As you can probably imagine, heating a pool is not the most economical use of your money. Considering that a typical pool holds 10,000 gallons of water, you could spend a pretty penny to keep your pool comfortable. But with a DIY solar pool heater you can get the best of both worlds. They are inexpensive to make, work well, and will not cost you a penny to operate.
The idea of a solar pool heater is much the same as any solar water heater. The only big difference is that instead of using a tank to hold hot water until you need it, a pool circulates water continuously which means that you have to alter the design such that the water is heated as fast as possible.
In order to heat the water as fast a possible, you want to expose as much surface area of the water to the sun as possible because the more surface area, the more energy it will absorb.
Because of this, there are a few different types of DIY solar pool heater designs that are used but they all operate under the same principle. It is much like a garden hose that is left out in the sun where the residual water inside the hose heats up. But the idea is that the longer the hose is, the more water that gets heated.
For the sake of cost and simplicity, I have decided to show you a simple DIY solar pool heater using a pipe coil design. This design works just like the garden hose mentioned above if it were coiled up.
Choosing a Location for the DIY Solar Pool Heater
You have two options for locating your solar pool heater. Ideally in either case you want it to face south to get the maximum amount of sun exposure possible (for northern hemisphere only). The next best orientation is either east or west. If you live in the southern hemisphere then you want to orient it to the north instead.
The first option is to mount it on the ground. This can be a good option if you have plenty of space that gets unobstructed sunlight throughout the day. Any shade will affect how well your solar pool heater works. This is typically easier because it requires you to run less piping.
The second option is to mount it on your roof which is a great option for those with limited space. Because it is higher it is typically less prone to shade or other obstructions.
Building the DIY Solar Pool Heater
Building the solar pool heater itself is pretty simple and straightforward. You can use 500 feet of 10mm black irrigation piping and a couple of valves and some interconnecting piping.
All you have to do is coil the piping nice and tight around itself and flat. You can use a little bit of hardware to secure the coiling so that it holds form. You want to make sure that you have easy access to both ends of the piping because these will be where you route the water in and out of your pool heater.
Installing the DIY Solar Pool Heater
Installation is also pretty simple and straightforward. All you have to do is to connect the solar pool heater in line with your existing pool pump which will act to circulate the water for you. Just add a T valve to both the incoming and outgoing water lines so that you can easily bypass your heater at any time if needed. Then route your piping directly to your heater and connect it.
Once it is all connected, the sun will heat the water in the piping as it is being pumped out of the pool and through the heater. Then from the heaters it will be pumped back into the pool and work to heat the pool.
Special Consideration for the DIY Solar Pool Heater
There is one limitation to take into consideration. There is friction generated from the water moving through the piping. So you can only use so much piping before the force of friction overcomes you pool pump which results in the pump not being able to circulate the water.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of how easy it is to build your own DIY solar pool heater. One of the great things about this project is that it is very inexpensive to build and can significantly extend the amount of time during the year that you can enjoy your pool.