In the solar pool heating industry we all dream of that perfect roof — the one that has ideal pitch and orientation, no shading, no obstructions, and plenty of space to meet the heating requirements of the pool. It also helps if the pool equipment is ideally located for plumbing requirements. Sadly, very few roofs are perfect, and many are extremely challenging. The architectural desires of architects, builders, and homeowners are usually pursued without regard for how solar energy might fit into the future energy plans for the home.
Since solar pool heating takes up so much space, roughly the same as the surface area of the pool, finding a perfect roof is rare. In the case of this Pine Island, FL home we were forced to address a section of the roof that transitioned from pitched to flat. Despite the fact that it is a gable roof, which contain a lot of usable space compared to hip roofs, we could not fit enough panels of the same length to heat the pool to a level where we find excellent customer satisfaction. As a result we transitioned from 10′ long panels to one 8′ long panel to round out the coverage needed. We also had to do some extra plumbing to ensure proper drainage with the feed and return plumbing.
From the start we knew this roof would be a challenge. From aerial imagery we could see that there were large roof vents and a flat roof section. Planning ahead allowed us to bring the right sized panels to the job site and get the installation done efficiently. Fortunately, solar pool heating panels are pretty forgiving in terms of orientation, especially on relatively shallow pitched roofs. East, west, and south all work well, and system sizing is based on the overall orientation to make up for any sub-optimal placement.
Fortunately this home had a great south roof and needed just 232 square feet to provide excellent heating performance for the relatively small new pool. Our initial design appears in this 3D computer rendering.
Regardless of the roof, searching for the perfect one is futile. We are trained to take what is presented to us and to make the best of it. Fortunately, the best is usually great!