In San Diego, you can significantly reduce swimming pool heating costs by installing a solar pool heater. They’re cost competitive with both gas and heat pump pool heaters, and they have very low annual operating costs. Actually, solar pool heating is the most cost-effective way to use solar energy in many climates.
Per San Diego Business Journal special section “Sustainable San Diego.”: A comfortable swimming pool temperature is 80–86 degrees. In order to maintain that comfort level, a large pool consumes approximately as much as 150 homes non-pool supporting homes, resulting in high annual utility bills.
How San Diego Solar Pool Heaters Work
Most solar pool heating systems include the following equipment:
- A solar collector, which is the mechanism through which pool water is circulated to be heated by the sun
- A filter which removes debris before water is pumped through the collector
- A pump to circulate water through the filter and collector and back to the pool
- A flow control valve, either automatic or manual device that diverts pool water through the solar collector
Did you know that in hot climates like San Diego’s East County, the collector can also cool the pool during peak heat by circulating the water through the system at night?
What is the cost of a Solar Pool Heater in San Diego?
A solar pool heating system usually costs approximately $3,000 – $4,000 (including installation). This provides a energy payback of between 1.5 and 7 years nationally. However, San Diego is known for it’s temperate climate and the need for a solar pool heater may be greater here than in Arizona or a warmer climate. They also typically last longer than gas and heat pump pool heaters. Before you purchase and install a solar pool heating system, you should work with a licensed solar company to figure out the following:
- Evaluate your property’s solar resource
- Determine the correct solar panel system size
- Determine the correct orientation and tilt for the solar heater collector
- Research a solar system’s efficiency
- Compare installation costs
- Investigate local codes, covenants, and regulations
Solar pool heater collectors can be mounted on roofs or anywhere near the swimming pool that provides the proper exposure, orientation, and tilt toward the sun. Both the orientation and tilt of the collector will affect your solar pool heating system’s performance. Your contractor should consider them while evaluating your site’s solar resource and sizing your system. Ideally, the collector is oriented due south, but can be oriented within 15 degrees east or west of south.
San Diego Swimming Pool Permitting
As with a solar water heating system, it is important to consider local building codes and regulations for solar water heating. Did you know, per ConstructionMonitor.com, 40 swimming pool permits were pulled for pool construction in San Diego County in October 2017? In our opinion most of those should have considered installing solar pool heaters at the same time.
After installation, properly maintaining your system will keep it running smoothly for 10–20 years. Consult your contractor and read your owner’s manual for maintenance requirements. Your collector should require little maintenance if the pool’s chemical balance and filtering system are checked regularly.
Solar Pool Heaters for Commercial Swimming Pools
In 2014, the California Solar Initiative – Thermal (CSI-Thermal) program started issuing rebates for commercial swimming pool heating as part of the California Public Utility Commission’s measures to help reduce fossil fuel use and curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Per the Center for Sustainable Energy: Investment Concepts (a San Diego Developer) has installed systems at 17 of its residential properties, including recent additions of three separate solar systems for three pools at the 172-unit Villa Monair Apartments in Bay Park in San Diego. The pools qualified under earlier terms offered by the CSI-Thermal program, resulting in a total rebate of $27,500 toward installation costs of $37,280.