DIY Solar Pool Heater in Sardinia

This DIY/homemade solar pool heating system is from Sardinia, Italy. At the time the photos below were taken he didn't have enough pipe to make four collectors, but has since added the fourth (see update section at bottom.) The builder wishes to credit Ken for his excellent panel design on which his system was based. Some changes he would like to make in the future are to 1. increase the main feed line sizes and 2. place the panels on top of a sloping gazebo roof (in the same spot) and do away with the frames.

Solar pool heater in Sardinia
Solar pool heater in Sardinia montage.

This is a project I have almost completed to create a solar pool heating system. It is already heating the water by about 2C (7F) above the actual pool temp and I still have one more panel to build. Over a few days it should add 10C (28F) or more to the pool temperature allowing us to extend the pool use for an extra 2-3 months.

I built four panels for our pool with about 75 meters (246 feet) of piping per panel to heat a 30,000 litre in-ground pool. We put the system in when the pool was about 18C (64F) and over about three days of good sunshine raised the pool temp to a nice 27C (80F). We used a simple pool blanket (basically extra tough bubble wrap stuff) at night to retain the heat which allowed for the really quick heat gain. We think it should easily give us mid 30C (86F) temps over the middle of summer making it even really nice at night to swim in and allow us to use the pool for a lot longer into November maybe.

The pool being heated.
The pool that's being heated using the DIY/homemade solar pool heater.

As the photo below shows, I purchased 300 meters (984 feet) of 16mm (5/8 inch) pipe for the panels and 50 meters (164 feet) of 32mm (1 1/4 inch) pipe for taking the water to and from the panels.

I am fully expecting to have to do some work on our panels for next year. I was in a hurry so didn't even weather proof the wood so likely to need to redo the frames anyway. But the good thing is that the whole thing is made using low cost off the peg equipment and so replacement / expansion is easy.

All the pipe before starting.
The pipe purchased for the solar pool heater.
Wood for the panel frames.
The wood for the solar pool heater collector frames.
Splitting the panel backing boards in half.
Splitting the DIY solar pool heater collector backing boards in half.
Coiling the tube onto the completed panel frame.
Coiling the pipe onto the completed homemade wooden solar heater collector frame.
The taps that allow you to bypass/mix the water to the panels depending on needs.
The taps that allow you to bypass/mix the water to the panels depending on needs.
Some pipework ready to be buried.
Pipework for the DIY solar pool heating system ready to be buried.
More pipes going to the panels.
More pipes going to the homemade solar pool heating collectors.
The final pipe run to the panels.
The final pipe run to the DIY solar pool heater panels.
Fixtures for each panel use a parallel system so we can add more panels as needed.
Fixtures for each panel useing a parallel system so we can add more panels as needed.
The connector for the last missing panel. At this time I didn't have quite enough pipe so needed to buy some more to finish it.
The connector for the last missing panel.
One view of the solar pool heater panels.
One view of the DIY solar pool heater panels in place.
Three panels in place, one more to go. They look like giant vinyl records don't they. :)
Another view of the completed homemade solar pool heating panels.


May 11, 2012

Well we have been running three of the panels all day and the pool has gone from a chilly 18C (64F) to a much nicer 23C (73F) in just one day which allowed us to have a good swim without turning many shades of blue. All going well it should hold onto some of that heat over night and will be even warmer tomorrow and just continue rising. I expect by Monday it could be verging on hot. It has outperformed my expectations so I am a happy man. :)

May 14, 2012

Okay so we have all 4 panels now running over the weekend. The temperature has risen from 18C (64F) to now just over 26C (79F). Putting the pool blanket/cover on at night has meant that very little heat is lost allowing us to raise the temp much quicker. Typically similar commercial systems cost in the thousands of euros. So a big savings with the panels costing less than 300€ to make, and because they use readily available materials, it is easy to make repairs or add more panels. All in all a massive success. Now on to the next project.

June 12, 2012

Pool water at 31C (89F) and about as warm as you would probably want it (outside temp is 28C (82F) in shade.) It's about 4C (7F) hotter than the hottest part of last year and we are only in mid June so the two hottest months are still to come. There are a couple of things I probably would have done differently. The main pipes are 32mm (1 1/4 inch) and I think with the number of corners and distance to the panels it would have been better to use 40mm (1 1/2 inch) pipe however the filter outlet was at this size which was why I opted for it. It has meant an increase in pressure but still in easily tolerable limits

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