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Solar Pool Heater Frequently Asked Questions

Solar is an alternative energy source, and has no cost of operation. The pool pump must run for the solar heater to function, and may increase your electric bill by $30 to $75 per year depending on your normal filtering time. (return to questions)


  • Unglazed
  • Glazed

Commercial solar pool collectors are made of different materials. Your climate should determine what type will best suit your needs. If you'll only be using your pool when temperatures are above freezing, then you'll probably only need an unglazed collector system. Unglazed collectors don't include a glazing (a glass covering). They are generally made of heavy-duty rubber or plastic treated with an ultraviolet (UV) light inhibitor to extend the life of the panels.

Because of their inexpensive parts and simple design, unglazed collectors are less expensive than glazed collectors and more cost effective.

Both glazed and unglazed collector systems should include freeze protection if they'll be used in colder conditions.

Vortex solar pool panels

VORTEX - Unglazed Solar Pool Heating Panels for residential and commercial pools

  • Commercial-grade Polypropylene Plastic
  • Increase temperature up to 20 degrees
  • 10 Year Full Replacement Warranty (PDF)
  • For in-ground or above-ground pools
  • Can be installed on roof or ground
  • Sizes in feet: 4 x 8 - 4 x 10 - 4 x 12 and custom
  • They are approx. 5 to 10% more efficient than Mat panels.


EcoSaver solar pool panels

ECOSAVER - Unglazed Solar Pool Heating Panels for small above-ground pools.

  • Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
  • Increase temperature up to 15 degrees
  • 5 Year Warranty
  • For aboveground pools
  • 10 x 30 & 20 x 30 ft panels

Glazed Collectors
Glazed collector systems are generally made of copper tubing on an aluminum plate with an iron-tempered glass covering, which increases their cost considerably. In colder weather, glazed collector systems—with heat exchangers and transfer fluids—capture solar heat more efficiently than unglazed systems. Therefore, they can be used year-round in many climates. Glazed collectors also can be used to heat domestic hot water year-round.

In this section we feature Vortex Unglazed Solar Pool Heating Systems because of their cost effective and superior design over other unglazed panels. Why Vortex?

(return to questions)

Generally you will need a system equal to 50 to 100% of the pool surface. Solar panels are available in 4x8, 4x10, 4x12 and custom sizes. They are generally placed in a row on one or several roofs.  A typical 7 4x12 panel system would require a space of 12.5 ft by 30.75 ft. 

To determine the size required for your pool,
use the Automated System Sizing

Each pool & home is unique.  The size of the heater is based on several factors, including:  the size & shape of the pool; pool shading (i.e. trees, screen enclosure); geographic location; swimming season and pool temperature desired; windy conditions; and direction of the roof (south, east, west or flat). The size of the heater will determine the temperature, swimming season, and length of time to heat the pool. It is very important to properly size the heater for good performance.

Keep in mind that a Thermal Pool Cover is recommended for all heating systems. Heating a pool without a cover is like heating a house without a roof...the heat just goes right out the top. Without a pool cover, the cost of operating a Heat Pump or Gas Heater is doubled, and a Solar Heater's effectiveness is dramatically decreased.  For convenience a roller may be added to ease placement and removal of the cover.  If a pool cover is not be used, the size of the heater must be increased by 75% - 100%. Pool covers range in cost from $60 to $130 for residential pools; rollers start at $185. (return to questions)

System design varies slightly from house to house. They can be installed on most roof types or on ground mounted racks. Click here to view photographs of systems installed by other homeowners. Below is a typical system diagram.  For more details refer to the Vortex Install Manual. (return to questions)

System 3 Diagram



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Solar Pool Heating
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Solar Heaters FAQ

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