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Old 03-13-2013, 07:59 PM
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Best way to heat a pool without, ya know, buying a pool heater

Our family has recently acquired a lovely home in the desert oasis of Las Vegas. The house has a great pool, but the pool has no heating system- traditional, solar, or otherwise. While I realize that, come August, heating the pool will be the least of our worries, I thought it might be nice to be able to extend the pool season a bit through other means.

I've read about covers that absorb the sun, floating discs that absorb the sun, on and on. Are any of these worth while? Or is everything just a waste until we get around to installing an actual solar panel system for the house and pool? What do you guys use?

It's a decent sized pool, but not huge. I think the deep end is 8 or 9 feet or so.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:08 PM
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Throw a fire in it.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:20 PM
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Turn a propane grill into a redneck pool heater.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:32 PM
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Have you looked at these?
Old 03-13-2013, 08:35 PM
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A solar blanket will keep the heat in overnight. The solar blanket doesn't absorb heat, and left on during the day can cause some crappy chemical reactions. It's meant to trap heat overnight only.

The most efficient way to gather heat during the day is through solar energy. It's not a solar panel system, but rather a black maze that is heated by the sun's radiant energy thereby transferring the gathered heat to the flowing water. Costco has fairly decent solar systems for sale at the start of every pool season, but if you procrastinate they're gone fairly early: well in my neck of the woods anyway.

I have never believed in the solar fish myth.

Last edited by Leaffan; 03-13-2013 at 08:36 PM.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kkrose View Post
Have you looked at these?
Those are one of the things I mention in the OP. I've seen them, but I have no idea how effective they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post

The most efficient way to gather heat during the day is through solar energy. It's not a solar panel system, but rather a black maze that is heated by the sun's radiant energy thereby transferring the gathered heat to the flowing water. Costco has fairly decent solar systems for sale at the start of every pool season, but if you procrastinate they're gone fairly early: well in my neck of the woods anyway.
What would such a thing be called? And what sort of price range are we looking at?
Old 03-13-2013, 08:54 PM
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You could always pepper spray it? I hear that burns.

Last edited by ladyfoxfyre; 03-13-2013 at 08:55 PM.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:57 PM
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Some you can just lay on the ground, and some you can mount on roofs.
Old 03-13-2013, 09:39 PM
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We have a pool and included in the price was a choice of heater - gas or solar. We selected the solar, thankfully, and it does indeed increase swim months by about 2-3 months or so.

It is like that rubber mat linked in the thread above - and it connects from your pool filter and simply shoots the water up to the roof, through the rubber matting (think of little hoses running back and forth and back and forth up there) and when the sun is shining - almost every day here in Vegas - it most certainly does warm the water up.

If you are not careful, you can accidentally turn your pool into a huge jacuzzi with water temp easily over 100 degrees - not at all fun to swim in.
BTW, you can also use this system to cool your pool - let the pump run at night and that same rubber panal cools the water instead of heat it.

It is "free" heat..you have to run the filter about 6 hours a day anyway, and all it is doing is pushing the water up to the roof, through that black rubber mat and back down into the pool, so no extra cost whatsoever.

Worth the price of installing one - but I am sorry to say I don't know the price. Can't be all that much as it is really just an intricate rubber mat, some PVC tubing going up and coming down, and that is about it.
Old 03-13-2013, 09:49 PM
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Paint it black? Or would that be too hot?
Old 03-13-2013, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisiate View Post
Paint it black? Or would that be too hot?
If you mean paint the actual pool black, that supposedly helps a bit, but it does make your pool look like a dark lagoon. Our neighbors have a pool with a very dark color and they are not happy - they cannot see a lot of the gunk that might show up in a clear pool and if you drop a ring or something like that, good luck finding it. BTW, it is not so much "painted" black as it is sprayed with a type of dark color concrete mixture.

Of course, in our pool (much like the one in the OP's linked photo) you can see every single leaf and twig and pollen grain....which also has its drawbacks, but at least you can clean it faster and easier. Plus, most relatively new pools have an automated vacuum that does all the hard work for you.
Old 03-14-2013, 03:07 PM
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Encourage your pool guests to pee in it.
Old 03-14-2013, 03:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
Some you can just lay on the ground, and some you can mount on roofs.
After my pool heater broke, I rigged up a DIY version of the above on the concrete around my pool in New Hampshire--cheap black corrugated tubing from the local home improvement warehouse--and it works great during our short summers. It doesn't make the water warm like bath water, but it takes the chill out by several degrees and cost about $30, including connectors. I don't cover the pool, I imagine that if I did, it just might get bath-watery.
Old 03-14-2013, 07:03 PM
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I am writing this from central Illinois, where everything outside is gray and brown and snowing:

That looks like a rough gig, Diosa. I'm a strong person though. If you invited me to visit I think I could handle it.
Old 03-14-2013, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by control-z View Post
Encourage your pool guests to pee in it.
Sign at a neighbor's pool when I was growing up: "Welcome to our ool! Notice there is no P in it, let's keep it that way."

We have one of those solar blankets - it looks like a heavier version of packing bubbles. It comes square and we have to trim it to fit our pool. Works well and extends our season by about a month on either end of summer. The comment about messed up chemical balances in the water is true, tho, so you have to pay attention. It is also kind-of a hassle to remove and put back on at night, requiring two people to make it easy, altho it can be done with one. Cost is in the $200 range, I think. They disintegrate and need to be replaced every 3 years or so.

Our neighbor has a solar array for heating pool water on his roof - it is connected directly to the filter, and as stated, it heats as well as cools. His season is about a month more than ours on either end of summer. Cost was in the $800 - $1200 range (est).

We also have a gas heater for the 'cuzzi, but to heat the whole pool would be prohibitively expensive.
Old 03-14-2013, 10:13 PM
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Throw a bunch of sodium and/or potassium in there.
Old 03-14-2013, 10:24 PM
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Body warmth is the answer. Get into the pool in the morning and stay there all day and well into the evening. Bring food to the water's edge and only leave the pool to make quick bathroom breaks. Continue this daily for a few weeks.
Old 03-14-2013, 11:25 PM
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Knock down that building that is casting a shadow over it. It's blocking a half day's worth of heat!
Old 03-14-2013, 11:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMark View Post
It is "free" heat..you have to run the filter about 6 hours a day anyway, and all it is doing is pushing the water up to the roof, through that black rubber mat and back down into the pool, so no extra cost whatsoever.
I doubt this is correct. The extra work will at the least be increasing the workload (and hence power consumption) of the filter motor. My mother's pool has an extra pump fitted to push the water up to her roof, and that obviously uses extra power.
Old 03-15-2013, 02:13 AM
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I'm sorta looking at solar panels.
Leslie's has cheap (don't know what they charge) flexible black poly sheet with thin wall tubing - in the showroom,it looks oval - do no know if water pressure would inflate it. I am underwhelmed, but I remember when it was copper pipe in rigid boxes with real glass cover - just like a greenhouse).
There is another product with real pipe headers and arrays - it looks like it would handle much greater volume of water. This pool was built with solar panels (the real ones). Unfortunately, they were installed over a cheap roof and did not survive the re-roof. All that remains are the feed lines between the equipment pad and the roof.
There is no need to worry about over-heat - if it gets too hot, partially close the valve which diverts the water from the filter - you need to be able to shut it off (plus put a one-way valve to keep the water from trying to flow backwards and mess up the pump) for maintenance (such as a new roof).

If you want to automate the system, the time would be while you've got it open for adding a heater.

This also has a gas heater downstream from the solar lines - not a bad idea - if nothing else, it could heat the spa even if the pool season is over.

Last edited by usedtobe; 03-15-2013 at 02:16 AM.
Old 03-15-2013, 01:22 PM
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White phosphorus. Of course you would have to build a container to house it and the catalyst, but if you make the container transparent you can solve your pool lighting issues as well!

First time guest to Oasis de Diosa: "Tinted swim googles?"
Diosa: "Yes. Required."
Old 03-15-2013, 01:57 PM
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In Michigan we used a solar blanket (as mentioned above, looks like packing bubbles, but more rugged). We left it on day and night, except in August when the pool would get above 90' (hotter than we liked). We had a propane heater, but rarely used it (man would it go through the propane fast!)

We didn't find the cover to have any impact on chemical balance, but perhaps that's because we used Baquacil (long-chain biochemical agent, rather than chlorine/bromine).

The cover also helped to keep the water cleaner, avoiding blown-in dust & leaves. IIRC, we used our pool pretty regularly, May through September. Whenever the outdoor weather was warm enough to want to swim, the pool was in use.

Last edited by Learjeff; 03-15-2013 at 02:00 PM.
Old 03-15-2013, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiosaBellissima View Post
Our family has recently acquired a lovely home in the desert oasis of Las Vegas. The house has a great pool, but the pool has no heating system- traditional, solar, or otherwise. While I realize that, come August, heating the pool will be the least of our worries, I thought it might be nice to be able to extend the pool season a bit through other means.

I've read about covers that absorb the sun, floating discs that absorb the sun, on and on. Are any of these worth while? Or is everything just a waste until we get around to installing an actual solar panel system for the house and pool? What do you guys use?

It's a decent sized pool, but not huge. I think the deep end is 8 or 9 feet or so.
*drools*

I'll be over your house as soon as I can catch a flight.
Old 03-15-2013, 03:44 PM
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Three Dozen Hair Dryers... done!
Old 03-15-2013, 05:03 PM
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Thermite.
Old 03-15-2013, 06:16 PM
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We have a 30' diameter above ground pool in southern Manitoba and we are retiring the solar panels and purchasing a heat pump. Solar has a number of issues, such as only it really works when it's sun is high, so not at night or when it is cloudy and when the ambient air/sunshine is warmer than the pool water.

We have also used a pool cover, it traps heat like a blanket a little, they are much more effective at reducing heat loss through evaporation. That's where they really are worth all the hassle of taking them on and off, dealing with all the leaves, gunk and unsightly gob of plastic where sparkling pool water should be.
Old 03-17-2013, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FordPrefect View Post
We have a 30' diameter above ground pool in southern Manitoba and we are retiring the solar panels and purchasing a heat pump. Solar has a number of issues, such as only it really works when it's sun is high, so not at night or when it is cloudy and when the ambient air/sunshine is warmer than the pool water.

We have also used a pool cover, it traps heat like a blanket a little, they are much more effective at reducing heat loss through evaporation. That's where they really are worth all the hassle of taking them on and off, dealing with all the leaves, gunk and unsightly gob of plastic where sparkling pool water should be.
Good point about the cover reducing evaporative heat loss. Also correct that it's not nearly as nice looking. But at least in Ann Arbor Michigan, between equinoxes (equinoces? hrrmph) we got a *lot* of heat from the solar action -- this despite living in a fairly cloudy area. It's clear that it's not just less heat loss, because if we don't run the pump, the layer of water under the cover (for about a foot) is like a bathtub -- much more so than when leaving the cover off.

No need to worry about a cloudy day or two, or night -- water has plenty of thermal inertia. But after a cold cloudy week the temp can drop a few degrees. More so if it rains, but I don't remember any 10-degree drops in less than a few weeks (at the end of the season).

They make nice ones that roll up on a spindle, but we just got one on the cheap, a rectangle that covered about 90% of the kidney-shaped area (overlapped the corners, but we folded it back despite that not being recommended -- it lasted 8 years until we sold with no noticeable issues.) We just rolled it up and pushed it up onto the cement, an easy job for two and not too much trouble alone (up to age 40-something, fit but not athletic.) Our pool was about 30K gallons, IIRC.
Old 03-17-2013, 04:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drew870mitchell View Post
Turn a propane grill into a redneck pool heater.
Okay, that looks freakin' amazing. And, dangerous!
Old 03-17-2013, 04:36 PM
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You ought to be able to whip up a cheap solar heater out of 100' or 200' of black garden hose and a simple pump. Just run the hose along the top of that trellis over your eating area and back down into the pool. Put the pump on a Christmas light timer to keep it running from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or so. Talk to the folks at your hardware store or garden store about the right pump. In the end, two or three gallons a minute will be plenty, but you'll need a pump that can handle that over the amount of lift you need it to do. Vegas is a great place for solar heat like that.

Last edited by appleciders; 03-17-2013 at 04:40 PM.
Old 03-17-2013, 07:04 PM
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We had an above ground pool in SCal, and put in a solar heater--the panels on the roof kind.

It was awesome.

Completely, totally awesome.

If I ever, EVER get another pool, it will have a solar heater.

Should you decide to paint your pool interior black, check with Code Enforcement FIRST. My son bought a house with a pool, which had been plumbed with copper tubing and even when perfectly clean, the water would be green.

Code Enforcement gets aerial photos, and folks with green pools are faced with citations.


~VOW
Old 03-18-2013, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester View Post
I doubt this is correct. The extra work will at the least be increasing the workload (and hence power consumption) of the filter motor. My mother's pool has an extra pump fitted to push the water up to her roof, and that obviously uses extra power.
I doubt that it would cost more, as our pump only has one speed and it is either on or off.

Yes, the pressure on the pump is initially higher when we first flip the switch to shoot the water up onto the roof solar mats (we can see the gauge go up). But then when the water finally starts coming down, the gauge goes back down to a bit over "normal". You do have to clean the filter more often to keep that pressure down, but you can hear our pump and the difference from water up and over the roof, to not up and over the roof, is nil.

And besides, even if it costs a couple bucks extra (and I seriously doubt it would be more than that) it is still just using the hot sun on black mat on the roof to heat that pool up. And this means we can use the pool a good month earlier and probably a month later - extending the swim season by 2-3 months. In the dead of summer, we often turn the heat off.

I do have a co-worker at the school who moved into a house with both gas and solar heating...solar for the summer and gas for the winter.

He thought it might be interesting to heat his pool up to 80 degrees in January. Great fun and laughs until his gas bill arrived - close to $500 if I recall correctly. It was the first and last time he used his gas heater for the pool.
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