How to Heat Your Swimming Pool Cheaply Using a Bladder-style Solar Heater

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Heating swimming pool economically with solar power

Swimming pools are popular backyard items, but keeping the water comfortable can be an expensive proposition. Gas and electric prices have gone through the roof in the past few years and using this power to heat the swimming pool water has left many pool owners out in the cold.

One of the earliest days of solar power swimming pool heaters consisted of a layer of plastic with air bubbles lining the entire surface. This cover was laid over the surface of the pool and the sun heated the water as it passed through the cover. Much like a magnifying glass, the water was warmed, but typically only on the surface. When the swimmer went below the surface, they quickly found the actual water temperature to be considerably colder and many time uncomfortable.

Swimming pool heaters draw water from the pool, heat it through either electricity or gas and then pass the warmer water back into circulation of the pool. This method heats the water throughout the pool and not only on the surface. However, these methods can be costly, putting the utility bill out of reach of many homeowners.

If you have ever set a garden hose out in the sun filled with water, then you know the effect the sun has on the temperature of the water. When you first turn it on, the water coming out of the hose is considerably warmer. A solar power swimming pool heater can have the same affect, only on a much larger scale.

With the new bladder type of solar swimming pool heater there is no need for expensive solar cells. A rubber or plastic bladder is located near the pool. It is more beneficial if the bladder is located above the pool on a small hill or makeshift stand, strong enough to hold the weight of the water.

Water is pumped from the swimming pool, into the bladder where it sets for a predetermined time, or until it reaches a predetermined temperature, when it is returned to the swimming pool, raising the temperature of the remainder of the water. Ideally, the pump used to move the water is also powered by solar energy, further reducing the cost of the swimming pool heater.

A thermostat can be installed on the bladder with a valve releasing the water when it reaches a certain temperature. Typically, the bladder should hold 10 to 15 percent of the water volume. The size of the pool and the size of the swimming pool solar heater will determine how many cycles will be needed to raise the temperature to the desired level.

In addition to the reduced cost of keeping the pool water warm, a solar powered swimming pool heater allows the pool to be used while the water is being heated. With the older, plastic cover pool heaters, the pool can not be used while it is in place. Placing the cover on the water, and while removing it, places the cover in danger of being damaged. Additionally, debris can gather on top of the plastic cover, which then makes its way into the pool water.