Solar Pool Heater Plumbing Diagram

Written by Michael Dean
June 7, 2023

solar pool heater plumbing

For a relaxing and comfortable swimming experience, heating your pool is essential – especially if you live in a climate where the temperature can drop significantly at night or during the winter months. You can use solar pool heaters to have the optimum pool experience. Solar pool heaters are a great way to heat your pool while saving you money on your energy bills. But how do solar pool heaters work, and how do they fit into your pool’s plumbing system?

In this article, I will present a quick overview of solar pool heater plumbing, including a diagram to help you visualize the system.

Main Takeaways

  • Solar pool heaters work by circulating water through a solar collector, typically mounted on a roof or an area that gets a lot of sunlight.
  • The sun’s energy heats the water, and the heated water is then circulated back into the pool.
  • A qualified pool professional may need to install solar pool heater plumbing to ensure it is done correctly and meets all local building codes.

What is a Solar Pool Heater?

A solar pool heater is a device that uses the sun’s energy through solar panels to heat water as it passes through a solar collector. The water is then circulated back into the pool, raising the overall temperature of the water. Solar pool heaters are a very efficient and cost-effective way to heat your pool, and they can extend your swimming season by weeks or even months.

Components of a Solar Pool Heater

Solar pool heater plumbing systems typically consist of the following components:

  • Filter
  • Pump
  • Automatic control valve
  • Solar collector
  • One or more check valves
  • Piping


The filter removes debris and dirt from the water before entering the solar collector. A properly sized and installed filter is essential to prevent damage to the solar collector. Different types of filters are available: DE, sand, or cartridge.


The pump circulates water through the solar collector and back into the pool. The size of the pump will be determined by the size of the solar collector and the climate. A smaller pump may be sufficient in warm climates, but a larger pump may be necessary for cooler climates.

Automatic Control Valve

The automatic control valve regulates water flow through the solar collector. The valve is typically controlled by a thermostat that turns the pump on and off to maintain the desired water temperature.

Solar Collector

The solar collector is the heart of the system, typically mounted on the roof of the house. The solar collector consists of a series of black absorber plates that absorb the sun’s energy and transfer it to the water flowing through the collector.

Check Valve

Solar collectors have check valves to prevent water from flowing back into the collector when the pump is turned off. This is important to protect the solar collector from damage.


Solar pool heater plumbing systems typically use black polyethylene piping to connect the components. The piping must be adequately sized to ensure that the system operates correctly.

What to Consider While Plumbing a Solar Pool Heater

Now that you have a basic understanding of how solar pool heaters work, let’s look at how they are plumbed into your pool system. Solar pool heater plumbing is not very complicated, but there are a few things you need to know before you get started.

First, if you have any doubts, you may want to consider hiring a qualified pool professional to install all solar pool heaters to ensure they are done correctly and meet all local building codes.

Second, the size of the solar pool heater plumbing system will depend on the size of the pool, the type of solar pool heater being used, and the climate. Solar pool heaters in warm climates will generally require smaller solar collector arrays and smaller pump sizes than those in cooler climates.

Third, all solar pool heaters must be adequately maintained for optimal performance. This includes regularly cleaning the solar collector and replacing any damaged parts.

Solar System Plumbing Schematic

This solar pool heater plumbing schematic shows the typical components of a solar pool heating system. Your system may be slightly different, but this will give you a general idea of how the components are connected.


  1. Solar panels
  2. Temperature sensor
  3. Solar controller
  4. Pump
  5. Filter
  6. Check valve
  7. Auto valve
  8. Heater
  9. Salt cell
  10. Return
  11. Intake

As you can see from my diagram above, the solar panels are connected to the swimming pool’s existing filtration system. Water is circulated from the pool through the solar panels and back into the pool. This circulation is usually done with a dedicated solar pump, which a solar controller controls. The controller turns the solar pump on when there is enough sunlight to heat the water and turns it off when there is not enough sunlight.

The solar panels are usually mounted on the roof of the house or a freestanding rack. The solar panels must be positioned to get the maximum sunlight possible.

The solar controller is typically mounted near the solar panels. The controller is connected to a sensor that measures the water temperature in the solar panels. Water goes back and forth through the system and is continually heated by the sun. When the water in the solar panels reaches a certain temperature, the controller turns off the solar pump.

The solar pool heating system may also have a backup gas or electric heater. This heater is used when the solar panels cannot heat the water to the desired temperature. The backup heater is also used to maintain the pool temperature when the solar panels are not in use, such as at night or on cloudy days.

Need to Install a Pool Heater?

I partner with HomeAdvisor to help you find the best swimming pool heater installers in your area. Compare quotes for free from fully vetted pool heater professionals.

Bottom Line

Solar pool heating is an excellent option for many pool owners. They are a great way to extend the swimming season and enjoy your pool year-round. With an appropriately sized and properly installed system, you can enjoy many years of trouble-free operation.

Contact me if you have any further questions. I’m happy to answer them.

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