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Thread: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

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    Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Hello,
    New pool owner here. Like signature says, I just recently purchased a vacation house with an indoor, inground small pool. The sun does not heat the pool at all since it's indoors, so the heat pump runs all the time if I want to keep the pool above 75 degrees. The ground around the pool is a constant 65, so if I don't run the heater all the time, the pool will be very chilly and unusable. In order to save some money on the energy bill, I was considering either a solar panel type heater on the roof or an attic heater. From what I've read, roof-mounted panels would be the way to go. My only concern is to make sure I get the correct panels and correct controls for trouble-free operation. This is NOT my permanent home, it is a vacation home that I only visit on weekends during summer, and every other week or so the rest of the year; so if the system develops a leak, I probably won't realize it until it's too late and the pool is completely empty by the pump.

    I've seen several solar panels being sold on Ebay and Amazon, such as these: http://www.ebay.com/itm/371300297714...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT, however, I'm not sure if a flexible, roll-up type of panel is the way to go; they seem flimsy to me. Are there any heavier-duty panels available that are durable but won't make this project cost-prohibitive?

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me for my setup.
    IMG_20150722_134657856.jpg

    John
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Do you plan on keeping the pool open and at swimmable temperatures year round? Don't forget about potential freezing for solar heating arrangements in very cold winters as I am guessing that your weather is not that different from what we get here in Toronto.

    Do you have internet at your vacation place? If so then you may want to put in place IP cameras and leak detectors that you can monitor from your home.

    You may also want to think about a heater that you can control remotely. If you can keep the pool at 65 with no heat but then turn on the heater the day before you arrive then you can have it in the 80s when you are there. And the heater only runs when there will be someone using the pool.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    I am very happy with my solar panels and solar controller. Pics and more info in my sig and build thread. I got my solar panels from Solar Direct and my Solartouch controller from Sunplay Home Page.
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by wayner View Post
    Do you plan on keeping the pool open and at swimmable temperatures year round? Don't forget about potential freezing for solar heating arrangements in very cold winters as I am guessing that your weather is not that different from what we get here in Toronto.
    Sorry, I forgot to mention that the house with the pool is in Michigan, and yes it gets very cold there. I don't plan on keeping the pool swimmable year round. The previous owner said he just set the pump to run a couple hours a day all winter and pool temp never got under 55 degrees, but he would check on it about once or twice a month, which is what I plan to do as well. Prior to locking up the place for winter, I had already anticipated either draining the panels, at least, or taking them down and storing in the garage. I could set them on a rack for easier, more frequent, installation in spring and removal in the fall.

    Do you have internet at your vacation place? If so then you may want to put in place IP cameras and leak detectors that you can monitor from your home.
    Yes, I do have internet at that house, a wifi leak detector during operation in summer is a good idea, but I don't know how to go about it at this point. Suggestions?, links?

    You may also want to think about a heater that you can control remotely. If you can keep the pool at 65 with no heat but then turn on the heater the day before you arrive then you can have it in the 80s when you are there. And the heater only runs when there will be someone using the pool.
    I think a goldline controller will serve my purpose well in this instance, since I only plan on running the solar heater during spring, summer, and beginning of fall. Am I on the right track?

    But my question was: what type of panel would give me worry-free operation, I don't want to go the cheap route and have a problem in the first or second season.
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    I am very happy with my solar panels and solar controller. Pics and more info in my sig and build thread. I got my solar panels from Solar Direct and my Solartouch controller from Sunplay Home Page.
    Thanks for your response. The panels from that website don't look any different than the ones being sold on ebay for less than half the cost. I just want to make sure I'm comparing apples to apples. For the controller, I've read a lot of good reviews about the goldline GL-235, which comes with an automatic diverter valve and sensors already in the kit. So do you think, I'd be ok with 2 ebay panels listed above, and the GL-235 controller?

    Thanks again.


    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by pooldv View Post
    I am very happy with my solar panels and solar controller. Pics and more info in my sig and build thread. I got my solar panels from Solar Direct and my Solartouch controller from Sunplay Home Page.
    Will the Solartouch controller also turn the pump on and off when needed? (in case of it being in the off cycle when the solar collectors are hot and heating up the water?)
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    I have an evacuated tube solar heating system. It is more efficient at capturing the solar energy but it is more expensive and more fragile as the tubes can shatter if you start up the system during the day as super hot water in the tubes will be replaced by much cooler water. I think these types of systems are used more in areas where the climate can be cooler. Using any solar system will require you to circulate water during the day which may also increase your electricity costs if your local electrical utility has different pricing through the day as daytime is generally the most expensive time.
    Vinyl 18'x36' in-ground 100,000 L, Jandy Aquapure 1400 SWCG, Jandy Lite2 heater, StaRite System3 filter, Evac tube solar heating panels

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by wayner View Post
    I have an evacuated tube solar heating system. It is more efficient at capturing the solar energy but it is more expensive and more fragile as the tubes can shatter if you start up the system during the day as super hot water in the tubes will be replaced by much cooler water. I think these types of systems are used more in areas where the climate can be cooler. Using any solar system will require you to circulate water during the day which may also increase your electricity costs if your local electrical utility has different pricing through the day as daytime is generally the most expensive time.
    I am already circulating water in the early morning and evening hours, I can reset the timer to circulate during hot sun hours instead. I've read that there may also be the added bonus of keeping the attic cooler with the panels up there on the roof, absorbing the sun's energy, rather than heating up the attic.
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    See Solar Panel Technology Comparisons. Basically since you are cost sensitive, the black flat mat plastic tube panels are what you would need to get, BUT they will not heat the pool during the winter because of less sunlight and especially because of the colder air temperatures especially if there is wind. During the freezing outside temperatures, you would have the panels drained and not used.

    The next step up are glazed panels which are basically copper tubes inside a glass panel sort of like a greenhouse (but flat and thin). The glass insulates the copper tubes which are painted black to absorb sunlight so such panels still operate in colder air temperatures and with wind. They will work in freezing conditions if you use a water/anti-freeze mixture for the panel heating system and that means using a heat exchanger (inside your pool room) to transfer the heat to your pool plumbing. Such a system used to be around 3 times as expensive as black flat mat panels but these days it's more like twice as expensive.

    The evacuated tube panels are about twice as expensive as the glazed panels and are really better used for solar domestic hot water heating rather than for pools because their extra efficiency only comes into play when the difference between water and air temperatures is large, but they are better in the winter on cloudy days (though there's not much heat generated on such days). On a sunny day at peak summer sun, the glazed panels and the best evacuated tubes have similar efficiency with an air/water temperature difference of 50C/90F while on a cloudy day they have similar efficiency with a temperature difference of 18C/32F (so for larger temperature differences the evacuated tubes are better). So for Canada using evacuated tubes for pool heating in the winter may make sense.

    As for attic cooling, that is definitely true as the black flat mat FAFCO panels I have most definitely cool the attic and is noticeable in the hottest room in the house. When the solar is used, that room stays cooler than when it is not used.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Nojodas67, you say the panels don't look any different, I have to ask if you are looking at the right thing, the Solar Direct Vortex panels (which are a private label version of the Techno-Solis panels I have). Conceptually they work the same as the panels on ebay, but beyond that it is a bit like saying a Mercedes and a Yugo are the same as they are both European cars.

    Wayner that is not exactly true, evacuated tube designs are actually much less efficient (by about 30-40% by area) when the daytime air temperature is within 20 degrees F of the desired pool temperature, where evacuated tubes really perform best is when there is more than a 20 degree F difference between the desired pool temperature and the air temperature. For circumstances where the air temperature is closer to the desired pool temperature the flat plastic / rubber mat style panels are the most efficient.

    Ike

    p.s. for an idea of just how much thicker and stiffer the Techno-Solis panels are than those flimsy roll up ebay panels, see my build thread Solar Panel Replacement / Update I know the photo is a bit dark and there is plastic wrap, but you can see how my panels were shipped on a crated pallet where they will barely bend into a U shape. If you look at sheer weight, the 4x12 Techno-Solis panel weighs in at 30 pounds which is probably double the weight of those ebay panels (the 2x20 ft Eco Saver kit on Amazon has a shipping weight of 25 pounds for the whole kit with packaging) Request Rejected
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    receipt027.jpgAnother question: The roof over the pool is such that the sun shines on one elevation during the morning, but it shines on the opposite side of the peak in the afternoon. I was thinking of putting 1 panel 48"x20' on each side of the peak. Should these panels be plumbed in series or parallel? In other words, 1) cold water coming up off the pool should go directly into inlet side of one panel and out the outlet side, then into the inlet side of the second panel and out the outlet side, then back down to the pool. or 2) Cold water coming up from the pool goes to a "T" on the roof, then each side of the "T" branches into the inlet side of each panel, then both outlet pipes converge into another "T", then back down to the pool.

    Which scenario, 1 or 2 would be more efficient? Sorry about the bad sketch. I also read that the inlet side (cool water) should be on the lower elevation of the panel, and the warm water should exit out the top, but I don't know why.
    Attachment 42311
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac-1 View Post
    Nojodas67, you say the panels don't look any different, I have to ask if you are looking at the right thing, the Solar Direct Vortex panels (which are a private label version of the Techno-Solis panels I have). Conceptually they work the same as the panels on ebay, but beyond that it is a bit like saying a Mercedes and a Yugo are the same as they are both European cars.

    Wayner that is not exactly true, evacuated tube designs are actually much less efficient (by about 30-40% by area) when the daytime air temperature is within 20 degrees F of the desired pool temperature, where evacuated tubes really perform best is when there is more than a 20 degree F difference between the desired pool temperature and the air temperature. For circumstances where the air temperature is closer to the desired pool temperature the flat plastic / rubber mat style panels are the most efficient.

    Ike

    p.s. for an idea of just how much thicker and stiffer the Techno-Solis panels are than those flimsy roll up ebay panels, see my build thread Solar Panel Replacement / Update I know the photo is a bit dark and there is plastic wrap, but you can see how my panels were shipped on a crated pallet where they will barely bend into a U shape. If you look at sheer weight, the 4x12 Techno-Solis panel weighs in at 30 pounds which is probably double the weight of those ebay panels (the 2x20 ft Eco Saver kit on Amazon has a shipping weight of 25 pounds for the whole kit with packaging) Request Rejected
    That's the kind of info I was hoping for. Thanks. I also see that the warranty on the Solar Direct panels is 10 years, Ebay panels don't even mention a warranty. I'm not cheap, I just like to shop around to make sure I'm getting a fair price for a quality product. And while I would never consider buying a Yugo, I did buy a new Mercedes, but I think I could have gotten a car with similar quality and longevity at half the price (Toyota, Infinity, Etc).
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nojodas67 View Post
    [COLOR=#0000ff]
    Will the Solartouch controller also turn the pump on and off when needed? (in case of it being in the off cycle when the solar collectors are hot and heating up the water?)
    No, neither the Solartouch nor the GL235 will turn on the pump. Both will open the solar valve when heat is available. The Solartouch also changes my Pentair variable speed pump from 1100 rpm (150 watts) for skimming and making chlorine to 1950 rpm (550 watts) for solar when it opens the solar valve. When there is not enough heat it closes the valve and returns the pump to 1100 rpm.
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Anyone?

    Please look at my sketches above and let me know which one I should go with.

    Thanks.
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Neither. Case 2 is closer to correct but still has major flaws. You want the water to have to travel the same distance through all paths through the panels.

    I am unclear what panel size and orientation you are trying to use. Most panels can not have the source and return lines on the same end.
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    I've decided on Techno-Solis 4x? panels, I need about 200 sq.ft. for 75% coverage. However, it is not yet clear to me where the best location is. I'm not opposed to putting them on the ground, on the North side of the house, near the pool mechanical room. However, my initial thought was to mount them on the roof over the living space (as opposed to over the pool room), to get the added benefit of keeping the attic cooler with the panels on the roof (If that is even a correct statement and worth the extra effort).

    Please take a look at these pictures, I would appreciate any input as to the best location and orientation to mount these panels.









    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    South facing roof is always best. Your southwest facing roof would be best. But, if you want to avoid the front of the house then the southeast roof would be next best.

    More info on solar installs here,
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Only wanting 200 sqft, you should be able to fit it all in one bank and not have to worry about the splitting like your drawing. Looks like you should be able to fit 4x of the 4'x12.5' or 5x of the 4'x10' panels side by side.

    I think you would be fine putting them on the SE facing roof over the pool room ... could always add an extra panel for more heat if needed.

    The plumbing will be a little more tricky as you want the panels to be able to drain automatically, so running the plumbing up and over is not ideal. You could come down in the nearest corner in your last picture and then run around the house, but then you will need to be sure that pipe would drain for winter.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Or, just go up and over (my previous house was like that). I just added a low point spigot that I would open in the winter to be sure the panels were completely drained. This is probably the easiest way to plumb them.
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    As I look at this in more detail; The SE roof does not get the sun at the correct angle so it won't produce much heat past 2PM, if the only real feasible location on the roof is over the pool room, it does not make sense to put them on the roof anyway; Besides, not that I think about it, I don't really want the panels visible from the driveway; the orientation of the house is just not ideal for this. So I'm going to put them on the ground on the North side of the house, near the pool mechanical room, at the property line. Should I make a wooden rack for the panels to keep them off the ground a bit, or another idea I had was to just lay down some paving blocks and set them on that.
    New pool owner. Existing pool that came with recent house purchase.
    Pool: 12x22 (6800 gal. ?) inground, indoor, fiberglass, oval shape 3-5ft. deep; 1 HP Hayward pump, cartridge filter. saltwater generator, Geothermal heater/heat pump.

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panel types for worry-free enjoyment.

    Given the yard and the layout of the house ... I think on the ground might be better. You could build a rack to have them at the right angle to the sun ... or just have more sqft laying flat.
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