Pools are a big-time expense in more ways than one. Outside of the hefty cost of installation, there are additional expenses that are incurred over the course of the ownership of the pool. If you are looking to go solar to power your pool pump and save some monthly costs, there are a couple of different ways that you can do it.
Power your pool pump off-grid
(Not tied to local utilities)
Power pump with grid-connected solar system
(Tied to local utilities)
|– Purchase direct current pool pump|
– Dedicate 4-6 solar panels to powering it
– Wire panels directly to the pump
– Pump will run when the sun is shining
|– Purchase solar system (6kW+)|
– Install regular pump
– Set pool pump timer to run close to midday
You surely have questions about which method is better and the difference between “off-grid” and “on-grid,” and what the costs of it all are. Read on, and we will address all of those questions and more.
Powering a Pool Pump with Solar Power
If you’re familiar with solar power, you already know that you can go two different ways of sourcing your system: on-grid solar or off-grid solar. Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages. Up next, we’ll go over each of these methods for powering your pool pump with solar power.
What is Off-Grid Solar?
Off-Grid Solar power is solar power that is not connected to the utility grid in any way. The utility grid concerns power companies in your area, so using off-grid energy would make you non-reliant on those companies. To put it simply: when the sun is shining, your solar system will produce electricity and energy.
Using a Battery
One key for folks looking to opt for off-grid solar options is that you have to purchase a battery or some other instrument to store the leftover energy after a sunny day. If that measure is not taken, you will run the risk of having little to no power when it is cloudy, and there will be no electricity at nighttime.
Additionally, you will likely not reach 100% energy usage, as most systems are designed to produce extra energy.
It is imperative that you purchase the correct model that will meet your energy needs. One of the biggest benefits of this method is that there will not be any electricity bills due to there being no affiliation with the power company’s grid.
With that being said, the cost to install these systems can be extremely expensive on the onset and the expensive cost of batteries to store the excess energy.
Avoid Utility Bills
Another benefit of off-grid solar energy is that you will not be reliant on the utility companies for power in the case of an outage. Downed power lines or storms will not impact your power, and you will still have electricity, assuming the sky is not too cloudy for too long.
That is one of the drawbacks of potentially using off-grid solar energy, being that sunshine is necessary to bring power to your home and anything else you are powering with solar energy.
If you somehow find yourself stuck in an extended period of excessively cloudy or overcast skies, there is some risk that you would lose power at some point. Otherwise, the batteries and solar panels should accumulate enough power to keep everything going through storms or anything else that may cause a standard power outage.
Impact of Cloud Cover
What does this mean for powering a pool pump? If you are strictly looking to power a pool pump, much less solar power will be needed than to power an entire home. Simply a few hours of sun during the peak sunshine hours of the day, typically midday, will be all your pool pump needs to keep the pool clean.
There are pumps that you can purchase, which will only be set to run during those peak hours, thus maximizing their efficiency.
So, that is a brief breakdown of what off-grid solar entails. So, what is on-grid solar, and how are they different?
What is On-Grid Solar?
The biggest and most obvious difference between on-grid and off-grid solar lies in the names. On-grid solar, of course, is still connected to the power grid in your locale.
This means that you can use power from the grid to supplement the solar energy that the solar system at your house is producing when needed. As a result, you will always have the electricity needed, barring an outage.
With on-grid solar, you still will be using systems that will typically produce excess energy when in use. Instead of storing this excess energy in batteries, as you would with an off-grid system, on-grid systems will send this energy to the grid, and you will be compensated in credits for any future grid-usage.
Safety Net Included
The ideal scenario is that you would always use 100% solar energy, but this serves as a great fail-safe in case you need more energy to power your home.
These credits from the power companies will be used whenever you draw energy from the grid to supplement your home solar system. This is a process that is called net metering and is in the process of becoming commonplace in the full country.
One negative of these systems is that you will still be susceptible to power outages if the utility companies lose power in a storm or otherwise. This will be the case unless you opt to still purchase a backup battery to store excess solar energy. The rule had to be put in place to keep utility workers safe when working on fixing power lines.
While this will still lower your overall energy bill, you may see some other charges on your bill that would not be there if you were off-grid. The main one for residential properties, which feels appropriate for powering pool pumps, would be the service fee or delivery charge. This is simply a flat rate that would be charged to anyone who is connected to the grid, solar or otherwise.
So, the on-grid method certainly comes with benefits in the form of assurance that you will always have power to your pool pump even if your solar system cannot get enough solar power that day, barring an outage. If you opt to purchase a system that also comes with a battery, then you will be set no matter what the elements throw at you.
Which Method is Better?
The answer to this question depends on many variables in terms of needs and financial situations. For example, if you are looking to use solar energy to power your pool pump and lower your overall energy bill, you may be best served in setting up an on-grid powered solar pump and setting it to a specific timer.
However, if you are looking to eliminate your electric bill and hoping for long-term savings, then the fully off-grid method may be best for you. This will carry a much higher price tag at the beginning when factoring in the cost for the system and the cost associated with extrasolar batteries needed to store that excess energy.
Off-grid systems will frequently be more expensive to install, but there may be fewer charges overall, outside of any maintenance needs that may arise.
Now that we have gone through the different ways to utilize solar power in your home and with pool pumps, now we will take a look at some of the different options for pumps and batteries to give a better feel for the costs and features associated with them.
So, What are the Best Solar Pumps for Powering a Pool Pump?
Once again, the best solar pump for you will depend on your needs and specifications. The size of the pool that you need to pump will be a factor, so make sure that you are researching the correct specifications that you need to pump your pool. With that being said, we will list some of the best options out there to help you when you are searching.
|Price: $889.99||– Solar water pump, 1.6HP, 72v DC, 62ft, 136GPM|
– Suitable for saltwater
– Home and industrial use
– Water shortage sensor – will automatically stop if the tank is full or the water source is below the intake level
– MPPT Controller – drives the brushless DC pump motor, uses the latest MPPT technology to ensure maximum flow is delivered. Protects from overheating and running dry
|Price: $498.88||– Horizontal deliver distance of ~300m|
– Can be configured with filter and solar pool heating system
– Easy set-up, directly collocate with a controller
|Price: $539.99||– Solar water pump, 0.3P, 24v DC, 260ft, 7.7GPM|
– Water shortage sensors
– MPPT Controller – brushless DC pump motor
– Stainless steel
|Price: $499||– Awarded multiple International Best Product and Best Green Product at Industry Expos|
– Assembly not required
– Comes with three solar panels
|Price: $635||– Recognized for its reliability and performance|
– Easy installation and servicing see-through strainer cover allows you to see when the basket needs cleaning
These are just a few examples of solar pumps that could be great options for keeping your pool clean and swimmable. As we mentioned multiple times, the best pump for you will depend on the pool that you have. When you are getting your pool installed or serviced, it is best to speak with the technicians to understand your pool’s specific needs.
However, when it comes to solar power, the battery that you will use is the most important aspect as it will power the pump and keep it clean. Next, we will take an in-depth look at some of the top solar batteries for retaining solar power and powering pumps.
What About the Best Solar-Powered Batteries?
Below we have some great breakdowns of some of the top options in solar batteries in the industry. These will be beneficial to look into if you are looking to go solar, as they will keep your pump running even if there isn’t great weather that day.
As of 2020, Tesla has sold over 100,000 Powerwalls and has deployed over 260 MWh of energy storage between its sold Powerwalls and Powerpacks.
Although the Tesla Powerpack was originally intended to be installed in homes, too, they are still predominantly used for places of business. This may change sooner or later, but for now, let’s take a look at the specifications of the Tesla Powerwall 2.
- Price: The standalone price of the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery is $6,500. This does not include any supporting hardware costs for the entire home battery system, which Tesla estimates to be around $1,100. This brings the total price of the Tesla Powerwall 2, before installation, to approximately $7,600.
- Power: The Tesla Powerwall 2 can produce 7kW (kilowatts) of direct current power at peak performance. This translates to roughly 450 to 1,200 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of alternating current power per month. Though this is only during peak performance, the Tesla Powerwall 2 can continuously produce 5kW (kilowatts) of direct current power.
- Energy Capacity: The Tesla Powerwall 2 has the capacity for 13.5 kWh (kilowatt-hours) of energy storage in its battery. The Tesla Powerwall 2 produces roughly 15-40 kWh of alternating current power per day, but you will likely be using most of this, so you will rarely experience a surplus. The battery also features a 100% depth of discharge and 90% round trip efficiency.
- Size: The dimensions of the Tesla Powerwall 2 battery are as follows: the length of the Tesla Powerwall 2 is 45.3 inches, the width of the Tesla Powerwall 2 is 29.6 inches, and the depth of the Tesla Powerwall 2 is 5.75 inches. The battery weighs approximately 251.3 pounds or 114 kilograms.
- Installation: The Tesla Powerwall 2 can be installed indoors or outdoors, floor-mounted, or wall-mounted. The battery is resistant to a broad range of temperatures, between -4 degrees Fahrenheit and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, or -20 degrees Celsius and 50 degrees Celsius.
- Miscellaneous: The Tesla Powerwall 2 comes with a ten-year warranty.
Although it was not the first competitor to enter the fray, Panasonic’s Evervolt, released to the public in 2019, certainly poses a formidable threat to the Tesla Powerwall series. Although the EverVolt itself is easily comparable to the Tesla Powerwall 2, it is the supplementary hardware surrounding the Panasonic EverVolt that makes some consider it the superior option.
In particular, the solar modules that Panasonic is releasing in February 2021 are superior to those that Tesla currently pairs with its Powerwall series. These solar modules feature power outputs of up to 370 W and an efficiency ranging from 20.6% to 21.2%. In comparison, Tesla’s solar modules feature power outputs of up to 340 W.
While this is certainly impressive, we are ultimately comparing the batteries of each of these manufacturers. Let’s take a closer look at the specifications of the Panasonic EverVolt.
- Price: The Panasonic EverVolt is certainly more expensive than the Tesla Powerwall 2, with the total cost of the system ranging from $9,000 to $15,000 before installation. The total expense after installation tends to fall between $15,000 and $20,000.
- Power: The Panasonic EverVolt features a continuous output power of roughly 7 kW, which matches the peak output power of the Tesla Powerwall 2. The EverVolt can reach peak output power levels of up to 9.6 kW.
- Energy Capacity: The Panasonic EverVolt has the capacity for 17.1 kWh of energy storage in its battery. This is nearly 4 kWh of energy storage more than the Tesla Powerwall 2. However, the Panasonic EverVolt features just an 84% round trip efficiency on its AC coupled battery, which is 6% less than the Tesla Powerwall 2.
- Size: There are two separate structures to consider with the Panasonic EverVolt, the inverter, and the battery cabinet. The dimensions of the inverter are as follows: the length is 39 inches, the width is 17.6 inches, and the depth is 5.9 inches. The dimensions of the battery cabinet are as follows: the length is 24.2 inches, the width is 65.5 inches, and the depth is 10 inches. The inverter weighs 86.8 pounds, and the battery cabinet weighs 106 pounds.
- Installation: The Panasonic EverVolt is only guaranteed to function indoors and is designed to be wall-mounted. The temperatures which the EverVolt can withstand range from -13 degrees Fahrenheit to 158 degrees Fahrenheit or -25 degrees Celsius to 70 degrees Celsius.
- Miscellaneous: The Panasonic EverVolt also comes with a ten-year warranty.
The Enphase Ensemble was one of the first batteries to compete with Tesla’s Powerwall. Released in 2016, the original Enphase Ensemble was launched in Australia. Now, Enphase’s solar technology is available worldwide and has had plenty of time to evolve and improve.
Enphase currently integrates two batteries into its home battery systems, the Encharge 3 and the Encharge 10, which can work separately or combine into the Enphase Ensemble. Let’s take a closer look at the specifications of both the Encharge 3 and the Encharge 10.
- Price: The Enphase Encharge 3 is typically priced at $7,000, whereas the Encharge 10 is priced around $11,000. Enphase also sells an Enpower smart switch for roughly $3,600 and an Envoy combiner box for about $1,800. This is not including solar panels, which, if you do not currently possess, will cost you another $15,000 to $20,000.
- Power: The Enphase Encharge 3 features a continuous output power of 1.28 kVA (kilovolt-amps) and a peak output power of 1.92 kVA, which it can achieve in a 10-second time frame. The Enphase Encharge 10 features a continuous output power of 3.84 kVA and a peak output power of 5.7 kVA, also in 10-second intervals.
- Energy Capacity: The Enphase Encharge 3 has the capacity for 3.5 kWh of energy storage in its battery. The Enphase Encharge 10 has the capacity for 10 kWh of energy storage in its battery. The Enphase Encharge 3 and Encharge 10 both feature up to 96% round trip efficiency.
- Size: The dimensions of the Enphase Encharge 3 are as follows: the length is 26.14 inches, the width is 14.45 inches, and the depth is 12.56 inches. The battery weighs about 97 pounds. The dimensions of the Enphase Encharge 10 are as follows: the length is 26.14 inches, the width is 42.13 inches, and the depth is 12.56 inches. The battery consists of 3 individual base units, which each weigh 97 pounds.
- Installation: Both the Enphase Encharge 3 and the Encharge 10 can be installed outdoors or indoors, and they are both designed to be wall-mounted. Both batteries can withstand temperatures between 5 degrees Fahrenheit and 131 degrees Fahrenheit, or -15 degrees Celsius and 55 degrees Celsius.
- Warranty: Both batteries come with a ten-year warranty.
If we are splitting up each of these companies by region, then Tesla has its stronghold in North America, Panasonic has its stronghold in Asia, and Enphase has its stronghold in Oceania. In Sonnen’s case, the stronghold is in Europe, where Sonnen reigns as the largest residential lithium battery company on the entire continent.
Sonnen is a fairly recent company, even compared to its trendy competitors, but it has still had time to produce an array of home battery options. The options we will be analyzing today are the Sonnen Eco 5 and the Sonnen Eco 10. Let’s take a look at the specifications of both batteries.
- Price: The price of either Sonnen Eco option starts at around $10,000, but both options have been known to cost upwards of $20,000, especially after additional hardware and installation costs are considered.
- Power: The Sonnen Eco 5 features a continuous output AC of 12.5 A and a peak output power of 8.5 kVA. The Sonnen Eco 10 features a continuous output AC of 33.3 A and a peak output power of 17 kVA.
- Energy Capacity: The Sonnen Eco 5 can provide capacity for 5 kWh of energy storage in its battery. The Sonnen Eco 10 has the capacity for 10 kWh of energy storage in its battery. The Sonnen Eco series of batteries is arguably the most resilient of any brand, with its max energy capacity being usable for 3500 cycles at 80% retained capacity.
- Size: The dimensions of the Sonnen Eco 5 are as follows: the length of the Sonnen Eco 5 is 57 inches, the width of the Sonnen Eco 5 is 26 inches, and the depth is 16 inches. The battery weighs approximately 331 pounds. The dimensions of the Sonnen Eco 10 are the same as the Sonnen Eco 5. This battery weighs approximately 474 pounds.
- Installation: The Sonnen Eco batteries are built for indoor storage and are not very resilient to discrepancies in weather or temperature. The range of temperatures Sonnen Eco batteries are functional within is 41 degrees Fahrenheit and 113 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Miscellaneous: The warranty for any Sonnen Eco battery is ten years.
The BYD B-Box is another company from Asia that has entered the home battery system market. However, this company’s product is unlike any other products listed above in that it is a DC-coupled battery rather than an AC coupled battery. As mentioned in a previous section, DC-coupled batteries are less versatile but more efficient than AC coupled batteries.
BYD has yet to engrain itself as a strong competitive presence in North America, Australia, and Europe. However, the company has dominated the Chinese home battery system market since its inception in 2003. The company manufactures the incredibly popular B-Box line, which consists of the comparable B-Box 5.0 and B-Box 10.0.
Let’s take a closer look at the specifications of both the BYD B-Box 5.0 and the BYD B-Box 10.0.
- Price: Another distinction between DC-coupled batteries is that they are generally less expensive than AC coupled batteries. The BYD B-Box 5.0 is generally priced around $3,500. The BYD B-Box 10.0 is generally priced around $5,500.
- Power: The peak output power of a BYD B-Box 5.0 is 5 kW, while the peak output power of a BYD B-Box 10.0 is 10 kW.
- Energy Capacity: The BYD B-Box 5.0 has the capacity for 4.5 kWh of energy storage in its battery, while the BYD B-Box 10.0 has the capacity for 9 kWh of energy storage its battery.
- Size: The dimensions for the BYD B-Box 5.0 are as follows: the length of the BYD B-Box 5.0 is 130mm, its width is 482.6mm, and its depth is 489.5mm. The dimensions for the BYD B-Box 10.0 are the same. Both batteries also come with an accompanying cabinet, roughly 1108mm in length, 600mm in width, and 600mm in depth.
- Installation: The BYD B-Box series of batteries can be stored outdoors or indoors and are fairly durable when put up against varying temperatures and climates. The range of temperatures the BYD B-Box batteries can withstand starts from -20 degrees Celsius, or -4 degrees Fahrenheit, to 55 degrees Celsius, or 131 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it comes to going solar, you will see most of your savings over the long term. Pool pumps are no different. On average, a standard pool pump will use up to 2,500kWh per year to circulate and filter the water. In Florida, this average monthly cost would amount to about $30 for a 1 HP pump to run 8 hours per day.
This number will add up over time, so it comes down to what type of investment you will be making. If this is a home, and pool, that you plan to be staying with for a long time, then going a solar route will surely pay off in the long run as you will be able to avoid the ~$30/month charge to power that pump during busy days, on top of additional energy costs.