Thursday, April 30, 2009

Solar Pool Covers/Blankets


Solar pool accessories such as solar covers or blankets can help you maintain the temperature in your outdoor swimming pool comfortable, extend your swimming pool season, and save money. Solar swimming pool covers made of heavy-duty polyethylene material are specifically designed to capture the sun’s free heat, transmit it to the pool water and prevents night time heat loss.
solar swimming pool cover
A solar pool cover is the least expensive kind of swimming pool cover. For about $75 - $150, it can raise water temperature anywhere from 10-15 degrees F, by absorbing sunlight during the day and retaining the heat at night. A solar pool cover can reduce heating costs by up to 75%.

The new generation of solar swimming pool covers let the sun’s rays to pass through to warm the water. They resemble giant colored sheets with tiny air pockets or “bubbles”. The absorbent coloring increases solar heating, while the tiny 'bubbles' magnify the sun. It is most popular to get clear or blue pool covers, but there are also black, silver and gold.

Solar swimming pool covers are classified by the thickness of the plastic they are made from. The thickness is measured in microns. The bigger the micron count the longer the cover will last.

Solar cover float freely on top of a pool without tie-down or anchor to hold it in place. You can remove a solar cover just by pull it off and store it. However, folding a giant wet blanket by yourself can be a difficult task, especially if you have a very large swimming pool, so a helper or the aid of a solar pool cover reel makes the task much easier. Solar covers are usually folded and stored or rolled-up on a large reel and wheeled out of the way.

Solar pool covers/blankets have some other benefits as well:
  • they prevent water from evaporation from the pool
  • reduce the amount of expensive chemicals consumed by 35 to 60 percent
  • they can also help to keep the water clean and reduce cleaning time
But is important to keep in mind that although any cover will reduce some of the debris that enters a pool, solar pool covers are not specifically designed for cleanliness, nor to be used as safety covers, and access to the pool must be restricted for young children and animals. And they should be completely removed before swimming because the solar covers clings to the surface and could trap a swimmer under water.

Solar pool cover/blanket are the most practical and economical way to save on your swimming pool heating costs. They might actually be thought of passive solar heating for your pool and can be used on their own as well as in addition to a pool heating system. Solar pool covers work equally as well on both above ground and in-ground swimming pools.

Solar Pool Heater
VORTEX 4x12 Panels
Standard System Kit

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Types of Solar Pool Collectors


Solar pool collectors are available on the market in many different types to accommodate the many different varieties of pools and conditions. Generally, there are two main solar pool collector types - unglazed collectors and collectors with a glass covering (glazing). The type you need depends on the climate in your region. Unglazed solar collectors operate only when temperatures are above freezing and they are highly cost effective for outdoor pool heating. They are generally made of thermoplastic rubber (types of solar pool collectors called flexible rubber mat) or polypropylene plastic treated with an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor to extend the life of the panels. Currently, the solar industry is widely using black polypropylene plastic collectors. These solar panels may be either rigid or have individual pipes running lengthwise. Individual collectors are normally 4'x8', 4'x10', or 4'x12'.

Glazed solar collectors are similar to domestic hot water heating systems but they are not normally used to heat swimming pools. Glazed collector systems are generally made of copper tubing on an aluminum plate with a sheet of glass covering to prevent heat loss but it increases their cost. They can be two to three times more expensive per panel than unglazed solar panels. In addition to high costs, high levels of chlorine, or having a salt-water pool, can be extremely corrosive to the copper piping inside glazed panels. But if you plan to use your solar pool collectors in colder climates, or they need to operate all year-round even in sub-zero temperatures, you will probably need glazed collectors.

Before you purchase and install a solar pool heating system you need to determine the size of the collectors. Basically, you should take into consideration the following factors:
  • your pool’s location and size
  • average regional temperatures
  • desired pool temperature
  • all year-round uses or uses restricted to a part of the year
  • the system’s type, model and efficiency

Solar Pool Heater
VORTEX 4x12 Panels
Standard System Kit

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Celebration


April 22 is a day to celebrate the Earth. Founded by US Senator Gaylord Nelson, the Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 in the United States. 20 million people and thousands of local schools and communities participated in the first Earth Day. In 1990, the first official International Earth Day was celebrated. About 200 million people from 141 nations took part in a celebration of environmental conservation.
Earth Day
The goal of the Earth Day is to promote environmental awareness, highlight growing concern over pollution of the air, soil, and water, and to call for the protection of our planet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Solar Pool Heaters


Roof mounted solar pool heating system
Photo credit: DOE/NREL and Aquatherm Industries

The summer season is approaching and owning an outdoor swimming pool is an important part of the family’s lifestyle. A swimming pool means not only cooling off on a hot day and a lot of summer fun, but it's also a great way to exercise and relax. However, the water to be used in swimming pools needs to be maintained at a comfortable temperature. If you are also planning early morning or romantic late night swims, a swimming pool heater is undoubtedly needed. And also, with pool heaters you can extend the swimming season by weeks or even months.

If you are concerned about the environmental impact and big expense of heating pool water you may want to consider solar heating for your pool. Solar pool heating is a great way to reduce your energy bills, protect the environment and extend your swimming season. A solar pool heater can work in conjunction with a natural gas or electric pool heater as back-up on cool or cloudy days.

Solar water heaters are simple devices that capture the sun’s energy to heat water for ordinary use. Most solar pool heating systems include the following:
  • solar collector(s) - the device through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
  • filter - removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
  • pump - circulates water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
  • flow control valve — automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector
Pool water is pumped through the filter and then through the solar collectors, where it is heated before it is returned to the pool. In hot climates, the collectors can also be used to cool the pool water during peak summer months by circulating the water through the collectors at night, when air temperatures are lower.

It typically costs between $2,000 and $4,000 to install a solar heater for an outdoor swimming pool (cost of pool heaters can vary based on the size of your pool). The advantage of a solar pool heating system is obvious - the energy of the sun is free, the price of installation is a onetime fee, payback can be as low as 2 years, very low operating and maintenance costs, and 15-25 year lifespan (depending on the panel and manufacturer).

In one of my next posts, I’ll write about different collector types of solar pool heaters and factors determining the size of the collectors.

Solar Pool Heater
VORTEX 4x12 Panels
Standard System Kit