Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Mar 23

Solar Heating for Swimming Pools and RVs

Posted in Solar Power

Solar Water HeaterDo not think that you have to install an entire home solar power system to enjoy the benefits of solar power. In truth, one of the most cost-effective uses of solar power is a solar heater, and one of the most useful applications of solar energy is for RVs. And, perhaps, one of the most common and easiest applications of the sun for power is a battery charger. So, how do these different applications of solar energy work? It’s likely not as technical as you think!

Solar Pool Heaters

Solar Pool Heaters and Solar Spa Heaters
The majority of solar pool heaters work in this way: a pump pumps water from the pool, through a filter to remove any debris, and then up through solar collectors. The solar collectors are the heart of the system; they are what heat the water. They can be placed up on the roof or elsewhere where they will receive the most sunlight.

When the sun is not out — or, rather, when the water in the solar collectors is cooler or about the same temperature as the pool water — a control valve directs the water directly back into the pool instead of up through the collector. And, in fact, during the hottest months of the summer, the solar heater can actually be used to cool the pool. It does so by running the water through the collector at night, and then returning the cooled water to the pool.

Many people choose solar pool heaters to extend their swimming season by weeks or even months. Also, they are oft preferred over regular pool heaters which can really use a ton of energy and run up the utility bills — of course, you can use a solar heater in conjunction with a conventional pool heater for the most heating options.

They are one of the simplest yet most cost-effective forms of solar power usage.

RV Solar Power System

Solar Panels
With an RV solar power system, RV owners can truly feel the freedom of the road. They can park their vehicle/home just about any where they choose and have all of their comforts without having to worry about plugging in. They can truly live off the grid.

Solar power on RVs is used to charge 12 volt batteries which can be used to power 12 volt appliances like lighting, TVs, water pumps, stereos, etc. With the addition of an optional inverter, 120 volt appliances (vacuum cleaners, blenders, microwaves, satellites, etc.) can be run, as well. Of course, to power electric refrigerators or roof air conditioners (which both run for long periods of time), it is still best to use utility hook-ups, propane, or a generator.

If you plan to use solar energy in your RV, it is best to get a how-to guide and also to talk to other RVers to ensure that you get the best system for your needs. Here are the basics, though: solar panels are generally placed on top of the RV where they will receive the most sunlight (they are secured with brackets and should be able to be tilted for the best positioning in the winter, they must be tilted up and face south to capture low winter sunlight. While traveling, though, they should always be flat). They convert sunlight into electricity and store it in batteries.

The solar cells that make up the panels are made from ultra-pure silicon. When sunlight hits them, electrons are activated and flow from one side of the cell to the other. As the electrons do this, fine grid wires collect the electrical flow. It can take around 34 connected cells to generate the voltage needed to charge 12 volt batteries.

Submitted by:

Home Solar Panels, LLC.

  • Dong Wang

    In China the most cost-effective use of solar power is the solar water heater, not for swimming pool, but for shower and washing. The solar water heater has been widely installed in China, and the cheapest solar water heater for 100 liter water is just about Euro 200.00.

  • Solar Battery Charger

    Another great great appliance for the pool that can be powered by the sun is a solar powered pool skimmer ( ).

  • Trace

    You really didn’t talk about RV solar heating at all. Heating water for a swimming pool but how about heating water for a RV? Very difficult issue because RV’s are strapped for space on their roofs but it can be done I’m sure.

    Couldn’t you place a solar water panel on your roof say about a 3 foot by 4 to 6 foot? Circulate the hot water to a small insulated tank just as you would for your home?

    So far I have not had anyone address that solar issue. The Internet is loaded with info on homes. The only practical way to heat water on a RV is to plug in dockside, use propane or use on board battery banks which generally can’t provide that kind of energy for the time it takes to heat a 6 to 10 gallon water heater tank. “Full Timer’s”, as they are called would be very interested in going green in somehow solving that RV hot water issue.

    I thought maybe your article would a least touch on the topic.

    Hopefull Green RVer

  • Fred Smythe

    I am really looking for a small RV water heater. Anybody have any ideas?
    Send me an email,

  • Trace


    I own a almost “green” Bigfoot slide-in camper (RV). I say almost because I installed an additional small instaneous water heater to use when I’m plugged in. It is 3000 watts and needs a 25 amp breaker. It provides endless hot water for as long as you are plugged in. You RV needs to have the ability to handle that 3000 watt demand. A 30 amp system can and does do it but if you want to run the microwave at the same time your system may be challenged. Otherwise it’s great!

    As well, the model I used can be installed just before the existing 6 gallon standard water heater to preheat the 6 gallons and provide even more hot water quickly.

    They have smaller models with less watts but they would hardly do the the job if you want water for shower.

    I can run this off my battery bank as I have 6 220 amp hour batteries. The original intention was to provide endless hot water when I was hooked up somewhere.

    Cost me $239.99 last April 2008.

    If you need any more info, let me know and I will be glad to help you.

    Bigfoot 3000SL series

  • RVchance

    You guys are really making this too tough. The idea of a solar hot water system for an RV can be very easy. I’m installing one on my new montana this week. No panels, no electricity. Just get some 1/2″ black pex waterline from Home Depot or Lowes (About $15 for 100ft), a couple of valves (I recommend the larger Apollo snap in ones), a couple caps with a threaded plug and you’re done. All together about $40 in parts.

    The idea is simple. Throw the black water line up on your roof (coiled up/spooled on the ends/whatever your space allows for), fasten the hose down with some standard clamps and structural adhesive (about $5 for a full tube the size of caulk, but you wont use that much), run the lines down through the roof (again sealing with gaps with the adhesive), and splice into your hotwater line near your existing water heater. Just make sure to include a valve(again I recommend the Apollo valves as they install in all of about 7 seconds) and a drain (cap and plug) for those times when you want to empty the system out (so the lines don’t freeze in the winter).

    Its not fancy or perfect, but it should give a few extra gallons of hot water when the sun is out, its nearly maintenance free, and after you buy the few pieces needed to install it, its free energy.

    Hope this helps.


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