An image showing a woman leaning on a concrete surface beside a swimming-pool

3 ways to build a DIY solar pool heater

Nothing like a refreshing swim in a warm pool on a cold day. Although a pool heater won’t make your pool look like a jacuzzi, it can make it a more comfortable place to swim and a more pleasant location to spend those cool summer evenings.


The solar heater is also affordable, convenient and easy to operate. Building one yourself reduces the cost involved and makes it much cheaper.


What is a pool heater?

The pool heater drains the pool, transfers the water to a storage tank, and then refills the pool with hot water. Even if it’s cold outside, your pool will always be at a pleasant temperature thanks to the alternating flow of cool and warm water. A solar pool heater is also an environmentally friendly way to heat your pool, as it runs on the renewable energy of sunlight.

Most solar pool heaters work with a solar collector, filter, pump, and flow control valve. The water from the pool is circulated through the filter and heated in the collector before being returned to the pool. In general, solar water heaters are less powerful than electric and gas heaters, but they are cheap and easy to build.

Solar energy can do a lot more for your home than heat your pool. We have explained some The best solar powered gadgets you can use in your home.

There are three main ways to build a working solar pool heater, based on the type of solar collector: flat plate collector, evacuated tube collector, and batch collector.

1. Flat plate collector

Installing solar panels

This method is easily the most popular way to build a solar pool heater. The basic idea is simple: a flat dark surface, usually copper or aluminum, is heated using sunlight and that energy is transferred to the pool to increase its temperature. This working principle provides several advantages such as affordability, ease of installation and low maintenance.

Flat plate collectors are usually installed facing the equator. Insulation is added to the bottom and sides of the plate to reduce heat loss. Here is an example project that uses this approach to build a solar pool heater:

DIY solar heater

Swimming pool with ladder to the side

User Naifer built an above ground pool heater to maintain a comfortable temperature in spring and fall. The tools and equipment required for this project are cheap and can be found at Home Depot for under $100. It uses a piece of 4×4 plywood, a 200-foot-and-a-half-inch vinyl watering hose, UV-resistant zip ties to attach the hose to the plywood, a valve assembly made up of a series of valves and “Y” adapters, and an external mechanical timer.

The valve assembly serves the purpose of directing water to the heater and then back to the pool. It also makes it possible to cut off the heater’s supply and flow when not needed.

Measuring with an infrared thermometer, Bnaiver was able to get a reading of 99 ℉ from the pool. by following Instruction manualYou should be able to build your own well-functioning solar pool heater in less than a day’s work.

If you are interested in building something bigger than a solar water heater, we have listed the components you need Building an off-grid solar power system.

2. Evacuated tube collector

An evacuated tube collector is a solar heating system with a series of glass tubes containing a copper rod or tube. The air inside these tubes is removed to create a vacuum. Also, aluminum nitrate or titanium nitride oxide is applied inside the inner glass tube to increase the absorption of sunlight.

Evacuated tube collectors are usually more efficient than flat plate solar collectors. The empty space between the inner and outer glass tubes provides insulation and allows the tubes to retain heat energy with minimal losses. This allows them to perform consistently well.

However, vacuum tube collectors tend to be more expensive. An evacuated tube collector can cost up to 20-40% more than a flat plate collector. They require less maintenance and can serve you for years after installation. While there is usually some difference in the specifics of how discharge solar water heaters are built, the basic concepts remain the same.

This YouTube tutorial by Pete Stothers walks you through how to build your own tubular solar pool heater. It uses a vacuum tube assembly (with 12 tubes) and a 12~24VDC circulating pump. As mentioned earlier, evacuated tube collectors are expensive, and you can expect to spend up to $400 on this project. Here it is Part two from the tutorial.

This project can be automated using the Home Assistant to monitor the temperature from time to time and regulate the flow rate of the pump. As Pete mentioned, this DIY project may be a better fit for pools with a smaller surface area such as a hot tub or backyard roller coaster.

3. Batch collector

This is the least common type of solar collector. It is also less efficient and takes up much more space compared to other complexes. However, the method of operation is simple enough, and requires much less maintenance.

Batch collectors are a type of integrated collector storage system (ICS), which means that the tank and solar collector are combined into one unit. This eliminates the need for pumps and system controllers.

The insulated, glass-coated box allows sunlight to heat a dark-coloured water tank that absorbs heat. Water is heated more efficiently thanks to a metal coil around the outside of the tank, which absorbs heat and scatters it throughout the inside of the tank.

Most batch collectors store their water storage tank inside a sealed glass or plastic insulated box. To use it as a batch collector, all you need is an old, regular water heater tank. Because of its insulated walls, the water storage tank loses less heat to the outside air, and its glass roof allows solar energy to heat the water.

You can build your own batch assembler by following this Instruction manual by Ganesh Ruskin. He uses as many recycled materials as possible in building his batch collector. According to Ganesh himself, this Instructable is a bit rough around the edges, but the main steps are well detailed, and you should be able to get the gist of what’s being described.

Some of the tools and equipment you will need are an old water heater tank, two sheets of plywood, a glass patio door, two lengths of copper and steel pipe, drywall screws, steel plugs, Teflon pipe tape, and primer.

Build your own solar pool heater

Using a solar pool heater is an environmentally responsible way to keep your pool warm. DIY solar pool heaters can be built, although there are many commercially marketed solar pool heaters to choose from online. They take a short time to build and cost much less than commercial options.

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