Do you dream of one day having a pool in your backyard? Maybe you have even started planning the logistics of getting one only to learn that maintaining a pool can be quite costly. Luckily, solar energy can be used to offset some of those costs, just like it can for the rest of the house.
In fact, you might be surprised just how many different ways solar energy can be used to make owning a pool easier. From regular maintenance to everyday operation, almost every aspect of owning a pool can be improved by using products that are powered by solar energy.
The first set of gadgets that most people think of when it comes to using solar energy in your pool is solar heaters. If you plan on using your pool all year round, this is an especially important system to have but can become expensive quickly.
Traditional gas and heat pump pool heaters can be a convenient way to keep the water at a comfortable temperature for swimming, even when the weather isn’t great. However, they have relatively high annual operating costs compared to solar pool heaters.
The same is also true of the initial expenses of buying a pool heating system and, because solar heaters typically last longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters, the return on investment.
Solar heaters can come in two forms, electric and non-electric. Electric pool heaters pump the water through a heater before returning the heated water to the pool. The heater isn’t necessarily electric so you might still have higher utility bills if the water is heated using gas.
Non-electric pool heaters, on the other hand, take advantage of the passive heat generated by sunlight. Water is pumped to solar collectors that don’t generate electricity but concentrate the sun’s heat where it is warmed before going back to the pool. (1) These kinds of heaters can be particularly useful for indoor pools in cold climates.
Have you ever been ready to hop into a pool for a swim but realized that there is a ton of gross debris floating in the water? This is something that a filter in your pool’s pump system usually takes care of but it can take some time to circulate all that water.
A solar skimmer may seem unnecessary since the pool filter gets rid of leaves, hair, or whatever else falls into your pool but it can be very beneficial. These robotic skimmers float on the surface of the pool and remove much of the annoying debris before it even reaches the filter.
This can extend the lifespan of your filter and pump system by reducing the amount of work it has to do.
Maintaining a pool can be as easy as charging the skimmer by setting it in the sun [ideally in the pool] instead of constantly fishing out the garbage that ends up in the water.
The heart of any well-maintained pool is the pump. These machines circulate the water to prevent issues that come with stagnant water. Unfortunately, effectively managing a pool with a pump requires a lot of power.
Pool owners can typically expect a couple hundred to the low thousands in additional annual expenses simply from running the pool at appropriate times.
If you choose to use a solar pump, however, this number can be reduced significantly or eliminated altogether depending on how much sunlight you receive.
The solar panels simply convert the solar energy into useful electricity which is then sent straight to your pump so it can operate and push water through the system. Alternatively, like most solar systems, you can include a battery so any excess power generated by the solar panels is stored and the pump can run at night.
Although they sound like they do a similar job, solar skimmers and solar cleaners are not the same product. While a solar skimmer takes care of the pool’s big picture, a solar cleaner is focused on what goes on behind the scenes.
Even if a solar skimmer picks up everything that falls into a pool as soon as it touches the water, the truth is that things like bacteria and algae can still disrupt your pool. This might mean undesirable green growth in the water or on the pool’s edges or could be something like changing the pool’s pH. That’s where the solar cleaner comes in.
A solar cleaner can automatically monitor things like pH levels or microorganism concentrations and dispense solutions to take care of things before they get worse. Typically, this involves ionizing a copper rod which then inhibits algal growth. (2)
No need for you to have to constantly check your pool’s condition when you have a solar cleaner floating in the water. It also reduces the amount of harsh chlorine you use in the pool water which makes it better for your skin and the environment around your pool.
Another common thought when it comes to solar energy and residential pools is solar lights. Just like any other solar light, these light sources absorb the energy from the sun and store it in a battery until it is needed later.
Sometimes, these devices will have a sensor when light levels become low and will automatically turn themselves on so that you can enjoy some night swimming.
The main difference that sets apart some solar lights for pools from general solar lights is that they need to be waterproof and able to withstand some of the chemicals or salt often used in pools. You can add a great amount of detail or personal touch to a pool with solar lights.
That being said, most solar pool lights float on the water and aren’t strong enough to light up a whole pool, so you may need to use some other lights simultaneously. (3)
- Solar Swimming Pool Heaters. (n.d.). Energy.gov. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/solar-swimming-pool-heaters
- Dean, M. (2023, March 21). Pool Ionizer: What Is It & How To Use It – Pool Research. Pool Research. https://poolresearch.com/ionizer/
- Swimmingpool.com Guide to Pool Lights https://www.swimmingpool.com/products/pools&spas/lighting/