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What is a solar pool pump and how does it work?

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Solar pool pumps use only the energy generated by the sun, as opposed to pulling from the grid and adding to your electricity bill. But are they worth it? Canstar Blue investigates.

It is no secret that pools are an Aussie staple for the Summer time. But, while the kitschy inflatable flamingo and backyard cabana may be relatively cheap to buy, the cost of running an above or inground pool may leave you feeling a little flustered.

A potential solution to keeping those costs down, however, is solar power, whether that be on your roof or in the form of a solar pool pump.

In this Canstar Blue guide, we discuss everything solar pool pumps, from the pros and cons and associated costs to how they work and whether or not they are actually worth installing.

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What is a solar pool pump?

A solar pool pump is a dedicated solar power system for your pool filtration needs. A typical set-up for a solar pool pump includes a solar panel array, a solar pool pump, cartridge pool filter, controller and all of the accessories needed to convert solar power into usable electricity.

Some systems will combine the solar pool pump with a heat exchanger component, so the heat generated from your solar pool pump is used to warm up your pool. This essentially makes it a solar pool heater pump, not only filtering the water but ensuring it is warm as well.

How does a solar pool pump work?

Just like regular pool pumps that are connected to the grid, solar pool pumps work to circulate and filter the water in your pool. The only difference is that solar pool pumps use power from the sun as opposed to electricity from the grid.

Essentially, pumps work by drawing water from the pool through the skimmers and drains, removing large debris in the process. When the water reaches the pump’s impeller, the pressure forces the water through a filter, catching debris that wasn’t removed by the skimmer baskets.

After the debris has been removed, water is treated (and sometimes heated – depending on the system) before being returned to the pool.

How many solar panels does it take to run a pool pump?

There are a couple of factors to consider when figuring out how many solar panels would be needed to power a solar pool pump.solar panel graphic

These factors include:

  • What kind of pool you have (above ground or in-ground)
  • Size and shape of the pool
  • Water capacity
  • How much power the specific pump requires
  • Number of hours the pump runs for
  • Size of the solar panels
  • Energy production of the solar panels

An easy way to determine how many solar panels are needed to power your solar pool pump is to find out what the wattage of the pump is versus the average wattage output of the solar panels. Then, divide the wattage of the pump by the wattage output of the panels to find a rough estimate of how many panels you would need. For an accurate evaluation however, it is best to consult with a licensed solar installer or pool professional who can recommend a solution based on your individual circumstance.

Can I convert my pool pump to solar?

Unfortunately, you can’t hook an existing pool pump up to a few solar panels and have it working. Typically to go to solar, you’ll require a whole new system.

The only exception to this would be a plug-in pool pump that connects to your home via an electrical outlet but this too comes with limitations. If you have an AC pool pump then you’ll need to purchase several accessories to make it compatible, which might actually be more expensive than just buying a new solar pool pump.

A DC pool pump may be more easily configured as it is able to draw energy directly from the solar panels without an inverter. However, it is always best to consult with a professional, to ensure that everything works as it should and doesn’t ending up costing you more in the long run.

Another option is to use the solar energy being generated by your home solar power system to offset the cost of grid power running the pump. This would mean that your pool pump would still technically be run on solar power, just not directly through the pump’s system. This would also save you from buying a whole new pool pump system, especially if there is nothing wrong with the existing one. A downside, however, is that it might still draw power from the grid on days where solar energy production is not as high.

Compare Solar Plans & Prices

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

How much does a solar pool pump cost?

A solar pool pump system can cost anywhere from under $2,000 up to about $5,000. This includes the actual solar pool pump, the solar panels, installation costs and other accessories needed to run the pump effectively. The solar pool pump itself, though it is generally pretty affordable, ranging between $250 and $750 for a system.

If you compare this with the cost of running a pool pump using electricity from the grid, the payback period is about three to seven years. However, it is important to keep in mind that the pool pump itself only usually has a warranty period of about two years so it may need to be replaced in this time.

Are solar pool pumps worth it?

The benefits of installing a solar pool pump include:

  • Not attached to the grid: Your solar pool pump would not be attached to the grid, which means that you wouldn’t have to pay for electricity to power it, and – if there is less solar, it would simply run less. However, this also means that you can’t receive a solar feed-in tariff for any excess solar generated.
  • No permission required: Because the solar pool pump is not attached to the grid, you do not need to gain approval from your local energy grid to get them installed. This also means that these panels do not count towards your maximum number of grid-connected solar panels.
  • More mounting options: Solar panels for a pool pump can be mounted anywhere, from a ground-mounted system to a pool shed or garage, which means that they don’t take up valuable roof space.
  • Line up with the seasons: There is generally more sunlight in summer than winter, and you’re more likely to use your pool more when it’s hot, so therefore the pump would have more energy supplied and work harder during the months where you’re more likely to be using the pool.
  • As long as there is sun, the pump will run: Because it’s not connected to the grid, if the grid does go down it won’t have an impact on your solar pool pump.

There are clearly benefits to installing a solar pool pump however, there are some downsides as well. For example, the solar panels will likely outlive the pump which means that it’ll have to be replaced – eating into your cost savings.

Another issue would be whether you have sufficient sunlight to generate the required amount of solar power and if there is large enough area to mount these panels. While there is flexibility with this, it’s not like the panels can be squished and made fit into an area that is far too small. It also would not be able to run at night, so you would have to make the most of the energy generated in the daytime.

Should I get a solar pool pump? pool with floating flamingo

The benefits to having a pool pump powered by solar are clear. While it is not a cheap investment to begin with, there is potential to save real money in the future.

However, Solar pool pumps are not the only way to have a pool pump powered with solar energy. If you already have a solar panel installed on your roof, or are looking to get one, consider if you can use this energy for your pool as well as your home. It may even work out to be more efficient because excess electricity can be fed back into the grid from a panel system. Solar pool pumps don’t have the capacity to do this.

If you don’t yet have solar, but are interested in installing it, then be sure to check out our annual customer satisfaction ratings for solar installers. Here we list the brands that Aussie consumers have rated top-notch in the field.

Compare Best-Rated Solar Installers

Image credits: Suz7/Shutterstock.com, ludinko/Shutterstock.com, Dardalnna/Shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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