Swimming Pool Update: Solar Panels

Apr 18

I can’t believe this month marks one year from the first time I set eyes on this house. Hard to imagine that one year ago I was flying back and forth between Little Rock and San Francisco, searching hard for a new home. It was a stressful time, friends. A time I have no interest in revisiting.

But it’s been fun thinking back to how the house looked before we bought it…and celebrating the little and big improvements made since June 2013.

One of the biggest (and most costly) improvements to this house was renovating the swimming pool. When we bought the house, it was listed “as-is”…and you know what that means. It was completely shot. While I worked with the awesome pool contractors transforming the pool from this…

 

To this…

 

The idea of adding solar panels to assist in pool heating was a big topic. I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to do it, but as we’ve lived with the completed pool / spa and have heated the spa each time we want to get in….it’s clear that solar is the only way to go for many reasons. Although it’s a big cost up front (I always keep it real in here – it was about $9k to install these), it’s a no brainer and is going to save us SO MUCH money in years to come. It’s also going to extend our swim season.

So yesterday, the solar guys came out to add the panels. In one day the house went from this…

 

 

 

To this…

 

 

I was worried about the aesthetics of solar, but it’s really not that bad! The black panels and piping blend in with the black roof. And the roof is pitched at the perfect angle to not make it stand out as much. It also helps that the panels are only located on the back side of the house. There was no need to add more panels to the front roof pitch, which was nice….

 

We did have a little bump after the crew left yesterday. Thankfully, I went back outside again to photograph the panels for today’s blog post and noticed something was very wrong…can you spot it?…

 

How about a little closer…

 

Ha!

The crew came right back to fix the issue easily with a socket wrench. Needless to say, I have been outside quite a bit checking the system while it’s running. Last thing I need is water dripping onto the roof for hours on end. Or my pool slowly getting drained as I lose it down my gutters. Ha!

The solar runs from 10am to 5pm.

For those of you with more questions about solar, I have answers. I chose to add this info at the bottom of this post in case the “why’s” and “what’s” and “how’s” aren’t of interest to you. 🙂 You’re welcome! You know me – anything I do comes with a ton of research. I’ve got (some) answers people! Just lived through it to tell you the nitty gritty. Most of this info came directly from the company I contracted with for this job.

The main reasons I went with solar?

1. Solar pool heating systems extend your swimming season for up to 6 months. That’s more than twice the swimming season without solar pool heating.

2. There is no monthly natural gas charge like conventional pool heaters.

3. Over a 10 year period of heating with gas you will have paid for your solar pool heating system more than twice!

4. The system can heat and maintain your pool at over 80 degrees in combination with a pool cover.

How does a solar pool heating system work?

A typical system consists of solar collectors, easily mounted on your roof, and an optional solar sensor and automatic control unit. You simply set the automatic control unit for the desired water temperature.

Sensors detect changes in the water temperature and direct the automatic control unit to close the control valve so as to route water through the solar heat exchangers. Warm, solar-heated water flows back to the pool, continuously circulating through the collectors until it reaches pre-set temperature levels.

What solar product did you choose?

My solar contractor works exclusively with Revolution by FAFCO. Apparently, this is the industry-leader in solar pool heating products. They are also the largest manufacturer of solar heat exchangers and they pioneered the solar swimming pool heating market over 30 years ago.

 

 

How efficiently will solar heat my pool?

If you follow the recommended solar heater sizes and have a proper exposure to the sun (the company helps you determine this by mapping on something like google – that’s what they did for me), your pool should be 10 to 15 degrees warmer than it was before you heated it, under the same weather conditions. Evaporation of water from the surface of the pool causes most of the cooling of the water. The larger the solar collector area, the more of the sun’s energy it will collect and send to the pool.

Therefore, the larger the solar collector area is in relation to the surface area of the pool, the warmer the pool water will be. If in the future you decide you want an even warmer pool or you would like a longer pool season, you can add solar collectors to the system.

How about maintenance?
No special periodic maintenance is needed. If you close your pool at the end of the season, the solar system will automatically drain down if you have followed the install instructions. However, the easiest way to ensure everything is done correctly, most solar companies offer a shutdown / start-up service. When they come to do this, since they are the experts, that can also catch problems early on.
Before the solar company left yesterday, they started-up the system for me. They set the system to 88 degrees. The weather is definitely warming up here, but don’t imagine the pool will get anywhere close to 88 degrees until July. But the pool will definitely be warmer and ready for swimming in the coming week. In the winter it was about 45 degrees. It’s about 68 degrees right now without having been heated or having solar attached….so if we can get it into the 70s here real soon, we’ll be set to hop in. Finally!!!
If you have any other questions, shoot me an e-mail of leave your question in the comment section below.
Have a great weekend you guys!

comments +

  1. sucia01 says:

    As a realtor, I can't get over how much equity you are putting into that place. Money in the bank! Although I'm sure you are NEVER going to leave that place. I think it was a great decision. And if you had to sell you would get some of that investment back!

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