If you’re a solar energy geek, a swimming pool offers rare opportunities to put your passion into action. Many pool owners are already using solar lights, covers, and heating systems – and not just for their gee whiz factor, but because they offer real savings. While not quite as practical, a solar powered pool pump is one more option for people who want to indulge their love of cool gadgets and/or reduce their environmental footprint.
Whether a solar pool pump can actually save you money is a matter of debate. Due to the steep cost of a new system, it may not be possible to recoup your investment in a reasonable amount of time – that is, unless you get some generous government rebates. On the other hand, assembling via a kit or doing it yourself may lower the initial cost enough to make it economical.
Solar Pool Pump Options
First thing’s first. Exactly what does solar pool pump mean? There are a number of different setups possible, and which one you’re talking about can have a big impact on any discussion of costs and savings. Here are a few options:
Conventional Pool Pump. In this case, the pool pump operates in the traditional way, but receives its power from solar panels rather than the electrical grid. That doesn’t mean the pump isn’t specially made to make use of solar – just that it functions in the same way as a conventional pump. SunRay is one company that manufactures this type of solar pump.
Standalone System. Some solar pump/filter systems (including this one for sale at Amazon.com) float on top of the water. These work with spas and small swimming pools (both above ground and inground). For larger pools, they can serve as a “helper” system for your main pool pump.
Secondary Pump For Water Feature. Some water features operate through your main pool pump, while others (especially waterfalls) need a dedicated system. These secondary pumps can be good candidates for solar power, because it’s not essential that they run all the time.
In addition to the cost, one reason a lot of pool owners are probably hesitant to use a solar pool pump is because filtering is so vital to maintaining a sanitary pool. Things like lighting and heating are optional – in the worst case, you simply don’t use your pool. On the other hand, if you don’t have enough energy to filter your pool, that could lead to an algae problem that’s hard to fix.
On the “bright” side, solar power works best at exactly the time you need to run a pool pump – during the day. That’s also the time when many power companies charge more for electricity. So the potential is there to save money, if you can get a system that meets your needs for a price that makes sense.
Doing it Yourself
Did we mention solar power geeks? A lot of people who are gaga for solar energy are also avid do-it-yourselfers. If this describes you, you may be interested in assembling the parts yourself and putting together your own solar powered pool pump. This requires some knowhow, but it’s a lot more economical than buying a new system.
The following video shows one pool owner’s setup. Note how he uses the solar panels to shield the pool equipment – great idea.