Sunday, October 4, 2009

DIY Pool Heater, retrospective

Back in March of this year, I got a wild hair, and decided I was going to build a solar pool heater. 2 weeks later, I had it installed, and now 7 months later, we've been swimming in sun warmed water. But I think the aquatic fun is just about over for this year.

Saturday afternoon, after trimming the mexican fence post cactus in the front yard, and re-leveling some of the paving stones in the back yard that had shifted over the last 2 years since I'd installed them, I decided a cool refreshing dip in the pool would be wonderful. 88F ambient, 76F pool, 10% relative humidity, 10 mph intermittent breeze. MAN, does turbulent convection work as an effective means of heat transfer! The pool was chilly, but it was warmer in the pool up to my earlobes than it was in the wind rapidly drying. Another week or so, with 65F nights, and I think the pool will be only amenable to polar bears. I guess it took 2 years for my blood to think out here.
  • The pool heater needed no Gorilla Tape, or other duct tape. The G2V Sun that our planet revolves around (sorry South Carolina, parts of Alaska and many other red states) degraded the tape to brittle useless strips that only left residual white sticky entrails on the heat exchanger tubes [as I typed this, I realized the comments I'll likely get from Nevada and Northern Coastal CA... LOL]. Use steel conduit clamps instead (a contractor 144 pack costs like $7, as opposed to the 12 pack that cost $2.50) to secure the coils of black poly tubing.
  • A steel shielded coupling on the high pressure pump discharge side of the heater will avoid unexpected middle-of-the-night elastomeric ruptures of the unshielded flex coupling that drained the pool of it's contents last June - really unsettling to wake up and find your pool nearly empty at 7am on a Saturday. The unshielded 90 is now serving admirably on the heater discharge, poolside.
  • While I thought we'd use the heater to cool the water mid-summer, the night ambient temp rarely dropped below 85F throughout the summer months, so the occasion never really presented itself to use it as a radiator. The pool's got an aerator that worked well in August when the water temp got in the upper 90s.
October 2008, the water was so cold, I could barely stand it. This year, I swam for almost an hour the first weekend in October and even took the time to do one more session of pool yoga. It was time and energy well spent.

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