The Basics    Pool Heater Comparisons    Sizing Your System   Maintenance and Service
 

Q:
Will a solar pool heating system work as well as a gas fired pool heater?
A:
They can, but most solar pool heating systems are not sized to heat as quickly as a natural gas pool heaters. Obviously a solar pool heating system cannot heat during the night or while it is raining.

 

Q:
How does a solar pool heating system replace a gas heater if it can't heat as quickly?
A:
Most gas heaters are sized to (re)heat a pool in a "spot heating" mode rather than a "maintenance" mode. Spot heating refers to the practice of heating only for a short periods of time, i.e.: a weekend, or a special occasion - such as a pool party. Maintenance heating refers to the practice of leaving the heater on to maintain the desired temperature all of the time. The reason for using a "spot heating" mode is to save money. The reason for using the "maintenance" mode is to have the pool warm enough to swim in when you feel like swimming!

Solar pool heating systems are usually designed to operate as maintenance heaters. During periods of bad weather, both types of heaters aren't used. When the weather improves the solar pool heating system will bring the pool back up to swimming temperature (for free!) in about twice the time it takes the gas heater to reheat the pool (not for free!)(Also assuming that the gas heater is turned back on.)

 

Q:
Will heat pump pool heaters be banned in Ontario?
A:
It is possible that heat pump pool heating systems may be banned (or heavily taxed) in Ontario. The reasons are primarily environmental. There is no disguising that heat pumps are electric pool heaters, even if they are using electricity efficiently. These heaters draw power from Ontario Hydro's electrical grid during peak loads, when the whole electrical grid is straining to supply electricity during a heat wave. Provincial legislators may find it untenable that the grid could collapse and cause a blackout (such as occurred in August of 2003) because of people heating their pools with electricity!

In our opinion, heating your pool with a heat pump is financially and environmentally unwise.

 

Q:
Does a solar pool heating system work as well as a heat pump in Ontario?
A:
Properly sized and installed solar pool heating systems will heat a pool as well or better than most heat pump pool heaters. Heat pumps, like solar systems, do not work well when the weather is cool or cold. They do use a lot of electricity, require much more (expensive) maintenance, and do not last nearly as long as solar pool heating systems.

When comparing heat pumps to other types of pool heaters, the number to watch out for is the stated C.O.P. This number is often quoted as being 5 or 6. This number is misleading as it is usually derived from a "non-Ontario" climate. In the real (Ontario) world it struggles to reach 3 on an seasonal (average) basis. Also be aware of the tendency to use non-Ontario electrical rates when looking at the costs of operation.

Heat pumps are noisy. They make the same amount of noise as central air conditioners - only they run continuously for hours at a time. Solar systems make no noise.

 

The Basics    Pool Heater Comparisons    Sizing Your System   Maintenance and Service