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Thread: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

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    Join Date
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    How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    Hi there - being from the frosty North, the weather can be very cool, even the Summer. It was 16 celsius last night and this afternoon, even with it being about 30 degrees and sunny - my pool is just 18 (65 Fahrenheit) I can't even get the kids to jump in! End of Summer last year, I bought 1000' of 1/2" irrigation tubing. So far, I made 3 complete panels of approx. 160 ' each (pic attached) and have them ready to be plumbed in parallel, connected to 1" pvc tubing. How can I set this up properly using 1 1/2" quick connects then reduced to 1" to fit? My intention is to use the existing Hayward pool pump to lift the water via 1" pvc to the 1/2" panels on my roof which is approx. 18' up. I've seen very little online about actually plumbing these solar coils. I just need a diagram on how to plumb it to the pump (including a bypass) I have another couple of pics showing the pump and roof but was limited to just one pic

    Thank you - Tonebone
    Attached Images Attached Images
    21' AGP 52" depth, Hayward Turbo Flow 2 1.5HP pump, Hayward Sand Filter.

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    cowboycasey's Avatar
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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    hey there, I have not done this but this is about the best website for help I know

    Plumbing and Controlling Solar Swimming Pool Heating Systems
    Pool: Intex 16x32 15000 gal, 2 speed 340042, Pentair CC320 Filter, CircuPool SJ45 Salt System, Intermatic PE653RC; Hot Tub: 650 Gal SWG Megachlor
    links: pool school * Recommended-Levels * SLAM * CYA chart * Test kits * How To Post Pictures * Poolmath * OCLT ** Support your website if we helped you :) **

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    Sounds like a fun project and I can sure understand wanting the pool warmer!

    You need to be aware that this system won't drain fully when it's shut off. It may drain enough to stand the freezing in the black poly pipe, maybe not, or you can blow it out with compressed air for winter. If you want to blow it out, provide for that in your plumbing.

    You want to target a minimum of 2/3 of your pool's surface area in collector area for the project to be worthwhile. A 1:1 ratio would be better.

    The simplest way to plumb it, assuming manual control of your system, is to plumb in a three way valve with one outlet going straight to the pool, and the other outlet going to solar. This valve is your manual on/off and can also be adjusted to get the right amount of water flowing to the solar. You're going to want to automate it later, and a pool valve can have an actuator added.

    Then a tee, downstream from the three-way on the line going to the pool, for the heated water to re-join the flow.

    Both of these should be after your filter, but before your main heater or chlorinator (if present).

    When the system is shut off, there will be suction on it from the weight of the water, so you need to add a vacuum breaker at the highest point in the system. You will need to have enough pressure at the top to keep this valve closed when the system is running, because the pull of water coming back down when it's running may suck air if there's not enough pressure. If this happens and your pump is already flat-out, you'll need a throttling valve on the return line coming down.

    Check valves depend on pool height and equipment pad height, and I suppose in your case where the system doesn't drain, you may be able to just close it off and leave the water in the "to solar" side. The easiest way to suggest check valves is for you to describe where any check valves are now, and pool height vs. equipment pad, and then you'll get an answer. The key is that you don't want water coming back down and going backward through your filter when the pump shuts off. The drain water needs to go to the pool.

    On the two lines ("to solar" and "from solar") you want tees joined by pipe with a ball valve between the two tees. The ball valve is left slightly open so the "to solar" side can drain into return line when the pump is shut off. This can be very small pipe, e.g. 1/2 inch.

    Be aware of wind loading which can be extremely high during storms. One of our neighbors had their "professionally" installed system rip clean off the roof. Thankfully they and their children were not in the yard. This is critically important. The system needs to be tied down adequately.

    This link is to the installation manual for my system. Page 33 has the schematic, and you can also find wind loading information (albeit Australian) starting on page 30. These won't help for your location, but will explain the importance.
    http://www.ecoonline.com.au/content/...all_manual.pdf

    You'll notice little tubing for draining. I preferred a properly plumbed drain line between the two sides of the system, not the little tubing shown in the manual. These plug up and drip and just aren't worth the savings.

    Professional installers here use black PVC pressure pipe, and that's a great way to go. I got free pipe from my builder and painted it black. If you leave it white, light gets in and algae can grow in it during the off-season.

    I can't do drawings and parts lists and post them here, but maybe after you dig into it a bit deeper, you can draw something up and post it. Experts here will point you in the right direction.
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    In case you don't already have a cover, I forgot to mention, your biggest (and cheapest) heat gain will come from covering your pool overnight. When you start heating it, you need it anyway. So I would start with that. Just get the cover; they're pretty cheap. You can rig up a roller per this method from mas985, our resident plumbing efficiency guru: DIY Solar Cover Roller
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    The bad news is you have the time and money invested here. Homemade solar generally cost more and are generally significantly less effective than the least expensive commercial panels.

    Unless you are investing in a solar controller all you need is a simple Jandy three way valve to divert water up to the panels and a T further down to bring the water back. A vacuum release on the top. Normally you feed panels from the bottom and they return from the top so you have a vacuum release on the top to allow them to drain back to the pool when not in use. That won't work here or at least won't fully work. Anyway 1/2 my panels never drain and it works for me.
    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: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    Quote Originally Posted by gwegan View Post
    The bad news is you have the time and money invested here. Homemade solar generally cost more and are generally significantly less effective than the least expensive commercial panels.

    Unless you are investing in a solar controller all you need is a simple Jandy three way valve to divert water up to the panels and a T further down to bring the water back. A vacuum release on the top. Normally you feed panels from the bottom and they return from the top so you have a vacuum release on the top to allow them to drain back to the pool when not in use. That won't work here or at least won't fully work. Anyway 1/2 my panels never drain and it works for me.
    Keep in mind that it freezes, what, 5 mornings a year in Sacramento? And then it is maybe 28F? OP is prolly at minus 28F for 5 days and 200 days under freezing overnight...just a wag. Im 30 miles up the hill from Sacto and even a little residual water in my panels cal lead to splitting. Hence this caution.

    Excellent comment about a pool cover- it was my first step for 4 years before adding solar, and can make a major difference.

    My current solar is 12 panels each 4x12, so 576 sq feet of solar exposure. (which is close to 1:1, pool is about 625) Id suggest the OP should determine if the items he has fabricated will gain much heat in order to support the expense of a plumbing to the roof effort....
    In ground, plaster, medgrey; 30k Gall; irregular, approx 32x18 feet ;4' to 9' depth
    1.5HP whisperflo w/ NSP72 DE filter; Solar heat (12x12x4 Fafco); Disappearing edge (2HP whisperflo for edge); waterwitch
    Salt Chlorinator abandoned after 3 replacements and 6 cells over 18 years....

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    rbinn's Avatar
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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    Hi Neighbor! Another Canuck here. I too used the same type of system made of black pipe for a few yrs. The folks on this site explained how it works more efficiently with more volume at a lower temperature. I can tell you they were right! I put 3 4x20 and added an additional 4 x 12 this year and my system is awesome. I cant say enough about a remote control for the solar valve as well. It really makes all the difference. Currently the outside temp is 73F and my covered pool is 80. I have it set for 86 and over the last few weeks it has easily reached that and kept it there. I did all my own work, as its not too hard.
    Cheers!
    9 x 18 Hydro Force AGP, Aqua Pro AP ASFAL 75 pump and sand filter, Hayward Skimmer, Raypak 106A propane heater, Sunquest Solar Panels, Pentair Rainbow test kit.

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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    Thank you, gentlemen! cowboycasey - thanks for the link - I think this is the setup I need to go with needsjet - thanks for the thorough reply - you brought up a very real concern - wind. We've had a couple of pretty violent storms just in the last couple of weeks here in Montreal. My house is a split-level and my 2 roofs are actually almost flat - just a few degrees to send the water to the eaves. I'm not too fond of the idea of fastening the panels directly to the roof though. Instead, I was thinking of tying it into the chimney. In the fall I plan on taking them down so no risk of freezing. I do have a solar blanket with a roller- it's a chore to get on / off though because I have a fence attached to my pool. A city bylaw and safer for the kids. - I removed a few pickets on either side for the roller. gwegan - thank you. I wonder though, considering the low grade of my roof, if I'd still need the vacuum breaker? Adam, you lucky duck! It's not uncommon for us to see temperatures as low as -30 Celcius (-22 F) for sometimes weeks in late Jan & early Feb. My fellow Canadian, rbinn can vouch for me! I saw a sale on that 1/2" irrigation tubing, cross-border shopping at Home Depot in Massena, NY last year and figured I'd give it a go. Since It's already invested I'll run with this for now. Unfortunately, I only read much later that it's more efficient to have more volume of water at a lower temperature. There a guy who's website I visited, built a rectangular labyrinth of 200' using 1 1/2" ABS pipes on his roof for a solar heater. He initially started with coils like mine but said he replaced them because of too many leaks. That sounds a bit much though - I think when this system eventually fails, I'll try some commercial panels like needsajet, gwegan and rbinn. I think Costco sells them. Thanks again for your input
    21' AGP 52" depth, Hayward Turbo Flow 2 1.5HP pump, Hayward Sand Filter.

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    needsajet's Avatar
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    Re: How to plumb my solar panels to my pump.

    I strongly recommend the vacuum breaker. at 18' you'll have around 7-8 PSI of negative pressure when the system is off. With no water circulation (days you're away or you turn it on later in the day, or the pool is hot enough), your tubing on a hot summer day will get up to around 60C (140F) and the suction flattens them. This leads to poor circulation, fatigue and leaks.

    Sounds like a good plan to think commercial panels for the long term. Automation is key as well, so use a pool three-way valve for the split, because that can be automated with an actuator later. Good stuff, you'l love it when the pool is heating for just the cost of a small amount of extra power to the pump.
    12k IG salt; glass beads in plaster; K-2006C, K-1766, CCL, and Aussie 4in1 (HTH); Pentair Eco800 1.2HP VS; Zodiac SWC 1.3 lb/day (25 g/hr); 25" filter recycled glass; OKU solar panels; 1/2 HP solar pump; Rebel (Warrior) pool cleaner; FlowViz; prior pool AG 10k | Read Before Posting to get the best possible advice | ... and this helped me a lot!: TFPC for Beginners

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