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Thread: Opinion on which solar heater to get

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    Opinion on which solar heater to get

    I'm looking for a solar heater system for my 14x28 inground pool. I think I've narrowed it down to the Fafco sungrabber or the Enersol system. The Fafco seems to be half the price of the Enersol, but I don't know how they compare. Is there any/much difference? I know that the Enersol has rubber-like tubes which apparently is good so that they don't crack, and I think Fafco has something similar, but I can't seem to confirm this. Any opinions out there as to which system I should invest in?

    TIA
    15000 gallon gunite pool with smart brite quartz, 2.5 hp pump, Hayward filter, elevated spa, waterfall, smart vac viper pool cleaner

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Welcome to TFP!

    I have 11 FAFCO SunSaver and 1 FAFCO Revolution panels that are now around 7 years old and they have worked very well. As for SunGrabber, I don't have experience with that but noted this website that indicates they are not as good for in-ground applications. I'm guessing that the panels may not have the same relief valves used in roof applications and are instead designed more for smaller above-ground pools where auto-draining of the panels may not be done, but this is just a guess on my part.
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    The Fafco one is supposed to be for inground pools. Here is the info I have from this website (https://www.nationalpoolwholesalers.com ... 8x20_Panel)_up_to_14ft_x_28ft_--SKU_FAFSGI1428.html) that is selling them - it is supposed to be for a 14x28 pool:

    This kit includes the system kit to properly install your solar heating system.

    STANDARD FEATURES:

    # 10 year manufacturer warranty
    # Everything you need
    # 4 - 2’ x 20’ in ground solar panel
    # 3 - 60” mounting straps
    # 9 - 2” x 1/4” mounting screws
    # 2 - 1 1/2” rubber coupler
    # 4 - 1 1/2” hose clamp


    System Kit Includes:

    # 1 - 1 1/2” ball valve
    # 1 - 1 1/2” check valve
    # 1 - Vacuum relief valve (VRV)
    # 6 - 1 1/2” rubber coupler
    # 2 - 1 1/2” male rib adapter (MRA)
    # 1 - 1 1/2” x 2” bell reducer rubber coupler
    # 14 - 1 1/2” hose clamp
    # 1 - 2” hose clamp
    # 1 - 1 1/2” rubber cap


    Does this sound OK?
    15000 gallon gunite pool with smart brite quartz, 2.5 hp pump, Hayward filter, elevated spa, waterfall, smart vac viper pool cleaner

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    No opinions anyone!?
    15000 gallon gunite pool with smart brite quartz, 2.5 hp pump, Hayward filter, elevated spa, waterfall, smart vac viper pool cleaner

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    All I can say is that it looks good to me. From what I can tell, the panels built for above ground pools have a diverter molded into the header so if you're planning on paralleling the panels you don't want that so you'd want the inground panels.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    so if you're planning on paralleling the panels
    I could be all wrong so please don't take offense, but I thought you were supposed to do the inground panels (ones with no diverter) in series...no?

    I personally have a couple sungrabbers and they work well. Can't say much for longevity as they are only two seasons old. Do have a small leak in one, but I believe that was from the way the piping was installed that caused undue stress on one of the anchors holding the panels on the roof.
    25k gal vinyl AquaRite T-15

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    You have less head loss by paralleling the panels rather than plumbing them in series. Also each panel is only rated for a certain flow and by series them you're limited to the flow of one panel. By paralleling them the flow is additive. In other words a panel designed for 10gpm paralleled could only pass 10 gpm no matter how many you plumbed in series. If you had (4) 10gpm panels plumbed in parallel you could run 40 gpm total through them.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    I think the point is moot anyhow as I measured my roof and there's no way I can fit 20 foot panels - maybe 10 foot. Why do they make them so long?
    15000 gallon gunite pool with smart brite quartz, 2.5 hp pump, Hayward filter, elevated spa, waterfall, smart vac viper pool cleaner

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    The FAFCO SunSaver and Revolution panels, like the ones that I have, come in 4'x8', 4'x10', and 4'x12' sizes. That's why I thought that the SunGrabbers were not so much for roof mounted situations as for ground racks usually used with above-ground pools.
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Quote Originally Posted by chem geek
    The FAFCO SunSaver and Revolution panels, like the ones that I have, come in 4'x8', 4'x10', and 4'x12' sizes. That's why I thought that the SunGrabbers were not so much for roof mounted situations as for ground racks usually used with above-round pools.

    The last link I inserted above didn't seem to work, so I'll try it again:
    https://www.nationalpoolwholesalers....AFSGI1428.html


    If you go to this page, it clearly indicates that it's supposed to be for inground pools. I guess I should give them a call. I love the price of this thing - it's half the price of the Enersol system that they're also selling:
    https://www.nationalpoolwholesalers....U_ENI1428.html
    15000 gallon gunite pool with smart brite quartz, 2.5 hp pump, Hayward filter, elevated spa, waterfall, smart vac viper pool cleaner

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    I don't know where you're located, but I wouldn't give up on local stores and DIY kits from solar installers (unless you've already tried). I was able to pick up a system with 250 sq ft of panels, temp sensors, electronic valve & controller, 50 feet of 2" black pipe, black pipe fittings, roof mounting fixtures for pipe and panels (expensive since I have a standing seam metal roof and these were S-5 clamps), etc for $2400. A big plus for me is local support, YMMV.
    Geometric 16X36', 16K gal, shotcrete, exposed aggregate plaster, acrylic coated concrete deck/cantilever coping;
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    Heliocol solar panels, Rocky's Roller, Blue Diamond robot

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    You have less head loss by paralleling the panels rather than plumbing them in series. Also each panel is only rated for a certain flow and by series them you're limited to the flow of one panel. By paralleling them the flow is additive. In other words a panel designed for 10gpm paralleled could only pass 10 gpm no matter how many you plumbed in series. If you had (4) 10gpm panels plumbed in parallel you could run 40 gpm total through them.
    Ok ... a bit confused here...I thought the main pipe or header connecting them all would allow them to rather equally share the amount of water running through them. I would understand what you are saying better if the headers didn't connect all panels and one panel needed to be passed through entirely before water got to the second panel.

    If you did parallel with multiple panels I would think it would be very tough to get the pipe lengths right to keep them all as efficient as the next one.
    Have any diagrams to share so we can see how this is supposed to be done? I think all I have ever seen are pics of in series.
    I am hoping to redo my setup and add more panels next season so now is the perfect time to find out what I thought wasn't the best way to do it!
    Kinda scared of what my roof is gonna look like though. pipe wise I mean.
    25k gal vinyl AquaRite T-15

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Ok, I think our definitions of parallel and series are different. Paralleling the panels means connecting all the inlet headers together and all the outlet headers together. That way the water flows in the inlet of all the panels at the same time and out the outlet of all panels at the same time, not through one, then through the next, etc. Kind of like the below example where each vertical line is a panel and the brackets are caps on the ends of the headers.

    [ ┬┬┬┬┬>>
    ..│││││..
    >┴┴┴┴┴]
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    This link and this link and this link show diagrams of how solar panels for heating water are supposed to be connected. Notice that water enters the bottom of one solar panel but exits from the top of a panel on the opposite side. This way the total path length for water going through any of the solar panels is the same so the head loss and therefore pressure is the same so the flow rate is the same through all panels. If necessary, as shown in the third link, a full length pipe for either getting to the entry point of for returning from the exit point may be needed if your entry and exit pipes are to come off the same place on your roof. This link shows how NOT to hook up the panels because in this case the panel closest to the entry/exit pipes will get the most flow.
    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
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

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    Re: Opinion on which solar heater to get

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Ok, I think our definitions of parallel and series are different.
    Bingo. I was thinking more of electrical when talking series or parallel and that each panel would have to have its own source.

    I had it right, just terminology wrong.
    Thanks ya'll for helping me figure that out.
    25k gal vinyl AquaRite T-15

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