The Complete Guide to Solar Panels for Swimming Pools Written by Melody Abeni Updated on 12 July 2023 ✔ There are two main types: solar pool heating systems and PV systems✔ Installation typically takes around 1 to 3 days, depending on complexity✔ Maintenance is relatively minimal, mainly cleaning and occasional checksBy harnessing the sun's energy, solar power warms up your pool, extends your swimming season, and slashes your energy bills – meaning you'll be able to make your money back on the initial upfront costs of the solar panels.This is a big plus in the UK, where our temperamental weather can make conventional pool heating unexpectedly pricey.Whether you're a green warrior or just looking to be a good steward of your resources, solar panels for your pool are a worthwhile investment. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started What's on this page? 01 Can you get solar panels for your swimming pool? 02 Types of solar panels for swimming pools 03 How many solar panels do you need to heat a swimming pool? 04 How much do solar panels for a swimming pool cost? 05 How are solar panels for swimming pools installed? 06 Are there any government grants for solar panels for swimming pools? 07 Do solar panels for swimming pools require any maintenance? 08 FAQs Can you get solar panels for your swimming pool?Absolutely. Solar panels can be a superb choice for your pool – good for your wallet, good for the environment, and great for your swimming enjoyment.And with the cost of solar panels reducing massively over the past decade, it’s never been a better time to invest.Besides being eco-friendly and cost-effective, getting solar panels for your swimming pool also offers you a degree of independence from the grid. Once you recoup your initial investment, the energy they produce is essentially free.And let's not forget, by using readily available solar energy, you're contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, helping in the fight against climate change. Types of solar panels for swimming poolsWhen it comes to solar-powered energy for heating your swimming pool, you've got two solid options:1. Solar pool heating systemsThese systems mainly include devices called solar collectors (named aptly for their function of collecting the sun’s heat), alongside a filter to clean debris, a pump for water circulation through the solar collector device, and manual or automatic flow control valves to direct the pool water.Solar collectors are typically made of heavy-duty rubber or plastic and can be unglazed or glazed. Unglazed collectors, like solar thermal matting, are the cheaper option and are usually sufficient for indoor pools or pools used in milder weather.Glazed collectors like solar pods and evacuated tube collectors are more effective in colder conditions because they’re protected by tempered glass. These devices are better for comfy year-round swimming, as long as they also have freeze protection for the outdoors.2. Photovoltaic (PV) systemsThough these aren’t solely for pools, PV systems are the solar panel types most people are familiar with.A PV system’s ability to convert sunlight directly into electricity can power a traditional electric pool heater or heat pump. This means they’re more expensive upfront, but they can power other appliances and even feed excess power back to the grid – but more on that later.Choosing between these two options comes down to your wider eco-home strategy. If you just want to heat your pool, solar pool heating panels are a great cost-effective choice. However, for more versatility and broader energy use, PV panels might be the way to go.Before you get started, it's always good to talk to a professional. They can help you work out the specifics of your situation and make sure you get the right setup for your needs. Where do you want to install solar panels? Roof Ground Both Other / not sure Get started How many solar panels do you need to heat a swimming pool?There are several deciding factors for the number of solar panels you’ll need to heat your swimming pool, like the size of your pool, the average temperature in your area, and how warm you’d like the pool to be.As you can guess, larger and deeper pools need more panels. According to the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association (SPATA), you should aim for panel coverage of at least 50% of your pool’s surface area. For a typical 11m x 4m pool, that’s a minimum of 22 m² of panels. How much do solar panels for a swimming pool cost?Here’s a comparison of the average costs for a minimum 50% coverage level for different standard pool sizes:Pool sizeMinimum coverageAverage cost for thermal mattingAverage cost for solar pods6m x 3m9 m²£881£1,33510m x 5m25 m²£2,205£2,66911m x 4m22 m²£2,170£3,002As you can see, solar pool heating panels can range from £881 to £3,002 for a typical residential pool.As we mentioned earlier, PV panels can be pricier, with average costs starting around £7,860 to £11,005 to cater for a typical 3 or 4-bedroom house. Check out our article on solar panel costs to learn more about how much PV panels can cost for your home.Keep in mind that while the upfront costs can be significant for both options, the savings gained from your solar panels means they will pay for themselves over time. How are solar panels for swimming pools installed?Solar panels for your pool are best installed by professionals.First, they pick a sunny spot – usually that’s a rooftop or on top of a conveniently placed shed, but it could also be poolside. Then, they securely mount the panels and connect them to your pool's filtration system.If you’ve opted for PV panels, your installer will handle the electrical connections. Finally, they'll test the setup for leaks or mounting issues before flipping the switch for you to enjoy your sun-warmed pool.How long does the installation take?Solar panels for swimming pools typically take around 1 to 3 days to install, depending on the complexity of the system and weather conditions.For solar pool heating panels, it's usually on the quicker side, taking anywhere from a few hours to a few days. If you're going with PV panels and an electric heating system, it might take longer. Check with your installer for a more accurate timeframe.Remember, it's not a race – it's more important that the installation is done properly and safely. Are there any government grants for solar panels for swimming pools?While there aren’t any specific grants for solar pool heating panels, the government offers various schemes, including an automatic VAT discount, that can cut the cost of getting new solar panels for your home.Some of these funding and discount schemes are based on your household income, but schemes such as Solar Together can save you 30-35% of the costs if your local council is part of the scheme.We also mentioned earlier that you can get paid for any excess solar power your PV system generates – this is called the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG), and it can earn you around £159 per year (based on a typical three-bedroom home), or an average total saving of £4,000 over the 25-30 years of your solar panels' lifespan.Want to learn more? Check out our page on UK Solar Panel Grants, Funding & Schemes. Do solar panels for swimming pools require any maintenance?Compared to traditional heating systems, solar heating systems are usually less hassle to maintain. Whichever option you choose, it’s mainly about keeping them clean, checking for leaks in the plumbing, and making sure you’ve winterised any outdoor accessories.If you’re using PV panels, we always recommend that you have a professional inspect your system periodically to make sure the wiring and connections are in tip-top shape.SummarySolar panels are a planet-friendly option for heating your swimming pool. Maintenance is relatively minimal, mainly involving cleaning and occasional checks.There are two main types: solar pool heating systems and PV systems. The number of panels you’ll need depends on your pool's size, and you can expect to spend between £881 and £3,002 for installation – though there are government incentives that may help offset costs.All in all, for pool owners, it’s a sustainable and efficient choice. FAQs How many solar panels does it take to power a swimming pool? The number of solar panels you’ll need to power a swimming pool varies depending on the pool's size and your desired water temperature, but best practices recommend that you aim for a minimum panel coverage of at least 50% of your pool’s surface area.Different equipment and local climate will also affect the number of panels required. It's best to consult a professional for specific recommendations. Can you run a swimming pool off solar panels? You can run a swimming pool entirely off solar panels by using PV panels to generate electricity for the pool's pump and heater.You can also use solar pool heating panels to directly heat the water. This setup makes your pool more sustainable and can save on energy costs. What is the best solar panel to get for pools? The best solar panel for your pool depends on your specific needs and circumstances. Factors like local climate, pool size, and budget play a role.To make the right choice, consult a solar professional for your unique situation and they can steer you toward the perfect solar solution. Written by: Melody Abeni Since 2020, Melody has been immersed in writing about sustainability, ESG and climate action, drawing on her operational background in financial services and green investing. Her words have found homes in corporate publications scattered across the industry and, as a certified law geek, she's keen on dissecting the role of corporate accountability in climate action.