One solar pool heating panel manufacturer makes a big deal about their solar pool heating panels that come in three colors: black, gray, and terra cotta. The idea is that some consumers want to match their roof color, especially on terra cotta or multi-color tile roofs and gray shingle roofs. There is one big problem with these colored solar panels — they don’t work well!
All other solar pool heating manufacturers, including the iSwim panel we represent, make their solar panels in one color: black. The reason is pretty obvious, and based in science. Black panels absorb more solar radiation and transfer more heat to pool water than lighter colored panels. The color black absorbs all wavelengths of light and reflects none, while other colors absorb less of the light spectrum and reflect some of the sun’s radiation away. It’s the same reason that a lighter colored car stays cooler in a parking lot and why lighter colored roofs are recommended for energy efficiency. A dark sidewalk will be much hotter than a light colored sidewalk.
Incidentally, the black night sky is a great absorber of heat. Solar pool heating panels that are great absorbers are also great emitters of heat, so you can actually use solar panels to cool your pool at night!
You will get far less solar pool heating performance from a colored solar collector than a plain black one, meaning you need far fewer black panels to do the same job at a much lower cost. Since we often have a hard time finding enough room on most roofs for a solar pool heater as it is, considering a colored panel will not be realistic in many situations anyway. Furthermore, the plumbing and other hardware required to install a system is not available in a rainbow of colors, and painting plumbing has several drawbacks. Sizing a solar pool heater becomes much more difficult and costly with colored panels.
Colored solar pool heating panels — they don’t work well!
One of the greatest struggles we face in the industry is helping people get over the way solar panels look. Since solar pool heating is so common in Southwest Florida, you are not doing anything that is out of the norm, and people are accustomed to seeing them. The stigma mostly comes from people who travel here from other states and countries where solar pool heating is not popular or even viable. We do everything possible to accommodate peoples’ aesthetic concerns, but in the end most consumers realize that they never pay their solar panels any mind. Once they are up there and the “newness” wears off, the color of solar pool heating panels doesn’t make a difference — the panels just blend in and seem normal.
Rest assured, if you are new to Southwest Florida, black solar panels are nothing out of the ordinary!
While it would be great if colored solar pool heating panels worked as well as black panels, we are bound by the laws of physics. The plain black panels that have been heating pools for decades are by far the best option to achieve your pool heating goals. We don’t offer colored panels for that reason, and even the manufacturer that does have them has perhaps a handful of installations in Southwest Florida compared to tens of thousands of black panel systems installed in the area.