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Cost to heat a pool

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I, too, had our house built with a design that would accommodate a pool. Swimming has been my exercise of choice since I was a youngster. My research told me many years ago (I've been here 15 years) NOT to use electric water heaters for a swimming pool, but rather to use propane. That decision obviously is yours. And FYI, we have opted NOT to go forward with the pool at our residence.

We do know a couple that have a pool at their home. It is an indoor, and rather large pool. Several years ago they converted to solar heating for their pool because of the cost of the utilities. Unfortunately, just last week they sold that home and so viewing of it is no longer a possibility. But I will ask the now former owner of that residence if he would be willing to talk with you about your question. He is not a member of CL, and I do not give out email addresses without permission. Please also understand that they are in the process of vacating that residence, and so the probability of their having some spare time to talk is rather low.

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2 hours ago, JudyS said:

I know somebody who has a large pool.  They have solar heating, but when there's not enough sun to do the job, it costs them about $900/month to heat the pool.  They don't use it much during that time.

OMG! That must be some large pool!  

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  • 1 month later...

Well, having a pool - and i do - in Boquete is really difficult.  It will be warmer in the rainy season, and cold in the dry season because the wind - each night - will just make you pool lose 4 degrees celsius or so, and that is EACH NIGHT.

I made the mistake to build a large and deep pool.  It is to large to be covered by the cover available.

A good alternative to heating, would be to preserve the pool heat by puting some protection on it.  It works good if you have it properly installed and if the size of your pool is the same as the cover.  You can find on amazon such cover that are conceived to enhance the heating of the sun while preventing the heat to be stolen by the wind.  

That will cost you a couple of hundreds to bring that down here, but at least it would be ONE payment.  

Now if you are living in Alto Quiel it is not a good idea to have a pool anyway.

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Consider wind and debris...leaves and dust.  When you want to hop into the pool in the Verano season...you may heave to be spending time cleaning, backwashing and treating the pool for algae.   Backwashing involves water loss and refill during the dry season....so make sure you are in an area that does not go dry for days at a time.  In the Invierno season, it's not just the cold it's the 5 inches of rain you can get in a day.  You may need to dump some water.   Make sure the pool is in a secure foundation away from hillsides.

There's a reason many local pools end up empty....

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I used to sell very high quality solar hot water and home heating systems, including home and commercial pool heating.  The owner and founder of the company was a Swiss born Ph.D. Economist/statistician/engineer, and he was fanatical about making sure that the engineering and technical information was correct.  We always recommended a pool cover to reduce evaporation, and in Northern California, many people could simply used a good pool cover for a three-month summer swimming season.  The cost of a solar system could not be justified except except to extend their swimming season. 

Like operating a passive solar house which often requires active manipulation of ventilation window covers/shades, passive pool heating requires active participation, which many people reject as too much bother.  The opaque foam blankets have to be removed during the day to allow the sun to heat the pool, and put back on the pool to prevent night-time heat loss.  The transparent solar "bubble blankets" which can be used in warmer climates like ours, can be left on day and night, and only removed when the pool is to be used.   

There are a myriad of factors affecting temperature control in swimming pools.  Heat loss from swimming pools is primarily via evaporation (which also causes pool chemical loss) and radiation, especially to cold air and clear night skies.  Conduction losses through the pool walls are relatively insignificant, and short of insulating behind the concrete when you build a pool, is ignored. 

Years ago, there was much resistance to pool covers based on aesthetics - many people wanted to see the water like a lake or pond on their property, and would spend a fortune on pool heating to preserve that aesthetic. 

Foam Insulating covers were the best in cooler climates where spring and fall temps were chilly, especially at night, but I am guessing that the lowest cost and most effective solution here in the Boquete would be a "solar pool blanket" or "bubble blanket."  "Bubble blankets" are made of a material that is similar to bubble wrap but is much more rugged, and the material is formulated to be UV resistant to delay degradation from sunlight.  The Home Depot home improvement centers in the U.S. sells solar pool blankets for a reasonable price, but I don't know if they are available in Panama. 

Some people use a few smaller bubble blankets - the "lily pad" concept.  These are safer for children and pets who might fall into the pool.  Dogs have been known to jump on pool blankets not realizing what they are.  These are rare occurrences - but they do occasionally happen, and then the animal can panic and get trapped under a full-pool blanket.  

The various diameter above-ground covers sold by Amazon look like a great bargain - and can be used as large "lily pad" solar blankets.  LINK 



Pool blankets can also trap debris, and when pulled off the pool, they can be swept or rinsed off - which would probably be helpful here during the dry windy season here.   

Lily Pad Pool Blankets.jpg

Edited by David van Harn
Grammar & spelling
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For a time in Hawaii I worked as a resident manager of a two building condo complex with a pool.  I recall every Summer the condo board would get on me as to why we had such an increase in water use and were always suggesting we had a pool leak.  It was a 20,000 gallon pool and it would go down 3 inches in a few days.  Heat here is much more intense and with the dry climate in Verano I would imagine water consumption would be high due to evaporation.  Pool cover make sense....but here and again, you use the pool you have to take off the cover.   Just one more thing that becomes a pain.

Now if I had a gzillion dollars to blow...this one would be a nice idea: ( it telescopes )


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