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Thread: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update*

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    Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update*

    We are wanting to extend our swim season to get the most out of our pool. Even a month on either end of the season would be nice. We like the water in the high 80's low 90's range. I would want to do this on the cheap and DIY. I would get the panels from Craigslist and install them myself on a vertical pilaster block wall. My biggest concern would be the wall supporting the weight of the panels and plumbing. Do you guys think the wall would support 4 or 5 panels? I would mount it as low as possible to keep the weight off the top. Here are some pics of the wall in question. These pics were taken in the middle of may and the wall is just then starting to get a bit of shade. Please let me know what you all think.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    I don't think you would find that install very productive in terms of efficiency nor do I think the typical solar panels will withstand being hung vertically.
    Dave S.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    Thanks for the feedback. I thought I read somewhere that they could be hung vertically? Maybe its the 90* part that would be the down fall?
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    If you haven't poured the deck, you could use an in-deck solar pool heater. It would heat the pool AND keep the deck cool. Both pluses in AZ.
    Mark
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    If you haven't poured the deck, you could use an in-deck solar pool heater. It would heat the pool AND keep the deck cool. Both pluses in AZ.
    Thats a pretty cool product unfortunately our decking is done so its a no go. The more I think about it I may just put some type of screening material on that fence and gate and install the panels on the ground with some type of PVC support.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    ...maybe a stupid question, but why not your roof?
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Melt In The Sun
    ...maybe a stupid question, but why not your roof?
    If I DIy it I would not feel comfortable with a roof install and I would rather all the components be out of the line of sight. Plus the hassle of dealing with the HOA . This is all in the wish list stage so things are still up in the air.
    Thanks
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    HOA can NOT tell you that you can not have a "green" solar heater by federal law I think. Just like they can not prevent you from having an antenna or satellite dish.

    It looks like you have a tile roof and I too would not want to DIY that I don't think (like my first house). Current house is an almost flat built up, so I have no problem getting up there and getting stuff done.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Melt In The Sun's Avatar
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    Quote Originally Posted by jblauert
    HOA can NOT tell you that you can not have a "green" solar heater by federal law I think. Just like they can not prevent you from having an antenna or satellite dish.
    Took the words right out of my mouth! They cannot legally stop you, but it would be in your best interest to play by the rules and inform them anyway. I can't comment too much on a DIY install, but I bet it wouldn't be too difficult.
    11,200 gal, Pebble-Tec; Tristar 2-speed 1hp - Swimclear 325 ft2 cart - SWG - A & A in-floor cleaner - Heat pump. For the poolside cooking, a Yoder Wichita and a Big Steel Keg!
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    I'm pretty sure I could draw something up and get it by the HOA but its more about not having to do any of that. Just trying to make it as simple as possible. I do appreciate all the feedback!
    11,872 Gallon IG Shotcrete play pool
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall

    I started working on a DIY solar water heater today. I got 2 50' coils completed and installed. Real easy to make and install also easy on the wallet. My 3 year old son was lending a hand so that slowed progress down a bit . Inlet water was at 76 today around noon and the outlet water was at 82 but that was at a pretty slow flow. At the end of the day with the solar cover on the water temp read 78. I'll try and post some pics tomorrow.
    11,872 Gallon IG Shotcrete play pool
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Pretty sure that heat rise in the pool was just due to the cover. It is pretty hard to get enough sqft of heating using coils. I just removed 2500 ft of tube (200 sqft) from my roof as it was too small. I will be putting up 500 sqft of panels soon.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Quote Originally Posted by jblizzle
    Pretty sure that heat rise in the pool was just due to the cover. It is pretty hard to get enough sqft of heating using coils. I just removed 2500 ft of tube (200 sqft) from my roof as it was too small. I will be putting up 500 sqft of panels soon.
    Wow so the coils just didnt cut it huh?
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Well they were OK for limited heating, but mine were not in coils they were just thrown around the roof and overlapping and would not drain so when not on they would get really hot and then when it got cold places would split and I was continually having to fix leaks ... just annoying. Since I need to get the roof re-coated, I ripped the whole setup off the roof and found a used set of panels on CL.

    Depending on what you are trying to accomplish and your sun angle to the panels, the recommendations I have seen are a heating area or 40%+ of your pools surface area. Currently you have around 8 sqft assuming your tube is 1" in diameter and that is not going to give you a lot of BTUs (there are other posts here that discuss this in great detail). I think when you start looking at the number of coils needed to get to an adequate surface area, if quickly becomes apparent that it is cheaper to just buy the panels.

    2500ft of tubing would give about 200 sqft if it was laid out well and probably would be adequate for average pools here in AZ to extend the season some (in the summer we do not need to run it at all as the water gets too hot). My pool have a pretty large surface area and the deal I found for the panel ... I figure I may as well put them all up and see how long a season I can get (especially since I do not like the hassle of a cover ... although I may get one as well).
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Thanks alot for the info. Sounds like you've had your battles with the coils. I've been looking and researching for a while. I really want the install to be completely stand alone and independent of the filter and pump loop. The reason for that is the cost of running the pump in the heat of the day would cost me a fortune. So I figure I'll get a small submersible or something like that, maybe even a solar powered setup to circulate the water. I also want to be able to break it all down and store it away when its not in use. Which will be most of the year.
    If I can maintain 85+ degree water by mid April I will be pretty happy. That might be doable with just the cover. As far as the cover goes I can tell its going to be a pain getting in on and off.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    I found this cool little chart tonight while doing some more research. It shows average pool temps in Phoenix w/ no cover, w/ cover, w/ a cover and solar and w/ just solar. It looks like I'm ahead of the curve a liitle bit according to their data.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    I had seen that chart previously which shows the cover as having a huge effect. There is another plot on the Heliocol website that shows the cover as not having quite as much affect as the panels (of course they are in the business of panels) and it is not specific to PHX:
    http://www.heliocol.com/heliocol-vs/no-heating

    Keep in mind that higher flow rates increase the efficiency of heating from the panels. If you are using a small separate pump you may not be able to get as much heating if the flow is slower.

    Are your electric rates based on time of use? If not, then running the pump in the middle of the day would not cost more ... but I am assuming you must have variable rates.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Quote Originally Posted by Shane1
    I found this cool little chart tonight while doing some more research. It shows average pool temps in Phoenix w/ no cover, w/ cover, w/ a cover and solar and w/ just solar. It looks like I'm ahead of the curve a liitle bit according to their data.
    Would be nice if we could store some of that extra heat from the summer and use it in the winter huh?
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    We are on a time of use plan, noon to 7pm, Monday - Friday are peak hours and that rate works great for us. So using the pool pump for the solar is out other than the weekends. Hopefully I will be able to find an inexpensive pump that will work. I got pretty fired up when I saw a 6 degree temp rise between the inlet and outlet flow from using just 2 50' coils. To me that is a big gain with minumal effort and expense. Granted the out side temp was about 90 that day so that was a big help as well.
    Thanks for the Helicol link there is some good info on that site.
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    Re: Solar panels on a south'ish facing verticle wall *update

    Generally you only want to see up to about a 5 degree gain across the solar as any higher you start to loose efficiency. What you would have to look at is what is the amount of water you were able to heat by 6 degrees ... if the flow rate was low, then you are not adding a lot of heat to the pool from a volume perspective.

    If you were to increase the amount of water through your coils, then the your temp rise would drop very low ... so you would have to add length to your coils or more parallel coils to get the same 6 degree temp rise across the solar.

    I think I am going to try to research this a little more so I understand and can do the math.

    With my old solar heating setup, the water was actually pretty warm in the pool (actually hot when it started of course since the water was just sitting there). It would gradually cool the longer it ran ... never tests the temp rise I was getting. I am very anxious to get the new solar system back up and running. There weather has been so nice, but our pool with no cover is still in the lower 70s ... which feels very cold with our high air temp and low humidity.
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