Become a TFP Supporter Pool Math Forum Rules Pool School
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Hi --

    My pool is ancient -- circa 1963 and has clearly been upgraded and modified many times in the past 50 years. At some point the previous owners added Fafaco solar panels that leaked really badly. I replaced them with 8 Aquasol panels which I like, and everything does seem to work, except that now I'd like to add automated solar control...

    Problem is the plumbing is really strange. In the first photo you can see the two pipes (at the bottom of the photo) coming out of the filter -- one labelled 'Solar Inlet' and the other 'Pool Return'. This doesn't make sense to me -- if it's coming off the filter, isn't it the pool Inlet? Btw, the water does flow out of the pool jet and in from the skimmer -- not the other way around Notice also that there is no 'solar return' -- it must be connected to the pipe going to the jet?

    The upper pipe is the real pool return, heading to the old pump (I'm about to replace). You can also see the T coming off for the Polaris booster pump (the pump return pipe is hiding behind the pool return). There is no automated valve here, so the Polaris does get some pressure from the pool pump and rolls around slowly when it's running.

    [attachment=2:1g04ydm0]IMG_0020_2.jpg[/attachment:1g04ydm0]

    In the second photo you can see them coming out of the pool shed (on the right). The pipe label 'Solar Inlet' has a blue-handled valve on it which is currently closed (so I wonder where it goes?). The other pipe is only just visible to the left of the handle going into the ground. The leftmost pipe is the pool return. BTW, I have no way to control flow between my drain and skimmer -- the drain is directly attached by a long pipe to the skimmer. I don't seem to notice any suction in the drain.
    [attachment=1:1g04ydm0]IMG_0007_2.jpg[/attachment:1g04ydm0]
    The last photo shows the plumbing next to my solar panels. There are a set of valves that allow for bypass. In the winter, I close off the panels and drain them to avoid the risk of freezing. These are on a hillside next to the pool, and I'd say the top of the panels is close to water level in the pool.
    [attachment=0:1g04ydm0]IMG_0017_2.jpg[/attachment:1g04ydm0]

    My questions are
    1) any ideas what the 'Solar Inlet' might be? Any ideas for figuring it out?
    2) Would I have to put an automatic solar control valve down by the panels? (I'd have to run 24v wire about 50 feet to do that).
    3) Should I add an automatic valve to the Polaris plumbing so it doesn't get flow from the filter circuit? Or is this normal?
    4) Should I worry that I have no way of controlling return flow between the drain and skimmer?
    5) Any other observations?

    I'm about to replumb the whole thing with the new gear listed in my signature...

    Thanks for any advice on this mystery!
    Attached Images Attached Images
    25,000 gallon IG plaster pool (c.1963). Pentair Intelliflo VS. Clean n Clear Plus 320. Pentair East Touch 4P. Intellichem with liquid chlorine dispenser. 8 Aquasol 4x10 Panels. Polaris 280 w/booster pump.

  2. Back To Top    #2

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Here's a photo showing a little more context...
    [attachment=0:13dzx6qo]IMG_0008_2.jpg[/attachment:13dzx6qo]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    25,000 gallon IG plaster pool (c.1963). Pentair Intelliflo VS. Clean n Clear Plus 320. Pentair East Touch 4P. Intellichem with liquid chlorine dispenser. 8 Aquasol 4x10 Panels. Polaris 280 w/booster pump.

  3. Back To Top    #3
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pleasanton, CA
    Posts
    11,474

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Just a little terminology problem.

    The pipes coming from the pool into the suction side of the pump are sometimes labeled as inlets (i.e. going into the pump). The pipes returning to the pool after the filter are return pipes. So I think they are labeled correctly.

    Also, the solar inlet is just that, the supply side of the solar panels. To turn the solar on, you need to turn the red handled valve off next to the pool return. For automation, you will need a controller, a 3-way valve and an actuator. Not cheap but might be worth it to you.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  4. Back To Top    #4
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    SW Louisiana
    Posts
    6,711

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Cheap is relative, it is possible to buy a basic solar controller with actuator and valve for under $250 with some shopping (such as the Goldline GL-235), as to the question of if it is worth it, this partly depends on where you live, if you live in an area with lots of sun, few clouds, and rarely having unexpected rain, it may not be worth it, but if you with in a place with those things it can greatly improve the efficiency of solar panels.

    Ike
    p.s. I would suggest going over the whole solar heating system, as it is possible the cause of the failure of the old Fafco panels was incorrect installation, perhaps over pressurization, etc. (solar panels should operate at a maximum flow with minimal pressure, ideally they should see only a couple of PSI at the panels. The use of a booster pump on panels that are located near pool level worries me.
    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~

  5. Back To Top    #5

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Many thanks for your help...

    Quote Originally Posted by mas985
    Also, the solar inlet is just that, the supply side of the solar panels. To turn the solar on, you need to turn the red handled valve off next to the pool return. For automation, you will need a controller, a 3-way valve and an actuator. Not cheap but might be worth it to you.
    That's the strange thing about this plumbing -- the solar is currently working, even though the valve on the pipe marked Solar inlet is closed (see photos above). Which makes me think the solar panels are plumbed serially into the pool's plumbing. I guess I could open the Solar pipe and close the pool return, but I have no idea where the water would be going. Is there any way to trace pvc pipes and figure out where they're going?

    The reason I want a controller is because our water gets too hot (low 90sF) right now. For $155 I can get an actuator, a 3-way diverter and a solar sensor that works with my Pentair EasyTouch. I just can't figure out where to plumb it in...

    I'm pretty sure the Fafco panels failed from freezing multiple times. I do not have a solar booster pump (just a booster for my Polaris 280 pool vac)
    25,000 gallon IG plaster pool (c.1963). Pentair Intelliflo VS. Clean n Clear Plus 320. Pentair East Touch 4P. Intellichem with liquid chlorine dispenser. 8 Aquasol 4x10 Panels. Polaris 280 w/booster pump.

  6. Back To Top    #6
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pleasanton, CA
    Posts
    11,474

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    The solar is probably on because there is no way to turn it off except by the isolation valves in the third picture. The valve I was talking about only shuts off the flow directly back to the pool so turning the valve off only sends more water to the solar but the way the valve is shown in the picture is currently on and allows flow directly back to the pool. However, if there is enough pressure for the panels, they could be on all the time but they may not have a lot of flow going through the panels.

    The solar valve would go where the return pipe and the solar pipe are teed together in the first picture. You can eliminate the grey valve after the tee.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  7. Back To Top    #7

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Solved. The labels on the pipes were reversed -- the pipe marked solar inlet is the pool return and vice versa.

    I opened the blue valve on the outside of the pool shed (photo 2) and closed the red ball valve (photo 1). Lots of bubbling from the jet then a constant flow, and no water going through the panels. So I can cut these out and install the 3-way solar diverter in the pool shed and control it with the EasyTouch. I'll also move the T feeding the Polaris booster so it's before the solar diverter.

    Thanks for everyone's help.
    25,000 gallon IG plaster pool (c.1963). Pentair Intelliflo VS. Clean n Clear Plus 320. Pentair East Touch 4P. Intellichem with liquid chlorine dispenser. 8 Aquasol 4x10 Panels. Polaris 280 w/booster pump.

  8. Back To Top    #8
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pleasanton, CA
    Posts
    11,474

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    Then the solar supply line should be up stream (i.e. closer to the pump) but it doesn't look that way from the pictures. You may be running the panels backwards.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    So the solar supply is after the filter -- I thought that's where it belongs? There's no solar return. It must go right to the jet in the pool...

    Thanks.
    25,000 gallon IG plaster pool (c.1963). Pentair Intelliflo VS. Clean n Clear Plus 320. Pentair East Touch 4P. Intellichem with liquid chlorine dispenser. 8 Aquasol 4x10 Panels. Polaris 280 w/booster pump.

  10. Back To Top    #10
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Pleasanton, CA
    Posts
    11,474

    Re: Mysterious plumbing for solar...

    It might connect underground shown by the 2nd and 3rd pictures.
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump/Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, MaxFlo SP2303VSP, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •