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Heating pool & spa water


Solar heating systems provide ‘free,’ clean energy via tubes or mats comprising heavy-duty rubber or plastic that collect heat from the sun and transfer it to the pool water circulating though the system.

This is another environmentally conscious choice; once installed, a solar heating system provides ‘free,’ clean energy. There are also several different systems to fit different budgets. Typical, unglazed solar panel systems are manufactured of heavy-duty rubber or plastic and comprise tubes or mats that are installed on the roof to collect heat from the sun to transfer it to the pool water circulating through the system. Glazed solar panels work much the same way; however, they are manufactured of copper tubing on an aluminum plate with a glass covering. This increases the system’s cost, however, glazed solar panels are able to capture heat year-round, regardless of weather conditions. That said, a high-quality system is expensive and the pay back will likely take many years.

Heat exchangers/radiant heaters

Both of these systems have a heat source driving them (e.g. fossil fuel, geothermal, etc.), but also allow the use of a boiler system to produce heat. Heat exchangers will typically transfer heat quickly, but can be influenced by out-of-balance water chemistry, such as low or high alkalinity or over chlorination, as with most heating systems.

Heat exchangers
Heat exchangers and radiant heaters comprise tubes installed in the pool floor and/or walls and never come in contact with the pool water like other heating systems.

Radiant heaters are slower to heat; however, they are sealed and not subject to pool water imbalance issues. This heating system comprises tubes installed in the pool floor and/or walls and never comes in contact with the pool water like other heating systems. With this heating system, it is possible the heater or an element may never need to be changed.

There are more pros and cons to various heating systems than can be mentioned in this article. In all projects, the builder must do his or her own due diligence to find the heating system best suited to the site and client. By researching all possible options and keeping an open mind about potential solutions, builders can offer their clients the perfect recommendation.

Guidi-8105This is a pool and hot tub combination in which both elements are covered and have underground insulation. The pool is a perimeter overflow vanishing edge. Being located on an island meant the cost of electricity and propane was very expensive; there was no natural gas source. The client ultimately decided to go with a high-end solar system as the primary heating source, backed up with a high-efficiency boiler and heat exchangers. This combination improves the efficiency and reduces environmental impact while still producing heat on demand when needed. The system is also automated, allowing the client to turn on the heater from his cell phone while driving home.


Brown_Head_ShotGene Brown is a second-generation pool builder in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. He is the president of Valley Pool & Spa, a swimming pool design/build firm based in Kelowna, B.C. He can be reached at or by visiting

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