Blog Header Logo

Affordable DIY Solar Pool Heating

Solar pool heating is the perfect DIY home project, something that nearly anyone can accomplish with simple tools. And you can feel good about solar pool heating, as it appeals both to your altruistic side and also to your economical side. Solar pool heaters can add 15°F (or more) to the pool, depending mainly on sun exposure and solar panel size, or square footage.

How Do Solar Pool Heaters Work?

Installation involves unrolling the solar panels and securing them to a flat surface, facing southerly with 4–8 hours of uninterrupted daily sun. Then you run the pool return pipe (or hose) in and out of the solar panels, and use a 3-way valve to control the flow.

Solar panels are modular, connecting to each other easily. Water moves from panel to panel, soaking up the heat. At the last panel, a pipe carries the heated water back to the return line, after the 3-way valve. A check valve is used to prevent cycling or looping of water.

DIY Solar Pool Heating Panel Projects

Here are 4 DIY solar pool heater projects, along with estimated costs for solar panels, lumber and plumbing supplies.

Lean-To Solar Panel Rack

In this simple solar rack, you use an existing fence or structure to support the rack, which saves space and cost. This solar pool heater uses two 4'x20' solar panels, or 160 sq. ft. of solar surface area; a good size for pools up to 12,000 gallons.

lean-to solar pool heating rack

Materials:

  • 2 - 4'x20' Solar Panels with Connector Kit     $681
  • 85' board feet of 2'x4' lumber, and Screws     $ 45
  • 50' 1.5" PVC pipe, 3-way Valve, and Fittings  $ 95

Total: $821


Rooftop Solar Rack

A fortunate garage roof next to the pool equipment, this solar pool heater is using five 4'x10' solar panels, or 200 sq. ft. of solar surface area; a good size for pools up to 15,000 gallons. Panels can be installed 2 or even 3 stories high.

rooftop solar pool heating

Materials:

  • 5 - 4'x10' Solar Panels with Connector Kit     $1161
  • 50' 1.5" PVC pipe, 3-way Valve, and Fittings  $  95

Total: $1256


Freestanding Solar Rack

This platform rack is made entirely of 2x4's, plywood and lattice, and also makes a nice storage area for lawn care equipment and supply. This solar pool heater is using four 4'x20' solar panels, or 320 sq. ft. of solar surface area; a good size for pools up to 25,000 gallons. 

Materials:

  • 4 - 4'x20' Solar Panels with Connector Kit: $1301
  • 155' board feet of 2'x4' lumber, and screws: $95
  • 10 - 4x8 Pine Plywood & 2 - 4x8 lattice: $181
  • 50' 1.5" PVC pipe, 3-way valve, and fittings: $95

Total: $1676


Pergola Solar Rack

Doubling as a shade relief area, this simple pergola design is using six 4'x10' solar panels, or 240 sq. ft. of solar surface area; a good size for pools up to 18,000 gallons. If this pergola was 12' x 20' (instead of 10' x 25'), it could use three 4'x20' panels, for a $400 savings, with the same solar area (240 sf).

Materials:

  • 6 - 4'x10' Solar Panels with Connector Kit: $1376
  • 170' board feet of 6'x6' lumber, and Bolts: $622
  • 39 - 2x3 Pressure Treated Pine, and Screws: $133
  • 50' 1.5" PVC pipe, 3-way Valve, and Fittings: $95

Total: $2226


DIY solar pool heating methods that actually heat the pool! Free heat from the sun with no carbon footprint. With a 5-year warranty, our Smartpool Solar Heaters are the smart way to heat the pool!

Save


In The Swim makes every effort to provide accurate recommendations based upon current ANSI/APSP/ICC-5 2011 (R2022) standards, but codes and regulations change, and In The Swim assumes no liability for any omissions or errors in this article or the outcome of any project. You must always exercise reasonable caution, carefully read the label on all products, follow all product directions, follow any current codes and regulations that may apply, and consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. In The Swim assumes no legal responsibility for your reliance or interpretation of the data contained herein, and makes no representations or warranties of any kind concerning the quality, safety, or suitability of the information, whether express or implied, including, without limitation, any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.