You’ll be able to enjoy a comfortably warm soak or swim in no time if you follow these instructions for installing a solar pool heater for above-ground and in-ground pools.
While installing solar panels can seem like a chore, they are a great way to heat your pool all year long. Thankfully, it’s not as difficult as you might anticipate. So, you’ve bought yourself a new solar heater for your pool and you’re wondering how to install it yourself.
For your convenience, I’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial on how to install a solar pool heater, whether it’s for an above-ground or in-ground pool.
How to Install Solar Pool Heater for Above-ground Pools?
Installing a solar pool heater for an above-ground pool requires slightly different than that of an inground pool. As long as the return hose from the solar panel to the pool can be connected, the solar panels can be installed anywhere in your yard, including on the ground and against the side of the pool.
- Return hose
- Hose clamp
- Solar panels
- Straps and clips
- Solar panel rack
- Garden clearing tools (Rake, spade)
Step One: Choosing the Right Solar Panel Size
It is crucial to confirm that you have the appropriate solar panel size for your pool before installing the solar heater. If you’re unsure of how many panels you’ll need, a general rule of thumb is to have enough to cover an area at least half the size of the pool. This is a big factor in how effective your pool heater will be.
Step Two: Choose the Location
Look for a place that receives a lot of sunlight. This can be directly next to your pool without any obstructions or even on your roof, although this will mean you need a longer return hose.
Step Three: Prep the Area
Prepare the site once you’ve selected your location. Make sure the ground is level and remove any vegetation, including any branches that might shade the area. The ground must be perfectly level before you can install a solar panel rack.
Step Four: Install the Solar Panel Rack
Here, you have a choice between purchasing a pre-made solar panel rack and building one yourself. These racks may be made of wood and have four sides for the panels to rest on. They serve nothing other than to lift the solar panels off the ground.
The rack needs to be fastened with stays, brackets, or nails to the ground, a wooden deck, or even the closest fence. Simply to prevent the rack from toppling over or getting hurt by strong winds, is done.
Step Five: Mount the Solar Panels
Depending on where you live, you must mount the solar panels on the rack at an angle so that they face either south or southeast. The solar panels are modular and fit together like puzzle pieces, making installation simple. Straps or clips are used to secure the panels.
Step Six: Turn Off the Pool Pump
Turn the pool pump and skimmer off completely before connecting the solar heater to the pool’s existing plumbing.
Step Seven: Connect the Panels to the Pool Plumbing
In this next step, connect the return hose from the inlet header on the solar panel to the pool pump in order to bring cold water from the pool to the solar panels. This is easy to do as above-ground pools have pumps outside the pool in an easy-to-reach place.
The return hose from the solar panel’s outlet header should be plugged into the pool’s wall outlet to return the warm water to the pool. To connect the solar heater to the pool, you can use PVC pipes or even a garden hose.
Step Eight: Test the System
Turn on the pool pump and let it run for a few hours to see if everything has been installed properly. Your water should begin to gradually warm up.
How to Install Solar Pool Heater for Inground Pools?
For inground pools, there is a small difference in how solar heaters are installed. Due to the additional plumbing requirements, installing a solar heater for an inground pool will take a little longer. But you shouldn’t encounter many issues as long as you closely adhere to these and the manufacturer’s instructions!
- Solar panels
- Solar rack/mount
- Steel bolts
- Straps and clips
- Return hose
- PVC pipes and adapters
- 2 x 3-way valve
Step One: Choose the Location
The location of your solar panels is crucial; if you decide to put them on your roof, make sure there is enough space for multiple panels and a rack, as well as plenty of direct sunlight.
Step Two: Secure the Mounts
You might want to ask for additional assistance with this step. The mounts should be initially positioned four feet apart on the roof’s rafters. Using steel bolts to hold the mount in place, drill holes into the rafters. Verify that the mount is firmly and securely fastened.
To avoid any roof leaks, a pro tip is to use sealer around the drilled holes.
Step Three: Attach the Solar Panels
Fasten the solar panels to the mounts once you are certain that they are stable. Make use of clips and straps for this.
Step Four: Turn Off the Pool Pump
Turn off the pool pump and filtration system prior to continuing with the installation.
Step Five: Connect the Solar Panels to the Pool Plumbing (inlet)
This is where things can get a little tricky, so make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions exactly for specific information. Here is a basic guideline:
- Utilizing PVC pipes, join the 3-way valve to the bottom inlet header of the solar panels. As a side note, this valve controls water flow to and from the solar heater, it can either be automatic or manual.
- Connect the pipe to the pool’s current filter after it is connected to the valve.
- Connect a pipe to the pool pump from the pool filter’s other end. You might need adapters to lengthen the pipes depending on how close your solar heater and pool pump are to one another.
Step Six: Connect the Solar Panels to the Pool Plumbing (outlet)
Once you’ve connected the pipes from the inlet header to the pool pump, now connect the pipes from the outlet header situated at the top of the solar panels.
- Using the outlet header, connect the end of the pipe to the 3-way valve.
- Connect the pipe from the valve to the pool so that warm water will flow directly back into the pool.
Step Seven: Test the System
The pool pump must be turned back on, the valves must be opened if they are not automatic, and the process must be completed by allowing the pump to run for a few hours. You will notice the water begin to warm. Read How Warm Can a Solar-heated Pool Get?
How Much Does It Cost to Install a Solar Pool Heater?
A solar pool heating system usually costs between $2,500 and $4,000 to buy and install. Depending on your local fuel prices and the amount of solar energy you have access to, this offers a payback period of one to seven years. They typically last longer than pool heaters powered by gas or heat pumps. Your actual cost and payback are influenced by a number of variables.
- The national average cost of installing a solar pool heater averages between $3,000 and $7,000, with most people paying $5,000 for a glazed solar panel pool heater for a 12-foot x 24-foot in-ground pool.
- For an in-ground pool measuring 10 feet by 20 feet, unglazed solar panels mounted on a platform close to the pool can run as much as $2,000.
- On the high end, a high-temperature home-mounted collector for a sizable 18- by the 36-foot pool might cost you $10,000 or more.
Conclusion: Install Solar Pool Heaters
So, you have learned how to install solar pool heaters for above-ground and inground pools. Solar pool heaters will have no trouble bringing your pool’s temperature up if you live in a sunny area. You are prepared to take a warm bath whenever you want when the heating is combined with a solar pool cover.
Should Solar Panels Face South Direction?
It’s not necessary, but you should install solar pool collectors where they can receive enough sunlight throughout the day. Depending on the orientation of the mounting surface, equipment that faces east or west can function just as well.
How to Select a Solar Heater Installer?
You will want a professional installer who has a good amount of experience installing a solar pool heater. Installation is influenced by a number of variables, such as the local climate, the amount of sunlight that your area receives, and building codes in your area, among others.