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What Can You Expect From a Solar Pool Heater in the San Francisco Bay Area?

The curves above represent a full sized solar heater. We've plotted the daily maximum pool temperatures. Note that a cover doesn't help all that much in this area. We size systems higher if you won't use a cover but notice that 12 collectors and no cover (100% of pool area) almost equals the performance of 8 collectors (75% of pool area) and a cover. Also notice that the realistic maximum season for the solar heated pool is early April through September. Try doing that with a gas heater and a reasonable fuel budget. We included daily peak air temperatures on the plots so you could make the comparison to your area more readily. There is a huge variation in climates from one area to another in this part of the world so adjust your prediction based on the peak air temps you typically see in the months shown.

All these curves are based on a typical meteorological year which is hour by hour values of air temp, solar radiation, wind levels and humidity based on 10 years of real weather data but the "tmy" isn't average weather data. It is typical weather generated using a complex algorithm and perhaps manually to some extent. This is the kind of graphical output we've been telling the Enerpool folks we wanted for years but Enerpool and all the other solar software out only tell you the payback period. We don't care about payback period. We know solar pool heating's economic numbers are good and payback period is no longer than 3 years. What we're interested in is the daily peak pool temperature (because the average doesn't mean anything to us) over what extended season. These plots show you don't need a gas heater. Understand that heating a pool outside the season shown here would be extremely expensive. If you want to heat a pool in this area October through March then you will pay severely for the gas as an enormous amount of fuel would be required, this at times when weather is not conducive to pool use.

The above curves represent a typical 16x32 inground pool with a little shade (25%) heated or not with an aged solar cover and an 8) 4x12 solar collector system (75% of pool area in collector area. We assumed the cover would always be on the pool 20 hours a day and for 4 hours the cover would come off (for the 2 plots with covers) and moderate pool activity would occur. We created these charts using Enerpool solar simulation software. We do not have confidence in any other computer program like this. Click here to learn about this software and its history. You can even download the software yourself and put it to use if you're an engineer type.

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