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Thread: Home Made Solar Heater

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    Home Made Solar Heater

    A friend of mine created his own solar heater of sorts with black pipe. He made a header and a few pipes, put it on top of a shed and ran some hoses to it. It was used on an above ground pool and he said it did a pretty good job of adding decent heat to his pool.

    I am not sure if connecting a pool filled with chorinated water to black pipe is advisable but thinking if something similar could be done with 2" black PVC pipe. I have a 38X20 mountain lake 8' deep end pool that is going to be installed in next couple of weeks. I would use solar panels but the proper exposure is not the front of my house which is pretty far from the pool and connecting all that is not going to happen. I have a 60' fence behind where my pool is being installed and toying with the idea of running a header with 2 - 2" x60' Black PVC Pipes and Return with the same. THe sun exposure in the top of the fence is the most sunny spot in the yard. I could even use a separate pump and a thermostat to turn it on/off as opposed to using the main pump. I have an extra pump laying around from the above ground pool I took down last year that is only a couple of years old. I could even put it on a timer so it does not run at night.

    I have no idea how much heat could be generated by 240' of 2" PVC or Black Pipe but thinking there is a possibility it might work okay.

    Anybody have any thoughts on something like this? I am having the electrician run a 50 amp line for a heat pump but do not want to spend another 3K for a heatpump which definitely is not in this years budget.

    Thanks

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    You won't be able to match the efficiency or price of a commercial pool solar panel unless you are getting the pipe for free. Other than the panel, you can easily do everything else yourself. The key to efficiency is to run relatively large volumes of water through many short parallel pipe runs. Making the connections between the manifold and all of those short pieces of pipe is difficult and leak prone. It is far simpler to buy that part machine made as a standard pool solar panel. That is not to say that home made setups won't work. They do work. It is just that commercial panels work better and cost less.

    Long runs of a single pipe are very inefficient. Heat transfer is most effective when the water is as cool as possible. But over a long run of pipe the water warms up quickly, greatly reducing the heat capture from further down the pipe. Long runs of pipe also impose lots of dynamic head, requiring extra pump energy to move water through and reducing flow rates, which also reduces total efficiency.
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    Thanks Jason...The reason that I am thinking about alternative ways to set this up is not because of the cost of the panels. I just do not know how I can set them up. The roof is not going to work. Do you know if it is possible to mount them on a 6' chain link fence with galvanized fence posts. I am not sure how they even mount to a roof but that is how the inground setups seem to be. If I could mount them to my rear fence thatt might be an option. Although in any event they will clearly not get as much sun as a roof.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    You can simply lay the panels down flat on the ground, if you have some suitable ground available, or make simple racks to hold them. You will get the most efficiency if they are at the ideal angle based on your latitude, but even well off of that they will still work. Mounting them vertically is going to be further off the ideal angle than flat would be (unless you are very far north) and it is also more difficult to get them properly secured to hold up their weight, but I suppose it is possible.
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    Thanks Jason. I am thinking about being creative and making a Gazebo kind of structure with a 16 x 16 roof and placing 4-4'x'16' panels on top of that and running the pipes behind the rear beams that I will sink in some concrete. This will get them off the ground and out of the way. Depending on where I build it I may build the panels on the roof at an angle to better target the sun. I will take some pics as I do the project.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    I look forward to seeing the pictures.
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    I suggest a few minutes reading about solar for pools at the Florida Solar Energy Center - http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/consumer/sol ... /index.htm

    With 4-4X16 panels (256 sq ft) you are proposing approx 30% panel to pool (38X20=760 sq ft) surface area. I don't think this will achieve all that much in terms of heating the pool water, but admit I didn't run calculations since I don't know your location, etc.
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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Home Made Solar Heater

    Even one panel makes a noticeable difference. Four panels won't get you swimming in the snow, or even close, but it will extend the season a couple of weeks on either end and make much of the start and end of the regular pool season much more comfortable if you like warmer water.

    Florida Solar Energy Center is a great resource.
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