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Thread: Solar Heat Options?

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    Solar Heat Options?

    Hello all.. it's been a long cold winter! Trying to decide on brand and style for solar collectors to make my wife .

    Most seem to be a 1.5" footer pipe, pushing the water up capillary tubing, into a 1.5" header pipe for return to pool.

    My pool has 600 sqft surface area so to target around 50% I would need 300 sqft of solar collection. My pool stayed about 78-82 deg through Jun-Aug last year, and I was hoping this would add a couple weeks to the shoulders of the season as well as bump it up to the 85-87 area.

    Question: It is very hard to find reviews on different brands of these collectors. I have been able to find 4 or 5 different brands that all look like about the same thing.

    What do people have out there? What has not worked well?

    Cheers, Josh
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    I just finished installing a replacement solar heating system to replace my old panels that came down last year when the roof was replaced and can tell you from my own shopping experience, that there is very little unbiased research out there, the best you can hope for is to take bits of the better biased stuff from here and there and form your own opinions. There is the Florida Solar Energy Center testing data, which is supposedly unbiased, but it only lets you compare btu output in a lab setting which while some help only gives you one.

    There are a few questions you likely need to ask yourself which can help in your selection process

    1, Will this be a professional installation or a DIY project?

    2, Where do you plan to mount the panels? If on a rooftop what sort of surface, etc

    3, How important is warranty length to you?

    4, Where on the price vs durability scale do you want to be?

    Once you answer those you can move on to general type of panel, rigid solid panel, flexible solid panel, headers with separated tubes, or do you live in an extreme environment and need to consider glazed panels, etc., But before you get to that point you need to understand that there are numerous suppliers of solar panels, with about half a dozen major makers, and a whole lot of smaller ones / importers. Many of these larger suppliers tend to sell only through dealer / installer networks, some embrace the DIY market more than others, some treat it as a sort of gray market selling their dealer exclusive panels to another company as a private label product and then also transferring warranty coverage issues to those private companies as well. For example solardirect sells TechnoSolis panels, but only with 1.25 inch headers, and Elm distributing sells Aqua Therms basic panel they don't even bother to remove the Aquatherm name from the installation manual they have on their web site. One company that seems to have a lot of good information online is h2otsun is is of course biased towards their own panels, which may or may not be superior to others on the market, the one thing I can tell you is that they cost about double the discounted online prices of panels from many of the major companies, and about 3 times the price of some of the bargin basement panels.

    This information should get you started, if you can tell us more about your situation we can give more specific advice.

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    I noticed the OP mention something about 50% of pool surface area as a target for collector area. Is that the general rule of thumb?
    18'x4' AG Intex Ultra Frame, 6,700 gal., assembled new 2013; Mods: Hayward EC50C90 Perflex filter & 1 h.p. PowerFlo Matrix pump, Fiber Clear cellulose D.E. substitute, Hayward H100ID1 100,000 BTU NG heater, a pair of 2'x20' Sungrabber solar heaters via the original Intex 635T pump, grey Hydro Tools through-the-wall skimmer, Confer steps/ladder system & Cover Free chemical pool cover. The Summer of Mods!

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Isaac covers everything very well.

    For my setup, I bought used Heliocol panels off of craigslist (lots available in my area). They are one of the brands that deals nearly exclusively with dealers/installers. I DIY'ed the install and was able to find a few places that would sell me some of the various parts I needed online. This brand uses specific parts for everything, while other brands use more common items (like radiator-type pipe and hose clamps) to connect panels together.

    I had a good experience with the same brand panels that I had installed at my previous house (cost ~$5000). My current DIY setup I think is slightly bigger at a much lower cost (~$1500 which a few $100s was to replace all my valves at the equipment which was beyond the solar scope).
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Quote Originally Posted by CeeElGee
    I noticed the OP mention something about 50% of pool surface area as a target for collector area. Is that the general rule of thumb?
    The general rule of thumb is between 50% and 100% coverage ... just depends on what you are trying to accomplish. The heating gained is directly related to the sqft of the panels ... the more panels the more heat.

    Most of the heat lost from a pool is through evaporation, thus the panel size is sort of related to the surface area.

    I am close to 90% coverage I think, but I do not use a cover. The use of a cover greatly reduces the evaporation heat loss and thus you could get by with a smaller solar setup.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    We did a DIY install of Aquasol panels in April 2011 and have been happy so far. Our pool is currently nearing the mid 80's. If you want to know more about what we learned in the process it is on here so you can search our posts. All the best to you on your choice.
    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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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Some more information on my setup:

    I have a 30x50 shop beside the pool with a steel roof (the pump/filter is also nicely within the shop so install will be easier). The roof is sheet-steel that has a profile like: __/-\_____/-\_____/-\__.

    It is a DIY install. I installed my pool, I am sure I can do this.

    I am in Canada - but I am closed during the winter so non-Glazed.

    Warranty is not that big an issue (if I don't need it ). A few years is fine by me - deal with leaks/materials/etc.

    Money is fairly tight, so I can't buy top of the line.

    Any suggestions would be great.
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    That's an "R" panel roof. If there are screws on the ridges you'll need to protect the solar panels from rubbing on them as they will wear holes in the tubes.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Take look at my recent install thread, also mounted on metal roof, I used spacers made from composite decking board and PVC sign board for the header pipes and strap mounts to raise them up to the level of the metal ridges, mine had no screws in the ridges.

    solar-panel-replacement-update-t56572.html

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Fafco panels are used here on 75% of the pools in Central FL.

    Dealers charge $3K to install (5) 4x12's.

    Solar direct has fair prices if you are a DIY, about $235 per panel

    You didn't say where you were located but I would do 100% if you want to extend.
    I use 120% to swim into the really cold months

  11. Back To Top    #11
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    I just wanted to follow up and say the Solar Direct price is not bad, but I was able to get my Techno Solis panels with 2 inch headers Poolheatpumps.com delivered for a slightly lower price than Solar Direct charges for their 1.5 inch private label Techno Solis panels, this of course may change so you may want to do your own comparison. Most of the savings seem to have been in freight and in bundling of mounting / system kit, mine was a custom quote since I already had a controller, valves, etc. Also Deidra at Poolheatpumps was great to work with, very helpful when my order arrived I was short a connector in my system kit and all it took was an email to get the right part to show up by priority mail. (I don't know if the heat sealed "kit" bags are packed by Techno Solis or Poolheatpumps, so I am not assigning any blame here, but will note that one of the panel kits did have an extra strap hold down in it also).
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

  12. Back To Top    #12

    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Well, decision made. When I was searching, I was looking at Enersol 4x10' panels (www.enersol.com - Mod: Can I post URLs?) which are made here in Ontario, Canada. So one kit is about 40sqft. They are carried by a lot of pool stores here ranging from $250-$350 per box.

    Just browsing Kijiji and found a business closing (by bank) 5 minutes from the house dumping them out the door for $99 cash so I bought his last 8 and he threw in the install kit (~$40). Decided to jump on it because $800 is better then $2400-$2800+taxes.

    So now I need to figure out the plumbing and install. I have a steel roof with little screw heads poking out on top of the ridges. A tech guy said that the rubber is so tough, the screw heads will not hurt them at all, but I am concerned about them...
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    I would definitely cushion the panels at the screw heads. If you didn't do anything but put a few layers of gorilla tape over them.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    ..or a dab of silicone on each screw head?
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Anything to cushion the panel from the head. I'd also make sure there were no sharp edges on the heads too. Just for added insurance.
    Dave J. TFP Moderator
    24' x 52" Round AGP. 2hp/¼hp SPL Power-Flo 2-speed pump. 200sqft Waterway Cartridge Filter. 45MHP2(3GPD) Stenner Peristaltic Pump
    Pool School ----- Pool Math ----- TF-Test Kit

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Yes, do something about the screws, remember these panels can expand and contract multiple inches each thermal cycle (may be more than one cycle per day with clouds, etc.) sooner or later those screw heads will rub through. I would tend to try to make some sort of rub strip to mount along the ridges to let the panels smoothly ride over the screw heads.

    As to the enersol panels I can't say anything good or bad about them, mainly because it appears that their marketing department dumbs down all the information so as not to scare any DIYer's . Even their "technical" information is relatively blank, no exact measurements on the panels, no dry or wet weight, no mention of material the panels and tubes are made from, the only place you can even find BTU's is in their published testing certificates. Another example of their over simplification of things is the installation manual, at 18 pages it covers the basics, but that is it, by comparison Aquatherm's manuals (they have more than 1 version) are just short of 100 pages of details for mounting on different types of roof surfaces, plumbing configurations, etc. Still it looks like you found a deal.

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

  17. Back To Top    #17

    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Thanks Ike. Always good to be not told you bought **** . They seem pretty good - and feel like excellent quality to me. Although, when I was looking at them, it seems they are meant to be installed so they are always FULL of water. I had visions of installing them on an angle, with a vacuum relief so they drain when not in use, but then I wonder if they HAVE to be full of water in the sun so the little tubes don't collapse!?!? Like you said, "Dumb down the installation and tech specs" for the DIYer. They just say put it up...

    Does anyone have a system somewhat like this that might know about installing something like this so it drains not always full? I could do it either way, but I want to be sure I am doing it so it will not hurt it.
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

  18. Back To Top    #18
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    Hey, I did not say there was anything wrong with them, just that they don't reveal much information

    The design of these tube connector panels is very similar to the ones h2otsun.com makes, although there are some differences, perhaps their instructions and other information may be a some help.

    Ike
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from http://tftestkits.net
    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

  19. Back To Top    #19

    Re: Solar Heat Options?



    That's a good idea... get different install manuals and read up on other recommendations... Cheers.
    Josh S
    ----------------------------
    20.8k gal vinyl kidney; 600sqft surf area, Hayward 1HP Super; 300Lb Sand Filter; Aqua-Rite/T-9; RainbowRay LEDs, Jandy Deck Jets; and a whole 'lotta sweat n time...

  20. Back To Top    #20
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Options?

    I would think you want them to drain. If they are full of non-moving water in the sun, that water will get VERY hot which will make the plastic softer. Then due to the weight of the water trying to drain, you will be pulling a vacuum toward the top and that is when you may get collapsed tubes. With the relief valve, they will not pull the vacuum, so even if not fully drained, I think the risk is less.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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