How well do solar collectors work during cloudy weather?
A solar pool heating system will typically collect about half the solar energy of a clear, sunny day on an overcast day. If you have ever had the experience of going to the beach on an overcast day and still getting a sunburn, you understand this phenomenon. Clouds block many of the visible wavelengths of sunlight, but much of the heat energy still gets through.
How well will my solar pool heater work during cold weather?
Solar pool heating collectors typically deliver excellent performance in Florida during cold weather because the sky is very clear during winter high pressure waves. On the other hand, increased evaporation from your swimming pool surface can significantly reduce your pool temperature during cold fronts. A pool blanket can help keep the heat from escaping.
How long will it take for my pool to heat up after my installation is completed?
This depends upon what time of your system is installed and will be greatly accelerated if you use a pool blanket to keep the added heat in the pool. For most solar pool heaters and with a pool blanket in place, an unheated pool will usually come up to temperature within three days or so during the spring and fall.
We have an installed pool heater. How can we tell how well the system is working?
Of course, if your next door neighbor’s pool is unheated and has similar site factors (screen enclosure, windbreaks, etc.), you can simply compare water temperatures.
However, if you don’t happen to have such a convenient comparison point, or if you simply want to better understand your pool’s temperature dynamics, the method described below will provide you with a pretty good approximation of what your pool’s current 24-hour average temperature would be without supplemental heat.
Go to Weather.com and enter your zip code into the Local weather search box at the top of the page.
When the results page for your local weather appears, you will see a row of boxes with links for different types of local weather data just below the page’s main header banner. Select the last box: Month.
Record the daily high and low temperatures for each of the preceding six days. You should have 12 temperature points.
Calculate the average for the 12 temperatures. The result will be a good estimate of the current day’s temperature of an unheated pool in your locale.
Remember that on a sunny day, a solar heated pool is usually at least three degrees warmer during the afternoon than during the early morning hours.
Also, keep in mind that Weather.com often publishes the same weather data for every zip code within a single county or large metropolitan area. However, actual air temperatures within the same county or metro area will vary: a bit warmer in urban surroundings and a bit cooler in rural surroundings. This is called a microclimate difference. You can get a good estimate of any microclimate difference applicable to your pool by comparing the Weather.com current local air temperature for your zip code with an outdoor thermometer reading. Just make sure the sun isn’t shining directly on the thermometer.
Can my solar pool heating system also be used to heat hot water for my home?
No. This requires two different systems. Home water heating water temperatures of 125°F to 140°F call for solar collectors constructed with metals like copper that conduct heat well, and insulation and glass cover plates to keep the heat from being dissipated into the air. Swimming pool solar collectors typically operate at temperatures of just 76°F to 95°F, so they can be constructed of polypropelene plastic and do not require insulation or cover plates.