29 Jun Selecting the right heating for the right pool. Which type of heating is best for you?
Australia’s love affair with water and the sun dates back generations. The growth of swimming pool ownership over the years has reinforced that connection. Heated swimming pools have brought the above ground pool from the back corner of the yard to now being a major centrepiece of people’s lifestyle and entertainment.
Recent research shows that most residential swimming pools in Australia are outdoors. Whilst there are a variety of heating solutions available, most swimming pools are used on warm, sunny days. Based on these conditions, the heating solution should always be determined by a hierarchy of selection that also considers application. The consumer should always be encouraged to choose an option that utilises renewable energy, and will be sustainable long term, rather than the selection of a product for convenience.
At Supreme Heating we believe solar offers the best outcome and solution to most residential pools. Therefore, we place solar at the top of the hierarchy of selection, followed by heat pumps and gas heaters. Determining factors include climate, lifestyle, performance expectations and budget. Comfort levels, rising energy prices and increased awareness of responsible energy consumption should always be considered to suit the often unique and individual needs of a family. Regardless of the chosen solution, the inclusion of a pool cover is always recommended.
Solar pool heating is by far the most popular, efficient, and cost-effective way of heating an outdoor swimming pool. Solar is available when the weather is warm, and the sun is shining – the ideal climate for swimming. On cold rainy days, when there is no expectation to use the swimming pool, the solar system is not running and there are no unnecessary heating costs. Due to a solar systems effectiveness in making cold water warm, solar delivers a heated and comfortable swimming experience when pool use is desired. This outcome can be achieved with zero running costs meeting both the emotional and financial needs of pool owners. For optimum performance, it is important that the system is sized correctly, whether that be a traditional strip system or a rigid panel system. In Southern states of Australia, a correctly sized system should be equal to or greater than 100% coverage of the pool surface area. In Northern states, 80% or greater coverage is recommended. The orientation of the solar system can be on North, West, East or flat roof. The use of a Southern roof is possible given the right design parameters. A pool cover is recommended for water conservation and to retain the heat generated from the solar system, particularly on cold nights. If a pool cover is not an option for the customer, then increasing the size of the solar system can offset any loss associated with no cover.
The use of heat pumps has become extremely popular especially with the introduction of inverter technology, which reduces the overall running cost. A correctly sized heat pump can provide a consistent year-round heating solution for pool owners who want to use the pool on a frequent basis. To realise the operating savings and efficiency of inverter technology it is critical to maintain a consistent temperature within 2°C of the desired pool water temperature. Therefore, heat pump solutions must incorporate the installation and use of a thermal cover. Heat pumps also provide a solution for situations where traditional solar pool heating roof space has been allocated to photovoltaic (PV) electricity panels. The size of the PV solar system should allow for the energy requirements of the heat pump in addition to the household. The consumer must take this into consideration when sizing the PV solar system for the home. The risk of not doing so can result in generated power for the home being consumed by the heat pump.
Gas heaters are, without doubt, the fastest way to heat a swimming pool and are referred to as a rapid-demand heating solution. Suitable for year-round use, gas heaters are great for spas, holiday homes and special out-of-season occasions but do come with higher running costs when used as a temperature maintenance solution. The benefit is that within little more than a few hours the swimming pool will be at the desired temperature regardless of the weather.
With the ongoing shifts in customer expectations, and as regulators aim to meet the emission reduction targets, there is a degree of uncertainty around the use of natural gas, electricity generation and energy prices. In such a climate, products and technology continue to evolve to suit the changing environment of housing design and outdoor living spaces. One such product is the photovoltaic thermal hybrid (PVT) panels. Combining traditional PV panels (producing electricity) with traditional solar thermal panels (producing warm water) into one unique solar panel, minimises rooftop surface without changing the size or design of a standard photovoltaic panel. A standard photovoltaic panel generates 80% heat and only 20% electricity. This heat is not only wasted but is adverse to the panel’s photovoltaic efficiency which decreases as the temperature increases. The PVT panel is constantly cooled due to the innovative heat exchanger and the water circulating behind the photovoltaic cells, which allows it to generate more electricity than a standard photovoltaic panel. This innovative product lends itself well to commercial applications where energy demand is high and is also attractive to those looking to invest in future technologies such as battery storage.
Overall, there are a diverse range of heating solutions within the hierarchy of selection for every climate, lifestyle, family structure and budget. As a heating specialist we feel a sense of responsibility to maximise the customer experience and minimise the overall operating expenses, which will ensure higher consumer satisfaction, increased pool owner advocacy and contribute to sustained industry growth.