Another Reason to Utilize Solar Pool Heaters – Safety

solar pool heater benefits

Another Reason to Utilize Solar Pool Heaters – Safety

The many benefits of using a solar pool heater include using renewable energy, reducing your carbon footprint and air pollution, saving money on utility bills.  Another important reason to switch from a gas pool heater to a solar pool heater  or solar pool heating system is safety.  Natural gas and propane are combustible and can leak resulting in a build up of highly flammable gases.   Incomplete combustion also results in the release of carbon monoxide, an odorless and invisible deadly gas. Two accidents illustrate these safety concerns.

One recent incident occurred on May 6, 2015 when a man was injured by an explosion from a propane pool heater.  Authorities report that a propane delivery employee from Mechanicville was injured in an explosion in Clifton Park while delivering propane for the homeowners’ pool heater.  After the tank was filled, officials say he went inside the pool shed to light the heater, at which point there was an explosion.  The employee was transported by helicopter to the Westchester Burn Unit for treatment. The victim suffered burns to 52 percent of his body. According to investigators, the cause of the explosion is still under investigation. The shed was the only building damaged by the explosion, and no one else was injured. When using gas pool heaters it is highly recommended that people periodically check piping and hoses to make sure there are no leaks. It’s not unusual for animals to chew through hoses after being attracted by the smell of propane.

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When a gas pool heater is not installed properly a number of problems can occur including the build up of carbon monoxide gas. A qualified and very experienced professional should be used to install the gas pool heater safely. There are several components to a heater to install to include: Gas, electric, and plumbing. Proper ventilation and correct placement are very important when installing gas pool heaters. Exhaust from gas pool heaters contains toxic levels of carbon monoxide, a dangerous and poisonous gas. According to a 2004 report from, “Carbon monoxide poisoning may be more common than is currently recognized. It is conservatively estimated that in the US there are at least 200 deaths per year from carbon monoxide poisoning.” An unfortunate example as to the importance of proper installation procedures is the case of former tennis star Vitas Gerulaitis. The retired tennis super stars’ life was tragically cut short due to carbon monoxide poisoning as he napped in the room directly above the pool equipment at a friends’ house. Insufficient ventilation led to a deadly amount of carbon monoxide that resulted in his tragic death. With a $1.44 pipe extension, the fumes would have been dispersed safely away from the cottage. Instead, the carbon monoxide was drawn by an air conditioner through a forced-air heating vent into the cottage where Mr. Gerulaitis was sleeping. When he died, the carbon monoxide level could have reached 2,700 parts per million. The Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) limit for carbon monoxide is 1200 parts per million and the OSHA 8 hour limit is 50 parts per million. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and invisible gas with symptoms of poisoning that include dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, sleepiness, muscular twitching, vomiting and inability to “think clearly”. Excessive exposure can result in brain damage or death.  If you experience any of the symptoms, immediately turn off the pool heater and leave the vicinity….and get into fresh air immediately. The pool heater must be thoroughly tested by a gas professional before resuming operation.

Solar pool heaters utilize energy from the sun and do not result in any exhaust such as carbon monoxide or combustible levels of highly flammable gases. Solar pool heaters are a wise investment for many reasons including financial (quick return on investment), environmental and financial.

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