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Thread: DIY solor pool heater

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    DIY solor pool heater

    I am ready to install a DIY solar pool heater. The trees have grown into heavy shade over 1/2 my pool all day. It is cold even in July in Georgia!

    http://pasarlascanutas.com/bricolaje_av ... scina.html

    This is the design we are considering. We have a Hayward 1 1/2 hp pump, sand filter and a 33' round above ground pool with 4' of water.

    How many 1/2" poly pipe lines must we use to handle the full force of the 1 1/2" return pressure? Must I use a header? Can I use larger poly pipe and still get enough heat?

    Which pipe is the best to use that will handle the outdoors and UV without breaking down. Where is the lowest price material? Where can I find the valves or kit? Is there a place to buy the sheet material like the roof installations use?

    I only run my pump for 8 hrs per day so I am considering a manual only, simple system of values without controls or electrical.

    I plan to install drain valves at the base of the circle to allow full drainage to avoid freezing. Do I need to cover the lines with black visqueen for extra heating or protection?

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    I don't know where you are located. In the US you can get commercial solar panels for less than what the pipe will cost and they will be more efficient than anything you can build yourself.

    Many many relatively short parallel runs of small pipe will give you the highest efficiency. Using a header normally makes things easier, but is not absolutely essential.

    A simple manual diverter valve is fine as long as you don't mind switching it twice a day.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    Atlanta, Georgia area. I have too much shade to use the commerical panels. I am considering a DIY system or calling a tree trimmer. Except for the cold water, I like the shade because the fair skinned kids can swim without burning.

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    solarboy's Avatar
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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    As Jason says, I think with the price of panels in the US you're better off buying a pre-made panel. I'm half way through building a set up similar to the one in the link; it's very tedious work (and I've been working in various plumbing related trades for 20 years) and I'm only doing it because panels here are very expensive and I get trade discount on the materials. That aside, I would try and avoid any metal (like the collector in the link) and instead use all plastic (irrigation clamp brackets straight onto 2" rigid pipe). I also went for 20 runs of pipe instead of 5 to reduce any head loss. Irrigation pipe lasts around 10 years here in full very high UV sunlight (2nd highest solar insolation in the world). I'm unsure weather these type systems will drain down properly and they may need blowing out to avoid frost damage. I assume you know you'll need 1 or 2 check valves and a vacuum breaker valve.
    There is a company that do solar panels that can be made to measure (http://www.h2otsun.com/) if the size of the commercial panels is an issue.
    Self built 5500 gallon bare concrete (temporarily) pool with limestone coping, Pentair Swimmey 1/2 HP pump, Triton sand filter with DE, Simpool peristaltic muriatic acid pump with pH sensor and Monarch SWG. Home made solar heater with Pentair Compool control panel and 3 way valve. 1 skimmer, 1 main drain, 2 returns, 2" plumbing, Hayward auto fill valve.

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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    I have researched DIY plans and ran into a supply problem. Most tubing isn't UV rated so it will become brittle in the sun. Then I researched solar panel kit provider and found most to really be too small and pricey to boot. I have settled on the Enersol Ecosaver panels ordered seperately online not as BOX KIT. My pool requires 2) 20 x 30 panel sets. Purchase cost with shipping is $334.00. The only additional cost will be 1 1/2" PVC piping to and from the return area. Enersol 1(800) 333-9276 ext. 198 for Kelly.

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    solarboy's Avatar
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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    I wish I could buy at that price, well done !
    Self built 5500 gallon bare concrete (temporarily) pool with limestone coping, Pentair Swimmey 1/2 HP pump, Triton sand filter with DE, Simpool peristaltic muriatic acid pump with pH sensor and Monarch SWG. Home made solar heater with Pentair Compool control panel and 3 way valve. 1 skimmer, 1 main drain, 2 returns, 2" plumbing, Hayward auto fill valve.

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    kenandshari's Avatar
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    Aug 2010
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    Re: DIY solor pool heater

    I agree with Jason. I looked at several options (look up some of my posts here to see what I mean) and in the end we went with commercially made 4' x 12' panels. Installation was relatively simple. I did it all myself and I really think I could have done it all in about 2 work days if I had done it straight through. I did it in phases after work over several days, and took some days off from it to think through some of the logistics. Anyway, under $2000 for an automated system (my pool control box came solar ready) and getting free heat in my pool now. I see that you are in Atlanta, I live in Savannah about 1 mile off of I-16 if you're headed this direction anytime soon and want to check it out. BTW, even though I did not buy my kit from them, the h2otsun.com site referenced by solarboy had some diagrams and videos that I found very helpful during my installation. Good luck.
    Ken & Shari
    Savannah, GA
    16' x 40' freeform fiberglass inground (Pacific model, mfg by Tallman Pools), 23k gal, 2" plumbing throughout, Intellichlor IC-40, Easy Touch controller, Intelliflow VS 3050 pump, Pentair Clean & Clear Plus Quad Cartridge filter. 4 Jandy deck jets (3/4" plumbing), Fiberstars color changing lighting, SR Smith salt friendly diving system, Interfab Wild Ride slide, Aquasol Solar Heat (5 panels 4'x12' DIY install automated with ET) RIP Nitro Wall Climber Mar 2011-Aug 2012, Nitro is survived by a Polaris 360.

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