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How To Heat a Swimming Pool – 11 Ways

There are so many factors that go into planning for your new pool and there are a lot of decisions to make. One that needs careful consideration is how to keep the water at a temperature that is both enticing and refreshing. This not only makes swimming more enjoyable but it also allows you to maximize the use of the pool for as many months as possible.

It’s not always easy to know how to heat a swimming pool. Thankfully, you’ll almost certainly find among the following options the ideal choice of system to give you a nice warm pool.

Factors to Consider

You’ve probably heard the saying that you need to “use the right tool for the right job”. It’s an important rule to remember when working with anything related to engineering or design. And it’s especially true for pool heating. You can think of pool heating systems as specialized tools. And each heating solution will come with certain advantages and disadvantages for any given environment. Basically, you need to pick the right heating tool for the right pool-specific heating job. And the viability of any given solution is largely tied to the following points.

Direct Sunlight

The sun is one of the most important factors to consider when asking how long does it take to heat a pool. It’s easy to take the sun for granted since it’s such an ever-present part of daily life. But the sun is essentially a giant heater that’s always warming your pool to some extent.

You might assume that living in a sunny area would make it easier to keep your pool heated. And that’s quite true, but for far more reasons than you might assume. Of course, the most obvious benefit of sunlight comes from the fact that it can heat water. Direct sunlight can typically change the water temperature by about 0.7 °F per hour. But that heating is just a nice side effect of a sunny day. If you’re actively working to harness the power of the sun you can use that energy source to heat your pool in an easy and cost-effective manner. This is typically done through solar mats, panels, and special liquid covers.

Climate

Unfortunately, cold weather can impact your pool’s temperature just as much as a sunny day. And people in windy areas may well be shocked at how much it impacts heating costs. While sunny weather is typically a good thing for your pool, even that has a negative side. The sun can heat your pool. But it also causes evaporation.

You can lose up to 0.7 °F per 0.25 inches of evaporated water.

Materials

It’s also important to keep in mind that your pool’s environment includes all of the materials used in its construction. Different materials conduct and retain heat differently. This essentially means that the environment is impacting your poolwater’s temperature from both the top and bottom. Heating is one of the more important elements of the fiberglass vs concrete pools debate. Both materials have their own unique benefits.

Concrete provides better insulation for your pool than fiberglass does.

Pool Size

The size of your pool brings with it some obvious heating issues. For example, anyone who cooks knows that it takes longer to get a huge pot of water boiling than a smaller one. Likewise, it takes more energy and a longer timespan to heat a larger pool than a smaller one. But the size of your pool also impacts your heating needs in other ways.

You’ll need to match the size of some heating equipment to that of your pool. For example, solar mats need to perfectly match the size of your pool. A 7m x 7m pool would need a 7m x 7m solar mat. The size of your pool might also prompt you to look for smaller-sized options. If you have a smaller pool you might be less interested in larger solar panels. Smaller solar rings might be a more attractive option for a smaller pool.

Solar Panels

solar panels on roof to heat a pool
After an initial upfront cost of solar panels they can provide years of ‘free’ energy to heat your pool.

The types of pool heaters also factor into your pool heating efficiency. You’ve seen that the sun can help heat a pool. But you can boost that even further with solar panels. There’s a lot to love about solar energy in general. While you’ll need to pay for solar equipment, the actual energy from the sun is totally free. And solar power is one of the best ways to create an eco friendly pool. But solar panels take this already great concept in an interesting direction.

Solar panels don’t directly heat your pool. They will instead take in energy from the sun, convert it into electricity, and feed it into a battery. This stored energy can then be used to power any electrical device – including heaters. Solar panels are best seen as a secondary element to another heating solution. For example, you might use an electric pool heater in conjunction with solar panels. The pool heater will run off electricity. But that electricity can be taken from the sun through solar panels. This essentially makes any electric heating system solar-powered.

Solar Mats

solar mats on a roof to heat water for a pool
Just like when you leave the hose out in the sun and then turn it on to find super hot water coming out, solar mats work exactly the same way.

Like solar panels, solar mats use the sun’s power to heat up your pool but without the energy costs. But solar mats are able to do so more directly than panels. As you’ve seen, panels need a few extra steps to turn sunlight into heat for your pool. But solar mats operate by directly heating water passed through them by a pump. It’s a more direct form of solar-powered heating than you’ll find with panels. But at the same time, it’s also a more cumbersome one. The initial setup of a solar mat is considerably more complex than with a solar panel. However, it’s an effective and energy efficient method of heating your pool using the natural power of the sun.

Pool Heaters

Of course, more traditional pool heaters are also a valid option when you’re deciding how to heat a swimming pool. These methods include electrical heating and pool heat pumps. These options typically require you to consider some other factors. For example, heat pumps work by channeling heat from the outside environment. As such, they require a climate that can provide enough warmth. While electrical heating can work with anything that provides electricity. This includes electricity originally created by a solar panel by your pool.

For those in hotter climates where the climate and sun make the water too hot, some Pool Heaters have the benefit of being able to cool the water allowing you to make it more refreshing in summer while warming it in the cooler months.

Reducing Pool Heating Costs

All of the methods presented so far have focused on ways to directly introduce heat into your pool. But there’s a whole other side to pool heating that you also need to consider – efficiency. You can usually reduce the overall cost of any of the previously mentioned heating options through one or more of the following techniques.

Pool Covers

pool cover on a pool to stop evaporation
Pool covers are a very cost effective way at ensuring heat stays in the pool.

When people discuss pool covers it’s usually in the context of debris. It’s not hard to see why either. When you lay down a pool cover for the night you’ll typically see a collection of leaves, twigs, and other debris on it. But what you might not know is that pool covers are also one of the most effective tools to prevent heat loss.

As water evaporates you can lose up to 0.7 °F per 0.25 inches of water.

But the use of a pool cover can reduce the amount of make-up water you need by about 30% to 50%, this water you need to add back in is from the hose and almost always colder than the water that evaporated away. This can also save you time and money on upkeep. For example, reducing evaporation with a pool cover also reduces chemical consumption by 35% to 60%. Pool covers (also called solar blankets) can vastly improve the overall efficiency of your heating system. But there’s even room to optimize pool covers. Solar covers are a special type of pool cover that makes it easier for the sun to heat your water. They can warm your pool by about 15 °F while reducing evaporation by up to 95%. And there are even more options to increase the efficiency of this already impressive solution.

Think about how different colored clothing can make you feel hotter or colder when you’re out in the summer sun. The same holds true for pool covers, including solar covers. Dark blue solar covers maximize the amount of heat that penetrates the cover. This effect takes an already powerful system to the next level. The extent to which you can benefit from covering your pool when not in use can’t be overstated. It’s generally considered the best way to reduce your pool heating costs. In fact, you can even achieve savings of 50%–70% by using pool covering.

Solar Rings

solar rings floating on a pool's surface
Solar rings are an easy yet effective solution for helping keep the water and the warmth in the pool itself.

You’ve already seen several examples of how you can leverage the power of the sun to keep your pool heated. But there are still some more options out there to leverage that powerful, environmentally friendly, and free resource. Solar rings operate in a similar way to solar covers but are a cheaper alternative.

A solar ring setup consists of several translucent rings which float next to each other on the pool’s surface. They have the same material as many popular pool covers – think of the bubble wrap type but are more manageable as they don’t need to be custom for your particular pool nor do they have any installation costs.

This doesn’t provide the same level of coverage that you’ll receive from solar covers. There are always going to be uncovered areas between the rings. But many people feel that the slightly lowered efficiency is more than made up for by the ease of use. You can even remove a single ring to make room in part of the pool while leaving the rest of it covered.

Liquid Solar Cover

Liquid solar covers are a relatively new heating solution with a lot of potential. One of the recurring themes up to this point is size. Working with covers usually necessitates carefully sizing and laying out material. But what if you could instantly fit a solar cover onto your pool? What’s more, what if it’d even fit into non-angular designs? That’s the exact premise behind liquid solar covers.

As the name suggests, liquid solar covers are a liquid formulation that works as a solar cover.

The liquid forms a film layer on top of pool water creating a barrier between the air and the water’s surface.

To the naked eye, it just looks a little like thin plastic. But in reality, it’s liquid that’s being actively repelled away from the water. At the same time, the liquid solar cover holds onto small air bubbles. These pockets capture heat from the sun and directly move it into the water. But the liquid solar cover also prevents water from evaporating due to the newly introduced heat.

The solar liquid cover essentially acts like a physical cover and can raise the temperature in your pool by around 12 °F. However, it differs from physical covers in another important respect. You can still swim in a pool with an active liquid cover. You might assume that it’d be sticky or make swimming difficult. But in reality, it’s repelled by the water rather than sticking to it. Swimming in a pool with solar liquid cover is little different from swimming in one without it. However, there is one big catch. Movement reduces the effectiveness of the liquid’s seal. So if you’re swimming in the water, or if it’s windy, the pool’s heating will slow down.

Windproofing Your Pool

When you consider how to heat a swimming pool you also need to think about how you’ll stop it from cooling off. And one of the most important parts of that comes down to windproofing. A nice breeze can bring a lot of relief on hot days. But just as it can cool you off, it can also lower the temperature of your pool. And this process also results in an increased rate of evaporation. These two problems, loss of heat and evaporation, are two of the biggest challenges to keeping your pool warm. Physical covers over your pool can prevent both. But you can also enclose the pool area as a whole to block wind. This might sound difficult at first. But think about how little it takes to block wind when you’re outdoors. Any stationary structure can block the wind. And that holds true for pools too.

Windproofing your pool can be as simple as using a fairly inexpensive canopy. You simply need to position it against the direction of the wind. Special dome-shaped windproofing can offer even more extensive coverage. One of the best things about this type of heating protection is that you can still enjoy the fresh air and sun since the windproofing will only block off the section of your pool that’s in the wind’s path. However, when you’re not in the pool it’s generally better to use a full pool cover if it’s windy outside. Keep in mind that the wind will interfere with liquid solar covers too.

Bringing Everything Together To Find the Perfect Heating Solution

The number of heating options can seem overwhelming for new pool owners. But it’s important to keep in mind that these solutions are ultimately a matter of convenience. You should find a heating solution that fits into how you use your pool. And you can move on from there to properly optimize a system so that you’re getting the most out of it and ultimately to enjoy your pool more and extend the swimming season your your little backyard oasis.

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Disclaimer:

At Viking Capital, we try to provide accurate information on loans, credit scores and pool care, but it may not apply directly to your individual situation. We are not financial advisors and we recommend you consult with a financial professional before making any serious financial decisions. The content on poolloan.net is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as professional financial advice. Should you need such advice, consult a licensed financial or tax advisor.

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