For a detailed explanation of how a solar pool heating system works, click here.
Solar panel systems are excluded by law from the assessed value of residential property, so solar panels will not increase residential property taxes.

HB 277 in the 2013 Legislative Session added Section 193.624, Florida Statutes to read:

Florida provides a property tax exemption for residential photovoltaic systems, wind energy systems, solar water heaters, and geothermal heat pumps installed on or after January 1, 2013. For the purpose of assessing property taxes for a home, an increase in the just value of the property attributable to the installation of this equipment should be ignored. The exemption applies to the following types of equipment used as part of a solar, wind or geothermal system:

  • Solar energy collectors, photovoltaic modules, and inverters.
  • Storage tanks and other storage systems, excluding swimming pools used as storage tanks.
  • Rockbeds.
  • Thermostats and other control devices.
  • Heat exchange devices.
  • Pumps and fans.
  • Roof ponds.
  • Freestanding thermal containers.
  • Pipes, ducts, refrigerant handling systems, and other equipment used to interconnect such systems; however, such equipment does not include conventional backup systems of any type
  • Windmills and wind turbines.
  • Wind-driven generators.
  • Power conditioning and storage devices that use wind energy to generate electricity or mechanical forms of energy.
  • Pipes and other equipment used to transmit hot geothermal water to a dwelling or structure from a geothermal deposit.

This exemption applies to assessments beginning January 1, 2014, and for equipment installed on or after January 1, 2013.

There is no property tax exclusion in law for commercial property, but in practice solar panels are not included by county property appraisers in the assessed value of the property. In 2014 a bill to match the residential exclusion for commercial properties was squashed by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne. There is a bill proposed in the 2015 session that would grant this exclusion by law, and it is promising that it will pass.

Solar pool heating, solar electric (photovoltaic), and solar water heating systems with all associated components are exempt from sales tax in the State of Florida.
Solar pool heating panels weights vary based on size, model, and water volume, but generally they are lightweight and their weight is negligible when considering adding them to a roof. For example, a 4′ x 10′ sized iSwim panel that we offer weighs under 15 pounds empty and 60 pounds full. That’s about 1.5 pounds per square foot when operating, which is extremely light. Weight is not an issue when considering to install solar pool heating panels.
Solar electric panels are about four times less efficient than solar pool heating panels when it comes to absorbing energy from the sun, and the cost and complexity of heating pools with solar electricity is usually prohibitive. Click here to learn more about this important topic.
At night, solar pool heating panels are dormant and cannot heat your pool. Typically your pool pump does not operate at night anyway, so there is no water pumped to the panels. That’s okay because during the day there is plenty of solar energy to heat a pool. Overnight, some heat is lost, but it is more than regained the next day. Heat can be retained overnight by using a pool cover, enhancing the solar pool heating (or any pool heating system) experience. During cloudy weather, solar pool heating panels may still be able to heat your pool. As long as the roof temperature is warmer than the pool water, heat can be transferred to your pool. The speed of heating is directly related to how much solar energy is available at any given time. Interesting fact: solar panels can actually be set to cool your pool at night, which is sometimes desirable when temperatures soar in Southwest Florida.
Solar pool heating panels and systems have historically not received the same preferential treatment given to solar water heating and solar electricity. This is because solar pool heaters are essentially a luxury item, not a necessity. There are no Federal tax incentives or rebates, and no direct incentives or rebates from the State of Florida. However, Florida’s legislature has recognized that solar energy used to heat pools offsets fossil fuel and electrical usage, and has provided a sales tax exemption for solar pool heating systems. In addition, solar pool heating panels will not raise the assessed value of your home, so your property taxes will not go up despite the fact that you are adding value to your home.
While animals can damage solar pool heating panels, it is extremely rare. Panels are made of polyethylene material, which does not attract animals. There have been very rare occurrences where it appeared that a rat or raccoon chewed on a panel an damaged individual tubes. In my personal experience, this has happened on only a handful of panels out of thousands of systems installed. In these cases, the individual tubes can easily be plugged to repair the damage, returning the system to working order. The cost of repairs is under $100, and your local installer will gladly perform this service for you. As far as physical damage due to animals walking on panels, it is a non-issue. Human installers routinely step on panels during installation and service. They are very durable and can easily withstand the weight and abrasion from animals.

That said, animals need to get on the roof in the first place to cause any damage. Keeping trees trimmed and away from the house will service to reduce the possibility of animals being near solar panels.

Energy is absorbed by solar pool heating panels and stored as heat in your swimming pool, so the answer is yes! The best way to “store” solar energy in a pool is to use a pool cover to retain heat overnight. Energy stored is energy that you don’t need to absorb the next day. It is far easier and more cost effective to store energy as heat than to store electrical energy.
Solar pool heating panels are best mounted on a south facing pitched roof to maximize overall heating performance. The next best options are west and east facing roofs. While west roofs receive afternoon sun with higher ambient temperatures typically, east roofs actually receive more annual solar radiation and provide heating earlier in the day. Each orientation has advantages and disadvantages which should be discussed with a solar professional. Roofs that are pitched to the north of due east or west are not recommended for solar pool heating, but can be used if there are no other options, especially if the slope is shallow. As the orientation becomes less optimal, the number of panels required increases.
At this time we do not recommend mounting solar pool heating panels on flat roofs. Flat roof penetrations are tricky, and properly flashing them is relatively expensive when considering the cost of a solar pool heater. Panels mounted on flat surfaces also do not drain when not in use, causing potential freeze damage or damage from stagnant hot water. While there are solutions for these issues, it’s not an ideal solution. Systems that are mounted to flat roofs with adhesive only may not meet current building codes.
Solar pool heating panel systems are sized based on several factors. The major factors include:

  • The size of your pool (surface area)
  • The orientation of the panels
  • Your desired swimming season
  • Desired temperature and heating speed
  • Available roof space
  • Budget

A thorough discussion with a solar pool heating professional will provide the best answers, but obviously more is better. Most people settle on a system that has a total area that is 80-100% of the surface area of their pool.

In almost every case the answer is yes. Because solar pool heaters only increase your system pressure by a few pounds per square inch (PSI), as long as your pool is well designed and your pump is not operating near its limits, you will be able to use your existing pump. Some scenarios like multi-story buildings and commercial pools may require booster pumps or independent heating loops for proper operation. However, the vast majority of residential pools will be able to have solar pool heating added with no changes to existing equipment.
The number one reason people do not use their pool is the initial shock of getting into a cold pool. Even in warmer months, pools can feel cool relative to the ambient air. A solar heated pool maintains a warmer temperature throughout the year, making impromptu use of your pool possible without the cost and aggravation of waiting for a gas or electric heater to work. Because a solar pool heater costs nothing to operate after the initial investment, you will enjoy a warm pool for many years.
Solar pool heaters work great with variable speed pumps because an optimal flow rate for the best performance can be selected. The combination of solar pool heating and variable speed pumps works best with an automation system that can tell the pump when to change speed for solar heating. Without a controller, onboard pump schedules can be used to provide optimal flow rates during the typical daily heating window. However, an automation system is highly recommended when using a variable speed pump. Note that some variable speed pumps do not have external control capability, so consult your solar pool heating professional before selecting a pump.
Solar pool heaters are compatible with virtually all existing pool automation systems. These controllers will automatically turn a valve when solar heating is available and desired based on a set point temperature that you choose.
A properly sized solar pool heater will make your pool reach temperatures 8-15 ºF above that of an unheated pool. Using a pool cover increases the performance and maintains more heat overnight (which is true of any heat source including heat pumps and gas heaters). You can expect warmer pool water every day of the year. Since solar pool heating is a weather dependent technology, performance varies based on a variety of factors. Sunnier and warmer conditions usually result in the best performance, and that is great because that’s when most people prefer to enjoy their pools!