Solar pool pumps are an option for Southwest Florida pool owners that want to cut a large part of their electric bill. However, there are limitations, and in some instances they are not recommended.
A solar pool pump system consists of a pump, solar panels, electrical safety and disconnecting means, and in some cases a controller. An optional AC/DC power supply can be installed to ensure water pumping during cloudy weather or at night to run water features. Battery storage systems are possible, but extremely expensive. Since the average traditional residential AC pool pump can cost upwards of $60 per month to operate, solar pool pumps are an attractive alternative that can cost nothing to operate.
The limitations of a solar pool pump are mostly related to the nature of solar energy – it is only available during the daytime, and it is variable. Here are some of the drawbacks:
- The flow rate is variable with the amount of solar radiation. Time of day and clouds will affect the amount of water that is circulated. It is difficult to ensure proper turnover to maintain adequate filtration and proper water chemistry.
- Automatic pool cleaners require a relatively constant and high flow rate that solar pool pumps may not reliably achieve.
- Variable flow rates may not be desirable for waterfalls and other water features.
- Solar pool heating systems require a minimum flow rate to optimize efficiency, and increase system pressures to levels that a solar pool pump is not capable of overcoming.
- Electric heat pumps require a minimum flow rate to turn on, and may cycle off when solar energy is not available and flow rates decrease.
- Variable flow rates are not desirable for spas, and spas are often operated at night requiring a supplemental source of power or separate AC pump.
Despite the drawbacks, solar pool pumps can be a huge money saver and are perfectly adequate for many pools. Prime candidates for solar pool pumps are pool with no:
- Water features
- Solar pool heat or limited size systems on a single story building
- Electric heat pump
- In-floor cleaners
If your pool is not suitable for a solar pool pump, don’t despair. There are money saving alternatives like variable speed and variable flow pumps. If you are not sure what will work for you, we have the know-how to steer you in the right direction and start saving money in “the most expensive room in your home,” your pool area.