Solar has far-reaching potential for individuals beyond powering homes with roof panels. Other examples include outdoor lighting arrangements, backyard ground-mount systems, and solar pool heating.
Solar pool heaters operate either with a thermal pool heating system, or by generating heat energy through traditional photovoltaic panels. Thermal heating systems work by pumping water out of the pool, through a filter, and finally through the heated panels before going back into the pool. Photovoltaic systems are perhaps better known due to their versatility throughout the energy industry, and can provide similar heat savings to thermal. However, instead of directly transferring heat generated by the sun, a photovoltaic panel system converts solar energy into electricity, which is used to power a water heater such as a heat pump.
While thermal solar pool heaters may seem like the obvious choice due to its’ direct transfer of heat, photovoltaic panel heaters are often subsidized heavily by states pushing for increased solar incentives. For example, Massachusetts has been a strong advocate for increasing solar energy production and has been using net metering to further incentivise the program. By utilizing net metering, residents who heat their pools with a traditional PV system are able to essentially utilize energy produced in December to power their pool in July.