Everything you need to know about Solar Pool Heating!

Why should I heat my swimming pool?
Adding a swimming pool to your home can add value and improve your lifestyle. However, the number one factor determining how often you use the pool is water temperature. Pool water that’s too cold (usually below 21°C) is not comfortable to swim in. In Australia’s southern states, an unheated pool will sit around 17°C to 20°C during the summer and shoulder months. Adding a thermal Solar Pool Heating system can bring the average temperature up to 25°C to 27°C, an ideal swimming pool temperature.

Some form of heating is essential to ensure your investment doesn’t go unused, particularly in Australia’s southern states. With exceptionally low running costs and excellent heating efficiency, solar pool heating is an ideal choice.

What is Thermal Solar Pool Heating?
Thermal Solar Pool Heating is the most cost-effective and sustainable way to heat a pool in Australia. This heating system uses the sun’s free energy and radiant heat to increase the temperature of your swimming pool.

This system works by pumping pool water into a series of black plastic or rubber tubes (known as a Solar Collector) which are mounted to your house roof or ancillary building, such as a shed or garage. The sun’s rays heat the Solar Collector tubes and, subsequently, the pool water circulating inside them. The process is a simple, environmentally friendly, economical, and highly effective way to heat your swimming pool.

How does Thermal Solar Pool Heating Work?
While the type of solar system may vary, the principle remains the same. Pool water is pumped through a series of tubes, known as a solar collector – or solar absorber – which is mounted on the ground or roof of a building. The solar collector absorbs the sun’s free heat and transfers it to the circulating pool water before being returned to the pool at an elevated temperature.

A solar collector works much like a garden hose left out in the sun. Have you noticed that when you turn the tap back on, the water inside comes out warm or even hot? This is due to the hose tube absorbing the sun’s energy and transferring this heat to the water inside the tube. Basically, the garden hose acts like a solar collector.

Thermal Solar Pool Heating requires a very small amount of electricity to operate, usually under 1kW per hour to run the solar pump. The rest of the energy used to heat your pool is generated by the sun.

You can automate the heating process by installing a digital solar controller, which monitors the roof and pool temperatures and automatically switches the system on and off to ensure maximum heating efficiency.

How long can I expect to swim using Thermal Solar Pool Heating to heat my swimming pool?
On average, you can expect to double the normal swimming season of an unheated pool. For example, in Australia’s southern states, an unheated pool can typically only be used between December and February. An adequately sized pool solar system could extend this season from September through to March. This will of course be dependent on your location:

Average Swimming Season*

Location Without Solar Heating (No Cover) With Solar Heating (No Cover)
Melbourne 2 months 6 months
Sydney 3 months 7-8 months
Brisbane 4 months 9 months
Perth 3 months 9 months
Adelaide 2 months 6-7 months
Darwin 9 months 12 months
Hobart 1-2 months 5-6 months


What temperatures will Thermal Solar Pool Heating be able to achieve?
An appropriately sized thermal Solar Pool Heating system will achieve 10°C above ambient. For example, if your pool is sitting at 20°C you can expect to reach up to 30°C on a sunny day. Correctly applied and installed systems can heat a swimming pool by up to 5°C per hour, reaching temperatures over 32°C.

In warmer climates, such as Far North Queensland or Darwin, thermal solar pool heating can also be used to cool an overheated pool, this is called ‘nocturnal cooling’ and can be achieved using the ‘Tropical Mode’ of your digital solar controller.

What is the difference between rigid and strip Thermal Solar Pool Heating?
Both strip and rigid thermal solar pool heating systems will heat your pool in a similar manner and for similar times throughout the year. The main difference is that strip systems are soft and flexible (PVCn) while rigid systems are relatively solid and inflexible (UV stabilised Co-Polypropylene). This means that strip solar systems can be easily customised to suit virtually any roof space, making them ideal irregularly shaped roofs. While rigid panels cannot compete with strip systems flexibility, their rigid design provides strength, making them a more robust, longer lasting choice. Rigid panels are ideal for consumers located in areas that are prone to cockatoo or bird attack, as most are supplied with cockatoo warranties.

Both rigid and strip solar heating systems are cost effective options, paying themselves off in only a few years’ time.

Costs & Operation
Thermal solar pool heating is the most cost-effective way to heat your pool. This is because it uses the sun’s free heat as its primary, or in some cases, its only energy source. Basic  set-ups can operate using your existing pool filtration. Meaning the system is completely free to operate.

However, other, more sophisticated systems operate using an additional energy efficient solar pump (this depends on the available plumbing configurations). The cost of running this small pump is approximately $200 per year. This cost is attributed to:

● Running a 500-watt pump,

● For 6 hours a day,

● Over 6 months of the year,

● On a $0.28 per kw/hr tariff.

Compared to gas or heat pumps, the payback period for solar can be as little as two years.

How much does solar pool heating cost to install?
On average, thermal solar pool heating costs between $4,000 and $5,000 to install, including a digital controller and dedicated solar pump. The final price will depend on many factors including the type of system, the pool’s size, its positioning, available plumbing configurations, and the height and slope of the roof. Contact the team at NCS to get an obligation free quote.

Can I control the temperature of my solar pool heating system?
Yes, most solar pool heating systems are installed with a “Set and Forget” Digital Solar Controller. These control units monitor the roof and pool temperatures and automatically switch the system on and off to ensure maximum heating efficiency.

How quickly will solar pool heating heat my pool?
A common misconception is that solar pool heaters take ages to heat up the pool. The fact is, whether you select solar, gas or a heat pump it won’t work immediately, as each system requires time to bring the pool to temperature.

Immediately following installation, your solar pool heating system will provide a temperature rise of approximately 2.5 – 5.5°C per day, until it reaches your desired temperature. This could take anywhere from 1 to 4 days, depending on the time of year, your location, the system’s size etc. After this initial heat up period, there’s no more waiting as the system is ‘always on.’ Unlike gas or heat pumps which must be switched on well in advance of using the pool, thermal solar pool heating’s low running costs mean that you can leave it on and enjoy the benefits all season long.

Do I need a pool cover / blanket if I have solar pool heating?
A pool cover offers significant advantages for your pool including minimising evaporation, chemicals, dirt and debris as well as minimising heat loss. A solar pool blanket can even help to heat your pool, adding months to your swimming season.

Is solar pool heating noisy to operate?
No. A properly installed thermal solar pool heating system is exceptionally quiet while in operation, with no water noise.

How long will my solar pool heating system operate each day?
Thermal Solar Pool Heating will operate for approximately 6 hours in warmer months to maintain your desired pool temperature. These times will vary depending upon the time of year, sun radiance and pool location.

Can I install a thermal solar pool heating system myself?
Yes, the average handy person can install a DIY solar pool heating systemquite easily. NCS DIY systems include comprehensive instructions, manuals, and everything you need for a successful installation.

You might also be interested in:

  • Solar Pool Heating – Installation
  • Solar Pool Heating – Maintenance


Information in this news article was first published by Boss Solar. NCS Pool Heating is NSW’s largest supplier and installer of Boss Solar Rhino Black Panels, NanoTek Strip Collectors, Ultimate Blue Solar Pool Heaters, as well as our easy-to-install, easy-to-use DIY Solar options.