Hot tubs are among the most luxurious home appliances you can own. But they also come with downsides.
Not only can they be hard to clean and maintain, but they prove expensive to run and have negative impacts on the environment. That said, you can mitigate many of these problems by running your hot tub on solar energy.
How does a solar-powered hot tub work, and is it a viable solution for your property? Let’s take a closer look.
Solar-Powered Hot Tub 101
Before we dive into specifics, let’s take a closer look at some of the advantages of a solar-powered hot tub. For starters, it could prove much better for the environment and much cheaper to run.
But is it possible? The answer to this question depends on how much sun you receive where you live.
That said, if you’re in the sunbelt, there’s no reason you can’t run a hot tub with sunlight-driven panels. That said, you’ll need to make decisions about how you’d like to approach heating your hot tub.
There are two main ways to heat hot tubs. The first approach requires passing the hot tub’s water through a heat exchanging panel. The second technique involves traditional solar panels connected directly to energy storage batteries.
Which method is right for you? Let’s take a closer look.
Powering a Hot Tub With Solar: The Heat Exchanging Panel Approach
Going the heat exchanging panel route proves the simplest method for saddling the sun’s rays to heat your hot tub. The technology remains basic but effective.
But you’ll need a minimum of six hours of consistent, strong sunlight where you live each day to make it work. How does the process look? Cold water exits the bottom of the hot tub, passing over the heat exchanger along the way.
The heat exchanging panel is a large panel with small tubes crisscrossing it. These tubes allow water to pass through them. The tubes sit against a black background, soaking up heat along the way.
You’ll often also see a perspex or glass layer over the front of the panel that serves to magnify the heat further.
The process that follows is both straightforward and streamlined. As cold water passes through these small tubes, it gets heated by the sun’s rays. Once heated, it passes through the other end of the heat exchanger.
From there, the water gets piped into the top part of the hot tub. Once the water cools, it descends to the hot tub’s bottom where it passes through the system, getting heated once more.
The Pros and Cons of the Heat Exchanging Panel Approach
What’s so great about the heat exchanging panel approach to harnessing solar energy? Let’s start by taking a look at the pros.
The Pros of the Heat Exchanging Panel Approach
This technique is relatively inexpensive because it takes advantage of reasonably low-tech solutions. All you’ll need are connecting tubes and a small pump, and you can complete the conversion for $1,500 or less.
But the pros don’t stop there. You’ll also enjoy the system’s ability to create lots of free hot water. If you live in a sunny enough climate, your hot tub will continue to pump out hot water as long as there’s daylight.
What’s another fantastic advantage of this approach to hot water heating? It’s more or less maintenance-free.
Why? Because it doesn’t rely on moving parts or mechanics that can break down.
You’ll also find the solution easy to fit. It’s a very reasonable DIY project, and you won’t have any problems utilizing it alongside your electric heating system.
That way, if you’d like to use the hot tub at night or on a cloudy day, you can still enjoy hot water thanks to your electric heater. Bear in mind, too, that heating cold water solely with solar power is a tall order.
You’ll likely need to rely on your electric heater to give your water a boost at the beginning.
The Cons of the Heat Exchanging Panel Approach
What are the drawbacks of relying on a heat exchanging panel to transform the sun’s light into hot water in your tub? The number one issue is the size of the heat exchange unit you’ll need to utilize.
How large must these panels be? Upwards of six feet long and two feet wide. If you don’t have a lot of extra space for this panel, you may require a different approach.
What’s more, you may end up needing more than one panel to provide enough adequate hot water. You can stack these panels atop one another, but that still equates to a significant amount of square footage.
People also report issues with a lack of temperature control due to the overly simplistic nature of the technology. This approach could lead to dangerous situations such as scalding water pouring from your hot tub on high-temperature days.
Another drawback to this solar-powered hot tub heater is the lack of energy storage. Unlike traditional solar panels attached to batteries, you don’t have any storage options with a heat exchanging panel.
The Alternative: Solar Hot Tub Systems and Batteries
What’s your other option when it comes to a solar-powered hot tub? You can gather energy from the sun via solar panels and then store them in solar batteries.
To get started with solar energy, you’ll need to invest in a solar kit. Contact your manufacturer to see which kit is best for your hot tub make and model.
As with the heat exchanging panel approach, you’ll also need to maintain an electrical heating system. After all, hot tubs require plenty of electricity, and a solar kit won’t be able to handle it alone.
What’s the solar-powered hot tub price for this conversion? These kits cost approximately $2,000, and you’ll get many years of service out of them.
What’s more, most experts believe conversion to a system connected to batteries won’t invalidate your hot tub’s warranty. Just remember to double-check with your manufacturer to be sure.
A Better Way to Power Your Hot Tub
As you can see, you’ve got plenty of options when it comes to designing a solar-powered hot tub. Of course, you’ll need to make the final call when it comes to which system is right for you.
Are you interested in learning about other innovative ways to harness the power of the sun? Here’s what you need to know about using solar panels at night to power your home 24/7.