Solar Heating Unit for Above-Ground Pool?

Solar Heating Unit for Above Ground Pool?

My pool heater is a lemon, what should I do?

-15′ round above ground pool in Lisle, IL (30 miles west of Chicago)

-Like to keep the pool open June – August and maintain at least 85F water temp

-7 year old Natural Gas pool heater has broken down again

-Spent nearly twice the price of the unit in repairs over the years

-Nicor insurance will pay $300 towards repairing the old system or buying a new system.

-Repair will cost $650 (assuming the repair works the first time)

-My budget is $400 out-of-pocket or $700 total.

-Calculator at says I would need 166 square feet of solar panels (about 8′ x 20′) to solar heat my pool, which I can’t accommodate without it being an eyesore.

Should I get the lemon unit repaired or is there another fairly dependable unit that will suit my needs for under $700?

I’m in the middle of a similar project for a neighbor. A decent new pool heater will cost you about $1800 not including installation. However, if you live in an area with a lot of swimming pools, you might be able to find a used heater on craigslist. In Southern California, a lot of people are filling in their pools to save money on water and electricity, so a free heater will pop up online every couple of days. Just check the rating plate on your existing heater and look for the thermal input. It should be measured in kiloBTUs or kBTUs. It can range from 55 kBTUS (55,000 BTUs) up to 400kBTUs (400,000 BTUs.) With that number in mind, look around and see if anyone has a natural gas pool heater with a similar rating. If you can’t find something for free, you ought to be able to find something for $700 or less. Good luck!

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