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If renewable energy systems can run a refrigerator and an air conditioner, can solar panels run a pool pump? There are actually solar powered pool pumps available, so you can buy one ready to use. If you want to operate a regular pool pump via solar panels, it is possible.
Four to six 250W solar panels can run a 1 1/2-2HP pool pump for 8 hours a day. You can connect the solar panels directly to the DC motor or you can connect the pump and solar panels to a grid tied system.
How to Calculate Pool Pump Solar Panel Requirements
1 HP is equal to 746 watts.
HP x W x runtime = number of solar panels (you may add 10%-20% to the total for overcast days)
Why did we say you need five 250W solar panels to use a 1-2HP pool pump?
746W X 8 hours = 5968W
Requirement: five 250W solar panels (6250W total)
One 250W solar panel can produce 1250W a day with 5 hours of sunlight.
Five 250W solar panels generate 6250W (peak) with five hours of sun. Even if the solar panels do not reach peak levels, they will at least produce 6000W, enough for the 1HP pool pump.
Of course you are not limited to 250W solar panel. You can buy 7 or 8 Rich Solar 200W Panels and get the same results. The larger the individual panel, the fewer you have to buy.
Like every other solar appliance, you should always get a slightly larger solar panel than what you need. It is a given that solar panels will not always produce peak performance, so having reserve power is ideal. While 6000W is technically enough for a 1HP motor, it’s safer to go with 6250W.
Most pool pumps are in the 1-2HP range, but if you need a bigger pool pump you just replace the numbers in the conversion. The calculation also assumes the pump runs for 8 hours a day. If it runs fewer hours you need less solar power.
Some pool pumps run for 24 hours, which is impractical for PV modules. Even if you have a solar generator big enough for a house, it just takes too much power and you’re better running that motor on electrical power.
How to Run a Pool Pump with Solar Panels
There are two ways to run a pool pump on solar power. Hook up solar panels to a regular pool pump or use it with a grid tied system. Let us look at the pros and cons of each one.
Method 1 – Connect a DC Pump to Solar Panels
If you have a DC pool pump, you can connect the solar panels to it. Unlike AC appliances that need an inverter, pool pumps run on DC power so you can hook it up directly to the PV modules. Once it is configured just wait for the sun to rise and the motor will start running.
There are several advantages here. One, you don’t have to hook it up to an inverter as mentioned, which can be expensive given the size of the pump. There is no risk to directly connecting it to solar panels. Second, you can go completely off the grid and the pool pump will still run. There is no need to ask permission from the grid if you can use this setup.
You can install the solar panels near the pool, and you don’t have to find solar cables that will somehow connect it to your roof panels. It is convenient and won’t take up real estate on your roof.
The solar panels won’t generate as much power during winter, and that’s perfectly all right since you won’t be using the pool anyway. The PV modules will be at their peak during summer when pool usage is as its highest.
The biggest drawback is if you don’t have a DC pool pump. You need to buy a new one. If your existing pool pump works, it’s a tough decision to have to replace it.
If the solar panels generate more power than the pump uses, it is wasted. You cannot save them to the solar battery because it is not connect to the rest of the system. So that advantage could turn into a disadvantage in this situation.
If for some reason the panels don’t produce enough energy, or you get a bigger pool pump, you have to install more solar panels. It is also possible the panels are not producing enough due to dirt, so maybe a cleanup will help. If that is the case, we suggest the Mr. Longarm Pro Curve solar cleaning kit, which includes everything you need.
Method 2 – Grid Tied Solar Pool Pump
If you are on a grid tied solar system you can operate the pump at optimum hours. Install the solar panels and set the timer to run when sunlight is at its peak. You could set the pool pump to run from 10AM-3PM, 11-1PM, depending on the season.
No need to mess around with wires or cables. You don’t even have to tinker with the pump. Just install the PV modules – we recommend the Franny solar panels for extra power – and the sun will do the rest. Second, no solar power will go to waste. Whatever excess power the pump doesn’t use goes to your other solar powered devices. If you still have leftover, you can export it to the grid,
If it is raining or cloudy, you have to depend on the grid. Second, this setup works only for large solar systems, enough to power a house. If you already have that power, great. If not, is it worth investing that much to run a pool pump?
Which Solar Pool Pump Option is Better?
It depends on your current setup. If your solar system powers your entire house – or you plan to install one – then that is your best bet. You don’t have to worry if there is enough sun outside, and all the solar energy will be put to use.
But the direct to DC pump is a good option too. Power grids impose limits to how many rooftop solar panels you can install. If you have reached the maximum, go with the off grid pool pump approach. You can install as many solar panels you like near the pool and it won’t be counted against you.
What are the Benefits of Solar Pool Pumps?
At this point you are probably wondering, what are the advantages of going solar for pool pumps? is it really worth going through all of this? The answer is yes, it is worth it.
Save Money. Pool pumps consume thousands of watts, and that costs a lot no matter how you slice it. If you invest in a solar system now, you won’t have to pay any more bills to the power company. Whatever amount you spend on the solar system will pay off in the future.
Renewable Energy. Solar power is clean and green. You are doing your part keeping the environment pristine. The power comes from the sun, so no need to worry about running out of resources anytime soon.
Durable. Solar panels have long warranties and are built to last. DC pumps tend to last longer than AC motors so it’s a solid long term investment. Solar systems are low maintenance so less hassle for you. Combine quality solar panels with a solid DC pump and they will last for years.
Easy to Install. Anyone can install solar panels on an RV, let alone a pool. An all in one kit has everything you need and you will be up and running in no time.
Quiet Operation. All solar panels run quietly and these are no exception. No need to put up with loud noises as the system operates quietly. Anyone who has put up with a loud motor knows how irritating they can be, so a solar pool pump is like a breath of fresh air.
Dependable Performance. With the sun as a power source, you can depend on solar panels producing energy as much as anything. Add the fact that solar panels are low maintenance and it is as hassle free as it can get. You can run these pumps for years and expect solid results.
What to Look For in a Solar Pool Pump
So you have decided to buy a solar pool pump. The question is, what do you look for?
Capacity. This is self-explanatory. The pump must be commensurate to the size of your pool. In most cases 1 to 2HP is enough for home swimming pools, so it is easy to figure out. If you have a larger pool though, make sure the pump can handle the water volume.
Number of Solar Panels Required. Use the formula conversion given above to find out how many you will need. It’s a good idea to work this out so you know what solar panel size works best. 250W is the most commonly used, but larger panels are available.
Cost. This is always a point to consider, but it should not be the main one. Far more important is how efficient the solar panel is and if it will work with the pool pump.
Pool pumps are becoming more powerful and affordable, which is the same case with solar panels. Thanks to advancements in solar power you don’t have to give up your swimming pool if you go hybrid or off the grid.