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Thread: Solar Heating in New England

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    Solar Heating in New England

    Hello Folks,

    Has anyone had experience with solar pool heating in the the New England area, specifically in Massachusetts. Does it help and how much? My yard and pool get sun from around 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM with an almost perfect southern exposure. The plan would be to place 3, 4'x20' collectors on a pavilion roof near the pool.

    All experiences/comments welcome!
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Denton, TX
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    5,061

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    I don't live there near you, but I would certainly think that with that type of sun exposure, you would get some benefit. And an economical heat source such as that would pay for itself quickly in your environment.

  3. Back To Top    #3

    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Central MA
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    5

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    Similar story to You.

    I live near Worcester, MA.
    15'x30'x54" Oval AGP. Solar cover on EVERY night and 4 out of 7 days.
    3 Fafco Solar Bear 4'x20's on a southern facing roof.

    Target pool temp 84.
    Current pool temp 78.

    In late June/July, I could gain 8 to 11 deg during the day (running 8 till 5)
    and lose 1 to 2 max deg at night.

    (btw, for those reading that are considering the homemade solar "black pipe" route - I tried that for the previous 2 years and even with much sunnier summers and close to a thousand foot of pipe, only gained at best 5 degree during the day)


    For the last two weeks, the "Best" I have done is gained 5 deg during the day running the pump from 9am till 3pm. and lost 2.5 deg at night.
    The worst has been a 3 degree loss during the day and a 4 degree loss overnight.

    So recently, it has been a losing battle with the way the weather has been. There have been very few properly sunny days where it is possible to gain more daily heat than night time losses.

    I'm afraid that the swim season for my family is coming to an end.
    (Unless I can find a cheap wetsuit at Ocean State Joblot that is)
    15'x30'x54" 13,000 Gal AGP
    3 - 4'x20' Solar Bear panels
    Dolphin Dynamic
    Central MA

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    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    I typically run 13 hours ... I think 5AM-6PM right now. I also solar cover every night and I only see a 1-2 degree loss. The trade-off - is the solar investment worth it based on the heat achieved or am I just kidding myself and should instead just buy the gas heater (which I am already plumbed for). We find that the solar cover keeps the pool hot enough, almost too hot during late-June/July but we prefer temps around 81-82.
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    So it seems like ... and what I was afraid of ... that the solar setup will not really help to extend the season .... it will mainly help mitigate overnight losses during sunnier months.
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

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    linen's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
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    Twin Cities, MN
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    8,649

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    I think you are pretty close to right...I might get 2 weeks of season extension with my 70% (solar/pool area) coverage, but I have not gotten mcuh more than that. In your (and my) climate if you want to swim when the nights are mid 40s and the days are mid 60's, you will likely need a gas heater.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

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    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central Massachusetts
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    2,690

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    Quote Originally Posted by BigJD

    or am I just kidding myself and should instead just buy the gas heater (which I am already plumbed for). .
    DING DING DING

    Greetings from off of Hill Street
    14,000 gallon IG, Vinyl. Hayward 3/4 hp superpump, Penatair IC40 SWCG, Pentair automation, Hayward sand filter, Aqua Comfort heat pump, Hayward 400k Lo-Nox LP heater.

  8. Back To Top    #8

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    It's what I figured but just thought I would ask
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Poughquag, NY
    Posts
    217

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    I don't agree that you can't extend using solar. I live in New York, about 70 miles north of NYC. I have about 75% coverage with a slightly northeast facing exposure (not ideal in any sense). While I can't keep my pool in the upper 80s until October, I certainly am able to swim until late Oct in high 70s, long after everyone in my neighborhood has shut down. Plus, I can easily open my pool in April and get to the high 70s, low 80s - the problem is that the air is still too cold. The biggest issue with extending is stupid falling leaves!!

    I cover my pool every night and have an automated system, but nothing really fancy. This year has been pretty tough with the very cool nights and not so warm days (outside of one or two weeks) - it was in the high 40s last night at my house, but my pool is still in the low 80s. I put up a lot of panels - partly because of the bad exposure and partly because I wanted quicker recovery from rain and cool nights.

    My wife's family is from the Tauton, Mass area, so I know the weather there. It is very similar to our weather. I gave my brother in law 1 (one) 4x8 panel for his 20' round UGP and he easily gets an extra 5 degrees or so.

    In this area, you just need to upsize to extend. With good exposure, a well planned system, automated switching and covering the pool, you really can extend and it doesn't take much work.
    20 x 40 vinyl IG. SWG. Solar. Ikeric VS pump.

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    I have the auto switching covered I just don't think I could out up enough panels easily. Pool area is 800 sqft. Would need 7 panels to hit 70% which means I would need to go on my house too which makes me uneasy
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Poughquag, NY
    Posts
    217

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    Yeah, you have to be comfortable with the installation. Mine is the house and garage roof (two levels), installed with caulked stainless screws. Haven't seen any leakage or problems yet.

    I only have 70% coverage because of the bad angles. If you have southern exposure, you can get by with less. You might even want to consider using both, heating water from 78 to 82/84 with gas is a lot less expensive than going from 72 to 82 using gas!

    One of the main reasons we choose solar was that all of our neighbors only heated their pools when they were having company because it was so expensive (one used more than $3000 in propane the first summer). I wanted my pool warm for *me*, not just company!

    There are many reasons *NOT* to use solar (or any other heating option), I just don't think "because it doesn't work here" is valid for our area.
    20 x 40 vinyl IG. SWG. Solar. Ikeric VS pump.

  12. Back To Top    #12
    linen's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    No doubt it works in colder climates, but one should not assume that they can provide enough heat to reliably swim in October and April in many northern climates (here in MN at least...and May isn't a likely swim month either). That is not to say that it can't happen, but if you want to swim in warmer water in those months, a gas heater is a better choice. What tphaggerty describes as keeping it warmer during the season is what solar is perfect for.
    TFP Expert who uses Pool School and my TF100 test kit along with PoolMath for my: Round 11K gallon AGP with deep end, 20" sand filter, Matrix 1hp 2spd, 6 2ftX20ft solar panels (and solar cover!), Intex SWCG (copper bars disconnected) and a Rubadub hot tub (chlorine). The SLAM process is not finished until: 1. CC < 0.5 ppm, 2. An OCLT < 1.0 ppm and, 3. The water is crystal clear.

  13. Back To Top    #13

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    Thanks for all of the responses folks! I may give solar a shot but only to supplement the gas heater. I'll just save my pennies for both!
    16 x 42 x 24 IG Vinyl True-L, 27,000 gallons, full width steel steps, 8' Cuddle cove swimout, 2 X Colorlogic 4.0 LEDs, Hayward Tristar 1 hp 2-speed pump, Hayward SwimClear C3025 Cartridge filter, Hayward Aqua-Plus PL-PLUS Controls + Chlorination, Hayward low-Nox 400K BTU heater, Tigershark QC, TF-100 test kit

  14. Back To Top    #14

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Rafael, CA USA
    Posts
    12,082

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    In colder climates, the glazed panels will work more efficiently, but they are quite a bit more expensive (perhaps around twice as much; used to be 3 times), though they won't do anything about the cold air temperatures that may make the experience less pleasant -- especially getting out of the pool.
    16,000 gallon outdoor in-ground 16'x32' plaster pool; Pentair Intelliflo VF pump; Pentair IntelliTouch i9+3s control system; Jandy CL-340 square foot cartridge filter
    12 Fafco solar panels; Purex Triton PowerMax 250 natural gas heater (200,000 BTU/hr output); automatic electric pool safety cover; 4-wheel pressure-side "The Pool Cleaner"

  15. Back To Top    #15
    Charlie_R's Avatar
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    May 2013
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    Mexico, MO
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    2,156

    Re: Solar Heating in New England

    While I don't suggest this for most people in an urban or suburban environment, a wood fired heater could be used as well, if you have access to cheap fuel.

    Living in a small, semi rural town, I'm able to use my home built heater to great effect.

    We've had an unusual summer here. Normal August temperatures run in the high 90's. So far this year, we've seen that maybe for 3-5 days total. Temps have been running a fairly consistent mid 80's. Overnight lows have been running in the mid 60's.

    Using nothing but scrap wood donated by others (just so they didn't have to pay dump fees) and cutting up old pallets from a local lumber yard, I've been able to keep my pool at 85 - 90, as long as I keep it covered at night.

    What started out as an experiment and could use some improvement appears to be working out quite nicely.

    It is a bit of a shock to me is getting out of a 86* pool to air temps in the mid 60's. Can you say very quick dry off and quicktime steps to the house?

    Currently, I have 3/4" manifolds, feeding six 3/4" runners approximately 5' long each. fairly small firebox, which holds only enough wood for about an hour of burn time. Heat gain intake to output runs average 15*+. Better flow through the system would drop the intake/return temp difference, but increase overall heat gain in the pool.

    Prime mover is a 1000 gph Intex pump without the filter.

    Improvements planned:

    Better heat exchanger, with 1" copper manifolds, with minimum of twelve 1/2" runners, increased in length to 8'.

    Larger firebox, with better air control, for longer burn times.

    Plump in a spare 2500 gph prime mover (pump), increasing the flow through the exchanger.

    Just putting this out there for consideration, as wood heat in some cases can be more economical than natural gas or propane. Trade-off is a bit more work for the pool owner.
    15'x48" 4500 gallon Intex pool, buried 1.5 ft. Pac-Fab Dynamo 3/4 hp pump. Hayward S180T sand filter, bought used. Taylor K-2006 test kit. Rocket mass heater based wood fired pool heater.

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