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Thread: Solar Heater Recommendations

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    Solar Heater Recommendations

    Howdy,

    I am a relatively new pool owner. My wife and I bought our first house four years ago which has a 30,000 gallon in ground pool. Not having any pool experience the first few years were rough. Now with four seasons under our belt we have hit a nice groove with maintenance, chemicals, cleaning etc. However the same problem persists each summer of water temperature. It stays below 70 for most of the summer. In late July early August it will spike to 75 but that will only last a few weeks. I can see how awesome it is during this stretch but in general a three week stretch of swimming is a small reward for all the work that is put into it.

    I've done a lot of research on how to bring up water temp. We use the solar cover which definitely helps. I've read a lot about solar heaters both DIY and manufactured stand alone units. About a month ago I started my DIY solar heater with 400 feet of 1/2" black irrigation hose. I installed a Y fitting with valves on my Hayward EC65 DE filter. On a sunny day the water does come out 10-12 degrees warmer than what it comes in at. I'm happy about this but the flow rate is down at about 1gallon a minute. With a filter on for 10hrs I get about 2% of total pool volume per day. This is never going to add up to anything real. I could add more irrigation hose but my fear (after going from 200' to 400') is that if I go to 600' that the head loss will be too much and restrict flow even more. I can close the valve on the regular filter outlet pushing all the water through the solar heater irrigation hose but this still only doubles the flow rate to about 2 gallons a minute. It also doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies with the pump low output volume. Another thought is that I could upgrade to 3/4" hose or full inch hose to reduce head loss and increase flow rate. However a quick experiment using all 125' of existing garden hose I have produced similar low flow results.

    Am I just nuts for trying to heat such a large pool through solar? Should I look into getting a larger separate pump for increased volume? Should I cut my losses and buy some of the Blue Wave SolarPRO Curve heaters? We have natural gas in the house should I look into a gas unit? I wouldn't say money is no object but my general philosophy is I would rather pay for something that I know will work and do the job.

    Sorry for the long post, any ideas and thoughts are welcome.

    Thanks

  2. Back To Top    #2

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    Re: Solar Heater Reccomendations

    Ok I'm not the expert at this but I'll make some comments.

    First are you saying with 400 of irrigation line you are getting a 10 to 12 degree rise in the water in the pool or the water coming out of the heater? I can't imagine its pool temp rise.

    Some facts about solar heating:

    From a cost and efficiency standpoint you will almost always come out better purchasing commercial panels. Solar heat works best by moving volumes of water quickly through small orifices, Your irrigation tubing is too large and you are not moving sufficient water,

    Again I'm not the expert here but for your pool to get a meaningful rise you are going to need commercial panels equal to more than half the sq footage of your pool and a probably 3 hp pump capable of moving a large volume of water. A DYI will never make a meaningful difference.

    I suggest you search DYI solar on here and look at all the u tube videos with a critical eye.

    As you can see by my signature I have solar and my family loves it. And after battling with the solar installer it wasn't that expensive.

    Call a solar co or two, having them come out and give you an estimate id free and you can learn something. There are several brands of panels you can buy and install yourself and there is plenty of help on here to do that.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

  3. Back To Top    #3
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Reccomendations

    I agree with the above post with the exception of the pump size. A 3HP pump is not going to be needed.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    Jason beat me to it, in general terms you need commercial plastic unglazed solar panels with an area equal to or greater than 50% of your pool surface area mounted at a southern facing angle, ideal tilt for your region will be around 37 degrees from horizontal, however there is a wide acceptable ballpark for angle of tilt and is really the optimal spring / fall equinox tilt, which assumes you are attempting a swim season from late April to late September. Which is likely possible where you live with enough solar panels (something on the order of 100-125% of your pool surface area in panels with a solar cover also), for summer peak heating only your optimal tilt is facing south only 12.5 degrees from horizontal, or in other words nearly flat. I wanted to get this out of the way up front because there is a LOT of bad information out there about optimal solar tilt angles as a lot of people use the tilt angles for solar electric panels which operate year round, and compromise a bit of there summer capacity in favor of winter capacity, which is pointless for typical unglazed solar pool heaters which only effectively operate when the daytime air temperature is within about 20 degrees of the desired pool temperature. For my climate with an indoor pool plus a solar pool cover to minimize heat loss this means an effective swim season with 66% effective solar panel coverage (limited by SW facing roof area) of roughly from the last frost in the spring until the first frost in the fall.

    Having said all that, any amount of solar panels beats having no solar panels, there are many DIY and semi-DIY panel install threads on here, for a look at mine see this link Solar Panel Replacement / Update
    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: Solar Heater Recommendations

    +1 to any solar panels being better than none. I could only fit 240 sf of panels on the roof near my pool which is @700sf. The panels still make a big difference in pool temp. There are pics in my build thread, link in sig.
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    Thanks for all the good suggestions. The 10-12 degree difference is mostly because there is such a slow flow 1gallon/min coming through the solar irrigation hose.

    My house is not an ideal setup for commercial solar panels. The ridge runs North South meaning the panels will face either East or West. I have small pool shed 8'X16' with a ridge that runs east west putting one face at a good southern exposure. However with it only being 8' X 16' the usable roof is only 4' X 16'. My gut tells me that this would fall in the too small for commercial solar heaters but ok for the something is better than nothing. Does anyone agree/disagree?
    20'X40' Inground 30,000 gallons. Vinyl Liner with Hayward EC65 DE filter.

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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    Raypak 400k BTU gas heater
    Inground 22k gallon gunite 15x31 main pool, 15x7 wading pool/sunning deck, hot tub/with overflow (9' octagon with limestone top) & slide NSWG, Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    given your roofline issue, have you considered SolarAttic | Home Page | SolarAttic Solar Pool Heater We have a few members that claim they work great. Personally I am not sure how I would feel about pumping thousands of gallons an hour worth of water into my attic in case it sprang a leak.
    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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    RyanMcC's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    We got the "Eco Saver 20-Foot Solar Heating Panel System " from Amazon the first year we had a pool. It worked well enough (the water from the jet was distinctly warmer than the pool water) that I bought a second one to connect to it for the next year. The first full day I had the system hooked up our 10,000 gallon pool started the day at 55 degrees and was up to 64 when I shut it down for the night.

    Yes, it was a warm, sunny day and the pool with its "fresh from the well" water would have warmed up anyway, but it was still a huge success. This summer I'm building a box around the panels to kelp them work better and keep them from being a radiator in the mornings.
    "...chemistry is not an exact science" -Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 Olympics spokesman
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    What do you expect the cost per month to be for someone just north of Boston for gas heating?
    20'X40' Inground 30,000 gallons. Vinyl Liner with Hayward EC65 DE filter.

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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    I saw that and dismissed it for two reasons. I too am a little nervous about pumping water through my house. Second reason is I don't have an attic. I appreciate all these ideas. Maybe there is one unconventional that would work well for me.
    20'X40' Inground 30,000 gallons. Vinyl Liner with Hayward EC65 DE filter.

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    wjr75's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    My 20k gallon pool with my 400k BTU heater heats 2 degree's per hour at about $2/per hour the last time a calculated a couple of years ago. We have an auto cover so a cover of some sort is key not to lose the heat at night. We only heat the pool in the morning when we expect to use it.
    Inground 22k gallon gunite 15x31 main pool, 15x7 wading pool/sunning deck, hot tub/with overflow (9' octagon with limestone top) & slide NSWG, Aqua Blue Pebble Sheen
    Filter dual cartridge Sta-rite 450sq/ft, TF-100 Test Kit
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  13. Back To Top    #13

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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    My panels face South and North. So I would love a West facing panel. I also have mature redwood trees to the South and East as well as an Oak to the West.

    Any panels are better than no panels. Some days like today if the solar controller didn't cut it off the solar would par boil eggs. OK maybe not.
    22k gallon IG pebblefina, Jandy 1.5 HP VS, Jandy CV Cartridge filter, Fafco solar panels, Polaris 360 supply side cleaner, waterfall

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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    What's everyone's thoughts on Blue Wave NS6028 SolarPRO Curve Solar Heater for Above Ground Pools? I feel like the dimensions would work well on top of my pool shed. I don't see why it wouldn't work for IG pools. Less effective for sure but as others have said some solar panels are better than none.

    I'm leaning towards gas as our final long term solution. This probably won't happen until I build a garage which is 3ish years away. What if I grab a blue wave or two for a temporary fix to get me through the next 3 years. I can always keep these and supplement the gas heat once we build a garage and go down that road. Anyone have thoughts on this plan?
    20'X40' Inground 30,000 gallons. Vinyl Liner with Hayward EC65 DE filter.

  15. Back To Top    #15

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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    I also like the look of these instead of the solar curve panels. How far north in NH are you? The weather can get really cold up there. Glad you got good results. Even if I take your results and cut them by three for the volume difference I would still be happy.

    Did your pool temp continue to grow from mid 60s with this system?
    20'X40' Inground 30,000 gallons. Vinyl Liner with Hayward EC65 DE filter.

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    RyanMcC's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    We're about level with Laconia. We've had the pool up into the 80s a lot, but we don't worry about heating it at that point- we're going for comfort, not records.

    That Blue Wave looks fantastic, but I'm not all that happy with its size. The writeup on Amazon says it's meant for up to a 12,000 gallon pool and can raise the temp 5 degrees in 5 days. Hardly stellar, but every bit helps. Make sure you plumb in a bypass so you aren't forced to use the panel whenever the pump is running.

    I'm a fan of solar because it works and it's free. You've already got to run the pump no matter what kind of heating system you have, and some added resistance to the pump is your only cost of using the solar. The downside is that you only get heat on sunny days. See how it goes. You may decide you want more muscle at the ends of the season but can use just the solar in the summer.
    "...chemistry is not an exact science" -Mario Andrada, Rio 2016 Olympics spokesman
    21' x 52" Radiant Metric Round ~10K gal AGP with Hayward S180t pump/sand filter.
    Caldera (Watkins) Martinique 340 gallon installed in basement, Bromine and ozone.
    Taylor K-2006 test kit.

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    Solar is all about surface area, those curved panels are gimmicks that fool people into thinking hotter water at lower flow levels equals more heat into their pools, the truth of the matter is the basic black plastic solar panels at adequate water flow and thermal conditions can be over 90% efficient, meaning there is just not that much more available energy in sunlight for a given area. Glazed solar panels, even those with clear plastic covering, can increase peak temperatures, which may be important in domestic hot water applications, but is not the issue with pool heating, instead pool heating is all about maximum BTU transfer, covering the panels just reflects part of the potential heat away while raising peak temperature, it does nothing to increase BTU throughput.
    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
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

  18. Back To Top    #18
    rlefig's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heater Recommendations

    Hey Pooldad in Reading MA, I am also in Reading MA on Prescott street and I have thought about solar too and even plumbed for it when I did my patio. We should get together and see what we can come up with. My pool does get into the low 80's but does get lots of morning early afternoon sun and is only 19k

    rob
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