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Thread: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

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    Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    So, I just picked up seven HC-40 (IIRC. 4'x10.5') panels for a song (friend of a friend just bought a house and didn't like them. Had them tested by a local installer, who said they're in great shape with no leaks). They came with the connection clamps, but it looks like I'm going to need to pick up gaskets and fittings for connecting to PVC.

    Regarding mounting, they came with the mounting sleds rather than gator clamps. The sleds basically clip onto a z-bar that you mount to the roof, allowing for a bit of expansion. It sounds like this is how they used to be installed, and Heliocol just does gator clamps these days.

    Should the mounting sleds be okay, or should I buy some gator clamps instead? I'd much rather stick with the mounting sleds if they aren't going to be awful, since... well, the gator clamps are like, $20+ per set.

    I think I mostly understand the rest of the installation process. It seems pretty straightforward, and I've got the Heliocol installation manual printed and sitting on my desk right now. I'm looking into how/where to plumb it into my existing plumbing. We currently have a valve that turns on/off a water feature. I'm not entirely sure how to plumb with/around that valve, though, and would welcome any advice.

    Here's a photo of our setup, conveniently labeled by our (otherwise kind of awful) PB:




    Thanks for any advice! You folks are pretty great.
    18,000-gallon-ish IG
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    Mod Squad zea3's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    I can't help with the mounting part but it looks like you may have enough space to add a valve on the vertical run of the return coming out of the filter. That would allow you to choose between diverting to the solar panels or bypassing them and going the original route.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    If that is how they used to be mounted then it should be fine.

    You need to cut the pipe coming out of the filter and add a 90 to the solar panels and plumb the return from the solar panels into the vertical pipe going up to the valve. You can install the solar valve, bypass line and check valves away from the equipment pad, where there is more room. There are pics of my solar plumbing in my build thread, link in sig.
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    What pooldv said, sorry I can't help on the brand specific stuff. Do you plan to add a solar controller, or just try to handle things manually / through a timer?
    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: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Awesome! Thanks for the info, all. It sounds like it's all pretty straightforward. I'll check out your pics, pooldv.

    Oh, and I'm planning on doing an electronic controller.
    18,000-gallon-ish IG
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Yes, forgot to mention it, but a solar controller will help a LOT to get the most heat into your pool. We didn't have one the first year and the difference after adding it was substantial. We lost a lot of heat to rain, shade, wind on the panels.
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    +1 for solar controller
    COMPLETED BUILD THREAD - 15'x29' rectangular offset shotcrete pool; 14,100 gal; 5'x7' raised spa with 400k btu fire feature; 7' spillover; 25' leuder stone raised bond wall w/waterfall; Pentair SWG; Pentair VS (pool); Pentair 3/4hp feature pump; 1hp spa blower; Pentair Cartridge filter; Pentair “Easy Touch 8” wireless; Dolphin Oasis Z5 robot; Solar Hydronics iSwim solar panels; Mansard Screen Enclosure; walnut travertine deck; 1 very happy kiddo.

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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Also I would say hands down Pentair has the best option on solar controllers right now.
    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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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    If you want to go with Pentair there is the Solartouch and the Suntouch. Both work the same for solar control but the Suntouch has extra features that can control an Intellichlor SWG and a heat pump in the future. If those are on your list then get the Suntouch, if not Solartouch is all you need.
    Here is where I got mine, Pentair SolarTouch Control System 521592 | Pentair 521592

    I am very happy with my Solartouch and Sunplay is a great company
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    So... I was leaning toward the Hayward GL-235, mostly for price and better ratings on Amazon (though, I do realize that pool equipment is niche enough that Amazon ratings are too small of a sample group to really trust). I'll take another look at the Pentair stuff though.

    Then I started down the rabbit hole of "ooh! I could get something that could control the solar *and* our water feature remotely! Aside from not at all understanding how all the iAqualink (I have a Jandy VS FloPro 1.0HP) stuff fits together (I.e.: what pieces you need), I'm pretty sure it would cost me twice as much (at least) to set something like that up, vs just doing the solar controller.
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    Mod Squad pooldv's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Yeah, pool automation is certainly an easy rabbit hole to fall in. I did the same! I don't know anything about iAqualink. The GL-235 is also fine. Don't worry about the reviews for Pentair or Hayward, they are good products. People just don't read instructions anymore. We are becoming a smart phone generation where we expect everything to be intuitive and if we can't figure it out in a couple of minutes then we complain. Pool automation requires reading of installation and operator manuals.

    Some research into iAqualink might be time well spent because it will probably be able to ramp the speed on your VS pump when solar heat is available. My Solartouch opens the solar valve and changes the pump speed from 1100rpm (150w) to 1950rpm (550w) when solar heat is available.

    Or maybe someone here is familiar with the iAqualink and can help out.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Have you found a source for gaskets? When I installed mine, getting parts was a little tricky, but I found a source that would sell to me.

    I used the gator clips, since mine did not come with any mounting.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    The GL-235 has been around forever, it is basic, simple and not much to it, there is a knob to roughly set the temperature, no display to tell you the current actual temperature or the actual set point, all I can really say is it does the job. I have the Hayward Aquasolar controller which is a fancier version of the GL-235, but with mechanical timer and digital display, and if I had to replace it today I would get the Pentair Solartouch instead as it is a much more modern computerized programmable design, and is so much more bang for the buck.

    Ike
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Yeah, I'm looking at the solartouch now. Seems solid. It almost sounds like the Suntouch could turn on/off my water feature (I think it can handle two actuators), but since the box is going to be right by my equipment, that's a little pointless.

    My Jandy control box has simple inputs for triggering any of its speed settings via a remote switch, so I should be able to use any solar controller that can do so. I wouldn't mind going with Aqualink, but they sure go out of their way to make it confusing for non-PB's. Like, which panels would I need? Do I need a power center? Some other bits?

    *shrug*

    As for the gaskets, google found me a place selling them for $3 each. Not terrible, I suppose. Hopefully they actually ship things.

    BTW, when sorting out what I have so I could see what I still need, I realized that I have 16 clamps with mounting sleds, which is exactly how many I need for 7 panels, I believe, but then also 8 clamps without mounting sleds (minus one clip that appears to have gone missing). I have no idea what these would be used for. Connecting plumbing, maybe?

    image.jpg

    Any ideas?
    18,000-gallon-ish IG
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    The small ones are used to connect the panels together. You need 2 per panel + 2. So you are missing a few. Unless some are still attached to end caps. Do you also have the adapters to cover to PVC pipe?
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    The ones not connected to the mounting sleds are the same as the ones in the mounting sleds. All the clamps are identical. Some are just clipped into mounting sleds. I'm not even sure how they would be used for anything other than connecting the panels together.

    I don't have the adapters for connecting to PVC. I'm going to need to order those.

    The way I figure it, I should need 16 ring clamps total. 12 for joining panels to each other, 2 for attaching the PVC connectors (feed + return), and 2 for attaching caps at the ends of the pipes opposite the feed/return.

    One of the panels still has a cap on it currently.

    Can I not just use the clamps in the mounting sleds as those 16 panel/PVC adapter/end cap connecting clamps? That's exactly how many I have.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    Sorry, that is more obvious looking at the picture on the computer. I would not think there is a need for every single connection to attach to the track, but if you have them, use them all to attach to the Z bar.

    Wait, how does the bottom header attach to the roof? These panels expand and contract a few inches, so the bottom needs to be able to slide.

    Now that I think about it, I think a few of mine had that attachment to go on the Z bar when I got mine. I just removed them.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    A z-bar goes on both the top and bottom, so the panels can expand horizontally, sliding along the z bar.

    /edit: at least, I *think* that's how it's supposed to go. The Heliocol install manual doesn't have instructions for the mounting sleds.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    I know for a fact my 12.5' panels expand vertically 1-2 inches. I would be afraid if you installed while they are warm and had the z-bar tight, in the winter, they would contract and put a lot of stress on all the tubes ... maybe that is why they changed the mounting methods?

    - - - Updated - - -

    I ordered my parts from solar-discounters (I see they are on ebay now too ... you may get a discount going direct). Calling them might get some more info about the installation process.
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    Re: Heliocol installation questions (DIY)

    I'll see if I can get some info out of them. I was planning on ordering the gaskets and PVC connectors from there anyhow.

    The lip of the z bar is about an inch long, so if it's not super tight when I put it on (70-75ish out at the moment), I'd imagine it'll be alright in the winter. Still researching to see if there's something special to do during installation, though. Not super keen to spend an extra $300 on gator clamps if I don't have to. This is, of course, assuming that the z-bar Home Depot sells will work.

    Thanks again!
    18,000-gallon-ish IG
    New (May 2015) baja shelf/Tahoe Blue Pebble Tec
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