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Solar Pool Heater for Backyard Pools

Solar Pool Heater for Backyard Pools

Living in Canada is great. It’s beautiful, it’s wonderful. It can also get a bit chilly for most of the year, which is not ideal for most backyard swimming pool owners who like to swim in above-lukewarm water. 

Don’t worry, there are options for heating your pool. There are traditional gas and electric pool heaters – or there’s the most cost-effective and environmentally friendly option of installing a solar heating system

Even the Government of Canada acknowledges that solar heaters are “well suited for the Canadian climate,” since they can produce energy even when the outside temperatures are below freezing (sunny weather permitting, of course). 

If you’d like to learn more about solar pool heaters, including how they work, whether solar pool heaters are worth it, and what the installation process looks like – this blog is for you! 

Let’s dive in. 🌊

How solar pool heaters work

Solar pool heaters are a luxurious item for any backyard pool, if you enjoy swimming in heated water. 

As the name suggests, solar pool heaters harness energy from the sun to warm the water of your pool. These heaters typically consist of solar panels or collectors installed on a roof or on a nearby surface. These panels contain tubes filled with water or a heat transfer fluid. As sunlight hits the panels, the fluid inside absorbs the heat and transfers it to the pool water through a heat exchanger.

What is a heat exchanger

A heat exchanger for a solar pool heater is a device used to transfer heat between two fluids, or between a fluid and a solid surface, without the two mediums coming into direct contact. 

Heat exchangers are used in various industrial, commercial, and residential applications, including HVAC systems, refrigeration, power generation, and more.

Three benefits of a solar pool heater

1. The cost of a solar pool heater

While the initial investment of a solar pool heater may be higher compared with traditional gas or electric pool heaters, they offer significant cost savings over time. Once installed, solar pool heaters rely on free solar energy, reducing or eliminating monthly heating costs associated with maintaining your backyard swimming pool. 

Solar pool heaters are considered one of the most cost-effective ways to use solar energy in our daily lives, not to mention being environmentally friendly.

2. The environmental benefit of solar pool heaters

Solar pool heaters are better for the environment, since they don’t require the use of fossil fuels to operate. Using sustainable energy from the sun and reducing reliance on fossil fuels, solar pool heaters help to decrease carbon emissions and mitigate environmental impact.

3. Longevity of solar pool heating systems

Quality solar pool heaters are designed to last for many years, with minimal maintenance required (more on that shortly). When purchasing a solar heating system, it’s important to inquire about warranties and ensure the manufacturer offers adequate coverage for both equipment and installation.

The effectiveness and performance of solar pool heaters

The effectiveness of a solar pool heater depends on various factors, including the size of the system, the size of your swimming pool, the location and orientation of the solar panels, and local climate conditions. 

If you live in a region abundant with sunlight, solar pool heaters can effectively raise water temperatures to comfortable levels during the swimming season. On the other hand, if you live somewhere typically overcast, you may find the solar pool heater less effective.

Supplemental heating options

Just because you live in a habitually wet or cloudy region doesn’t mean there’s no benefit to having a solar pool heater. 

In cooler climates or during periods of limited sunlight, solar pool heaters may not provide sufficient warmth on their own – which means they need support. 

A backup, or supplementary, heating system (such as gas or electric pool heaters) can be used to ensure consistently warm water temperatures in your backyard swimming pool. And when the skies are sunny, your solar pool heater can pick up the slack and give your gas or electric bills a bit of a reprieve.

Boulder Design drone view of Solar Pool Heater for Backyard Pools

Installation and maintenance of solar pool heaters

Installation of solar pool heaters typically involves mounting solar panels on a suitable surface, such as a roof or a ground-mounted frame. 

Maintenance requirements are generally low, though occasional inspections are encouraged to ensure panels are clean and functioning properly. Periodic checks may also be needed to ensure all connections are secure. If you notice your pool isn’t as warm as you’d like it to be, get your solar heater checked out.

How long does it take to install a solar pool heater?

The timeline for installation of a solar pool heater can vary, depending on the size of the system, the complexity of the installation, and the experience of the installer. Typically, here’s what you can expect from a standard solar pool heater installation: 

  • Pre-installation planning session, wherein a professional installer will come to assess the pool area, determine the optimal location of your solar panels, and evaluate specific requirements or challenges.

  • Permits and approvals may be needed, depending on your local regulations. Before installation can take place, permits must be obtained, which can impact the time it takes before you’re cleared to begin an installation project.

  • Panel installation usually involves mounting the solar panels to a surface such as a roof, ground-mounted frame, or a nearby structure (like a fence). Mounting and positioning panels properly is crucial for maximum security and sunlight exposure.

  • Piping and plumbing needs to take place in order to connect the pool’s existing plumbing system with the solar heating system. This will involve using pipes, valves and fittings that connect the solar heater into the pool’s circulation system to allow water to flow through the panels for heating.

  • Electrical connections may need to be installed in some cases for optimal solar pool heating. For instance, if your solar heater is connected to components such as pumps, sensors or controllers. Make sure to involved a qualified electrical professional for this work, since you’re connecting electricity to a relatively large water source.

  • Testing and training might take place once the installation is completed. The installer will test whether the solar panels are operating effectively, and they may train the homeowner on how to properly maintain and operate the solar pool heating system effectively (like adjusting settings, monitoring performance, etc).

DIY solar pool heater installation

We know there are a lot of people who like to do their own work projects around the house, to save costs and keep busy. 

There are DIY solar panels available for purchase, although the actual process of installing and connecting your panels to your pool may be a little more involved than the average homeowner may expect (as suggested in the installation list above). 

As we say to all of our clients – of course you could take on the cost and effort to starting a labour-intensive and highly regulated DIY project on your own. But you could also call an expert to come have a look at your place, give you a free estimate, and invest in a professional installation team who specializes in all things backyard-pool.

Typical maintenance of a solar pool heater

Although solar pool heaters are pretty easy to maintain, here are a few things homeowners should know to look for after installing their solar pool heaters. 

  • Check for leaks in the tubing connecting your solar panels to your pool water 
  • Clean your solar panels regularly of dust, dirt and debris for optimal efficiency 
  • Keep track of pool temperatures to ensure optimal performance of your heater (sometimes, an adjustment in the panel’s direction is all that’s needed to boost performance) 
  • Regularly test your pool’s pH, chlorine levels, alkalinity and other chemistry, and adjust as needed to avoid scale buildup or corrosion within your solar heating system


Our best advice is to make it a habit to perform annual inspections of the entire solar heating system (panels, piping, valves, connections, any electrical wiring, etc). Look for signs of wear and tears, corrosion, or damage, and address any issues promptly to ensure a long life from your solar pool heater. 

It’s also a good idea to have a professional technician conduct a more thorough inspection and service appointment periodically.

Investing in a smart pool

More and more often lately, our clients are interested in investing in smart pools. A smart pool, also referred to as smart swimming pools or intelligent pools, are pools equipped with various automated and connected technologies designed to enhance convenience, efficiency, and control over pool maintenance and operations. 

These technologies usually include features like:

  • Automated water treatment 
  • Remote control monitoring for pool function monitors on their smartphones or tablets
  • Energy efficiency – such as installing solar pool heaters, variable-speed pumps, and scheduling certain features to minimize energy usage during peak energy consumption hours 
  • Automated cleaning features 
  • Safety features – such as pool safety covers and other features in accordance to pool safety regulations in your area
  • Integration with home automation systems like smart home ecosystems and connections to other devices 
  • Data analytics and insights to help homeowners track their pool usage patterns and monitor equipment performance

Installing a backyard pool

If you’re still in the process of determining which swimming pool and which features you want installed at your property, then you’re in the right place. 

Our pool specialists can take a look at your yard and design a backyard that will make the most out of your space, and turn your yard into your favourite place to be. 

Take a look at our finished projects and our customer reviews to get inspiration for your dream backyard.

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