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Thread: solar heater advice needed

  1. Back To Top    #1

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    solar heater advice needed

    I inherit this pool below from previous owner in hayward, CA (94545) but for years we haven't used it that much maybe 5 times a year due to water always under 75 degree. took my 4 yr old to Hawaii recently and he loved it so much that now he wants to swim in our pool every weekend. Unfortunately last week it was pretty chilly he ended up with a 101-104 fever that went on for 4 days. not sure if it was the chill or my polaris 380 broke causing dirty water (ordered a new Aquabot Breeze 4WD for $568, should arrive in a week. now what to do with the booster pump?)

    I'm hoping to get some advice from our experts to build a solar heater. My equipment specs are below. The roof is very old (1966) and i was advised not to step on it by a contractor friend. I planned to replace the roof in ~5 years. i recently built a patio as drawn in the google map picture (brown lines), so i was thinking to put some panels on top of the patio (wood top frame with plastic sheets nailed to it) and the toddler play room (white flat metal roof in pic).

    1. Polaris 380

    2. Polaris BP4 Booster Pump HP 60Hz

    2. Aqua Flow 10 - Magnetek B653 1HP Switchless 1081 motor 3450 RPM

    3.sta-rite posiflow II PTM135 Filter

    4. Anthony Pool Heater - in: 210k BTU, out: 160k BTU, model 210B - Pool Chlor 449-2266

    5. Aquabot Breeze 4WD pool cleaner

    Pool Location: Hayward, CA 94545.

    Pool size:

    Pool rectangle 30x11 + triangle 7.5 sides = 330sqt + 24sqt = 334 sqt of surface area

    Patio Top = 9x19 = 171 sqt of area - flat top

    Patio Area/Pool Area = 0.5

    White Room = 18 x 15 = 270 sqt Roof-top Area

    Patio Top + White Room Top = 171 + 270 = 441 sqt

    11 width x 30 length x 3 shallow depth x 8.5 deep end = 14,718 gal = 1,967.5 cubic ft ~ 15k Gal

    [attachment=0:2cl1y8jr]pool and patio for solar2.jpg[/attachment:2cl1y8jr]

    so here are my questions - I will consider everything but on a budget (<1k if possible, 1.5k max), so cheaper is definitely better. goal is to get the water above 80 degree perhaps from April/May to Sept.

    1. My wife doesn't like to see an ugly cover, but if necessary, with my pool shape, what solar cover (with reels) would you recommend?
    2. how many sq ft of panels do i need? what panel sizes will fit well, and which direction? I'd like to use the patio top first and if not enough room, use part of the white flat top. or would the old wood shake roof work better?
    3. my main pump might be old - it says "aqua flo model 10", magnetek switchless motor 1HP 3450RPM. will it do or do i need a new variable speed pump?
    4. how hard to build the panels on flat surface and the plumbing? I got 0 plumbing experience, not exactly a handy man, just an average home owner.
    5. These panel kits got the highest rating on amazon, very attractive price-wise, some users raved about it. What do you think? How would i mount these on flat top?
    http://www.amazon.com/20-Foot-Solar-...9717394&sr=1-1

    Many thanks!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Let me start with a few observations:

    1, that roof area looks flat in the photo, does it slope to allow for panel draining in freezing weather (I know from a quick google search that your all time record low as 21 degrees in 1990, but I don't know if it freezes every year).

    2, You can probably manage something using the pumps you have now on a $1,500 budget, but it will involve DIY and some corner cutting, I am not sure what sort of state codes you may have there though.

    3, Those kit type panels you posted are really designed for seasonal use with above ground pools, given that it does not sound like you have a particularly strong roof decking I think you would be much better off here with a more rigid panel than the roll up in a box type.

    4, are those sky lights on the roof section you are considering using?

    Now to try to answer your questions:

    1, A solar cover would help any roof top panel installation by lowering heat loss, as to particulars I can't help here since I have an indoor pool

    2, The more the better, but ideally you should shoot for at least 50% of your pool surface area as a minimal starting point.

    3, Variable speed pumps can make tuning a solar heater flow rate easier, but yours should work ok, particularly on a relatively small bank of panels that you will likely have.

    4, working with PVC pipe is easy, watch a few you tube videos and you should be good, just clean, prime and cement, the only thing is you only get a few seconds before the cement starts to harden so you must work fast.

    5, As mentioned above those panels would not be my first choice for a roof top install, particularly if you don't have a rigid roof to support them. They might work ok, but I would not count on a long service life. The only advantage I can see to those panels is they are somewhat cheap.

    Given your location I would check out the panels made by Gull Solar, particularly the Poly Pro since they are located in San Jose fairly close to you. You may be able to pick up the panels yourself and therefore save considerably on shipping, which is a major factor on larger rigid panels.
    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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  3. Back To Top    #3

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    I bought my cover and reel from http://www.solarcovers.com/. Most solar covers seem to last about 2 seasons before they start breaking down. I bought the stainless steel reel that they offer and it has been fine for me.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
    Hayward Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG, Jandy LXi 400k BTU NG heater, 350 sq.ft. of Sun Star solar panels, TF-100 Test Kit, Dolphin s300i Cleaner
    Test Kits . Pool Math . Chlorine/CYA Chart . The SLAM Process

  4. Back To Top    #4

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Isaac, first of I really appreciate your detailed reply.
    1. that white roof is pretty flat, the patio is sloped maybe 7 degree. but we never really had any freeze in this area...however during codest months my car windshield would have a thin ice layer that i sometimes had to hose it before driving to work at 7am. maybe ~35 degree outside the coldest. would this break the panels?
    2. what's involved, and what do you mean corner cutting, like hooking up the booster bump in addition to the main pump for faster flow?
    4. yes those are 2 sky lights. good to know it's easy working with PVCs.
    5. i am putting in a quote request for Gull solar. how good are their panels? do you have them?
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  5. Back To Top    #5

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by ping
    I bought my cover and reel from http://www.solarcovers.com/. Most solar covers seem to last about 2 seasons before they start breaking down. I bought the stainless steel reel that they offer and it has been fine for me.
    will a rectangle cover work for my pool or do i have to cut to fit? will custom size work with the reel? seems like a hassle if it lasts only 2 seasons, not to mention adding more cost. thanks for the info.
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  6. Back To Top    #6
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    1, The slope may be enough to allow panels to drain, but you might want to make provisions (like drain plugs) on the installation so you could blow them out with a shop vac if you have a hard freeze in the forecast.

    2, Cutting corners may be an overstatement, perhaps no frills (manual control, no $350 automatic controller), bargain basement shopping might be a better term. In my recent solar install experience it really is surprising how much you tend to spend on the little miscellaneous stuff (screws, pipe mounting brackets, etc.) $5 here and $10 there adds up. In my recent upgrade installation case installing 11 4x12 panels, the panels alone cost $2,700, but total expense was right at $3,800 installed and this was reusing some existing solar plumbing and solar controller. (mine was semi DIY, I hired some roofers to do the roof top part of the work)

    5, I ran across Gull While shopping for panels, they seem ok, but there is little information out there that I could find on the company.

    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~

  7. Back To Top    #7

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    To get the full benefit of solar panels, I would think a solar cover is a must for you. The temp that you gain during the day will most likely be lost during the night for most of the year. Solar covers prevent evaporation during the night and during windy days. These are the times when you lose most of the heat from the water. Without a cover, I think you will be disappointed with just the solar panels.

    You can buy a cover that will fit inside your pool, but you will be losing some heat due to uncovered areas. The covers are very simple to cut to shape. You order a size that is larger than the pool, let it sit out for a few days over the pool so it expands to size. With the cover held down over the pool, trace the outline with a sharpie and cut it out with scissors. It cuts very easily with scissors.

    Buy a reel that can handle the widest part of the pool. The reels are adjustable in width, and to me, it looks like your pool and surrounding area is ideal for a reel and cover.
    16k gal plaster with raised spa, Jandy DEV60 filter, 2 HP 2-speed SHPF Jandy Stealth pump
    Hayward Aqua Rite T-15 SWCG, Jandy LXi 400k BTU NG heater, 350 sq.ft. of Sun Star solar panels, TF-100 Test Kit, Dolphin s300i Cleaner
    Test Kits . Pool Math . Chlorine/CYA Chart . The SLAM Process

  8. Back To Top    #8
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    I would also suggest running the plumbing in such a way that you could add an automatic controller later as budget permits, they can really boost the effective amount of heat generated by a set of solar panels. How much will vary from place to place, but I would guess 20-30% would not be uncommon, this is mostly by turning off the panels and avoiding radiating heat to wind and rain.

    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~

  9. Back To Top    #9

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Thanks. From my reading as well, I think I will get the cover w/ reel, regardless of having solar heating system or not.
    Quote Originally Posted by ping
    To get the full benefit of solar panels, I would think a solar cover is a must for you. The temp that you gain during the day will most likely be lost during the night for most of the year. Solar covers prevent evaporation during the night and during windy days. These are the times when you lose most of the heat from the water. Without a cover, I think you will be disappointed with just the solar panels.

    You can buy a cover that will fit inside your pool, but you will be losing some heat due to uncovered areas. The covers are very simple to cut to shape. You order a size that is larger than the pool, let it sit out for a few days over the pool so it expands to size. With the cover held down over the pool, trace the outline with a sharpie and cut it out with scissors. It cuts very easily with scissors.

    Buy a reel that can handle the widest part of the pool. The reels are adjustable in width, and to me, it looks like your pool and surrounding area is ideal for a reel and cover.
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  10. Back To Top    #10

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    This sounds like a good quality, long lasting system doesn't come less than $2k even for my small 15k Gal pool.
    Am I crazy if i want to fit 2 4'x20' panels on my 9'x19' patio top? is it too short/narrow? can I nail them to the top wood frame? I'm thinking 2 of these and a cover might be good for some temp increase (50% coverage)

    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac-1
    1, The slope may be enough to allow panels to drain, but you might want to make provisions (like drain plugs) on the installation so you could blow them out with a shop vac if you have a hard freeze in the forecast.

    2, Cutting corners may be an overstatement, perhaps no frills (manual control, no $350 automatic controller), bargain basement shopping might be a better term. In my recent solar install experience it really is surprising how much you tend to spend on the little miscellaneous stuff (screws, pipe mounting brackets, etc.) $5 here and $10 there adds up. In my recent upgrade installation case installing 11 4x12 panels, the panels alone cost $2,700, but total expense was right at $3,800 installed and this was reusing some existing solar plumbing and solar controller. (mine was semi DIY, I hired some roofers to do the roof top part of the work)

    5, I ran across Gull While shopping for panels, they seem ok, but there is little information out there that I could find on the company.

    Ike
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  11. Back To Top    #11

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    that is a large gain. is this needed even I could set my main pump w/ timer to run 8-5 everyday?
    Quote Originally Posted by Isaac-1
    I would also suggest running the plumbing in such a way that you could add an automatic controller later as budget permits, they can really boost the effective amount of heat generated by a set of solar panels. How much will vary from place to place, but I would guess 20-30% would not be uncommon, this is mostly by turning off the panels and avoiding radiating heat to wind and rain.

    Ike
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  12. Back To Top    #12
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    I think you would be better off trying to fit 2 4x8 and 2 4x10 panels, rather than trying to manage a 4x20 (most rigid panels are made with a maximum standard size of 4x12 and some companies offer oversized panels, often at a premium price up to 4x16 or so). Shipping is just too difficult when talking about larger. See my installation thread for a photo of the shipping pallet / crate my 11 panels arrived in. solar-panel-replacement-update-t56572.html

    For a ballpark price reference I paid $2,700 delivered for my 11 4x12 panels including all rooftop fittings / mounting hardware (or about $245 per panel), these were with 2 inch headers which added about a $150 price premium, but were delivered to my work location with a loading dock so saved on residential lift gate truck fee. Extrapolating this out you should be able to get the above mentioned 4 panels for around $1,000 , maybe less if you can pick up from Gull Solar and get a good price on their panels, add another $200-300 worth of plumbing, etc. and make it by just under your $1,500 budget for a manual operated system once you figure in little unexpected costs. As to the debate between manual (with timer) and automatic sensor based systems, a lot of that has to do with the stability and predictability of your weather, and your willingness to adjust your timer on a regular basis. Let me give an example using my local weather, in the spring and summer months we get frequent isolated afternoon thermal thunderstorms, these storms typically pop up in the mid afternoon and may last 10 minutes or may last an hour, they are often associated with cold rain and cold wind ,which can feel nice on a hot summer day, but is not what you want when your trying to get the pool ready for a memorial day day movie night in the pool when you want the water particularly warm (can you guess where this example came from), but at least thanks to an automatic controller the panels would turn off their flow and not loose heat during the shower, then turn back on if only for a half hour after the storm passed before the sun was too far down to generate noticeable heat. The same sort of thing is true when talking about clouds, or cool fronts that may blow through during the day, or maybe you have strong morning or evening wind that would suck heat out of the panels.

    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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  13. Back To Top    #13
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Just throwing this out there. Phoenix (for one) has a large amount of solar panels available used on craigslist. They are usually in the $75/panel range (I paid $50/panel for mine). Depending on the brand you may need to add some extra parts, etc but may be able to put together something well under your budget.

    My 10 panel setup was well under $1500 including replacing and adding multiple valves and redoing my pad plumbing and I did not realize there were some parts missing when I bought the panels that I had to order.

    Granted you are taking a risk with no warranty, but could be a good option for a diy setup.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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  14. Back To Top    #14
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Jason, I have wondered what generally inspires people to sell used functional solar panels?
    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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  15. Back To Top    #15
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    My guess is the people were pulling them off houses that were going to foreclosure ... that was basically the story I got from the guy I bought mine from.
    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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  16. Back To Top    #16

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Thanks Ike, I will look for those smaller dimensions.
    Jason, I've started monitoring craigslist & ebay - how would you check the craigslist panels for leakage signs, etc.? did you run water thru them before you bought?
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  17. Back To Top    #17
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Difficult to tell if they leak. I did not test them. There was one panel that clearly had a few of the tubes cut and plugged. I ended up using 10 of the 11 panels I bought (did not use the one that was damaged).

    Luckily, after installation and firing it up I only had 3 small leaks in the ~1000 tubes that I was easily able to plug. That is the risk you take for buying used at 25% of the cost with no warranty.
    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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  18. Back To Top    #18

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    need quick advice - found some cheap aquasol 4x12 panels would you recommend me to buy? he also has 2 boxes of fittings for $100 he said he paid $300 for the fitting alone and $2k for total in 2011. pic posted here
    need-quick-advice-5-4x12-aquasol-panels-500-worth-it-t61402.html

    thanks
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

  19. Back To Top    #19
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    I replied to your other thread on the subject, I think it is worth it if you have a place where you could install them. He may have paid $2,000, but I suspect it was closer to $1,500 most of these seem to be sold online by http://www.bestbuypoolsupply.com/product423.html AquaSol is a house brand private label version of AquaTherms panel.

    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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    ~Remember TFP counts on your donations to keep this site ad free~

  20. Back To Top    #20

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    Re: solar heater advice needed

    Thanks Ike. i will get them. i just went up the roof and measured. Here's how I plan to place them - the black lines in pic. now i gotta figure out how to connect them.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    15000 Gal Concrete IG Pool
    Hayward Max-flo XL 1HP 2 Speed Pump
    Star-Rite Posi Flow II Catridge Filter
    Aquabot 4WD Cleaner
    Hayward, CA

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