MARCH 2011
Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Guest Column

SOLAR-POWERED POOL PUMPS

Dilip Patel

By KIRON SENAPATI, P.E.

Last month, I had written about how you could harness solar energy reaching the earth's surface to supplement the electrical energy used in your home. As we approach summer this year, one of the second-largest energy intensive equipment in your home besides your air-conditioning unit, is the swimming pool circulating pump. The recommended circulation required for a swimming pool is to turn the water over once every day. Therefore, most often the circulating pump is set to run for a minimum of eight hours in a day. For example, a typical 25,000 gallon pool has a 1.5 HP pool pump with flow rate of approximately 80 gallons per minute. The pump draws about 9 amps at 240 volts. At a cost of 11 cents per kilowatt hour, that translates to approximately $2 per day or $60 per month to operate the pool pump.

A solar pool pump could save you at least $60 or more per month depending on the size of pool. The solar pump motor is often a DC motor, which is maintenance free since it is a brushless DC motor, which runs directly from the power generated by the PV solar module installed on the roof of the house. The DC motor runs quietly and is operated by a controller which regulates the operation of the pump based on the operating inputs received. A DC motor could operate at a maximum efficiency of 92 percent with minimum losses. Therefore, the power generated by the PV solar module is utilized efficiently.

The following are some of the advantages of a solar pool pump you should consider while evaluating replacement of your existing standard pool pump:

* 30 percent Federal Tax Credit without any upper limit. For example, if a solar pool pump system costs $2,000, a $600 Tax Credit may be extended to the home or business owner.

* Maintenance-free operation of the DC Motor, which is standard with the solar pool pump. The lifespan of a DC motor could be as high as 3-4 times (15 years) the life span of a comparable AC motor.

* The solar pool pump can be used with the existing pool heaters and automatic pool cleaners without modifications.

* Operates the pool pump for free during the day.

As a starter, please request an energy audit of your home or business offered by most power companies for free. The energy audit is an inspection of your home that identifies areas where you may be wasting valuable energy. Audit information for Tampa Electric is available at the following link: www.tampaelectric.com/residential/saveenergy/energyaudit.

Kiron Senapati, P.E., is an Environmental Consultant based in the Tampa Bay area, specializing in water and wastewater treatment and alternate energy. He may be reached at ksenapati@hotmail.com

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