Nick Rosen | |
Swimming pool heated by solar collectors
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Imagine stepping out of your tiny off-grid home and diving into a large, warm swimming pool. Yes, the millionaire lifestyle but for only a few hundred dollars. But it does not need to be a carbon copy swimming pool like the one in the picture with a stainless steel ladder, concrete walkways around it and blue tiled walls. You can have a natural pool fed by springwater or rainwater as long a s a small solar powered filter is operating to keep the water fresh.

A small solar powered water pump- the sort you get in a caravan or RV, and a few hundred dollars on solar thermal collectors is all you need to have a heated pool from early spring to late autumn.

There are many ways to heat your pool: natural gas, propane, oil, electricity, heat pumps. All of these do so with varying levels of efficiency. Fossil fuels are expensive and release carbon dioxide — a potent greenhouse gas — into the atmosphere. Electricity is also expensive, and often is generated from non-renewable sources. Air-source heat pumps consume electricity and tend to be noisy.

The best option is a solar thermal system using evacuated vacuum tubes. In this system, radiant energy from the sun enters a glass vacuum tube where it heats a core. In turn, this heats the pool water flowing past it. Because all the air has been evacuated from the tube, energy enters the tube but can not readily escape, meaning more energy enters the system.

Solar thermal pool heaters are good for the environment. According to Natural Resources Canada, compared to natural gas heating, a solar thermal system may prevent three to 10 tons of carbon dioxide from reaching the atmosphere in a typical swimming season.

While a solar thermal pool heater may initially cost a little more than a common gas-powered heater, it requires no fuel to operate and will typically pay for itself in a very short time, leaving you with many years of free heating. Because the tubes are round, they receive sunlight from any angle so it’s not strictly necessary to have them facing south. Since the pool’s water pump already circulates water in order to keep the water fresh, there are no additional moving parts, making the system virtually maintenance free.

There are some design factors to be considered, including proper sizing and location.

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