Note: This article focuses on the cost of solar pool heating panels specifically.
If you are at the beginning of your research about solar pool heaters, your first question is probably about the solar pool panel cost. Most systems come as a fully installed package. Dealers will give you turnkey pricing including all engineering, permits, and installation. This is especially true of the highly competitive Southwest Florida solar energy market, where prices are well below the national average, building codes are strict, DIY systems are not recommended, and there are plenty of professionally installed options from which you can choose.
What Do Solar Panels Cost For Solar Pool Heating
We ran some numbers and found that our customers over the last year paid from $2,300 – $6,500 for their solar pool heating system installation. That’s a huge range. However, most systems fell into the $3,500 – $4,500 range. So why is there such a wide range in pricing? The factors below combine to determine the price. While some are controllable, some are fixed, based on your pool and the space you have available for solar panels.
Factors Affecting Solar Panel Cost
The most important factors affecting the cost of solar pool heating panels are:
- Pool size (surface area)
- Orientation and shading
- Automation features (solar controller vs manual system)
- Plumbing run and any complexities
The first, and most obvious reason, is that each system has a different number of panels. We try to size each system based on factors that result in historically satisfying pool heating experiences. The size of the pool is the first factor in figuring how many square feet of solar collector area is required.
At the lower end of the price range we installed systems for plunge pools or spas Sometimes we heat pools where solar is only supplemental to existing heaters. Larger pools require more panels, while smaller pools require fewer panels. Some people show surprise that we need about the same area of panels as your pool surface to get the kind of year-round swimming our customers demand.
Where your solar panels are located on your roof determines how effective they are at doing their job. A perfect south or southwest roofs with average pitch provides the best performance. Other orientations will result in performance hits that we can estimate through modeling and experience. We use these models to adjust the number of panels needed based on pool size. The result is a multiple of the pool square footage.
In some cases we recommend up to 150% of the pool area for very poor orientation or shading issues from trees or other buildings. Perfect orientations can result in a factor of 80% or lower, and if being used as a supplement to other heaters we can go as low as 40% (rare).
The second or third most important factor determining price is whether the system is automated with a solar controller. Solar automation turns the heater on and off as required with a “thermostat” of sorts. There are three ways to control a solar pool heater:
- No additional cost: manual pool valves that you turn on and off as desired to regulate temperature.
- Lowest cost: if you have an existing automation system, it most likely has a solar function that we can connect.
- Moderate cost: basic solar controllers will turn solar panels on and off with a digital or analog thermostatic control, and may provide other options like variable speed pump control and integrated timers.
- Highest cost: many people elect to go ahead and automate other pool features like water features, heaters, lighting, and other pool functions with a full fledged pool automation system. Doing this while installing solar pool heating is certainly not necessary, but may provide a great opportunity.
Plumbing Run and Complexities
The closer you put solar panels to the pool pump, the less plumbing is required, and solar panels will cost less. This is not a major factor, but other complexities like getting around obstructions, tile hip caps, over ridges, trenching, and plumbing along walls may result in slightly higher costs. Black plumbing, which we don’t recommend, costs a bit more as well.
Conclusion: Find Your Solar Pool Heater’s Cost
Most likely, you will receive a quote around the middle of the range of prices we provided above. Here in the Fort Myers – Cape Coral – Naples area we have some of the best pricing in the country. You will find that most dealers are within a very tight range when comparing similar solar panel counts. Due to competition, a wide variance in price should be investigated at with suspicion. You may not be comparing apples-to-apples.
What matters next is the quality and longevity of the whole system. After all, regardless of what you pay, you want it to last. Look for features like premium valves, all 2″ plumbing, 2″ headers, and full flow tubes with minimal resistance.
We would love to give you a full education on solar pool heaters so you can make an informed decision. Also, we can give you an accurate solar panel cost by phone, email, or at an in-home consultation. Contact us today!