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DIY Solar Pool Heater

Most DIY Solar Pool Heating systems are little more than a system of pipes in heat collector units that circulate water that has been heated back to your pool.  Most rely on your pool pump to push water through the pipes. So, the basic design is very simple and most handyman types would find   this a relatively simple project once properly planned.

  • A pipe splitter on the exit side of your pool pump
  • A switching valve to allow water to be shunted to your heating mats or coils
  • A series of passive solar collectors heating the water flow
  • A return supply hose to your pool

There are a few things that need to be considered.

  1. The speed of the water flow through the pipes will affect the heating capacity of the system.  The faster the water flow, the less heat passing to the water in the collector.
  2. Your pool pump was designed to push a low "head" of water and may not be up to the task of pushing water up to your roof and back.  If it is it will certainly shorten its life and may be costly to replace.
  3. A set of solar collectors on your roof will weigh quite a bit.  Your should make very sure your roof structure can take the weight, especially if your are using collector casings that are not light.
  4. If you are bolting any frame to your roof, make sure your roof is still watertight.

The water restriction of the pipe diameter, height of your roof will all place strain on your pump.On the pipe running to your collectors, you will need an adjustable restriction tap or valve.  If your shunt all the water through the collectors, you will not extract enough heat and you will strain your pool pump.  Your should also "bleed" your collector system to remove all air or it will reduce the effectiveness of your pump.

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As mentioned, you need to be aware of the weight of the collectors.  For instance, a simple set of 5 solar collectors, each about 1 meter square, will hold about 600 meters (2000') using 5 centimeter (2") black irrigation piping will hold about 120 liters of water.  If you have a larger pool you will need to scale up the collector size.  This size of collector will provide heating for a small pool eg (12 meters by 4 meters and averaging  1.25 meters deep or about 40,000 lt (30 feet x 12 feet x 4 feet ave depth, or 11,000 gallons).  Black irrigation pipe is cheap enough and provides a relatively large surface area when coiled in a black collector casing.  However, it can be seen that any mat ot coil pipe system requires a lot of pipe to be effective.

By carefully setting the flow rate through the system, you can get about 10plus degrees warmer water at your outlet. By slowing the water flow further, you can get very hot water, but it will take much longer to affect your pool.  By the same token if you push more water thorough, the water coming out will not get heated as much as it has less time to absorb heat while circulating.    


We will shortly have a detailed project for your to see if a DIY Solar Pool heater is for you.


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