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Thread: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

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    NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Although I have been lurking for months, this is my first post. Hopefully my sig will contain most of my info regarding pool. As the heading reads, I (we) are the owners of a newly built pool. So new, it was filled just this past week. Hopefully final sign-offs will take place next week. With that being said, and because of our location and the size of our pool, I am REALLY considering solar heating. I just don't think after the initial expense of putting in this pool I cannot think about it. I have been doing some reading, but there is so much info, with some of it being a few years old, I am getting a bit confused. Is there a "Solar Guru" known on this forum willing to answer some "basic" questions? I am planning to do most of it myself - except for the initial hookup. I'm in an area where I think I can construct or build a "solar field" on our property instead of having to go on our roof - which would be costly and invasive at this point. So if there is anyone willing to take on a few questions, I have a few to ask. I'd like to start off with these.

    1) Solar Panels (collectors?) - Is there any one brand better than the other? Any recommendations? Although I am ALWAYS on a budget, I don't want to go the cheap route and have to repair something every month.

    2) Size Solar Panels (collectors?)- Right now I'm looking at sizes - most of which I could work with. 4x8, 4x12 up to 4x16 and also 2x20's. What are the OVERALL dimensions, or is it different with each manufacturer? I'm just doing a rough draft now, but plan on installing all of them on joined sheets of plywood (4x8). Could I install these solar panels horizontally on these plywood sheets? I see solar panels that are 2x20. Could I stack FOUR of these across joined sheets of plywood, or would the surface area need to be greater?

    3) How Many - Again mixed information, probably because of years of improvements/efficiency? The surface area of my pool is approx. 750 sq. ft., however at close to 34K gallons, is this venture really worth it. I really don't want to fire up that heater at all.... But that being said, I believe I could realistically get over 500 sq. ft. of panels helping me out. Depending on what type, I'm reading different manufacturers have different sized manifolds on these 1 - 1 1/2 - 2 and even 2 1/2 inches on the manifolds so the water volume could be significantly different depending on what one I choose.

    Without getting in TOO heavy on my first post - I'll stop it there. I am open to any and ALL recommendations and maybe even willing to accept some bids if someone has a RELIABLE contact on doing this type of work... Don't be shy, fire away. It's nice to meet all of you.
    BRAND NEW IGP=Approx 34,000 gals. / 16' x 50' w/small shelf
    No features (except a heater) - Just a "cement pond"
    Plaster with Cartridge Filter and w/SWCG - All Jandy Equipment
    Built by California Pools - Explination given - if asked...

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Welcome to TFP!

    Panel size is not a big issue, it is total panel area that matters. Use larger panels if you have room, or smaller ones when fitting between obstructions. There are significant advantages to using all the same size if possible.

    Water should travel up the slope in the panel and then back down in a pipe, The panels should not run water horizontally unless they are flat on the ground.

    With 50% to 75% of your pool surface area you should get a good amount of heat out of the array.

    I would not go smaller than 2" headers given your large pool and large panel area.

    Hopefully someone else will have comments on brands.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Jason,

    Thanks for the quick reply. I'm not too sure if it matters, but I forgot to add that my wife did go with the floor heat or deep heat system where the heated water is pumped from the bottom. Having never owned a pool before, I didn't think this was such a big feature and in fact made a lot of sense. I am HOPING I can utilize this method/feature when and if I go online with the solar.... Thanks
    BRAND NEW IGP=Approx 34,000 gals. / 16' x 50' w/small shelf
    No features (except a heater) - Just a "cement pond"
    Plaster with Cartridge Filter and w/SWCG - All Jandy Equipment
    Built by California Pools - Explination given - if asked...

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    If your circulation is setup correctly, where you introduce the heated water makes almost no difference. Using heat deliver from the floor won't hurt anything, and it will help if your circulation is not so good.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
    Creator of PoolMath and Pool Calculator. Other handy links: Support this site, TF Test Kits, Pool School

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    I am typing on a phone so this will short for now. There has been no major change in commercial panels in years but a little improvement in contollers but those are mostly bells and whistles. For mounting ideas including racks take a look at h2ot sun solar. Yes there is a 2 in there lots of good info with only a little spin towards their stuff.
    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: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Thanks Issac. I read through part of the website and really liked what I saw - until I came to to the order page. The Powerstrip fin tubing they use is $6.00 per Sq. Ft. Per their website, the product is actually 3.75 inches wide by 88 feet long which, totals 29.33 square feet and is $176.00. I'm a product of public school, so my math is a little off sometimes. I planned on making my own "solar field" or solar rack that would be capable of holding around 576 Sq. Ft. of panels. That's ALMOST $3500 just for the "fin" tubing - no header pipe, no glue and I still have to make my "rack". The price was a little more than what I can pay, but I still have a e-nail into them. Probably one of the most informative websites on the the subject with a lot of useful information. I'm hoping I can do it for considerably less. Thanks again for the name.
    BRAND NEW IGP=Approx 34,000 gals. / 16' x 50' w/small shelf
    No features (except a heater) - Just a "cement pond"
    Plaster with Cartridge Filter and w/SWCG - All Jandy Equipment
    Built by California Pools - Explination given - if asked...

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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Yeah, they are proud of their panels, that is part of the reason I opted for my Techno-Solis panels at around half the price of the H2OT sun product.

    Now that I have a keyboard, here is a better answer to your questions,

    1, Yes, to a degree, panels tend to come on a few varieties, thinner flexible panels that roll up easy for cheaper shipping, or thicker more rigid, but bendable panels that tend to have to be shipped truck freight at higher cost. See this photo of the way my 11 4x12 TechnoSolis panels arrived (note these panels are some of the thickest in the industry and weigh 30 pounds each dry, vs about 18-20 for most 4x12 poly panels)



    This is not to say all thin panels are bad or that all thick ones are good, but it is a factor, particularly when you live on the other side of the country from where a given brand of panels is made. (Most domestic panels seem to be made in Florida, but some come from California also) You might want to check out Gull Solar panels, I can't really say much about them, other than I would not buy their coil panels, but based on the specs their regular poly panels look good and they are based out of San Jose, CA

    2, The sweet spot price wise for most brands seems to be 4x12 panels, the 2x20's are mostly used on temporary above ground setups where draining is not an issue. Exact dimensions vary, more importantly the amount of gap required for fittings, hose connectors, header and footer mounts, etc. varies with the brand of panels. In recent years it seems more attention is being paid to issues of lost potential area between panels.

    3, There is no real good answer here, it depends on how warm you like your pool water, how much you expect to extend your pool season, your location, and other factors, like do you tend to swim in the morning or evening (due to heat loss over night), but generally more is better.

    Ike

    p.s. just checked my records, I paid $2525 +150 shipping truck freight for 11 4x12 TechnoSolis Panels with 2 inch headers (base panel has 1.5 inch header) from poolheatpumps.com so a bit over half the price of the H2OT Sun panels, this including mounting harware, and of course you don't have to glue these together yourself

    Also I don't know if you spotted this link at Hot Sun, but it includes some good rack building details

    http://www.h2otsun.com/ps/racks.pdf
    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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    Maria Kenya's Avatar
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    Re: NEW Pool Owner - Considering Solar

    Hi I've got a solar powered pool filter and it's great. I recently emigrated to Kenya and the power is very unreliable to say the least. With the solar power, the pump comes on at sunrise and goes off at sundown so is constantly running for 12 hours a day without the need for timers etc. best decision I've made

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