More and more homes are beginning to use solar power to offset their regular utility costs. Once considered an upgrade for the wealthy homeowner, solar panels are now as accessible as any other home improvement. You can even use solar panels for your pool pump!
A solar-powered pool pump is a relatively simple, energy-efficient upgrade that will save you tons of money in the long run. You can offset your pool’s energy costs by adding solar panels to your home or power your pool pump directly via solar.
This article answers all your most pressing questions about powering your pool pump with renewable solar energy. You’ll learn:
- How to use solar power to run your pool pump;
- How much it costs to install solar panels; and
- How much money solar power can save you.
Keep reading to learn how to save money on your power bill by offsetting your pool’s power usage with solar energy.
Can I Power My Pool Pump With a Solar Panel?
Absolutely! You can power your pool pump with a solar panel! Exactly how you go about doing this will depend on whether you have an existing pool pump that you want to keep or plan on buying a new one. Either way, though, you can fully power your pool pump using solar power.
How Do I Make My Pool Pump Solar-Powered?
There are three ways to power your pool pump using solar power. Each has its pros and cons, and the best option for your pool will depend on many different factors.
1. Connect a Solar System to Your Home.
Your first option to solar power your pool pump is to connect a new solar system to your home’s power supply. By installing solar panels for your home, you can generate enough power to offset the power drawn by your existing pool pump.
This is often the best option if you already have a pool pump installed, especially if it’s hardwired. Connecting solar panels to your home power supply saves you from buying a new pump when the existing one is otherwise working fine.
On sunny days, if your solar panels produce more power than your pool pump demands, that excess flows back into your home’s power supply. This can reduce your energy bill, or if you produce more than enough to power your home, put money back in your pocket.
The downside of this is that it might still draw power on overcast days because your pump stays connected to the grid. You can avoid this by installing enough solar panels to power your home and pool. It’s more expensive upfront but will save you a ton of money in the long run.
2. Connect a New or Existing Solar System to Your Existing Pool Pump.
Another option is to install solar panels that connect directly to your pool pump, powering it exclusively. Whether this is feasible with an existing pool pump depends on what type of pool pump you have.
If you have a plug-in pool pump that connects to your home via an electrical outlet, this could be a viable option. You could connect your existing AC pool pump directly to a solar panel array with a few solar panels, batteries, an inverter, and a charge controller.
Connecting a DC pool pump, which draws power directly from the solar panels without an inverter, is even easier. However, most existing pool pumps use AC power, so you’ll probably have to buy a new DC pump. At that point, you might as well buy a solar pump.
The upside of connecting your existing pool pump to a separate solar system is that it will never draw power from your home because it’s not connected to the grid. On the other hand, if you overproduce power, it all goes to waste since it can’t feedback into your home.
While this option is useful in certain limited circumstances, it’s not the most economical option for most pool owners. Unless you already have a DC pool pump ready to connect to solar, the other two options are usually more appropriate.
3. Purchase a Solar Pool Pump.
If it’s time to replace your old pool pump anyway, consider purchasing a solar pool pump. They’re designed to run off solar power, so they run more efficiently. Some even include the necessary solar panels so that you don’t have to buy them separately.
If the solar panels are not included, you’ll have to buy them separately. In that case, you can still choose whether to connect them to your home or just to the pool pump. Either way, a solar pool pump will use that solar power more efficiently, saving you more money in the long run.
How Much Power Does a Pool Pump Use?
A standard one- to two-horsepower pool pump uses 1.75 to 2.4 kilowatts per hour. In a ten-hour day, that’s around 17 to 24 kilowatt-hours of power usage, up to 744 kilowatt-hours per month! That can add up to your power bill.
With just a few solar panels, you can offset that power usage. While solar installation involves a significant upfront investment, the energy savings are immediate. Before long, a solar-powered pool pump more than pays for itself.
How Many Solar Panels Do You Need to Run a Pool Pump?
The exact number of solar panels you’ll need to run a pool pump depends on several factors. How much power the pump requires, the number of hours it runs, the size of the panels, and how much sun they get all determine how many solar panels you’ll need.
Generally, to run a two-horsepower pool pump for eight hours a day, you’ll need four to six 250-watt solar panels. The more sun the panels get, the fewer panels you’ll need. Likewise, having more panels guarantees your pump will have power even on overcast days.
If your solar-powered pool pump is wholly disconnected from your home and the power grid, you may want to invest in a couple of extra panels just to be safe. It may take more hours of run time on long summer days to keep your pool working its best.
If your pool is disconnected from your home’s main power supply, you’ll have no way to run the pump on overcast days in the summer. Whether you’re swimming or not, your pool needs some circulation to stay healthy and clean.
Having a couple of extrasolar panels will ensure that you always have enough power flowing to your pool pump, even if the weather is gray. Otherwise, powering your pool through your home power supply will provide backup energy even when there’s not enough sun to run your pump.
Is It Expensive to Install Solar Panels?
Installing solar panels is a lot less expensive than most people think. You can buy individual panels for as low as a dollar per watt. That means that you could purchase enough solar panels to power a solar pool pump for as little as a thousand dollars.
However, the purchase cost doesn’t include the cost of installation or other equipment. Labor, accessories, and equipment make up about three-quarters of the installation cost. Plus, if you want to power more than just your pool, you’ll need more than four panels.
In the United States, there are federal tax incentives available to offset the cost of solar panels, whether they’re connected to the grid or not. With those incentives, it costs around $12,000 to install enough solar panels to power a home or $5,000 for enough to power a pool pump.
That’s a significant sum of money, no matter how you look at it, but remember that solar panels will save you money every year after that. Within seven years, you can expect to save enough money to pay for your new solar system.
When you look at it that way, installing solar panels isn’t very expensive at all.
Can You Install Solar Panels Yourself?
Parts and labor make up about 75 percent of the total cost of solar installation. At that rate, it’s natural to wonder whether you can cut some of that cost by doing the installation yourself.
Solar pool pumps that come in a kit with solar panels are often super easy to install. They’re intended to be installed by the homeowner, so the manufacturers make the process simple enough that just about anyone could do it.
However, installing solar panels that tie into the grid is more complicated. If you’re a handy homeowner, it’s possible to install solar panels on your own. However, it takes a lot of planning and electrical knowledge, which most homeowners and even handypersons don’t have.
Unless you’re an electrician or have a lot of experience working with electricity, solar installation is best left to the experts. It’s a hard job, they know what they’re doing, and they do it well. That’s why their labor is so expensive.
How Do Solar Pool Pumps Work?
A pool pump is essential to the health and safety of your pool. Standing water is a perfect breeding ground for algae and mosquitoes. Keeping your pool water circulating is key to keeping these pesky organisms from taking over.
Pool pumps also draw water through the filter to keep debris from cluttering your pool. This circulation helps distribute chemicals throughout the water. If your pool has a heater, your pool pump also helps to distribute the temperature evenly throughout the pool.
A solar pool pump is specifically designed to work with solar power. It includes all the equipment necessary to take energy to solar panels and channel it into your pool pump. It uses solar energy more efficiently than a standard pump retrofitted to work with solar power.
What About Running Your Solar Pool Pump at Night?
If you have an entirely off-the-grid solar-powered pool pump, you won’t be able to run it at night unless you also have batteries to store the power generated during the day. That’s not a problem, though, because you should be running your solar pool pump during the day.
Some homeowners run their pool pump at night to save money on electricity. Power companies often have peak and off-peak hours, and using electricity during off-peak hours costs less than during peak hours.
You don’t have to worry about peak hours when your pool is solar-powered. Your solar panels generate power when the sun is shining at no additional cost to you. There’s no reason to run your pool pump at night when you have solar.
Besides, it’s better to run your pool pump during the day anyway. Running your pool pump for at least one hour for every 10 degrees of temperature (i.e., eight hours on an 80-degree day) prevents algae from taking over. You’ll get algae fast if you’re only running your pool at night.
Are Solar Pool Pumps Worth It?
There’s no getting around the fact that getting started with solar power is a significant financial investment, whether you’re just powering the pool or the whole house. Federal tax credits in the United States offset the cost somewhat, but not completely.
Even so, solar pool pumps are still worth the investment. You’ll pay a little money out of pocket up front, but they save you money on your energy bill every month from that point on. You’ll have saved enough money to recoup your upfront costs within a few years.
How Long Do Solar Panels and Solar Pool Pumps Last?
The industry-standard warranty for a solar panel is ten years, so that’s how long you can expect a new solar array to last before the panels need replacing. However, a solar pool pump generally only has a warranty of around two to three years.
Given that it takes anywhere from three to seven years to save enough money to recoup the initial investment cost, you’ll probably replace your solar pool pump at least twice in that time. The pump is a relatively inexpensive piece of the whole system, so it’s not a total loss.