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What is the difference between passive and active solar pool heating?

Installing and maintaining a swimming pool in your Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane home is a major financial investment. There’s no sense in letting that investment sit stagnant for months at a time. For decades, our Sunlover Heating specialists have helped thousands of families around Australia select solar pool heating solutions that not only extend swim seasons, but also offer the best value on the dollar.

For a swimming pool to be swimmable, it must stay at an acceptable temperature as long as possible, as often as possible. On occasion, customers have asked us about the different between banking on the sun’s natural warming ability and installing a solar pool heater in Melbourne, Brisbane, or Sydney.

To answer that question, it is essential to differentiate between passive solar heating and active solar heating.

Passive solar heating

Passive solar heating refers to the sun’s natural energy—that is, energy that hasn’t been given a boost from an artificial or mechanical source like a solar pool heating system.

For families and businesses in Brisbane, Melbourne, and Sydney to capitalise on the sun’s natural warming properties, pool placement is essential. If you install your pool in a part of your yard with heaps of shade, you won’t reap the benefits of passive solar heating on a hot and sunny day, never mind on one with cloud cover. Also, incorporating “wind barriers” like fences and hedges ward off convective heat loss.

Relying exclusively on passive solar heating has its drawbacks, though. Although you will notice subtle changes in water temperature, this tends to be limited to the water’s surface. Factor in air temperature, wind speed, and evaporation, and suddenly the gain is nominal, if at all.

At a minimum, we recommend investing in a pool blanket to drastically reduce evaporation and convective and radiative heat loss.

Active solar heating

Solar pool heating systems are considered active solar heating because they give the sun a helping hand. What’s more, they’re easy on the environment and don’t contribute to combustion, which fossil fuel heaters are known to do. A solar pool heater collects solar energy and transfers it to your pool to boost and maintain desired temperatures.

Even with a solar pool heater, your pool will still be subjected to the elements; however, active solar heating provides the major advantage of being able to adjust system settings in response to weather changes. No matter whether you’re in Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane, your pool water temperature is determined by the degree to which heat losses are counterbalanced by heat supply.

If you’re interested in giving the sun a bit of a boost with a solar pool heater for your pool in Brisbane, Melbourne, or Sydney, give our team at Sunlover Heating a call today on 1800 815 913.


Sunlover Heating have installed in excess of 65,000 solar pool heating systems and built a reputation of happy customers over 30 years.


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