Green / Eco-Friendly

Ask me anything about solar pool heaters

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[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes

Ask me anything about solar pool heaters

I am part owner of a small company that installs solar pool heaters, and other types of solar panels. With summer here and all the pools open I thought it would be a good time to answer questions about solar pool heat.

We mainly use two brand names, Fafco and Enersol. If you have a pool and you keep it heated all summer, a solar heater is probably the best investment you could ever find. People typically spend between $1,000 and $1,500 to heat thier pools. We can install a heater for about $5,000 so your payback is just over 3 years! It also saves a huge amount of greenhouse gas emmissions.
17 replies
Jr. Member
User avatar
Apr 29, 2009
153 posts
Mississauga
But can we get some reimbursements from the gov, is it tax deductible.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2005
1270 posts
269 upvotes
Toronto
What do you think of Sunheater, the brand that Costco is selling online?

By the way, if you start or move this thread to the Homes and Garden section, you would probably get much more traffic ;)
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
tabiish wrote:
Jul 5th, 2009 8:58 pm
But can we get some reimbursements from the gov, is it tax deductible.
In Ontario you can get the PST back on a solar installation of any kind. An installation also qualifies for the HRTC.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
jjtsl wrote:
Jul 6th, 2009 12:55 pm
What do you think of Sunheater, the brand that Costco is selling online?

By the way, if you start or move this thread to the Homes and Garden section, you would probably get much more traffic ;)
Tha Sunheater looks like a product that Fafco sells called the "Solar Bear". It may be made by Fafco and rebranded for Costco. If it is, it is a good quality product. I have seen a lot of different pool heaters and I know that Fafco will last a long time.

That product is meant for heating small above ground pools. It does not have an automatic controller so you basically turn it on when it is sunny and turn it off when it is cool or cloudy. You could put it on a timer and just run it from say 9am to 5 pm. The risk is that if it is a cool day you will cool your pool. Having said that, they seem like a good low cost solution
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
jjtsl wrote:
Jul 7th, 2009 1:51 pm
The product description does state that it is for inground pool though:

http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Product.asp ... ang=en-CA#

How easy is it for someone to install the solar panels themselves?
I looked at the link. Here is the problem. The picture they show might be in California or Florida. You couldn't install the panels like that in this climate. The panels are running horizontally arcoss the roof so you could not drain then in the winter. You would have to take them down from the roof. Then what do you do with all the holes you just drilled in your roof? Because the panels are 20 feet long it is unlikely that you will have the roof space to install them vertically. I think the only way you could use those panels in this climate is to lay them on the ground and then drain them and put them away at the end of the season.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2005
1270 posts
269 upvotes
Toronto
Thanks for your insight.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2005
1270 posts
269 upvotes
Toronto
By the way, have your heard of WSE Tech? They are a company based in Saskatchewan, and use vacuum tubes to collect solar heat:

http://www.wsetech.com/poolheaters.php


How does this compare with the typical solar pool heaters mounted on rooftops?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Aug 29, 2001
1830 posts
204 upvotes
Waterlooo
This looks interesting!
I was looking at the Costco one too, so it sounds like its about $400 per panel for this?
With this summer looking very cool - I was thinking about solar heat without breaking the bank. I could get one or two now, if it worked out get some more.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
jjtsl wrote:
Jul 9th, 2009 12:06 pm
By the way, have your heard of WSE Tech? They are a company based in Saskatchewan, and use vacuum tubes to collect solar heat:

http://www.wsetech.com/poolheaters.php


How does this compare with the typical solar pool heaters mounted on rooftops?
When it comes to solar, it's all about surface area. There is only 1000 watts per square meter of energy available from sunlight, so if you want to collect a lot of heat, you need a big array. Those tubes would be ok for domestic hot water, but not enough power for heating a pool. One degree a day is not very much, we aim for 5 to 10 degrees F per day. A pool needs a lot of heat. You could do it, but I think it would be cheaper with a conventional pool heater. I personnally am a little skeptical of vacuum tubes, if you want something to last 20 years, simple low tech is best. I have vacuum tubes on my house, but over the years I have come to think flat plate collecters are the best way to go.
Member
Apr 4, 2007
236 posts
43 upvotes
Mississauga
u can buy the solar heat collector for a small pool for 500-800$

basically you connect it in-line from your pools filter (which is always running) via pipes and set it up outside above a roof. The water gets pumped through it where it captures solar heat before being put back into the pool.

5000$ is what you pay if you have no idea where to shop around, how-to do it yourself, or do not want to be bothered. This is like house renovations, the unknowing get jacked for a lot of $. 5000$ maybe justifiable if its a closed loop glycol system, but that is only if its used for year round operation. (what is used for hot water inside where some of it is drinking water)

Check out the link, you can get cheap ones off ebay. If your unable to install it, it should not be more then 400 or 500$ to have someone put in (anymore then that, direct them to the nearest exit...)

Now in the winter, water cannot be in the system. You have to use an air compressor to force get it out to winterize the system. The setup for this must be done during the install. (only if you perm fix it to something, if its one of the cheaper roll out models, remove, drain and move inside)

http://home.shop.ebay.ca/items/Pool-Hea ... acatZ42239

EDIT: This image should explain the basic setup, this is a cheap one for 200$, a perm roof fixed one is more but uses the same principle.Image
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
Just to be clear, the system in the previous post is nothing like a professionally installed roof-top system. The one in the previous post is good for a small above ground pool. We sell those for comparable prices, the same exact unit. If you want real heat, you have to have a collector that is at least %50 of the size of the pool. It gets very big. I have seen very few yards with inground pools that have the space for this. Plus they are ugly. Would you want 400 square feet of these panels laying on your grass?

We can install a roof top system for about $5k. It costs us more than $3k for the equipement. Then you have to subtract our overhead, vans, phones, webpages, advertizing...the list goes on. We actually don't make a lot of money off a system. You get a maintenance free system that should last 20 years and pay for itself about 6 1/2 times over, not taking into account any increase in the price of nat gas. It is computer controlled with 2 sensors so it only turns on when there is heat available. The previously mentioned one will actually cool your pool if it is left running on a cool day. I see in the future large increases in the price of nat gas and a time will come when you will either have a solar heater or you will have a cold pool

Closed loop glycol systems are generally for domestic hot water.
Deal Addict
Dec 18, 2005
1270 posts
269 upvotes
Toronto
Costco apparently has another solar pool heater on their website:

http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Productgrou ... C&topnav=#

The product looks quite like the enersol panel (maybe they all look like that), just wondering if you know anything about the company and product?

It appears for my configuration of a starter kit with additional 4 4'x12' panels would cost me about $2k. What other parts do you think I would need? If I purchase the equipment, do you do installation only?
[OP]
Sr. Member
Mar 7, 2009
780 posts
11 upvotes
jjtsl wrote:
Jul 28th, 2009 3:06 pm
Costco apparently has another solar pool heater on their website:

http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Productgrou ... C&topnav=#

The product looks quite like the enersol panel (maybe they all look like that), just wondering if you know anything about the company and product?

It appears for my configuration of a starter kit with additional 4 4'x12' panels would cost me about $2k. What other parts do you think I would need? If I purchase the equipment, do you do installation only?

It looks exactly like an Enerworks system. The problem I see is that it does not come with an automatic controller. I think a controller is an absolute neccessity. As I have said earlier, you would be cooling your pool on a cloudy day if you didn't have a controller.

I am all for people doing it themselves, but there are so many things that you can do wrong, I wouldn't take the risk. If you don't slope it properly and add a way to drain the panels it will freeze and split the first winter. We have taken down several systems that were installed by the home owner, and several systems that were installed by pool companies. For what it would cost for a professional installation I would think it is well worth it. If you want to do it yourself you will need roofong skills, plumbing skills and solar knowledge. We have taken down systems that were installed under big trees that the homeowner couldn't figure out why it didn't work.

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