it comes to their operational costs, but the initial installment can be expensive. Depending on the size of your pool, they can also take up a considerable amount of room, so it is important to consider whether you are okay with solar panels taking up room on your roof, lawn, or anywhere else you may need to set them up.

The other thing to consider when it comes to choosing a solar heater is the wait time; a common complaint is that solar heaters do not heat as well (or at least as quickly) as gas or electric heaters. Solar heaters can take longer to heat the pool water, since they use energy and heat pulled from the sun rather than a separate heating element. Also, since a solar pool heater does pull its power from the sun, it is subject to weather conditions. On windy or cloudy days, you will not get the same results as you would on a bright and sunny day. A pool cover will allow the heating system to retain heat during those cooler, overcast days.

There are several options when it comes to deciding how you would like to heat your pool. Solar heating tends to be popular for its environmentally friendly process, low-cost use, and convenience, but there are disadvantages. It is important and recommended that you research different options to see what will work best for you before making a choice. Always consult a professional before attempting to install or set up any heating system.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays chemically balanced, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.

Pros and Cons of Natural Gas Heaters

A natural gas heater is an efficient way to heat your pool or hot tub all year round. Even during the summer, outdoor temperatures might not stay high enough for long enough to keep your pool’s water warm without the help of a heater. Ideal for cooler climates and those that want their pool or hot tub heated quickly, natural gas heaters also work well when paired with solar heating or pools that don’t need to be heated often. While a natural gas heater is always a viable option, there are some disadvantages, so you should consult a pool professional before making any final decisions. A professional can help you determine what size and type of heater will work best for you.

How Natural Gas Heaters Work

As the pump circulates water from the pool, the water it draws from the pool. Next, it passes through the filter and makes its way to the heater. Gas burns in the heater’s combustion chamber. The water heats as it passes over this chamber and the hot water returns to the pool.

Natural gas heaters are ideal for heating pools for a short period of time and work great when you want to heat a pool quickly. These heaters are ideal for pools that are not used regularly, as gas pool heaters can help to maintain any desired temperature regardless of weather or climate conditions.

Pros of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Convenience: If you have access to a natural gas service, then getting the fuel to your heater is far easier than if you chose propane. Natural gas enters through a permanently fixed line and there is always more available.
  • Speed: If quick heating is what you need, then look no further than a natural gas heater. Unlike electric, solar, or heat pumps, natural gas burns quickly, making it a faster way to heat up your water. Gas heaters are especially effective if you don’t use your pool on a regular basis (since it heats the water quickly there is less need for prep time) or if you are trying to heat a smaller body of water, like a spa or hot tub.
  • Maintenance: Natural gas heaters generate enough heat to warm your pool in a short amount of time, so they don’t have to run as often or as long as some other heating methods, resulting in fewer problems due to wear and tear or consistent use. If you want a heater that requires little maintenance, then a natural gas heater is perfect for you.
  • Cost: While an electric heater or a heat pump may need to be turned on aseveral hours in advance, a natural gas heater only needs about 30 minutes for a typical hot tub or to simply raise the temperature a few degrees in a typical backyard swimming pool. This saves a considerable amount of money through reduced energy usage.

Cons of a Natural Gas Heater

  • Energy Efficiency: While natural gas heaters are more efficient than electric heaters, this does not mean that they are the most efficient way to heat your pool or spa. Solar heaters and heat pumps use the sun and recirculated warm air respectively to heat your pool or spa, making them the more energy efficient options when it comes to heaters. That does not mean you cannot get an energy efficient natural gas heater. Look for one with an efficiency rating of 89 to 95 percent according to energy.gov.
  • Purchase and Install Price: Gas heaters are incredibly efficient when it comes to heating your pool or spa and so might seem like the perfect choice for you, but there are some expenses to running a natural gas heater. In addition to installation and any initial purchase costs, you need to run pipe underground to provide a natural gas source for the heater’s furnace. If a natural gas source or pipe is not close to the pool equipment pad area itself, the cost can be prohibitive.
  • Rising Fuel Prices: Oil and gas prices fluctuate, meaning that operating your natural gas heater will not always cost the same. In the colder months, when oil and gas prices are usually at their highest, the cost of heating your pool can increase as much as 30 to 40 percent.
  • Repair and Replacement: Natural gas heaters are more susceptible to corrosion if your pool water is unbalanced. The amount of use your natural gas heater gets, in addition to outdoor temperatures and desired water temperature, determines how long the heater will last. Most natural gas heaters last about five years before requiring service or maintenance.

To ensure the water in your pool or hot tub stays balanced year round, consider pHin. It constantly monitors your water and tells your smartphone what you need to do to keep the water in your pool and hot tub healthy. Use it with your own chemicals for flexibility or get our single-dose, pre-measured chemicals delivered to your door. If you need someone to service your equipment, Pool Service on Demand connects you to local, qualified pool techs.