Indoor Swimming Pool Solar Heating, Insulation, & Moisture Control
SWIMMING POOL SOLAR HEAT, INDOOR - CONTENTS: Q&A: for an indoor swimming pool solar heater, insulation requirements, and moisture control needs. Air accumulation in solar collector systems. Swimming pool heating solar collector corrosion concerns. How to purge air from a solar collector. Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
Advice for Solar Heated Indoor Swimming Pool Construction
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles including material reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
How Should I Insulate, Heat, and Control Moisture for a Solar-Heated Indoor Swimming Pool
I am planning to build an indoor swimming pool that will have a well-insulated building around it. It seems that the pool, which is to be of the vinyl liner type,should be insulated from the ground, but I have not been able to find any information on how this should be done. Do you have any suggestions? -- J.W. Barta, Barboursville WV.
Our photo (left) shows an outdoor swimming pool in some trouble. But the requirements for heating, insulating, and moisture control at an indoor swimming pool are still more demanding.
We put the matter to Doug Root, a Florida expert who has written widely on solar pool heating, including a useful Solar Age article (11/83).
His opinion is that the earth is a fairly good insulator in most cases, at least once the surrounding earth has been warmed up.
If cold springs flow near the excavation for the swimming pool, you may do well to insulate with 2- to 4-inch thick sheets of foamed glass insulation, which is expensive but won't waterlog over the long lifetime of the swimming pool.
DJF note: actually the earth is an infinite heat sink and you'd be better off with moisture-resistant solid foam insulation surrounding the pool exterior.
Indoor swimming pools create some special heat loss and humidity problems that you should keep in mind as well. Most indoor swimming pools receive little direct indoor sunlight - an important heat source for outdoor pools. And though one might expect an indoor swimming pool to pick up heat from their heated surroundings, actually pools lose heat to their enclosures, most notably through evaporation.
If room humidity is allowed to approach 100 percent,conditions get uncomfortable and more seriously condensation on walls ("wall sweat"), and on metal hardware corrodes metal components, risking damage to electrical system items such as wiring and lighting.
Mold may become a severe indoor problem, including due to moisture that escapes the swimming pool room and enters other building areas. See HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET, and see the mold-resistant construction suggestions at MOLD PREVENTION GUIDE.
DJF note: we have also observed severe indoor mold contamination in fiberglass building insulation in areas subject to unusually high indoor moisture levels, including insulated walls surrounding indoor swimming pools. See INSULATION MOLD CONTAMINATION TEST.
DJF note: we have observed severe damage to warm air furnace heat exchangers used to heat an indoor swimming pool. The problem seemed to be a high level of airborne chlorine gas that was traced to heat exchanger corrosion. When selecting a warm air heating system for use to heat an indoor swimming pool, be sure to review this question with your heating equipment manufacturer.
The bottom line is that indoor swimming pool walls probably won't require insulation [in Mr. Root's opinion, but insulating the pool with water-resistant foam insulating bored is likely to reduce a high pool heating bill - DJF], the room will certainly require moisture control, and the swimming pool will require year-round heating regardless of whether or not its walls are insulated.
Original Solar Age Magazine Article on indoor swimming pool insulation, ventilation, and moisture control:
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
Or see SOLAR COLLECTOR AIR or GAS COLLECTION where we describe gas collection problems and solutions for solar heated swimming pools. Contact us to suggest text changes and additions and, if you wish, to receive online listing and credit for that contribution.
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Questions & answers or comments about solar swimming pool heating systems: insulation & moisture control
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Solar Age Magazine was the official publication of the American Solar Energy Society. The contemporary solar energy magazine associated with the Society is Solar Today. "Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy. Leading for more than 50 years.
ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world."
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: email@example.com
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
Thanks to professional inspector Bob Cheney for the photo of a site-built rooftop solar collector.
"Conserving Energy and Heating Your Swimming Pool With Solar Energy [copy on file as /heat/USDOE_solar_pool_heater.pdf] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume I, the Passive Solar Handbook Introduction to Passive Solar Concepts, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v1.pdf
Passive Solar Design Handbook Volume II, the Passive Solar Handbook Comprehensive Planning Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v2.pdf [This is a large PDF file that can take a while to load]
Passive Solar Handbook Volume III, the Passive Solar Handbook Programming Guide, in a version used by the U.S. Air Force - online version available at this link and from the USAF also at wbdg.org/ccb/AF/AFH/pshbk_v3.pdf
"Passive Solar Home Design", U.S. Department of Energy, describes using a home's windows, walls, and floors to collect and store solar energy for winter heating and also rejecting solar heat in warm weather.
"Solar Water Heaters", U.S. Department of Energy article on solar domestic water heaters to generate domestic hot water in buildings, explains how solar water heaters work. Solar heat for swimming pools is also discussed.
"Heat-Transfer Fluids for Solar Water Heating Systems", U.S. DOE, describes the types of fluids selected to transfer heat between the solar collector and the hot water in storage tanks in a building. These include air, water, water with glycol antifreeze mixtures (needed when using solar hot water systems in freezing climates), hydrocarbon oils, and refrigerants or silicones for heat transfer.
"Solar Water Heating System Freeze Protection", U.S. DOE,using antifreeze mixture in solar water heaters (or other freeze-resistant heat transfer fluids), as well as piping to permit draining the solar collector and piping system.
"Solar Air Heating" U.S. DOE also referred to as "Ventilation Preheating" in which solar systems use air for absorbing and transferring solar energy or heat to a building
"Solar Liquid Heating" U.S. DOE, systems using liquid (typically water) in flat plate solar collectors to collect solar energy in the form of heat for transfer into a building for space heating or hot water heating. The term "solar liquid" is used for accuracy, rather than "solar water" because the water may contain an antifreeze or other chemicals.
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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The HOME REFERENCE BOOK - the ENCYCLOPEDIA of HOMES, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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