Swimming Pool Solar Water Heating Systems

Learn how to solar heat your home with a swimming pool.

| March/April 1977

Everyone familiar with the current state of the solar energy field "knows" two things: you must have at least one square foot of collector surface for every two square feet of house space that you heat with the sun, and "real" solar heating systems built of all new materials and strictly to code have to cost at least $8 to $10 per square foot of heated floor space.

Everyone knows that. Everyone, that is, except for a few mavericks such as Bob Sheppard of Asheville, North Carolina. Because Bob — to get directly to the point — is (right now, in mid-January of the coldest winter seen in these parts in 100 years) 100 percent solarheating 3,000 square feet of brand-spanking-new house up in the mountains of North Carolina. And he's doing it with just 400 square feet of flatplate solar panels. And his whole system — panels, plumbing, pumps ... everything he had to add "extra" to the residence to make its heating system work — cost him only $4,000!

The Fudge Factor

Yes, Bob is cheating a little bit. Sheppard, you see, owns and operates Asheville Pool and Gunite. And, as a swimming pool contractor, he just naturally looks upon the 30,000-gallon man-made pond next to his new house as something that, sooner or later, he'd have added to the residence anyway.

Unlike almost everyone else in the world who has a $10,000 swimming pool in his or her back yard, however, Sheppard has not limited himself to thinking of his 30,000-gallon puddle only in terms of cool and refreshing summer dips. Instead Bob looked at the pool, scratched his head, and said, "Gee, I'll bet all that water — if it were covered with some insulation — would make a great winter storage unit for a solar heating system."

And (as you'll soon see) it does.

And the moral of this story is that every family in the country that already has a swimming pool tucked up close to its house — and there are tens upon tens of thousands of such families — just as surely has already made a major capital investment in what could be a very efficient solar heating system.

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