How to Make a Solar Pool Cover Heater

DIY solar pool cover heaters have extensive utility to offer, helping you keep debris and insects out and make sure that the pool is just warm enough for you to enjoy even during the dry autumn season.

A dip in warm water can also be very beneficial for your skin, hair, and health in general, thanks to its therapeutic benefits. Unfortunately, solar pool covers can be quite expensive, and their maintenance during the winter season can also be a pain. With a DIY solar pool cover heater, you know how you put everything together and can therefore diagnose the issue relatively quickly.

In this article, we will consider the things you need to create a solar pool cover heater for an above-ground pool. Note that the concept for making one for in-ground or other types of collections will be the same; you will need to check the capacity of your pool and buy a water heater accordingly.

What Is a DIY Solar Pool Cover Heater?

As the name suggests, solar pool cover heaters perform two functions at the same time; acting as a cover for your pool as well as a water heater powered by clean, green energy. Making the solar pool cover heater is pretty simple, but there is a lot of room for error. This is particularly true if you are looking to make a pool cover heater with a battery in it.

You will need to make sure that the battery does not get exposed to water, else it could fry the entire system in one go.

How to Build a DIY Solar Pool Cover Heater

DIY solar pool heaters are often confused with solar sun rings. However, solar pool cover heaters and solar rings have very different applications. While the former creates a shield against the sun to reduce the rate of water evaporation, the latter not only acts as a pool cover to protect it from the environment, there is also a solar-powered heater in the cover that keeps the water below warm.

You can install an infrared sensor or dial on the heater to control the temperature. Still, it isn’t essential since the solar energy collected may not be enough to power the heater enough.

Materials You’ll Need

You will need:

  1. Parachute or similar piece of fabric to create a pool cover. You can also directly buy a pool cover, but make sure to work with the pool cover comfortably. You will need to cut it up and sow it back with the heater installed within. You will need some extra fabric nonetheless.
  2. An immersion heater. These heaters usually have a metal coil with a resistor inside them. When electricity passes through the resistor, it heats up. This heat is then transferred into the water. While most manufacturers make sure that their immersion heaters are waterproof, the insulation on the handle may wear off with time. The coil itself may also start collecting rust if not taken care of properly, which may introduce a risk of electric shock. Only buy high-quality immersion heaters for the best return on investment.
  3. Electrical cord.
  4. Electrical plug.
  5. Screwdriver set.
  6. Wire stripper.
  7. Insulation to make the connection waterproof.
  8. Soldering iron.
  9. Solar panel
  10. Floats

Building Your DIY Solar Pool Cover Heater

  1. You can either install a solar panel on the roof, next to your pool or directly on the solar cover. We recommend against the last option as it increases the risk of the panel getting water damaged.
  2. Once the panel is connected, check whether it is connected correctly and whether you have enough current to run the heater.
    1. You can either use a multimeter or if you aren’t sure of the reading you are getting, try connecting the heater directly and leaving it in a bucket of water for about 15 minutes.
  3. While you wait, pull out the solar cover and the extra parachute fabric you ordered. Take a marker and make a small square in the cover’s center. The whole should only be large enough for the coil to pass through.
  4. Use a pair of scissors to make a controlled hole in the center. Be careful, as the parachute may tear if you tug the spot too firmly.
  5. Pass the coil through and place the floats around such that they don’t touch the metal part of the heater.
  6. Create an outline of how much fabric you need to cover everything.
  7. Cut the fabric out from the extra piece of parachute you have.
  8. Use epoxy to close the hole you just made. Make sure it is waterproof. You can also place a plastic bag or other insulating material below the heater to protect it from water ingress. If you have the right tools, you can make a plastic housing for the heater’s handle such that it floats on its own in the water.
  9. Place the floats around the heater and sow the entire contraption shut.
  10. Now, strip the heater’s cord up.
  11. You will see a negative and a positive wire. Extend the solar panel’s wires and form a connection. It is better to completely open up the heater and change the cord to have no joint on the water’s surface. However, if you don’t have the necessary expertise, buy an insulating cover for the joint. Solder the points instead of using electrical tape.
  12. Heat shrink tubing usually offers good insulation against water and other external environmental factors.
  13. Insulate the whole wire and before turning on the power, make sure the pool cover can still float.
  14. The floats you inserted should be enough to keep the heater from going down.
  15. Turn the heater on and see your water heat up while being covered.

And you’re done!

It is important to note that heating your pool with an immersion heater will take a lot of time – a lot more than making a traditional water heater (which may require you to work with some plumbing pipes and valves to ensure water circulation).

You can always install more than one heater if you want a quicker heating mechanism. The more heaters you install, the more energy you will need, and the more solar panels you will need to install.

If you want to install a battery to make sure that the pool remains warm even during the night, make sure you install the battery with the solar panel, not the heater.

These DIY solar pool cover heaters will keep the water warm enough to make it comfortable but not enough to give you a ‘hot bath.’

Happy swimming and DIYing!