Mattress Floating In Swimming Pool
Credit: Renato Cardoso, via

Are you planning to use solar energy for the heating of your swimming pool? Various types of solar heaters vary in the materials used for a construction of collectors, the system's durability, efficiency and price. Reaserch your options before deciding on the purchase, if you wish to obtain the best benefits to price ratio. Let's start with an overview of different types of solar heaters available for sale.

Unglazed solar swimming pool heaters

These heaters lack the glass protective layer on the collectors. There's a good chance, that they are your best choice. While less efficient than glazed collectors, they are cheap and adequate for the typical pool heating needs.

Unglazed sun powered heaters consist of many narrow (0.5 cm diameter) tubes, which converge in the wide, 4-5 cm head pipes, connecting the collectors and providing a closed system for water circulation. Unglazed panels are made from a strong rubber or plastic. Let's see, how those materials influence the properties of unglazed pool heaters, which employ the energy of the sun.

Unglazed rubber solar swimming pool heaters

They consist of rubber strips, which are attached to inflexible header pipes. Rubber solar pool heaters are less efficient, than plastic ones, because thick rubber tube walls need more time to conduct heat and empty spaces between the strips cause the collectors to lose warmth faster.

They last up to 15 years before you need to change the collectors. Consider installation of unglazed rubber heaters, when you seek an affordable solution.

Unglazed plastic solar swimming pool heaters

Solar pool heaters made from plastic are somewhat flexible, when they are warm. Collector pipes are welded together to either form a solid surface, or to contain spaces, which increase the heat loss in the collector, but make the structure more stable and resistant to the wind. Clamps from stainless steel and rubber couplings connect panels together after the construction is set. Plastic solar panels have standard width of 1.2 m and come in different lengths.

Unglazed plastic solar swimming pool heaters last about 15-20 years on average, when the plastic material contains UV protection. Consider using these, when you seek the best benefits to price ratio in your swimming pool heating system.

Solar collector kits for above ground pools

Looking for a sun-powered swimming pool heater for an above ground pool? You can find complete solar collector kits with free standing solar collectors for sale. However, keep in mind that these kits are often made from cheap plastic with no UV protection. While inexpensive, they have a short period of full guarantee and estimated product lifetime of only 10 years.

AquaQuik SolarPro Solar Heater
Amazon Price: $179.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 24, 2013)

Glazed solar solar swimming pool heaters

These can achieve higher water temperatures, than unglazed collectors and don't lose so much energy due to an influence of wind and low temperatures. They are frequently utilized to heat water for home use, because of their efficiency, but rarely for the pool heating, because of their price. You have to pay for a glazed solar pool heaters about three times as much, as for unglazed ones. They are made from copper tubes, which are attached to a dark metal absorber plate. The collectors are enclosed in the insulated box, covered with a sheet of a tempered glass.

Consider obtaining glazed solar panels, when you own an indoor pool, which is used through the year, or when you have a large pool in the cool and windy climate.

Fafco Solar Bear Economy Heating System for Above-Ground Pools
Amazon Price: $399.00 $253.00 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 24, 2013)

Which type of solar swimming pool heater to choose?

When you are choosing between different types of solar pool heaters, keep in mind that unglazed rubber collectors are the least durable, but cheap. Select the glazed solar panels only, when you need the most efficient system, otherwise they are too expensive. In most cases unglazed plastic solar pool heathers provide you with the best cost to benefit ratio.

On the market you can find other types of solar water heaters, like an evacuated tube or concentrating. These are not appropriate for swimming pool heating - way too expensive and powerful. While the solar panels are the main element of your sun-powered swimming pool heating system, remember to check features of the valve as well.

Eco Saver 20-Foot Solar Heating Panel System
Amazon Price: $139.99 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 24, 2013)

Automatic or manual valve in solar swimming pool heater?

The valve is the part of your system, which controls the access of water to solar collectors. Your solar pool heater works only, when it's opened. When you choose manual valve, you have to remember to turn it on and off, whenever necessary. Picking automatic valve is more convenient, when you use the pool frequently.

However, there are different types of automatic valves available. Most come with a timer, which you can program for a particular hours of work. However, if you wish to maintain the steady temperature in your pool, choose the valve connected to the heat sensor and the thermostat instead. Make sure that the valve in your system contains the two useful features: the manual override for improved control and the signal light to let you know when the system is on.

Did you ever think that the water in your swimming pool is too hot during the warm, summer days? Then consider purchasing an automatic valve with an option of turning on the system at night to cool down the water.

Intermatic PF1103T 1.5/3HP Freeze Protection Timer and Thermostat
Amazon Price: $292.11 $165.18 Buy Now
(price as of Dec 24, 2013)