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Burning barrel in the pool Answered

Questions for you scientific types. Would this work: I have a 3,000 gallon inground pool and no heater. If I took a barrel, stuck it in the shallow end just a half inch above being totally submerged, and lit a fire inside it it would it work to heat the water around it and eventually heat up the pool?


Your plan would work, but it's probably not the fastest way to get the job done. I like the way you think, though. Personally I'd use a heat exchanger from my barbecue, like the redneck pool heater. Maybe. I got a concept. Pipe your air in and out of the barrel, seal your barrel, and submerge it in the deep end. Then it'll heat all the water above it. Cover your pool while you do that to lose even less heat. Just plumb up your air compressor to it, stick a lotta charcoal in the barrel, light, seal, fill your pool over it/lower it in. Or maybe build a gas burner for in there. I like the concept of fire in a pool. As long as it's submerged (turn it on its side?) as deep as possible, the efficiency should go up a lot. How deep is your pool? My 3000 gallon pool is only three feet deep all around, but it's an aboveground. My pool heating solution for years was to wear a wetsuit, but when I got tired of that I built a greenhouse around it, since I take the pool down for the winter and can now grow stuff in there. And the water's nice and warm in the summer.

...like the redneck pool heater. Maybe....
You'd have to paint it green with a john deer logo underwater.

Don't knock John DeerEs.

Friends don't let friends drive red tractors.

However, friends have been known to let friends go tractor tipping. That was the weirdest thing I've ever seen, especially 'cause he was tipping his own tractors.

So is it like cow tipping only the other tractors don't charge you like the angry bull ??

I think so. Although I wouldn't be suprised if tractors charged drunk people when their friends are being tipped.

wouldnt it just evaporate/boil all the water which is very close to it, it would be hard keeping it stable too. if the pool is in the sunshine then maybe you could buy/borrow a large black tarpaulin and drape it over the water, harness the sun's heat that would probably heat it up. how did you end up with a pool with no heater anyway, did it break??

I've tried the black stuff on/in/around the pool trick. It doesn't actually heat the water much. I would guess that either the heater broke, or when the pool was originally installed, that was overlooked. It happens. In some climates, they build them without heaters since it doens't get "too cold"

oh ok, yea your probably right in south africa none of the pools have heaters

Umm ya Zambia, and we had a heater

You're in Africa? I always wondered if your username referenced the old Tarzan books...

Not any more I lived there for about 4 or 5 years now I'm an hour outside Edmonton Alberta... but come winter time I'd like to go back , I loved christmas in the middle of summer and no SNOW .....

ok well the ones i went it it was freezing

If you don't know if there is a heater or not, or if it's broke or not , It might just be some thing as simple as it's turned off ?? or you might need a new fuse ?? or if it's natural gas, you might just need to light the pilot light ??


10 years ago

It would probably be horribly inefficient - not to mention ashes flying into the water etc.

If you have a barbeque, you could always try the redneck pool heater...

Okay, inefficient. But would it be efficient enough to work? If I were to keep a fire going in there for a week even? What do you think?

Or! What if I combined the two ideas and circulated water from the pool through the fire and back into the pool? eh? :)

How about using this solar powered pool heater?

[https://www.instructables.com/id/Build-your-own-flat-panel-solar-thermal-collector/ Or this one?]

[https://www.instructables.com/id/Build-your-own-flat-panel-solar-thermal-collector/ How about this one?]

They're all uch more efficient, dosen't burn tons of fuel, are eco-friendly, the first two are not expensive, none are hard to maintain/fix.

i bought 25 feet of copper tubing and placed in in a burn barrel and heat it with wood, i have the pool pump push the water through the tubing and back into the pool. works very well, raised the temp from 70 to 80 in one day, total cost of 50.00 and no solder joints to worry about like the redneck pool heater. any questions email me.

We are in the process of researching the idea of building a furnace like you described... have you had any chemical instability by using copper? I've heard that can create serious problems with the balance of your pool. I also have been checking out the furnace by www.warmwatersource.com. Not sure what their price is yet. I'd love to hear from you because I'm sure a do it yourself model is a lot less expensive. Thanks!

i have had no chemical problems, i have gone with a 50 foot roll since and put a top on the barrel, i tied into the pump so i am reheating the pool water, it has been warm lately but when the weather was in the 70's i could raise the pool water to low 80's in a couple of days.

. Either way, it will be much more efficient if you enclose the "firebox." Place a top on the barrel with two ~4" pipes in the top. One pipe (air in) should reach to near the bottom of the barrel and the other pipe (exhaust) can be flush with the top. Install dampers in the pipes so you can regulate airflow. This should also cut down on the ash problem.

. Most of your heat is going to be wasted out the top of the barrel. And, as Patrik mentions, it's liable to be very messy. It should work, but will probably take at least a week to raise the temp much ("real" pool heaters take 2-3 days).

A metal barrel? I guess so...

On Craigslist.com there are regularly free hot-tubs, like Big Bwana said just strip one of those and use the heating element

You could do that to but the ible I linked to shows you how to build a wood fired heater for a hot tub, and it's a cool looking one at that you just need an old LPG bottle and some copper pipe...

With a bit of creativity you could alter the hot tub heater from this Instructable and you might also need a small pump since it rely s on convection pumping...


10 years ago

My pool has a whopping huge gas heater that will heat the water from frigidly cold to sybariticly warm in about 48 hours. Since a submerged barrel lacks a bunch of the optimizations that the gas heater includes, the barrel will probably be much less efficient. However, if you can keep a good fire burning in there for 96 hours or so, it will probably have a noticeable affect on your water temp. Good luck keeping the barrel submerged; it should take about 400 pounds of weight to counteract the bouyancy of 50 gallons of air. I've heard that one of those insulating blankets (essentially bubble-wrap) can make a significant difference. In addition to insulation from the cool night air, they also stop evaporative cooling.

My parents lived in Phoenix for a while, and had a house with a pool for a bit, and that one had apparently been built without a heater (like most of the houses with pools in that development) "to save build cost for the contractor, and since the pool will get the most use in the hottest part of the year, the water won't get too cold." Allegedly it was fine during the summer months, and the chill water was refreshing, but when the cool season rolled around, it was definitely too cold to swim.