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.
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.
Gene 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting www.valleypoolandspa.com.