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Solar Pool Heaters Frequently Asked Questions

Why Heat My Pool?

Choosing The Right Heating System

How Do Solar Heaters Work?
How will Solar Perform?
Do Solar Pool Heaters Work All Year Round?
What Happens on Cloudy or Rainy Days?

Types of Solar Pool Collectors
What do Systems look like?
Sizing Information
What exactly do I get?

Roof and Rack Installations
Can I Install it myself?

Pricing Information
Cost of Operation

Do I Need a Pool Cover?

Energy Rating & Efficiency
Longevity and Maintenance
Brand Comparison

Warranty Information

Why heat my pool?

You bought your pool for a number of reasons like family fun, exercise, entertaining and possibly even therapeutic reasons. However you've probably found that without heating your pool it's often too cold to enjoy. Heating your pool will allow you to enjoy it all season, perhaps all year round, thereby increasing the return on your sizable investment.

Choosing the right heating system

There are three basic types of pool heating systems: Solar, Electric Heat Pump, and Gas (Natural or Lp/Propane). Deciding which system is the best match for you and your pool is determined by considering the factors below:

Water temperature desired
Swimming season desired
Geographic location / climate
Spending plans / project budget
The size/shape of the pool, plus shading/wind factors
Cost of operation

For detailed information please see:
Side-by-Side Comparison Guide

How do solar heaters work?

Solar Heaters utilize the sun's free heat and do not have an operating cost. Your existing pool pump circulates the water through the heater, usually located on the roof, and warms the pool. The pump timer is set to operate during sunlight hours, usually 9am to 5pm. An Automatic Control and Valve are sometimes used to regulate temperature, usually in northern climates or where absolute temperature control is desired. Commercial pools and some larger residential pools may need a booster pump.

How will solar perform?

A properly sized solar system will effectively raise temperatures well into the 80°F range. In addition to raising the water temperature, your swimming season can be extended in cooler climates by as much as 100 percent, and performs year round in warmer climates. There may be short periods during inclement weather when the pool water becomes cooler; however, a little sunny weather will return the pool back to a comfortable temperature. Solar pool heating systems are best suited for recreational pools, but can be easily designed for commercial and industrial applications.

To determine the potential swimming season in your area, see the Solar Insolation Map and chart below:

Swimming Seasons
No Heater
Solar Heater
6-7 months
12 months
4-5.5 months
10-11 months
4.5 months
9 months
3-4 months
8 months
3 months
6 months
2 months
4 months
1-1.5 months
3 months

Do solar pool heaters work all year long?

Solar heaters can add 10-20 degrees to the unheated pool. Most pool owners can effectively double the traditional unheated pool swim season or just make it a little more comfortable during the months to which you have become accustomed.

What happens on cloudy or rainy days?

The heating of a pool is not something which depends upon any one day's weather. If your pool is warm and it rains; the water will cool some, but return to a comfortable temperature after sunlight returns. Touch a dark automobile on a cloudy day and see the power of the sun. Solar works almost as well on a cloudy day as it does when sunny.


Types of solar pool collectors:

  • 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 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.

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


What do systems look like?

System design varies slightly from house to house. They can be installed on most roof types or on ground mounted racks. View photographs of systems installed by other homeowners. Below is a typical system diagram.

Sizing information - how many panels do I need?

Proper sizing of the solar system is critical for achieving optimum heating performance. Most pools require a solar panel surface area equal to 50-100% of the pool’s surface area. Every home and pool is unique. The size of the heater is based on several factors, including: the size & shape of the pool; pool shading (e.g. 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 system determines its ability to maintain the pools temperature at a desired level, and the length of your swimming season. Solar panels are generally placed in a row on the roof or a rack.

To determine the VORTEX system size required for your pool, use our online calculator VORTEX specific Sizing Guide
For EZ HEAT Systems use the EZ HEAT sizing chart

What exactly do I get?

VORTEX Standard, Deluxe, Premium
EZ HEAT Basic, Standard, Deluxe

Roof and Rack Installations

Roof installations are often the best choice as the roof is pre-existing making the completion of the installation a simpler task. Many times racks are a more aesthetically pleasing or only possibility option. We offer free plans for aluminum or wood constructed racks or can provide a pre-constructed aluminum rack system for you to install.
See a Rack diagram PDF format

Can I install it myself?

Solar Heaters can be installed easily by most anyone. It requires only simple hand tools and a drill.
VORTEX Solar Pool Heater Installation Manual PDF format
The typical installation takes from 1 to 2 days.
EZ HEAT Standard Installation PDF format
Installs in minutes.

Pricing Information

VORTEX System cost start from $552 and up depending on the size. Once you know the size, visit our shopping cart to determine the system cost.

EZ HEAT Systems start from $199 and up depending on the size. Once you know the size, visit our shopping cart to determine the cost.

Cost of operation

Solar, an all natural alternative energy source, takes advantage of free heat from the sun. To capture this heat, your pool pump must circulate during the 6-8 hour solar window. If you are currently operating your pump and filter during the entire solar window, you will experience no increase in your power bill.

Do I need a pool cover?

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 being used, the size of the heater must be increased by 75% - 100%. Pool covers range in cost from $50 to $200 for residential pools; Pool blanket rollers offered in many styles and quality start at $185.

Energy rating and efficiency

Solar panels are rated by FSEC (Florida Solar Energy Center) in BTU's per Sq Ft. The higher the BTU, the more heat output. The average output is 900 to 1000 BTU's. This equates to a 3 to 7% difference between different brands. To determine the best value, divide the total cost by the total Sq Ft of panel. The lower the cost per Sq ft, the better the value.

Longevity and Maintenance

VORTEX Solar Heater will typically last 10 to 20 years. They are very low maintenance. Most systems have a 10 year warranty on the panels. EZ HEAT Systems usually last four years

Brand Comparison

Solar Pool Collectors are so similar in performance and function that the BTU rating should not be used to compare one product to another. If you have the same size and number of collector panels on any given pool, they will perform almost identically, relative to heating the pool. Collectors should only be compared to each other on the basis of:

1. Weight or material content / Our collector panels are 25-40% heavier than the industry average. This makes them more durable and gives them the greatest life expectancy.

2. Method of connection between headers or manifolds and the water flow section or absorber board. The two best methods are sonic welding and the unique patented process used in our panel. Other less effective methods include thermal welding and injection molding.

Warranty information

Replacement versus repair type warranty. Most warranties call for the repair or replacement of a defective collector panel at the option of the dealer or manufacturer. Solar Direct replaces all defective VORTEX panels and will make no attempt at repair for a full 10 years. VORTEX 10 year warranty (PDF format) Repair warranties can be for longer time periods such as 12-15 years, but replacement is always the best option. EZ HEAT warranty PDF format

Special note to our prospective clients

We have been providing solar pool heaters to pool owners worldwide for almost 20 years. It can be noted that customers have all experienced performance beyond their initial expectations. Ask your representative for customers of ours, in your area to speak with if you need to be more comfortable. These pool owners are swimming twice as long as you are and not worrying about the high costs of fuel fired heaters.

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