The Story Behind SolarAttic's
Solar Pool Heater

A New Solar Pool Heater Emerges

The first of the next generation solar pool heaters was developed in 1986. This new solar pool heater uses no solar panels, which can spoil the beauty and aesthetics of your home. The first new solar pool heater from SolarAttic was called the PCS1. It transferred the free solar heat from attics into swimming pools. Pools are then heated for a fraction of the cost ordinarily expected. PCS1 is short for Pool Convection System one. A second generation product was made available in 2008 and by 2010 a third generation product was available. This is the PCS3 solar pool heater.


There Are No Fossil Fuels

The SolarAttic solar pool heater will save you 97% of the cost to heat by propane; 94% of the cost to heat by fuel oil; and, 90% of the cost to heat by natural gas. It does this by not burning fossil fuels. The bottom line is a warm pool without hot bills! You can heat your swimming pool for $15.00 per month or less. WARNING: Operating a gas swimming pool heater can be very expensive.


There Are No CFC Chemicals

The SolarAttic solar pool heater will also save you 90% of the cost to heat a pool by heat pump method. A comparative energy study of the energy consumption of the PCS1 reveals that the cost of a swimming pool heating therm [100000 btus] going into a pool from a heat pump is the same as a therm from a new 80% efficient natural gas heater. The SolarAttic solar pool heater does not use CFC/HCFC chemicals like heat pumps. Some of these chemicals have been known to destroy the earth's ozone layer.


There Are No Solar Panels On The Roof

The SolarAttic solar pool heater derives its swimming pool heat source from solar energy. And, this new solar pool heater does not have any of the problems associated with traditional solar panel systems. Why? Because the SolarAttic solar pool heater is a heat exchanger that is installed and hidden in the attic. It is also protected from weather damage. therefore, this next generation solar pool heater does not use solar panels!


The Attic Solar Pool Heater Provides A Fast Payback

The SolarAttic solar pool heater provides low cost solar derived heat. At the same time, it removes the ceiling heat load that an air conditioner must offset. Therefore, it pays for itself in saved pool heating costs and in reduced home air conditioning costs. A payback is estimated at 2-4 years when compared to purchasing a natural gas heater. Only 1 year when compared to an electric heater. Note: Recent energy cost hikes means in a lot of instances a payback of one season or less. Especially when you consider the entire pool heating costs which includes installation and recurring monthly costs over a 10 year period. The attic solar pool heater has a 20 year design life, which will save you a lot of money.


The Attic Solar Pool Heating Story Began In 1983

It was mid 1983 when I was first exposed to the idea that attic heat could be used to heat swimming pools. It was a crazy Australian, a friend of mine called Dave, who introduced me to this idea. He told me how, in England [from where his wife was from], he had seen that people used their attics to store hot water heaters. Mainly because of poor street water pressure. He thought: "Why couldn't we use this heat in attics to heat pools?" It sounded simple enough, so the idea stuck. It was no coincidence that Dave didn't like the costs of heating his own pool. In 1983, I viewed Dave's proposed experimental unit that would passively take heat out of an attic by using finned copper pipe for heating pools. At the time, I took Dave's word that the product would do the job -- and, in 1984, I formulated business plans to go into the market with his energy saving product.


The Attic Solar Pool Heater Filled A Market Need By
Providing Solar Pool Heating Without Using Solar Roof Panels

I remember how impressed I felt with the swimming pool industry market information. The industry was mature and at that time had over 2 Million inground pools and a similar figure for above ground pools in the U.S. alone. The current cost of heating a swimming pool was substantial. Natural gas costs were THEN estimated at $150 per month or more with some dealers reporting $90-125 per week in many cases. People were rejecting solar panel pool heating systems because they did not want the massive & ugly solar panels installed on their roofs spoiling the looks of their homes. A market existed for an alternative to these older/costly pool heating methods! TODAY, if you use a gas heater to heat your pool, you could be faced with outrageous energy costs in the range of $600-1200 per month. See our pool heating costs WARNING.


The Passive Attic Solar Pool Heater Method Is Abandoned

By late 1984, it was clear that the proposed passive method was not acceptable for taking heat out of attics and heating swimming pools. I was stuck with some good business plans and no product to implement them with. So, I decided to move on!

I left my high paying job at Control Data at the end of 1984 and accepted a new position of Director of Quality Assurance with Applied Magnetics in California. From 1983 to 1984, I subsidized the pool heating research with the income from my job at Control Data as a Manufacturing Quality Assurance/Control Manager. During June of 1985, in the midst of the computer industry recession, I lost my job at Applied Magnetics Corporation. With no good prospects for income in sight, the pool idea started up in my imagination again.


The Attic Solar Pool Heater Mother of Invention

I began to rethink the pool heating concept. I didn't have any definitive engineering data on the 1983-84 experiment so I reconstructed the method we had used. By July of 1985, I had created two experimental units that showed the promise of actually heating pools from an attic. At least, without question, I was seeing exactly how to take all of the heat out of an attic economically. It seemed natural that the heat would be there in the volume that I needed; yet, I wasn't even sure about that. That old saying that "necessity is the mother of invention" seemed to hold true. Without a good job prospect in site, this invention idea seemed worthy of my continued effort.


The Birth Of Attic Technology Inc

Running out of funds, we moved back to Minnesota in October of 1985. I started working with a manufacturer of heat transfer coils in Minneapolis. By June of 1986, I had the basic unit design developed. In August 1986, I incorporated the proprietorship "Pool Heat Company" into a Corporation named "Attic Technology, Inc." This was necessary to raise additional capital for continuing operations.


The Solar Pool Heater Prototype Is Funded

In November of 1986, I raised enough funds to purchase the parts I needed for what I felt was a prototype design that could do the job. In February of 1987, I built the prototype unit and began to test it. All kinds of scary thoughts ran through my head. Would the noise level of the fan be too high? Would the air flow raise havoc on an attic with one foot of blown in insulation? How could we get it up into the attic? Would the unit drip condensation? These and many other questions needed to be answered.


The Solar Pool Heater Prototype Is Laboratory Tested

Heat transfer tests on the prototype in a make shift laboratory proved successful during 1987; but, the new solar pool heater lacked a cabinet design, fan brackets, and other necessities. To polish it up, I designed a cabinet assembly, a custom 24" venturi insert, and custom brackets for the motor and fan blade. By May, I had a model of the proposed preproduction unit "glued" together and took it hurriedly down to Florida to test reactions at a NSPI (National Spa & Pool Institute) show in Orlando. I didn't have the money for a display booth; but, Mark Urban, a curious California valve manufacturer invited me down. He allowed me to put the model in a corner of his booth.

I was able to gauge the reactions of pool dealers. There was definite interest in the product concept, but several engineering and business problems remained to be resolved. Also, I had still never put the unit into an actual attic, and had no idea if it would really work.


The Solar Pool Heater Is Installed In My Own Attic For Testing

During the summer of 1987, the unit [now called PCS1] was placed into my own attic and was being tested. The attic was instrumented with temperature sensors and I was able to test the unit and monitor its performance. I ran heat transfer tests till I was thoroughly convinced the unit was solid. I was able to easily get 60,000 BTU per hour rates from my attic. The noise level was low enough where you had to focus your attention on the attic to even notice it. And, it did not blow any of my loose insulation around.


Mark Urban's Flowreversal Technology

In analysis of heat pump and solar manufacturer's data, it was apparent that I would need only 35-50,000 BTU's per hour from a continuous heat source to heat pools of less than 650 sq ft surface area. This size accounts for over 90% of pool installations. But, I had discovered another technique not being used to full advantage yet; reversing the flow of water in the pool.

Traditionally, water is drawn out of the bottom of a pool, filtered, heated [if employed] and then returned to the top of the pool. Everyone knows heat rises, but an entrepreneur in California did something about it. Mark Urban designed a Flowreversal valve that enables the pool's support system to reverse flow direction with the 90 degree turn of a single valve. In tests, Mark found that you could reduce the pool's heat demand by 30-50% with this simple technique.


Flowreversal Technology & Pool Cleaning Results

Pool owners quickly find out that the filter does not do a complete job of cleaning the pool. Instead, they have to vacuum the bottom of the pool periodically to keep it clean or employ an automatic pool cleaning device. In actual tests of reverse flow, the pool appeared the same. No degradation of either filtration or cleaning was observed. The pool can simply be left in reverse flow except when the need exists to clean or drain the pool. What does reverse flow mean then?


Flexibility For The New Attic Solar Pool Heater

It means that the actual pool heat requirements could be half as much. Instead of the pool requiring a heat input of 35-50,000 BTUS per hour, it may require only half as much or 17-25,000 BTUS per hour of heat from a continuous source.

This is great news. It means that the SolarAttic solar pool heater will work in adverse situations with Flowreversal. It also means there is a measure of extra capacity and flexibility if the two technologies are combined.


The Optimum Solar Pool Heating System

The optimum swimming pool heating system consists of the SolarAttic solar pool heater, which transfers free solar heat from the attic inexpensively into the pool; a flowreversal valve that ensures the swimming pool is energy efficient to begin with; and, a pool blanket that minimizes a pool's surface heat losses during extended periods of non use. Seventy percent of all heat losses in a pool are directly from its surface.


Solar Pool Heater Patent - U.S. Patent 5,014,770

Complete operating systems were installed in both Florida and Minnesota during 1989. These systems proved that the SolarAttic solar pool heater does an outstanding job of heating swimming pools. A patent was applied for on September 7, 1989. United States Patent 5,014,770 was issued on May 14, 1991.

As of July 2012, the SolarAttic attic solar pool heater is heating swimming pools in over 40 states and we are on the third generation of the new attic solar pool heater, the PCS3!


The Solar Pool Heating Story Continues On ...

Explosive growths in the costs of high energy now has pool owners searching for solutions. The Internet provides an opportunity to inform people of this next generation of solar pool heaters. Slowly, the word is getting out that you can heat a pool inexpensively and without roof mounted solar panels. The word is getting out that there exists a "SOLAR Without Panels" technology to heat swimming pools.

Thank You for Visiting SolarAttic!

Flowreversal was a trademark of Mark Urban, Tustin, California*

*Mark Urban passed away in 2010 and his Flowreversal valves are no longer available. However, a replacement FlowReversal technology strategy is located at the link below.

Click here for the Palmer Flowreversal Technology Solution