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As global temperatures rise steadily and the effects of the climate crisis continue to shape this nation’s future, summer weather now lasts at least twice as long compared to 60 years ago. Now more than ever, escaping the relentless heat is vital in the height of summer and diving into ambient but refreshing waters is an enticing remedy. Here, Pool + Outdoor Design’s Mark Lewis and Emma Warner Allen meet with Anthony Lestani, sales and marketing manager at Sunbather, Colin
Mauger, director of Supreme Heating and Callum Ross, general manager of Boss Solar to discuss the wide-reaching benefits of solar pool heating.


Written by Emma Warner Allen.

Quintessentially Australian, swimming is deeply ingrained within our cultural DNA. Reflecting this, Australians’ pool ownership levels continue to rise. “Ultimately Australians love swimming and family entertainment in and around the pool. Our climate produces an abundance of warm weather and sunshine that triggers our subliminal responses and leads us to plan activities, typically outdoors, in a refreshing environment,” Mauger explains. However, the cost of owning a swimming pool can be prohibitively expensive to maintain. “Solar heating provides the perfect solution – the heating source is free, it is clean, it is in abundance and well-aligned with our use of the swimming pool,” Mauger enthuses.

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As climate change continues to threaten our modern way of living, adopting sustainable practices into our lifestyle is crucial to ensure that we leave a healthy and promising future to the generations to come. The climate crisis has become a pressing global issue and the term ‘climate change’ is no longer banished to the shadows of our psyche, becoming a household term with both individuals and large corporations alike seeking to mitigate their impact on the environment  Acknowledging this sentiment, “The world is moving towards more sustainable solutions, with campaigns such as ‘Towards Zero’ and major corporations such as Woolworths, Coles, Cadbury and Schweppes making significant sustainability pledges,” Ross notes.

The benefits of implementing sustainable practices and embracing renewable solutions are widespread. “Thermal solar pool heating is the most sustainable and cost-effective way to heat your pool, as it uses the sun’s free energy, rather than relying on expensive and carbon emitting fossil fuels,” Ross explains. Speaking specifically to the benefits of incorporating a solar pool heater into your pool’s design, “There are micro and macro benefits. It ripples across everything … it creates more jobs for us, here in Australia”, Lestani aptly elaborates. “It reduces climate change, and it reduces fossil fuel usage, which is obviously what we’re trying to lean towards.” Mirroring these thoughts, Mauger stresses that solar pool heating is “100 percent renewable” and lists a stream of benefits including that it is supported by SPASA Australia’s Climate Care program and that it is installed to coexist harmoniously with existing PV solar systems – so you need not worry about solar pool heating undermining any of the positive government rebates surrounding solar PV and solar battery storage. Though, perhaps the most important benefit is that solar pool heating is futureproof.

In a society that assigns value based on progression and advancement, solar pool heating has more than met expectations and stayed ahead of the curve. Significant advancements in design and sizing have allowed solar collectors to become very powerful and much stronger. The lifespan of most systems is now more than 20 years. As a package, it is undeniable and overwhelmingly obvious that the benefits are impossible to ignore.

Solar pool heating systems are not only incredibly efficient and beneficial to the environment, incorporating this powerful system into your pool’s setup ensures that you are also gaining a better return on investment. “I love what SPASA Australia say here: ‘more people swimming in more pools, more often’. I think that’s exactly what pool heating does”, Lestani remarks.

Mauger elaborates, “in most states, unheated pools provide a swim season of three to four months. A welldesigned solar system will extend out the season by two months either side of this.” That is to say, “adding thermal solar pool heating will, on average, double the typical swimming season”, Ross supports. In addition, “to get a little philosophical, for us to be able to get children outside, a swimming pool is one of the last things we can have to attract them outside now”, Lestani adds. “It’s a really nice point of connectivity for the family.”

An alternative way of looking at this is that, as Mauger explains, “swimming pools are a large investment for homeowners and heating the pool doubles the return on investment”, Lestani adds that “Solar pool heating will make more of an impact than anything else, that is discretionary, that you could put on a swimming pool. It will completely change your relationship with that pool”. However, despite increasing the time spent in the pool, “solar heating will also ensure that the homeowner is not crippled by excessive or rising electrical energy costs associated with other forms of fossil fuel heating”, Mauger concludes.


While this article sings the praises of an admittedly deserving product, it’s not really necessary as solar pool heating advocates for itself. In addition to the benefits already listed, once installed, the system is incredibly easy to use. “It’s so simple. It’s literally ‘set and forget’”, Lestani agrees. Elaborating on this point, Mauger continues “there is a growing market for incorporating functionality with the swimming pool control system. These run off smart apps and provide the convenience of operation from your armchair”. The system capitalises on technology to make your life as easy as possible. “Comprising of a roof sensor to monitor the temperature on the roof and a cold-water sensor monitoring the pool water, the controller simply turns the system on when the roof is warm enough to deliver a temperature increase to your pool”, Ross explains. “You can even dial your desired temperature to avoid overheating your swimming pool… Essentially dial in your desired temperature and let the sun do the work.” Meaning the simplicity of solar pool heating ensures that each day is just another day in Phil Collins’ proverbial paradise.

It’s no secret that solar pool heating requires energy from the sun to heat the water, the clue is even in the name, and the heating process is as simple as it is to operate. “Pool water is pumped through a series of tubes, known as a solar collector – or solar absorber – that is mounted to the roof of the building. The solar collector absorbs the sun’s free heat and transfers it to the circulating pool water, before being returned to the pool at an elevated temperature”, Ross summarises. However, “this only happens when the roof is warmer than the pool”, Mauger adds.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, “solar efficiencies are at their highest on sunny, clear days”, Mauger notes. “Warm to hot days with high, minimal cloud cover does not typically impede performance. Since the system is exposed to the elements, wind chill can be inhibiting, however, this is rarely seen throughout the warmer months in most locations throughout Australia”, Ross elaborates.

If conditions are particularly poor, such as if it’s overcast or cold, “then no, the solar heating won’t provide enough heat [to run]. That’s where two things come into play: one, at least it’s not working so you’re not wasting energy. Two, if you use a pool cover, then that acts like a battery, storing that heat energy in your pool, so at least you’re not losing energy on a day that’s not appropriate,” Lestani continues. Though, realistically, given solar pool heating’s efficiency, if the conditions are not good enough for it to heat your pool it’s highly unlikely that you will want to go for a swim in miserable weather anyway.

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Taking the next step to install a solar pool heating product requires a professional’s touch as it is determined by a few different factors, namely which roof is suitable given the swimming pool’s size, the solar collector area, and available exposure to the sun. Too many people fall victim to the common misconception that solar pool heating cannot be installed as they already have a PV solar system in place. However, Lestani stresses that this is often not the case and that “it’s surprising how often we can install solar pool heating if we just get the opportunity to look.” Speaking not just on behalf of Sunbather but also for the industry, Lestani encourages all who are uncertain to reach out to an industry professional for advice, “ask if solar can be done. We’re ticking that box; we’re having an upfront conversation with the client. We’re looking at that sustainable solution first”, the expert enthuses.

With a plan in action, the next step is installation. “Supply and return lines are plumbed to and from your swimming pool and equipment pad to the wall of your house, which are then secured up the wall to the roof line. The solar system is fixed to the roof structure using the latest construction techniques that allow for simple removal if required at a later date”, Ross details.

Life’s mantra should be ‘work smarter, not harder’. With this in mind, if you are uncertain as to whether you would like to heat your swimming pool, it is highly recommended that you ask your pool builder to include pool heating provisions when constructing your swimming pool, or better yet, ask an independent consultant, so that if you do choose to install heating later you will save yourself a lot of time, effort, money, and pain.

Solar pool heating is very versatile; while a solar PV system’s performance has to be year-round and relies heavily on the correct orientation and tilt angle, the pool heating system does not. “A North-facing roof is not critical for seasonal solar pool heating. The system can be installed on any other roof and the larger sized systems would compensate for any performance shortfall”, Mauger reassures.

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With all the companies agreeing that 100 percent of the swimming pool’s surface area is needed to be represented by the same area of solar collectors as an absolute minimum requirement, and with additional coverage available, the professionals will accurately assess your unique circumstances and tailor a solution to you that ensures your pool is always heated during those warm summer months.

When investing a significant amount of money into building your dream pool, it seems only natural that you would want to ensure its longevity, and when faced with the imminent and devastating effects that the climate crisis will have on our society, why would you jeopardise that stability by contributing to the problem? Or as Lestani simply ponders, “riddle me this, what’s the disadvantage of sustainable, renewable solutions?”

When selecting your pool heating, make the responsible decision for yourself, your budget, and – perhaps most importantly – the environment. Always seek out the expertise of industry professionals to guide you on your renewable journey as each situation will vary from one another. Looking to reputable companies such as Sunbather, Supreme Heating and Boss Solar will mean you are in good stead to embark on your journey to a more sustainable future.

Images courtesy of Boss Solar, Sunbather, and Supreme Heating in conjunction with That Pool Heating Company