Solar is the popular energy source, and one great way to get your feet wet is to start off with a solar heater for your pool. In the Dallas-Fort Worth climate especially—where the summers are hot and the winters are mild—solar heaters can be a cost-effective way to keep the water temperature controlled throughout the year. Before you dive right in and install one, you need to know how, and whether, they actually work.

What Are Solar Heaters?

Made of either heavy duty rubber or copper tubing, residential solar heating collectors are the main part of the system that makes solar heaters work. A complete system also includes a pump, a filter, and a control valve. The water in the pool is pumped through the filter and then through the solar collector, where it gets heated before it is returned to the pool. In very hot climates, such as that of Dallas-Fort Worth, the collector can actually be used to do the opposite: to cool the water during the hot summer months by circulating the water during the night through the collector.

Are Solar Heaters Cost-Effective?

In a climate such as that of Dallas-Fort Worth, solar heaters are one of the most cost-effective uses of solar energy. With an initial cost of $3000–$4000 for purchase and installation, a solar heater can be a major purchase for your home. Before buying, stop to consider the length of time you plan to live at your current location and how frequently you use the pool. Once the initial cost is covered, these heaters tend to last longer than gas or heat pump pool heaters and, of course, have low annual operating costs. Their return on investment window is estimated to be between 1.5 and 7 years, depending on fuel costs in the area.

Do Solar Heaters Work?

Many factors must be considered when answering the question of whether solar heaters for pools actually work. The short answer is “Yes.” Provided you do ample preliminary research, it will not take long to heat a pool in Dallas-Fort Worth thanks to the local weather conditions. Do you have sufficient square footage of panels on your roof? Do you have the correct tilt and orientation for your collectors? Do you also use a pool cover? These are questions that you must consider to get the best results from your investment.

One common complaint about solar energy is that the temperature cannot be controlled with the same precision as that afforded by other types of pool heaters. Nonetheless, there are valves that you can use to direct the water flow to the panels or to bypass them. The pool will lose heat overnight, but when the sun is high enough to start heating the panels the next day, the temperature warms right back up.

Why not take advantage of one of Texas’s greatest natural resources, the sun, so that you can use your pool throughout the year? The heaters have a positive impact on your wallet and on the environment and can keep your pool at the right temperature in any season.

Image Source: Flickr/Charles Hoffman