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Energy Convers. Mgmt Vol. 23, No. 3, pp.

171-175, 1983
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved

0196-8904/83 $3.00 + 0.00


Copyright 1983 Pergamon Press Ltd

THERMAL MODEL OF SOLAR SWIMMING POOLS


GOVIND and M. S. SODHA
Centre of Energy Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Hauz Khas, New Delhi I I0 016, India
(Received 21 May 1982)
Abstract--This communication presents an analysis of heat transfer processes in the solar heating of a
swimming pool. The solar insolation and atmospheric air temperature are assumed to be periodic, and
the heat and mass transfer from the surface of the pool are taken into account. Analytical models
corresponding to two cases, namely bare surface and surface covered with PVC cover have been
developed. Numerical results indicate a substantial improvement in pool heating by the placement of
transparent PVC cover on the surface and are in close agreement with the Australian experimental results.
Periodic

Pool

Heat transfer

NOMENCLATURE
C = specific heat of concrete base (J/kg C)
h o = heat transfer coefficient between bottom surface of
the pool and water (W/m 2 C)
hc = convective heat transfer coefficient between water
and ambient air (W/m 2 C)
hr = radiative heat transfer coefficient between water
and ambient air (W/m 2 C)
h~= heat transfer coefficient between the water and
cover, (W/m 2 C)
K = thermal conductivity of bottom surface (W/m C)
K,. = thermal conductivity of cover (W/m C)
L = pool depth (m)
lc = thickness of cover material
Mw = heat capacity of water per unit area (J/m 2 C)
t = time coordinate (s)
R = reflectivity of cover
S(t) = intensity of solar radiation
T~. = water temperature (C)
T~ = ambient air temperature (C)
T,. = average water temperature (C)
T~ = average ambient temperature (C)
U = top loss coefficient
V = wind speed (m/s)
x = position coordinate (m)
= absorptivity of ground
0 = ground temperature (C)
~o = 2n (period)- K
7 = relative humidity
p = density of ground (kg/m 3)
= ratio of intensity absorbed in water to the incident
intensity
~., = effective absorptance of water
~ = effective absorptance of ground surface.
1. INTRODUCTION
The energy balance between any pool a n d its environm e n t is o f f u n d a m e n t a l i m p o r t a n c e in u n d e r s t a n d i n g
the concepts of solar utilization a n d heat storage.
H e a t a n d mass transfer take place at the water
s u r f a c e - a i r interface a n d associated heat transfer
m e c h a n i s m s take place at the pool faces.
The conditions for c o m f o r t a b l e swimming are determined mainly by the water temperature, a m b i e n t
171

air temperature, relative humidity a n d wind velocity


with water t e m p e r a t u r e being the most i m p o r t a n t
factor.
The water t e m p e r a t u r e in a n u n h e a t e d swimming
pool in relation to the a m b i e n t air t e m p e r a t u r e
depends o n the a m o u n t o f solar r a d i a t i o n a b s o r b e d
in the water a n d o n the rate of heat loss from the
water.
A n u n d e r s t a n d i n g of the t h e r m a l b e h a v i o u r of
a swimming pool exposed to solar r a d i a t i o n a n d
a t m o s p h e r i c air is of interest in design of swimming
pools. The earlier analyses are based on the assumption o f steady state a n d ignore the periodicity o f solar
radiation, a m b i e n t air t e m p e r a t u r e a n d wind speed,
thus these analyses can n o t predict the time-variation
of the t e m p e r a t u r e of water.
R o o t [2] a n d Czarnecki [3] have considered the
relevant heat transfer processes; Czarnecki[1] has
given a n expression for the total rate o f heat loss per
day from a n open pool. Sheridan [4] also analysed the
energy balance o f the pool a n d the reduction of heat
losses by use o f PVC covers a n d plastic films.
In the present c o m m u n i c a t i o n , the a u t h o r s have
presented a periodic heat transfer model for predicting the t e m p e r a t u r e o f water. T a k i n g into a c c o u n t the
periodic variation o f solar intensity a n d a m b i e n t air
temperature, the t h e r m a l p e r f o r m a n c e of the pool has
been analysed in the case o f (i) bare surface a n d (ii)
surface covered by P V C sheet.
Numerical calculations have been m a d e for a typical day in Victoria, Australia a n d the results have
been c o m p a r e d with the experiments of Francey et
al. [7]. T h e experimental observations on the variation o f pool water t e m p e r a t u r e with time have been
f o u n d to be in agreement with the results of the
analysis.
Numerical results for the variation of the temperature o f water with time, c o r r e s p o n d i n g to the
p a r a m e t e r s o f the pool a n d the meterological conditions (3 N o v e m b e r , 1978) in Victoria, Australia o f the

172

GOVIND and SODHA:

SOLAR HEATING OF SWIMMING POOL

experiment by Francey et al. [7] are seen to be in good


agreement with the observations.

and Hay and Yellot [9]. To proceed further, one has


to linearize the expression for Qe; this is achieved by
noting that the observed dependence of the saturation vapour pressure of water can be expressed by
a linear relation in the temperature range of interest
(15"-55C), i.e.

2. ANALYSIS
The energy balance of the water mass may be
expressed as

P = RI T + R 2

dT,,

M , , ~ - = ~,,S(t) + ho(Ox_o - T,) - U ( T . . - Ta)

where R~ and R 2 are constants, to be calculated from


the saturated vapour pressure data by least square
curve fitting.
On account of the periodic nature, the solar insolation and ambient air temperature can be expressed as

(la)
for covered surface
and

dT,,,
M,,~-=~,,S(t)+ho(O~

(4)

o- T.)-Q~-Q,.-Qe

S(t) = So + Re E Sm exp(imcot)

(lb)

(5a)

m=l

for bare surface


where

and

Ta(t) =

T~o +

Re Z Ta. , e x p ( i m ~ o t )

(5b)

m=l

~. = ~ ( 1 - R ) [ 1 + ( 1 - - f l ) ( l - - a ) ]
1
1 l,. 1

(2a)

U - h; + K, + &

(2b)

S,. = S.,0 exp ( - iam)

(6a)

hi = hrl + h~

(2c)

T~,. = T.,0 exp ( -- iam)

(6b)

O~ = h~2(Tw- Ta)

(2d)

Q, = 0.013 h,(P,,,- 7P.)

(2e)

S~0, T~0 and ~rm, am are amplitude and phase factors


of the solar insolation and ambient temperatures,
respectively

(2t")

and

where

hv_ t:~a {(T. + 273) 4 - (T. + 261) 4}


( T , , - T~)

2n
to = ~ , h r f.

and j = 1 and 2 refer to covered and bare surfaces,


respectively. The above equations are based on the
following assumptions:
(i) the heat capacity and absorptivity of the cover is
negligible
(ii) the temperature of the cover is very near the
temperature of water, so that h.2 is not
significantly changed by substituting the cover
temperature for water temperature and
(iii) multiple reflections are ignored, which is justified
on account of the low values of the reflection
coefficient,

The values of the Fourier coefficients Smo, T,,o, am


and am corresponding to 3 November, 1978 in Victoria, Australia are given in Tables I and 2. In view of
the periodicity of the solar radiation and ambient
temperature, the temperature distribution O(x, t) in
the ground can be expressed as [7]

O(x,t)= Ao+ Re Z A,,exp{i(rncot +~mx)} (7)


m=l

where

The energy balance for the bottom of the pool can


be written as

~hS(t)=ho(O~_o- T,,,) -- K(~O~


k&/~=0

~m = C' ~ / m ( l + i)

(7a)

~" = (ogpc/2 K) I/2.

(7b)

and

(3a)

Also, assuming the variation of water temperature


as a periodic function of time, one has

where
~h = (1 - R)(1 -- p)a.

(3b)

Tw= T . o + R e Z Twmexp(imo2t).
m=

Equation (2d) has been derived from the Lewis


relation. It may be noted here that the expression fox
Q~ is approximately the same as used by Carrier [8]

Sm(W/m 2)
a,, (rad)

0
158.96

1
247.45
3.52

(8)

Substituting for S(t) and To(t ) from equation (5), for


0 from equation (7) and Tw from equation (8) in

Table 1. Fourier coefficients for daily variation of solar intensity at the Monash
University, Victoria, Australia, on 3 November 1978
m

(6c)

110.72 48.61 4 5 . 9 1 3 6 . 1 7 30.54


0.57
3.17
0.24
4.42
2.24

GOVIND and SODHA:

SOLAR HEATING OF SWIMMING POOL

173

Table 2. Fourier coefficients for daily variation of ambient air temperature at the
Monash University, Victoria, Australia, on 3 November 1978
m
T ~ (C)
a,, (rad)

14.36

3.54
4.05

1.23
1.58

0.17
5.20

0.08
5.66

0.23
2.91

0.097
2.11

equations (1) and (3) respectively, and solving the


resulting equations for the time independent and
dependent parts, one obtains the following expressions for the pool water temperature

T,o-

(~. + ~ ) So
U

~- T~o

(9a)

symmetrically sited to ensure identical environmental


conditions. While one pool was kept open, the other
was covered with a PVC cover. Thermocouples were
used to measure the pool temperatures and the
outside air temperature while the solar flux was
monitored by a calibrated Breck Bowles pyranometer.

and

~wSm+ U T o ~ + - -

4. N U M E R I C A L C A L C U L A T I O N S
AND D I S C U S S I O N

K~

l+--

ho

(9b)

Tw,n

u+

Kctm
l+-ho

+ irmoM.

for the covered surface

(o:~,+ ~b)S o + (h" + ? RoRI)


Two=

x T~0 - RoR2(I - r )

(10a)

(h' + RoRt)

and

c~ws~ + (h' + ~,RoR,) To,.

Numerical calculations have been made corresponding to the experimental set up of Francey et
al. [7] as described above. The time variation (Fig. 1)
of solar intensity and ambient air temperature corresponding to 3 November, 1978 (Fig. 2 of Ref. [7])
have been used in the present calculation. Since the
values for absorptance product c~h and top loss
coefficient are not available from the data of Francey
et al. [7], these parameters and the various heat
transfer coefficients were calculated from standard
expressions
(Duffle
and
Beckmann [5]
and
McAdams [6]). The relevant parameters are

M,. = 5,028,000 J/m 2 C

/(K~.,'~,,o/

(corresponding to 1.2 m pool depth)


K = 0.0519 W/m C
p = 2050.6 kg/m 3
C = 1848.0 J/kg '~C
h0 = 135 W/m 2 ~C
hi = 24.56 W/m 2 ~C
h 0 = 105 W/m 2 C
R I = 325.17 N/m 2 "C
R 2 = - 5154.89 N/m 2
7 =0.3
V = 3.8 m/s
hc = 5.7 + 3.8 V
R 0 = 0.013 h,.
# =0.35

T~,,,,, =

(h'+RoR,+K~,,

1+

~o )+im~oMw)
(10b)

for bare surface where


h' = hr2 + he.

(11)

3. T H E A U S T R A L I A N E X P E R I M E N T

The experiment was conducted at the Physics


Department of the Monash University, Victoria,
Australia, by Francey et al. [7] in mid-winter 1978.
Two small pools, each 4.71 m 3 and 1.3 m deep were
24

O6O
t~
~16

e s

g
0

12

Time

16

20

24

{hi

Fig. 1. Hourly variation of solar intensity and ambient temperature at Victoria, Australia on 3 November
1978.
~cM 23/3

174

GOVIND and SODHA:

SOLAR HEATING OF SWIMMING POOL

25
24

o o o o Experimental points
- Theoreticol

25~
22

P
21~

iz o

17
16i
0

12
Time (h)

16

20

24

Fig. 2. Hourly variation of temperature of water in the covered pool on 3 November 1978 in Victoria,
Australia.

22

o o O0 Ehepo:~ltie:tol points

21

20
0

~
0

19

17

16

I
4

I
8

I
12

I
16

I
20

I
24

Time (h)

Fig. 3. Hourly variation of temperature of water in the bare pool on 3 November 1978 in Victoria,
Australia.

25
24
25
22

P
2
o

21

=0.zo

12
Time (h}

16

20

24

Fig. 4. Hourly variation of water temperature for the covered pool for different values of the absorptance
of the bottom of the pool; 1, II and III correspond to ~th = 0.2, 0.5 and 0.8 respectively.

GOVIND and SODHA:

SOLAR HEATING OF SWIMMING POOL

R =0.1
atb = 0.4
~w = 0.09
~ = 0.6.
The first six terms of the Fourier series are seen to
be sufficient for convergence.
Figure 2 shows the hourly variation of water
temperature with time when the pool is covered. The
circles represent the experimental points corresponding to the experimental observations of Francey et
al. [7], while the solid curve represents the result of
the present theory. It is evident that the experimental
results are in close agreement with the theoretical
calculations.
Figure 3 illustrates the hourly variation of water
temperature with time for the case of a bare surface
of the pool. The circles represent the experimental
observations of Francey et al. [7], and the solid curve
represents the results of the present theory. It is clear
from the figure that the experimental results are in
close agreement with the theoretical calculations.
In order to see the effect of absorptance of the
bottom surface of the water, we have made calculations for different values of c~h. Figure 4 depicts the
hourly variation of water temperature with time for

175

different values of the absorptance of the bottom


surface of the pool. It is seen that as the absorptance
is increased there is a larger variation in the water
temperature but the mean temperature is higher.
The good agreement of the thermal model with
experimental observations validates it.
Acknowledgements--The authors are grateful to Dr G. N.
Tiwari and Dr J. K. Nayak for various fruitful discussions
and help given during the preparation of this paper.
REFERENCES

1. J. T. Czarnecki, Solar Energy 7, 3 (1963).


2. D. E. Root Jr, Solar Energy 3, No. 1 (1959).
3. J. T. Czarnecki, C.S.I.R.O. Division of Mechanical
Engineering, Tech. Rep. 19, Highett (1978).
4. N. R. Sheridan, Solar Research Notes No. 4, Res.
Commun. on Solar Energy and Tropical Housing,
University of Queensland, Brisbane (1972).
5. J. A. Duffle and W. A. Beckmann, Solar Energy Thermal Processes. Wiley, New York (1974).
6. W. C. McAdams, Heat Transmission. McGraw-Hill,
New York (1954).
7. J. L. A. Francey, P. Golding and R. Clarke, Solar
Energy 25, No. 5 (1980).
8. W. H. Carrier, Trans. A.S.H.V.E. 24, 24 (1968).
9. H. R. Hay and I. J. Yellot, Mech. Engng92, 192 (1970).