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Thread: Need your input on solar heater

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    Need your input on solar heater

    I am planning to install solar heating for my doughboy 28ft x 52 inch round above ground pool. In looking at some of the options, there are ones specifically for above ground 4x20 ft. When I use some of the online calculators, especially for the roof mounted versions, it looks like I will need about 400 sq ft of panels.

    Which brand should I get?

    Vortex advertises that they can raise the temp by 15 to 20 degrees. Their product is almost $1000 more when I account for 400 sq ft of panels.

    Any help would be much appreciated.

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    Join Date
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Thinking of going solar myself. Here is what I have learned. You need half the square footage in surface area of your pool which would be 310 sq ft in your case.

    By far the Fafco panels are most efficient. 4x20 panel puts out 80,000 btu. You would need 4 panels at about $1,000.

    Other things to consider are placement of the panels. How high/far away from the pool will they be? Will your existing pump support this?
    3500 gallon 14x42 Intex Ultra Frame
    1/2 HP Intex 1600 sand filter/pump - Intex SWCG
    Two 4x20 Fafco solar panels.
    Taylor K-2006
    Marquis spirit hot tub - Grill Dome ceramic grill/smoker

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    The 50% rule is primarily for pools that are used year-round and you need the extra area to compensate for low sun angles. I have really good performance with quite a bit less than that since I don't use the pool when the sun is low in the sky and air temperature is lower. 192 square foot of panel on a 20X36 pool.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    The pump is a 1.5 hp pump. I hope that it has have enough pressure to pump the water about 35 ft back and a height of 20 ft to the peak of the roof.

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Have a look at some home made solar heaters on you tube. It can be done for a lot less money, and some of the ideas are pretty interesting :0).

    I'm using 1 inch black polly pipe in a spiral pattern on my flat patio roof, its still being installed (along with the pool :0P) but I have a lot more room up on the roof if I need to set up a second spiral (just in case it isn't quite warm enough since my pool is completely under cover). Once every thing is up and running I will post my results and a few pics :0)
    8496.55 Gallon Oval Above Ground Pool, 1 1/4 HP Onga Pump, Onga Sand Filter, Solar heating, and a Creepy Crawly :)

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    LauleaHere&There's Avatar
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    I saw the spiral setup online, too. I'm watching this thread with interest, since I have a spot on the paved drive next to the pool (south facing, angled down, no shade) that I think could work nicely and require minimal plumbing runs.

    Also interested in people's experiences with the commercially available 'panels'.
    12' round above ground pool. 3,500 gal. Vinyl liner. Waterway Supreme Hi-Flo 48 frame pump. 1.5 hp. SWG. Sand filter with Zeobrite.

    Thanks, members of Trouble Free Pool, for being so friendly and informative!

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    I just (2 months ago) bought a single set of 'sungrabber panells' for a 7600 gallon above ground pool as recc. on their website - doesn't do squat! I will admit that it's only in a position to get sun for 6 hours but I would deffinately go with more than they recc. The build quality is good but the assembly instructions and the xtra parts were poor/lacking. I will be mounting mine on the roof next year and I may get 1 xtra set. I'd say I got a 2 deg rise.

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Quote Originally Posted by amiedoll
    Have a look at some home made solar heaters on you tube. It can be done for a lot less money, and some of the ideas are pretty interesting :0).

    I'm using 1 inch black polly pipe in a spiral pattern on my flat patio roof, its still being installed (along with the pool :0P) but I have a lot more room up on the roof if I need to set up a second spiral (just in case it isn't quite warm enough since my pool is completely under cover). Once every thing is up and running I will post my results and a few pics :0)
    Not even close to the efficiency of commercial panels though.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    which commercial solar heater is the best?

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Docs911
    which commercial solar heater is the best?
    http://www.fsec.ucf.edu/en/certificatio ... /index.htm contains ratings for almost every panel made.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Docs911, I just put up a Fafco 4x20 panel for my tiny pool. Here is what I have learned/observed. When it comes to heating water it's all about BTU's. It takes a huge amount of energy to raise the temp of water. Your pool has roughly 17,000 gallons. That's nearly 140,000 lbs of water. It takes 1 btu to raise 1 lb of h20 1 degree. If you wanted a modest 5 degree temp gain that would equate to 700,000 btu.

    The fafco panels put out 80,000 btu a day. Yesterday I got a 6 degree temp gain in my 2000 gallon pool. Temp toped out at 96.

    I don't know anything about the vortex brand you mentioned but I think claims of 15 to 20 degree temp gain with your pool is unrealistic. If you are going to go solar with a pool your size go big or don't do it at all. 4 panels would not due much for 140,000 lbs of water.

    If you can afford it a gas heater with solar panels would give you the most contoll of your water.
    3500 gallon 14x42 Intex Ultra Frame
    1/2 HP Intex 1600 sand filter/pump - Intex SWCG
    Two 4x20 Fafco solar panels.
    Taylor K-2006
    Marquis spirit hot tub - Grill Dome ceramic grill/smoker

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    LauleaHere&There's Avatar
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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Bliever, your post is extremely helpful to me, as I also have a small pool. I had already decided to take the heating process by baby steps, because we don't need that much of an increase, and your post confirmed that even a small system might be too much for us. We have to keep the pool covered anyway because of wind and dust, so I'm replacing my standard blue bubble cover with a clear heavier duty one--hoping to retain a little more heat overnight, and squeeze a few more degrees out of the sun during the day. If that isn't enough to keep the pool warm this winter, then we'll add one small panel. But I'm hoping we don't have to go there.
    12' round above ground pool. 3,500 gal. Vinyl liner. Waterway Supreme Hi-Flo 48 frame pump. 1.5 hp. SWG. Sand filter with Zeobrite.

    Thanks, members of Trouble Free Pool, for being so friendly and informative!

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Docs911, I believe my suggestion for the number of panels was alittle off. You have roughly 620 sq ft in your pool.

    I would suggest four 4x20 fafco panels. This would give you modest temp gains of an additional 2 or so degrees a day. A week of sunny days and you could raise your pool temp 10 degrees or so. Heating a large pool with solar is done in days not hours. Just make sure your pump will support the panels. They need 4 to 8 gpm flow per panel.
    3500 gallon 14x42 Intex Ultra Frame
    1/2 HP Intex 1600 sand filter/pump - Intex SWCG
    Two 4x20 Fafco solar panels.
    Taylor K-2006
    Marquis spirit hot tub - Grill Dome ceramic grill/smoker

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Laulee. I highly suggest you get the 4x20 fafco panel for your pool if you desire warmer water. You could probably swim year round in your location. I found my panel on eBay for $240 with shipping.

    In the 6 hours I run the pump/panel I get 6 degrees temperature gain in addition to the normal temp gain I would have got without the panel.

    Today's ambient high temp was 96. My pool was 96.

    I hope to swim for thanksgiving, you could swim for new years.

    I can't think of another way to spend $300 that makes the swim season more enjoyable.
    3500 gallon 14x42 Intex Ultra Frame
    1/2 HP Intex 1600 sand filter/pump - Intex SWCG
    Two 4x20 Fafco solar panels.
    Taylor K-2006
    Marquis spirit hot tub - Grill Dome ceramic grill/smoker

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    Re: Need your input on solar heater

    Quote Originally Posted by Docs911
    which commercial solar heater is the best?
    The Fafco 4x20 panels are not really commercial pool panels, but they are intended and great for above ground pools. The commercial models listed on the FSEC website are only available through dealers, and will put out a lot more heat. The highest rated panel is the Fafco Revolution at 1063 BTU per square foot. The Fafco Sungrabber is only 902. Still good, but you need more collector area for the same performance. The warranty plays a big part, too. The Fafco Revolution carries a 15 year warranty!
    Jason Szumlanski
    Vice President
    Fafco Solar

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