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Thread: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

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    My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    I have a 30k vinyl swimming pool. The liner is pretty dark and it gets full sun all day, so it's generally pretty warm, but I'd like to bump it up a little if I can. I came up with this idea:

    Basically, just attaching a PVC pipe to the return jet, and then running that up to the pool deck where it would be connected to a series of black PVC pipes, arranged like the attached picture shows. I could use an inline switch to turn off flow to the solar array and have the return jet go directly into the pool.

    My question is whether this will be efficient enough to make any kind of a difference. My guess is the solar array would be about ten feet long by about two or three feet wide. Any solar experts want to give me an opinion on whether this would work?

    Kevin
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    ---
    30,000 gallon vinyl pool
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    Hayward Super Pump
    AO Smith 1 1/2 HP Pump (27GPM)
    Polaris 380 Pool Cleaner

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    It would likely be cheaper and more efficient to just get one of the true solar panels. Some pretty inexpensive options on Ebay that make the DIY route not as beneficial cost wise. Of course your space availability plays a role.

    Solar is based on sqft of area so the more area the better. Also higher flow rates through the panel are more efficient and add more heat.
    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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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    The design of the panel is just as important as the sq/ft of area used. Your design picture does not really explain how this setup is going to go together. What kind of fittings? They can get expensive fast as the number increases. It looks as though each run would only be at the most 3 ft long. No where near long enough. If you ran the piping crosswise at a length of 10ft long you would get better heat absorption but still it would be too little to be effective. I would recommend looking up rimstar DIY coil solar pool heater. They have some good examples of DIY coils that work. I think the most important thing in DIY system is to still treat it like it is a commercial system with the proper plumbing design to and from the panels. You should be thinking about going with maybe 3 or 4 3ft(4ft would be better if room permits) coil panels, with the max amount of piping allowed in each coil, connected in parallel.

    skeeter
    47 yr old(1977) 18,000gal Kidney shaped 38ft long plaster Pool with built-in Spa, Pentair Intelliflo VS3050 Pump, Pentair 48sf DE filter, Raypack RP2100 gas heater. HTH 5-way test kit

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    peterdaly's Avatar
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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    I see three points of concern about your design:
    1. The gaps between the pipes - taking into account the space required by PVC T's, your pipes will leave a lot of open space, where sun is not captured. Ideally you want as full coverage as possible for the area. If 50% of the space is gaps, you are missing 50% of the sun.
    2. Your T's are going to cost a lot, especially compared to a coil type system which would not have the gap problem.
    3. 30k gallons is a lot. I'm not sure if a single panel like this, especially with all those gaps, is going to have much impact. If I did my math right, you need 250k btu's to raise the temp of the pool 1 degree. A single commercial 4x10 panel generates something like 40k btu/day max, and this design would output much less than that. Rough napkin math, a setup like that will lift the pool a fraction of a degree per day. (someone please check my math)

    If you want to go forward with idea in general, I suggest you go the coil route. Although not as pretty, you'll get a lot more heat for a lot less money.
    Fayetteville, NY -17K gal, IG vinyl, Hayward SP2300VSP Max-Flo Variable Speed Pump, FlowVis Flow Meter, Sand filter
    Self designed Arduino powered automation for pump and solar control, Solar Attic Pool Heater, AutoPilot Digital SWG, TF100

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    IMO, You'll get a lot more heat for the money buying a true solar panel and not trying to make coils. 40sqft starting at $90 or 80sqft for $165 on eBay.
    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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    Administrator Leebo's Avatar
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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    We've done this for the last 3 years.....not a month goes by that we don't fight a leak of some sort. While it does make a difference, panels from online would work much better with less work.

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    peterdaly's Avatar
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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    I also agree that a commercial panel is a better use of your money, although you still are not going to make much of a dent in 30k/gals with a single panel.
    Fayetteville, NY -17K gal, IG vinyl, Hayward SP2300VSP Max-Flo Variable Speed Pump, FlowVis Flow Meter, Sand filter
    Self designed Arduino powered automation for pump and solar control, Solar Attic Pool Heater, AutoPilot Digital SWG, TF100

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    Re: My idea for a simple solar heater... will it work?

    I consider my self a solar pool expert, I don't want to root my horn but I've sold and installed many different brands and there is alto of junk out there 1st tip stay away from anything that needs hose clamps to keep it together

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