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Thread: Solar Panels

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    Solar Panels

    We are considering having 350sq ft of Heliocol solar panels installed to help heat our pool. We have very little direct sunlight on the pool (2-3 hours max) resulting in chilly water most of the summer. We do have a decent amount of sunlight on our roof. (electric heat pumps and gas heaters are not an option)

    We do use a solar cover and it helps some.

    I am curious to find out from people who have this type of system and to get opinions about it. I spoke to two people that have had them installed by the same company that we'll be using, but my husband is wondering if they are trying to "sell" the product or really being truthful. They had rave reviews.

    So, I thought this forum would be helpful.

    Any information that you feel may be helpful is appreciated. Things like...how much it adds to your swimming season, how effective you feel it is, etc?

    We live in Raleigh, NC and it's hot here from April until October. We are lucky if we can swim in our pool from June-August without feeling uncomfortable. It's quite frustrating.

    I've read a lot of other posts about different DIY solar panels and was wondering that advantage of those (other than cost). Do they work well? We do not feel comfortable installing them on our own. Are there people out there that can help with that sort of thing?

    The Heliocol panels seem great due to warranty, ease of use...but, also have a nice price tag as well. However, after looking at all of our heating options this is our best bet. That, or chop down all of our neighbors trees.

    Thanks for your help!

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Panels

    Ok, short version (I hope), I have done both the home built solar route (25+ years ago) and now have commercial panels (Techno Solis brand, self installed last year http://www.troublefreepool.com/threa...acement-Update), by far commercial panels are superior in every category to anything most of us can build, and is likely cheaper too. So this leaves the question of self install vs dealer installation, if you are a DIY type, or in my case a DIY type that had professional help due to physical limitations (I broke my back in 2010, and am still recovering, I might be up to doing an install like this now with a capital MIGHT, but was not last year, at least not for the roof top part, although I did most of the ground level and prep work and all the planning).

    I don't know what you consider a great price, or how big your pool is in relation to your panel coverage, so I can't comment too much on that, other than to say I did my self install last year including solar controller, plumbing, panel install, and paying a roofer and helper on a budget of under $4,000 for 11 4x12 panels. ( I don't have an exact number due to various odds and ends from the hardware store, etc., panels alone were about $2500, plus I think $150 truck freight). Now the good and the bad I see about HeliCool, great warranty as you say, however they work through exclusive dealers, and lock you in with proprietary couplers, etc. My fear with going that route is being left unsupported if the dealer goes out of business and no other local solar dealer picks up Helicool, this may not be a problem in prime solar pool regions, but for those of us in secondary market areas there are plenty of horror stories on the net. Fafco is much the same way, but maybe a little more friendly to the orphaned customer, and will sell to the DIY market, they just don't advertise it.


    Now down to the Big question, is solar worth it, and I will give that a qualified yes, in that it does work to heat a pool and extend the swim season, how much depends on a number of factors including the ratio of the size of the panels to your pool, your climate, etc. Now he qualified part, it works IF you have reasonable expectations, this is not a demand heat source, and while solar controllers (A thing I highly suggest) do let you set a desired goal temperature, you can't expect the solar to always reach that goal, particularly in the shoulder seasons. So don't plan a big Halloween swim party a month ahead and then be disappointed that the pool water is 70 degrees due to 5 days of overcast weather the week before. I suffered through a similar situation this spring with the winter that would never end. My pool was at 70 degrees thanks to the solar heat on March 1st, however thanks to all the cold and rainy weather we had this March, it was also at 70 degrees on April 1st, dropping back to the mid to low 60's in between. But all is good now, and for the last 3 weeks it has been a nice 82-85 degrees (set point is 85 on the solar controller, some people like their pools warmer, I am not one of them, and in fact will turn it down to 83 or 84 as the summer gets here) all it took was some nice warm sunshinny days.

    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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    Re: Solar Panels

    Thank you, that was helpful.

    I wish we were in the position to do installation ourselves, but we're not. But, with that said...the panels are not any more then what we would have spent for the heat pump we were looking into (along with the electrical work it would have required). Plus, once it's installed there is not a bill to pay in regards to power usage.

    Due to the shade I mentioned that interferes with the pool heating up to begin with, we are limited to the amount of sunlight on our roof as well. The panels will be put on the southwest side of the house (back) and has about 5 hours of full sunlight. (between the hours of 11 and 4). Do you think that is even enough sunlight. I know it's not optimal. But, it's better than nothing.

    Thanks again!

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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Panels

    Isaac provided a great summary. Any amount of panels in sunlight for any amount of time will provide some heat ... it is all about expectations.

    I installed my panels. I bought the Helicol used off CL, then realized I needed a lot of mounting and coupler parts which were a little difficult to find. Eventually found a store online that sold to the public. Personally I like the Helicol connectors as there are not hose clamps to loosen over time.

    I figure I have about $1500 into my 500 sqft setup. So for me, the significant savings was worth the risk of not having a warranty. Plus my roof is basically flat so the install was easy.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Panels

    How big is your pool (surface area), and do you cover it with a solar cover when not swimming?
    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: Solar Panels

    Solar guy measured and said 450. When I asked the pool company that installed it, they said 560. I spoke to the solar company today they are coming back out to remeasure to make sure.

    Yes, we cover it with a solar cover. Well, we need a new one, but in the past few years it's covered whenever we're not in.

  7. Back To Top    #7
    Isaac-1's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Panels

    Given your situation and limited hours of light I would try to squeeze more panels on the roof if you have the space, but with 75% or so coverage you should definitely see a fair amount of heat, if it is as much as you want .....
    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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