Solar Pool Heater - A Practical Option?Solar pool heating systems utilize the suns energy to warm your pool. This of coursehas the key advantage of being free of charge and in addition you are being friendly tothe environment.You will find additional benefits also: • Can be installed by pool owner - Although solar pool heating systems are often set up by professionals, solar heating kits are available that suit both above ground pools and in ground pools and are simple to install. In this case there is no need for qualified gas contractors or electricians. The key task is installing the solar panels and locating these properly will be the prime factor in determining how effective the system is. Ideally these will be set up on a roof or on a suitable framework, such that they face the sun. • Minimal maintenance requirement - Once it is up and running a solar pool heater does not require much maintenance in comparison to gas heaters and electric air source heat pumps. • System will last - A solar heating system should last many years and turn out to be a good investment. This is illustrated by the fact that some manufacturers offer fifteen year guarantees.However there are a number of disadvantages to consider: • Needs large area for solar collectors - As a rough guide the area of the solar collectors will be similar to the surface area of the pool. Even with a small pool this can be a significant space requirement. In addition the positioning of the solar collectors may be forced by your location and this may have a negative impact on your local environment. • Not as powerful as gas heater or heat pump - It has to be accepted that even in the best location the energy generated will not match that of a gas pool heater or heat pump. Solar heating will still work on overcast days but the output will not be as high as on a sunny day. • Effectiveness highly dependent on correct conditions - How effective a solar pool heater will be in practice depends on average temperature for the location, wind factors, the angle and orientation of the collectors and the solar exposure. The solar panels need to be south facing, at the correct angle and not shaded at all, if output from the system is to be maximised. • Not a cheap alternative - The cost of buying a solar pool heater system depends on the area of solar collectors you need. For an in ground pool it can work out more that a gas heater. Of course the running costs will compensate for this over time. So should you go for solar heating? Well there are 2 important aspects to think about, your location and how long you wish your swimming season to be. If you are able to position the solar collectors to obtain best results and you only wish to use your pool in the warmer months then you should give serious consideration to a solar pool heating system.