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Thread: Is this solar heater pipe set up / design ok?

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    Is this solar heater pipe set up / design ok?

    Hi, I have a question about the design of our solar heater piping.

    When we first got our solar heater, my husband designed a pipe lay out that made sense & worked well. There was a valve close to the skimmer/filter area that we could turn off to block all water going to/from the pipes leading to the solar heater. This worked out great when we had a leak in the panels or when the water was warm enough, and we would turn it off when using the Polaris Turtle to clean the pool so we had full pressure.

    My husband wanted to move the pipe location, and a couple parts cracked. So he took it apart for the winter and decided to have a plumber redesign / install the piping. We explained how it was done before, but the plumber designed it differently. It didn't make sense to me, but hey, I'm not a plumber and I don't know all the ins & outs re water pressure.

    What I don't like about the design is that instead of having a valve near the skimmer (closer to us) that blocks ALL water flow to the heater pipes, the only way to shut it off completely is via 2 valves about 20 feet away, on the 2 vertical pipes leading up to the heater. (He also added two drain valves on the piping along the ground which was a good option to add). There is a valve near the skimmers (see pic) that we can turn off so the water coming back from the filter has to flow left... but I don't understand it.

    With the old design, on a sunny day when I turned on the pump, I immediately felt a surge of warm (even hot) water going into the pool from the return because water was standing in the solar panels for the past few hours; with this design it doesn't seem as warm. Also, with the old design we could use the Turtle with the heater on, but the pressure would be a little weaker; with this new design, the Turtle barely moves if the valve near the skimmer is closed (pushing the water to the solar heater), so we have to choose between cleaning or heating.

    Other than that it's hard to explain the concept so I am attaching a picture.

    I am hoping someone who knows more can confirm to me that this design really is fine, and it's just me not understanding water pressure/flow etc.

    Thanks much!

    (I can provide a rough diagram of the previous design if needed)
    edited a few times for typos, clarification.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    24' round above-ground pool, 52" high, 14,000 gal. DE Filter - Hayward EC50C93STL, Hayward Power-Flo Matrix pump 1.5 hp, Polaris Turtle. Installed summer '09. Snow zone - we close pool for the winter.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Re: Is this solar heater pipe set up / design ok?

    The depends on what you call fine. The setup in the photo will work, if somewhat inefficiently, but that is about the only positive thing I can say about it.

    Plumbing is an art form, and that piece of art doesn't look at all nice.
    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: Is this solar heater pipe set up / design ok?

    Thanks for your quick response.

    So it's not just me.

    Here is a rough diagram of how we had it before (if I remember correctly - I'll have to run it by my husband to make sure). The filter & pump were on the right, and when the main valve to the pipes in the diagram was off, the water went directly back to the return.
    Is something like this a better design?

    I'll look around the forums some more for pics of other (better) designs.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    24' round above-ground pool, 52" high, 14,000 gal. DE Filter - Hayward EC50C93STL, Hayward Power-Flo Matrix pump 1.5 hp, Polaris Turtle. Installed summer '09. Snow zone - we close pool for the winter.

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    JasonLion's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Silver Spring, MD
    Posts
    37,879

    Re: Is this solar heater pipe set up / design ok?

    One of the best diagrams on the net is on this page. Their proposed setup is a bit fancier than yours, but otherwise is just about the ideal way to plumb solar.

    At the bottom of this page there is a good diagram of a simpler setup.

    And finally, towards the bottom of this page is a diagram of the simplest possible setup.
    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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