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Thread: Solar heating plan - Advice?

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Solon, Iowa

    Solar heating plan - Advice?

    I've decided to go solar for our 15X30 AGP (~11K gal) next spring. Our goal is just to extend our season a few weeks on each end, and to try to keep a temp throughout the summer that is more pleasing to my family, who seem to prefer >80 degrees more than <80. We cover the pool EVERY night with a very good solar cover (a thick, diamond bubble blue/silver). I've got an unblocked south exposure alongside the house (eastern Iowa, latitude south of Chicago, north of St. Louis), where I can build racks off the ground so that the panels will be within a few feet of the pump and filter (I'll have to check my pump hp - 3/4 I think, and my filter diameter - we're new to all this since June). So, during the summer the sun will hit these panels for pretty much the entire day.

    I'm thinking of the Hi-Deluxe ( ... p#Features) panels, which come in 4X12, 4X10, or 4X8 (parallel flow design). I like the wider panels than the 2 foot designs, and the parallel flow. Plus, the installation manual shows an attention to detail that in my experience reflects careful design. Any reviews of these panels? And, the big question always is "how many panels?", given that I'm not looking for heat gain during any single day, and we're good about covering at night to keep our gains.

    Second, should I consider automatic valve control? I'm looking at the Goldline controller with automatic control of a 3-way valve and liking it. Will this plan integrate with my salt control (AquaTrol) panel that has a pump timer? I've run my pump from around 8AM to 6PM each day (using the timer on the AquaTrol panel) during the swimming season with excellent control of my FC, and great water clarity. With this kind of simple timer, does it make more sense for me to control the valve for the solar manually, or can the Goldline temp control panel be used as the master controller for pump power (based on temperature parameters), without shutting down my pump during the daylight hours? Maybe I need to study to Goldline controller more.

    This looks like a pretty straightforward DIY job with a lot of satisfied pool users in the end.

    Advice appreciated.

    15X30 AGP, Lomart beaded liner;
    1.5 HP Sta-Rite pump with 21 inch sand filter (Zeobrite media)
    Mineral Springs (Aquatrol) SWCG, Rigid PVC plumbing, 2 inch
    Four 4X12 Techno-Solis solar panels, rack mounted, Goldline Solar Controller

  2. Back To Top    #2
    mas985's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Pleasanton, CA

    Re: Solar heating plan - Advice?

    You will probably hear a lot of opinions on the size solar panels should be but most people end up with 50% to 80% of the pool surface area. Any size panel will help heat the pool but the larger the panel, the faster it will add heat.

    If you are commited to a cover and use it every day, then you can probably get away with less panels. However, if you are like me where I am not very good at using my cover, it is nice to have large panels which can make up for my lazyness and compensate for the heat loss at night. I can get 8-10 degree rise per day on a hot day with my panels (85% of surface area).

    As for a controller, I have one and can't imagine life without it, but again, I'm lazy. In solar extend mode, you can have the pump run until the panel temp drops close to the pool water and then it will automatically shut the pump off. This minimizes the amount of pump run time while at the same time maximizes the amount the heat added to the pool. To me, this is worth the controller cost alone.
    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

  3. Back To Top    #3
    launboy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    S.E. Wisconsin

    Re: Solar heating plan - Advice?

    According to that sites chart at the bottom having 6 - 4x12 panels would give you somewhere around 60% of your pools S.A. Personally, I would go up to the next pool size an use 7 panels, especially if you want to go a couple of weeks later into the season. You will really appreciate the extra heat. My pool has 120 sq. ft of solar panels(roof mounted, south facing) and that equates to about 68% of my pools S.A. Right now with sunny days and 60* nights our pool hit 84* just after 5 P.M. today(when the solar turns off).

    Those panels cost more then twice as much (per panel) as I payed for mine. I got mine off eBay brand new, shipped to me for $116 a piece I believe. These are the 2x20 panels though an yours are 4x12.

    Also, I don't have a solar controller (except myself turning valves) and I personally think it would have been a waste of money. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to have one (I love new gadgets) and it would have came in handy a couple of times, but I have my pump set on a timer. It runs when the sun comes out(about 9 am.) and shuts off when the panels have no more sun(around 5pm). If it's cloudy or rainy, I do have to go and turn 3 valves on the bypass but I dont mind.

    Now, to see if I can get a spa to acceptable temp with only solar heat.

    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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