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Thread: Portable solar panel

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    tcat's Avatar
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    Portable solar panel

    Has anyone tried taking a 4x8 or 4x10 panel (like Fafco or Vortex), and laying it a hot concrete deck, running the inlet from a return, and outlet back to pool? Most of my pool is shaded, but the deck gets lots of sun all day. City won't allow permanent installs. Just curious if I could get 3-5 degrees using one panel, running when pump is running. Solar blanket at night. I see all the small round tube types, and small square ones, but a 30'-40' panel would probably be much more efficient than any of those. A 4 x 8 would be easy to mount on plywood, move around easily, and tilt at "prime" angle each month.
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    Solar Cover "idea"?

    I have a "cheap" clear cover currently, starting to have burst bubbles and will need replacing at the end of winter (if not sooner). I've also been struggling with city codes not permitting solar panels. Has anyone considered using solar panels as a solar cover/heater? I was thinking something like a couple of the 20' Solar Bear, laid on top of the pool, maybe some Styrofoam supports if it sinks. Connect the inlet to one of the returns, and let the outlet just flow into the pool. Maybe fairly easy to roll up? Not having seen one in person, I really am not sure of maneuverability. Thoughts?

    If not, any solar covers that last 4-5 years?
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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    I'd check your city code again. You may have HOA rules prohibiting panels, but I have friends in Austin who have a 12 panel pool system on their house and a 6 panel domestic hot water system on their garage. They are in West Lake something, which I assumed was a neighborhood of Austin, but it may be another city for all I know. It's another world to me, because there are pool houses in their neighborhood that are nearly as big as my house.

    You can just lay the panels on the ground and they will work fine, though not attractive. Trying to put them on the pool surface would be pretty tough.
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    I'm in Lakeway. Can't have exposed pipes on a roof, can't have anything on the ground visible from a street. Unfortunately my south side faces a street. I've tried to get preapproved before spending money and nothing I submit will pass... and there are inspectors driving the streets daily.

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    What about if they faced west?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...est-south.html

    This is a study that was for electrical generation so it may or may not correlate directly with solar water heating. It was, as luck would have it for you, conducted in Austin, TX. It is more beneficial for electricity as west facing panels provide more energy when peak demand is higher and just as good if not very slightly better than south facing overall, according to this single study. Looking at the curves for energy generation here: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articl...rong-direction it would even lend itself to shorter pump run times as the heating is more intense for a shorter period for west facing panels.
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    Interesting! West is more hidden for diy panels, but unfortunately more shaded. Pool is actually shaded 50% of the day, so panels or cover on the surface probably wouldn't do much except retain heat. If I can hide something ground mounted facing west, that's probably my best bet. I do have approx. 100' of black iron fence facing west, maybe some sort of decorative tubing (hose) on the fence could work/help. If all the black iron tubes carried water...

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    Mod Squad JVTrain's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    That would be an interesting idea. Black iron fencing that was welded to allow directional water flow through it. However the problem would be long term corrosion/contamination of pool water with dissolved metals. Likely wouldn't be too bad if chemistry was maintained but would still happen over time. Internally lined or PVC fencing...
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    Just use black 1/2" tubing and create decorative designs on the fence. Maybe two 200' runs. Would be a great idea for someone like Fafco to design decorative fence overlays. If they do I'll take 10% for the idea.

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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    Baffles me why a city wouldn't allow solar panels...they do know they use less power then gas or heat pumps right?

    I challenged a developer codicil in my area prohibiting clothes lines...and won!

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    Re: Portable solar panel

    Quote Originally Posted by tcat View Post
    Has anyone tried taking a 4x8 or 4x10 panel (like Fafco or Vortex), and laying it a hot concrete deck, running the inlet from a return, and outlet back to pool? Most of my pool is shaded, but the deck gets lots of sun all day. City won't allow permanent installs. Just curious if I could get 3-5 degrees using one panel, running when pump is running. Solar blanket at night. I see all the small round tube types, and small square ones, but a 30'-40' panel would probably be much more efficient than any of those. A 4 x 8 would be easy to mount on plywood, move around easily, and tilt at "prime" angle each month.
    Solar heating is all about square footage of exposure to the sun and having high enough flow rate. Many AG pool just lay the panels on the ground so putting them on a deck would be fine.

    I have 500 sqft of panels, you are talking about adding 32 sqft so you are going to add a lot less heat than me (although in the summer my solar does not even really run). But, I do not use a blanket and that will help retain heat tremendously.

    I would not waste money on the tiny little dome-type heaters.
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    Yeah, really dumb. I Google sky viewed the city and found no solar collectors.

    I have a 4'x32' section of fence facing west that gets 100% sun. I'm thinking a couple Solar Bears mounted on them would just look like a solid fence. Not at a great angle but surface would get hit by sun all day. Or I could run 10 or 15 32' lengths of 1/2" black tubing horizontally. I think tubes would be more receptive to sins angle.

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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    The black tubing won't be nearly as effecient as premad panels.

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    Re: Portable solar panel

    I have not tried a panel as you mention but did something else on the cheap that did help. One day while adding water to my old pool I noticed how warm the water was coming from the black garden hose. It got me thinking so I went to the hardware store and got a couple PVC fittings to allow connecting a garden hose to one of the pool returns. I had black hose probably 200 feet which was out in the sun. On a good sunny day the returning water could be 8 degrees warmer than the pool water and we had a flow of a little under 2 gpm.

    What it did to raise the pool temp i could not say exactly other than it did help. 3 to 5 degrees is a lot so I would not think it would do that much. How it compares to a solar panel is hard to say as well. The beauty of it was, I had the hose so the cost was about 5 bucks for the PVC, and it ran when the filter ran.
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    I have a 30' section of black iron fence facing west I was thinking of using to mount a Solar Bear, or panels like this. I'm thinking 30x4 (120') would at least add 5 degrees or so. With a solar cover might actually add more than that after a few days. It's something that I don't think the city codes could complain about. I have one return that was used for a cleaner (no longer used) that I just removed the motor and looped the line. I could tie solar into that one line (once I do some digging and find it). Just not sure if there's enough pressure in one return.
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    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    I merged 2 of your threads that are becoming very related

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by tcat View Post
    Just not sure if there's enough pressure in one return.
    I am not sure what you are saying here.

    It will certainly add some heat hanging the panels vertical. I am not sure some of the cheaper panels that have the 20' long little tubes which would be horizontal would work. I think they may sag too bad. That picture you linked would be better with the vertical tubes and horizontal headers.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    Thanks for merging, I got off my own topic. The "not enough pressure" stems from the cleaner line was 3/4" PVC at the old motor, and the flow from the return feels less than other returns. Easily solved by removing the section of 3/4" pipe, since the run to the return is 1.5".

    I was just looking at a Jandy EE1500 (80K BTU Heat Pump, 7.2 COP), and looking at the 4'x20' Solar Bear, also 80K BTU. I know both are undersized for my 375 sq.ft pool, but am I comparing apples to apples (BTU to BTU) here? Well worth a $250 "test" to see how the solar panel really does. Only reason I am looking at the small Heat Pump, is my equipment area isn't large enough for much more. But I prefer finding a way with solar.
    IG pebble, 15,000 gallon
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    PentAir Whisperflo pump with 1hp 2-speed motor
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    Might a SolarAttic system solve your problem? My system is virtually hidden, except two pipes running up to the soffet.
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    Re: Solar Cover "idea"?

    Quote Originally Posted by tcat View Post
    Yeah, really dumb. I Google sky viewed the city and found no solar collectors.
    ...
    I don't have a helpful comment about your pool heating situation.

    However, codes prohibiting use of solar panels in a major city in Texas?? The sun does shine in Austin, right? Absolutely asinine, from an environmental and energy conservation p.o.v.! I guess this gets into political commentary next, so I will shut up.
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    You make the mistake in thinking Austin is in Texas, Austin is in fact surrounded by Texas. Austin is a strange entity, it is sort of a grown up retro hippy liberal city surrounded by mostly conservative Texas. I do not mean any offense by the term retro hippy liberal, it is just an attempt to clarify the type of liberal community that you tend to find in Austin.


    p.s. giving it a bit more thought the basis of the Austin community attitude, may be more of a pre-hippy liberal one, whose reigns have been handed down to the current retro-hippy community, maybe more LBJ great society liberalism, afterall he was from that general part of Texas..
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    Re: Portable solar panel

    Solar Attic sounds scary. Copper coils... thought everything changed to titanium these days. Looks expensive for what you get. My attic has insulation under the roof tile, attic probably never gets above 100... but I try to stay out during the summer. With 5% chlorine running through the heat exchanger and my pH seemingly never getting below 7.8, I could see it leaking in 2 or 3 years. Talk about up front cost and maintenance!

    Lakeway is a community with its own agenda. Much stricter than Austin. Only way to go solar is to hide it, and with my best solar area facing the street, it won't be easy.

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