In these systems, pool water circulates through a large heat exchange surface, usually located on your roof, and absorbs the sun’s energy. The principle is similar to the way your car radiator works, only these solar heat exchangers collect heat instead of radiating it. Most solar “collectors” are flat black panels manufactured from high technology plastics which have been designed to resist weather and ultraviolet radiation.
The major advantage of these systems is that because sunshine is free, they have no operating cost. Another plus for environmentally concerned pool owners is that solar energy is renewable and non-polluting. The major disadvantage is that solar does not provide heat on demand. In other words, the solar system can only put into the pool the heat which is available from the sun on any given day. You cannot make more solar energy the way you might use more electricity to maintain your pool temperature. A heating system used in conjunction with a pool cover can more than double your comfortable swim season, from six months to ten months every year.
So why, you ask, doesn’t every pool have a solar heating system? Solar pool heating systems do require a larger initial investment but
with a life span of 15-20 years can pay for themselves with energy savings in 4-to-6 years.
While there are only small differences in the heating performance for most of the solar pool heating panels on the market today, a variety of factors can cause significant price variations. One is the desired swimming season. In my experience Lanzarote swimming pools are difficult to heat around the months of December and January. When comfortable swimming is desired during the colder winter months, more panels must be added to the system in order to collect the additional heat needed each day to offset colder air temperatures and reduced solar energy available. Different mounting methods, warranties, asthetic touches, and electronic control systems are other options to be aware of.