A backyard pool allows you to stay fit and active without falling into the trap of a gym membership as well as increases the value of your house.
But, if you reside in a place that experiences harsh winters, you may be forced to winterize your pool during this period.
That does not have to be the case, though: using portable solar panels is an effective way to heat your backyard pool. Not only do solar panels produce renewable energy, but they are cost-efficient and can be installed in a number of ways.
In this guide, we will answer the most important questions about portable solar panels for your backyard pool and how you can maximize the efficiency of your solar panel system.
What Are Portable Solar Panels for Backyard Pools?
A portable solar panel for your backyard pool uses solar energy to heat up swimming pools. The panels can either be installed in the yard or on the roof, along with a motor and pump to circulate water.
How Do Portable Solar Panels for Backyard Pools Work?
Solar panels are designed to absorb sunlight and convert it into usable heat. This heat is then circulated through the solar pumps and returned to the swimming pool.
There are portable solar panels available for both outdoor and indoor use and can work for all types and sizes of backyard pools.
Once the solar panel heats up, it works to keep the water in the pool warm. This warm water is then circulated through the pump. This means that your swimming pool water will stay warm for as long as there is sunlight or the panels’ energy reserves do not run out.
Thus, using a portable solar panel allows you to use your backyard pool all year round without worrying about gas or electricity bills since the energy from the sun is free of cost (barring a few minor expenses) and in unlimited supply.
Some portable panels only pre-heat the pool water before you get in, while others supply enough heat to keep the pool warm all day long.
How to Choose a Portable Solar Panel for Your Backyard Pool?
To determine the power and size of the portable solar panel for your backyard pool, you first need to figure out the panel wattage requirements. This can be calculated by multiplying the pool surface area with the panel wattage.
Once you know your wattage needs, you can pick a portable solar panel system that meets those needs. Several different factors help determine the solar panel system size, such as shading, latitude, and electricity charges.
It is important to remember that a solar panel can only reduce your energy bills if it is the perfect size. A solar panel that is too small may not be able to heat your pool effectively. On the other hand, an excessively large solar panel will produce way too much energy for its storage capacity.
Make sure to install your portable solar panel system in an area where it can receive maximum sunlight.
How Much Solar Power Does a Backyard Pool Need?
A standard 15’x30’ pool would need around 45 to 65 solar panels capable of producing around 5,000 to 8,500 watts of power. In other words, a single solar panel produces around 20 to 25 watts of power.
Your precise location will determine how much sunlight your panels receive throughout the year. As you can expect, a solar panel system receives maximum irradiation during the summer months when the sunlight is at its strongest.
Portable Solar Panel v/s Traditional Heating Methods
The main advantage that solar panels offer is that since there is no electricity or heat involved, they are safer to operate and more cost-effective.
Conventional heating sources like electric heaters or gas-powered pumps can be expensive to operate and maintain, particularly during the winters when energy tends to go up regardless.
Since gas pumps require propane tanks, they can be particularly dangerous to operate.
How Much Do Portable Solar Panels for Backyard Pools Cost?
On average, a solar panel system for backyard pools can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $20,000. These days, solar panels have become far more affordable. Fortunately, solar panel systems are a lot more affordable than they used to be.
Other than that, the rebates and tax credits offered to households that use solar panels can further reduce the cost.
How Long Will a Solar Panel take to Heat Up a Backyard Pool?
Once you have installed a solar panel system for your backyard pool, it can take around 3 to 5 days for the panel to heat the water up to its ideal temperature.
The precise period can depend upon the season as well as the exact volume-to-surface area ratio of the solar-powered pool.
Does a Portable Solar Panel Become Less Efficient Over Time?
Generally, solar panel efficiency over time tends to dip for the following reasons:
- Aging degradation
- Light Induced Degradation (LID)
- Potential Induced Degradation (PID)
Typically, solar panels have a life of 20 to 30 years, during which time they are exposed to harsh weather conditions like snow, rain, and hailstorms, along with cold and heat.
This exposure, along with the age-related wear and tear of solar panels, can cause their efficiency to drop.
Light-Induced Degradation (LID)
This is a 1% to 3% dip in efficiency that occurs as a result of exposure to solar irradiation. This is an unavoidable loss and will happen once during the life of the solar panels.
Potential Induced Degradation (PID)
PID is degradation resulting from heat, humidity, and voltage. That said, not all modules undergo this degradation. PID essentially results from a significant potential difference between the cell (semiconductor material) and other module components (such as the mount, glass, and frame).
As such, PID can be avoided by installing Tier 1 solar panels from reputable suppliers. These panels generally have diffusion barriers and solid encapsulation that provide enhanced long-term protection PID protection.
Factors that Affect the Efficiency of a Portable Solar Panel
The solar panel angle and the amount of sunlight striking the panel can either increase or decrease the panel’s efficiency. For instance, if you live on the southern side of the equator, you should have your panels facing north for maximum efficiency. Likewise, if you live north of the equator, a south-facing solar panel will deliver the maximum efficiency.
2) Roof Pitch
The roof slope determines the amount of light striking the solar panels during the day, and, consequently, the energy produced by the panels.
Even a small shade above the panel can significantly reduce its output. Generally, residential projects involve 15 to 20 solar panels connected in a string-like series. If even a single solar panel in this series has a shadow above it, it can lead to production loss and impair the efficiency of the entire unit as a whole.
It may seem counterintuitive, but higher temperatures are associated with lower solar panel efficiency. Depending upon the installed location, temperatures above 25 degrees Celsius can reduce output by as much as 25%.
5) Balance of System
A solar panel system comprises all the components of the unit apart from the solar panels themselves. These include inverters, cables, protection devices, and the mounting structure. The quality of the products significantly determines the overall balance of this system.
We strongly recommend using reputable suppliers for every system component, especially if you want to maximize the life of your solar panel system.
Just like the system, the solar plant design also plays a vital role in its output, efficiency, and overall performance. The design of the solar plant depends upon the total plant capacity and involves factors like string design, protection devices, inverter quantity, and panel orientation and position.
A good solar plant design is one that uses the right size and number of inverters and cables. Undersized inverters and cables can cause a drop in solar panel efficiency. On the other hand, overly large inverters and cables can make the entire project financially unfeasible.
How to Increase the Efficiency of Portable Solar Panels?
1) Buy Tier 1 Models
Solar panels contain photovoltaic cells that convert sunlight into electrical energy.
Over the last few years, the average efficiency of solar cells has gone up from 15% to around 20%. That said, not every solar panel is created equal, and the structure and material of a panel define its efficiency.
Although one of the more efficient models is likely to be more expensive, the higher efficiency (and durability) of such a model will pay for itself in the long run.
2) By Panels with High CPV
CPV (Concentrated Photovoltaic Cells) helps focus sunlight onto highly efficient solar cells. Conventional solar panels have a peak efficiency of about 22%. In contrast, cells in CPV panels can reach an efficiency of as high as 46%.
But, as you can expect, high efficiency comes with a high price tag. CPV panels can cost as much as five times more than traditional solar panels.
Also, there are only a few CPV models currently available on the market. But, if you have the budget and manage to find a reliable supplier, a CPV solar panel is certainly worth considering.
3) Avoid Installing Panels in Shaded Areas
Solar panels use sunlight to generate electricity, which is why it is understandable why shade might negatively affect the output.
As discussed earlier, even if a single panel or photovoltaic cell is covered with shade, it can reduce the amount of energy produced by its neighbors. This is because that single cell or panel serves as a resistor.
Other buildings and tall trees are the two main culprits as far as shaded solar panels are concerned. It is important to have the installing company assess your chosen site and ensure that shade will not be a problem.
4) Get the Panels Cleaned
A solar panel has no moving parts, which is why it requires minimal maintenance. That said, it is best to get your panels cleaned occasionally so as to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating and reducing their efficiency.
How often you need to get your solar panels cleaned depends upon a number of factors, including the frequency of rain and the cost of having the panels cleaned.
Over a year, dust and dirt may only cause around a 5% reduction in efficiency. However, if the panels get very dirty (due to insufficient rainfall, for instance), they may cause the efficiency to go down by as much as 20%. Hence, getting the panels cleaned at least once a year is recommended.
Portable solar panels are an excellent way to heat your backyard pool without enduring exorbitant energy costs.
If you are looking for a portable solar panel set up for your backyard pool, we invite you to check out our wide range of options. Our portable solar panels are not only durable and sustainable, but made using monocrystalline silicon cells to guarantee a high efficiency rate of over 23%. And come with a warranty.