In the days of fun and sun, it only make sense that pool companies would try to develop products to harness solar-energy. However, it seems the pool industry has been somewhat slow embracing the use of solar power. Part of the hesitancy stems from the mid-90’s when there was a big push for solar products. And while the sales were good, it turns out most of the products just didn’t work very well.
Flash forward twenty years later, and the products have improved, especially in the case of photovoltaics, or solar-electric power. While solar power has long been used to heat pools with passive, low-tech solar heaters, photovotaics are creating ways to supply power for devices ranging from LED lighting and floating debris skimmers all the way up to wall-mounted chlorine generators and even pool pumps.
Take for instance a solar-powered pump that is being provided American West Windmill and Solar, the master distributor stateside for German-made Lorentz Solar Pumps. “The beautiful marriage between them is that when there’s a lot of sunlight, that’s when you really want to be moving water through the filtration system, and that’s when your pump is going to be running at its peak,” says Cody Locknane, American West’s national sales manager. “A lot of people package the systems, but that’s not a requirement.”
However, going green isn’t cheap. The cost for a solar-powered pump can range from $4000 to $5000 and many are hesitant to make that kind of investment. But manufacturers maintain that the cost can be offset by two factors: savings from lower energy bills and 30 percent federal tax credit, which is slated to remain in place through 2016. This is especially true in states with high energy costs like California and Hawaii.
In the meantime though, pool owners may be more inclined to take advantage of other solar-powered products such as LED lights, in-pool chlorinators, and pool skimmers. But expansion in the solar arena for pool products is slow at best, leaving many to wonder what the future holds for solar products.
John Stiglmeier, president of RecWaterTec, which offers a solar-powered mineral purifier had this to say, “I think the pool and spa trade has been slow to respond to innovation in general. It’s just not an industry that embraces change. But things are changing, and the people in the pool industry who get out ahead of it are going to be the ones who’ll have the best opportunity to be successful. Consumers will drive this change.”