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Thread: Questions regarding installing solar panels

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    Questions regarding installing solar panels

    Hi folks...I've just grazed the surface, but this site is a gold mine! Thanks in advance to the folks that take the time to help us out!!

    I'll be filling out my profile with exact specifics but for now I believe this will do, for what I'm asking about:

    21' AG, new last fall.
    Hayward pump and Hayward cartridge filter.
    (2) 2x20 sungrabber roll-out solar panels
    No fancy plumbing except a diverter valve to direct flow to the panels.

    It's Canada (Ehh!) so I topped off the pool as soon as the ice went off it, cleaned out all the solids, and it's cleared very nicely. I have the solar blanket on, and run the pump every couple days. Haven't done anything to the water except add a puck in the skimmer once the previous one is gone. It will still be a while before we're in it...COLD... I really couldn't find much exact info on the 'net regarding when and how to open a pool in my climate...do you leave it until it's almost time to use and fight the swamp, or get it clean as soon as the ice is off and maintain from there... I chose to jump on it early...I think I made the right choice. But naturally, I'l have some water balancing and so on to do before we're swimming...


    My questions are around the solar panels. We only got the new pool installed and running for a couple weeks at the end of the season, so I just rolled the panels out beside the pool.
    This year, I want to put them on the roof of the house. Full sun, all day, no trees to block, etc. Should really help out.

    So, visualize if you can... The pool is in the back yard, and there's 10' of deck between the pool and the house. The skimmer, pump and filter is on the far side of the pool from the house.

    So, I need to run along the ground beside the pool until I get to the deck, then hopefully run along the top of the deck wall to the house, across one side of the roof, over the peak to where the panels will be mounted.

    Sorry..long post, but the more details, the better, right?

    So...questions:

    I'm trying to figure out what kind of hose/pipe to use. I was thinking the rolls of black plastic water pipe, but it's hard to run around corners and so on.
    A friend who's a contractor suggested solid plastic waterpipe with glued joints, and a way to take it apart to drain for the winter. There would have to be a couple flex joints where it goes from the house to the deck, since we'll be dealing with things moving around due to frost.
    The guy at my local big-chain building center says he has a guy that's installing his (and other people's) solar panels with 3/4" water lines that they're using in new construction now. (This is the stiff line that looks like it would break if you bent it, but it's actually very bendable, and takes a special crimper to attach the fittings to it)

    Sorry, I don't have the proper terms for one type of pipe versus the other...

    1 - Given the installation I have to do, what are your opinions on what I should do, plastic water pipe vs solid plumbing pipe vs 3/4" water pipe, vs whatever else I should consider...?

    2 - The fittings on the solar panels, and on the divertor valve are (1 1/4, I think...) so should I use that size of pipe for running all the way to and from the panels?
    I'm trying to figure out if a big pipe and lots of flow is better than a small pipe with less flow (as far as heat goes)...
    I'm a newbie, so my thinking is that you run less water through the panels and it comes out hotter than if you're running twice the amount so it's 6 of one, half a dozen of the other. I also know that theory is hooey, but I need someone to tell me why.

    The house is a split level, so it has to raise the water one floor, plus up to the peak of the roof. The pump should be capable of that, correct? (Hard to answer without the specifics on the pump, I know, but it's the common size that would be supplied with a 21' AG pool....I'll be filling out my profile with the exact info right shortly)

    And, aside from the diverter valve that I used last year, do I need any other fancy plumbing? I'd assume 2 shut-off's at ground level to seal off the inlet and outlet of the solar system so it doesn't drain when I have to open the system for maintenance... Is a vaccuum valve up on the roof necessary? If so, where can I get one, and how much headache will it be getting it plumbed into whatever sort of pipe/hose I use?

    Yikes....60,000 character limit...I must be getting close.... :-p

    Thanks in advance people!!!!

    Just found the site last night, but I can tell one of those good water test kits and BBB will be right around the corner.
    The "I have never built anything in my life, summer of building stuff album"....Have a look!

    21' AG w/ Overlap Liner
    10400 gallons
    Hayward SP2290 1hp Pump
    Hayward Xstream CC150CAN Filter
    2 2'x20' Solar Panels

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Silver Spring, MD
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    Re: Questions re installing solar panels

    Welcome to TFP!

    In general larger pipes are better than smaller pipes. The more water you can move through the panels the more efficient the system will be, though you don't want to exceed the maximum flow rate of the panels. With only two panels the pipe diameter is not as important as it might be, but I would plan for possible expansion in the future and use large pipe now.

    I would go with 2" rigid PVC most places and switch to flexible PVC for joints that need to flex or are tricky to plumb with rigid pipe. With only two panels, 1 1/2" pipe would be just fine, but as I said it is good to plan for expansion and larger pipe isn't much more expensive.

    There is some chance your pump won't be able to get water up that high. The horizontal distance isn't such a big deal, but the lift up to the top of the roof is sometimes difficult for an above ground pump. If you can tell us exactly which pump you have we can probably figure it out for you.

    You will want a vacuum breaker valve. The panels will last longer if you let them drain down when they are not in use.
    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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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    SW Indiana
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    Re: Questions re installing solar panels

    Welcome to TFP!

    Most pool equipment uses 1.5" or 2" lines, and flow is critical in a solar panel, so you don't want to go any less than 1.5". You want heat, not a temperature increase, because losses are minimized and transfer efficiency is much better. I've heard that standard 1.5" Schedule 40 PVC is uncommon in Canada, but that's what most people use. You can use flex-PVC with standard joints to make the unusual bends you might need.

    If it were me, I'd bury the lines around the pool then run them on the surface under the deck, but I have an IG pool and have to deal with blowing out lines for normal closing anyway. It's no big deal. Disconnect the fittings from the ends and blow the water out with a shop vac or leaf blower, then cap the lines. Use unions to make it easier.

    It's critical that your panels are tilted and the plumbing arranged so they can be drained to prevent freeze damage in the panels.
    TFP Moderator
    20K Gallon 20X36 Vinyl Inground
    Hayward S244T Sand Filter with 1HP Whisperflo Pump. Liquidator C-201 and Solar Heat

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    frustratedpoolmom's Avatar
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    SWSuburban Chicago, IL
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    Re: Questions re installing solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by gcfishguy
    It's Canada (Ehh!) so I topped off the pool as soon as the ice went off it, cleaned out all the solids, and it's cleared very nicely. I have the solar blanket on, and run the pump every couple days. Haven't done anything to the water except add a puck in the skimmer once the previous one is gone. It will still be a while before we're in it...COLD...
    Welcome to the Forum!

    FYI, You should not put pucks in the skimmer. This is bad for the skimmer and your pump/filter. Pucks are acidic and lower the PH. Leaving a puck sitting in the skimmer while the pump is off can allow the water to become very acidic which can cause the skimmer basket and parts to become brittle and break, and the routinely acidic water passing thru the pump/skimmer every time the pump starts up can overtime cause damage to the system.

    If you have to use pucks a floater or inline chlorinator is better.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
    24' round AG pool, 52" high, Raypak heater; Waterway 2 spd Pump;
    150 Sq ft. Clearwater Cartridge Filter; Former and DISSATISFIED "Pool Frog" owner
    http://www.PerfectlyClearPoolService.com

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    Re: Questions re installing solar panels

    Wow! Thanks a ton folks!

    I'll print off your replies and I'll sit down with my contractor and hash out a plan for plumbing the panels.
    I say 'my contractor'...he lives a couple houses down my street. I spent all last summer installing the pool, building the deck, a shed, and a fence. I'm not very experienced with building anything, so he knows that if he gets home from the jobsite and I'm at the end of the driveway waving him down, his expertise is needed. I'd still be standing in the back yard looking at a dirt circle and scratching my head if it wasn't for him.

    Any more info anyone has, please share it...the more the better. I'm obviously a pool newbie and I'll take any advise anyone wants to throw at me.

    re: pucks in the skimmer. It's those little tidbits that are great. It never crossed my mind, but it makes perfect sense. Just because everybody else does something doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Thanks for the warning and the explanation!!!
    The "I have never built anything in my life, summer of building stuff album"....Have a look!

    21' AG w/ Overlap Liner
    10400 gallons
    Hayward SP2290 1hp Pump
    Hayward Xstream CC150CAN Filter
    2 2'x20' Solar Panels

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    Re: Questions re installing solar panels

    Re: pumping water to the roof...

    Pump is a Hayward SP2290
    1HP
    11.8 Amps

    If it matters, filter is a Xstream CC150CAN

    (Just added all that to my sig)

    Thanks again!!
    The "I have never built anything in my life, summer of building stuff album"....Have a look!

    21' AG w/ Overlap Liner
    10400 gallons
    Hayward SP2290 1hp Pump
    Hayward Xstream CC150CAN Filter
    2 2'x20' Solar Panels

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    May 2007
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    Silver Spring, MD
    Posts
    37,887

    Re: Questions regarding installing solar panels

    That pump is rated for a little over 50 ft of head, so you should be fine.
    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: Questions regarding installing solar panels

    I would also think that 1 1/2" or 2" schedule 40 PVC would be a good choice and I'd bury it to and from the house. What size tubing are the hookups on the panels, just keep it close? I would recommend installing a check valve on the way up the house so the water flows and drains in the right direction at all times - http://www.plumbingsupply.com/pvccheck.html.

    Keep in mind that the pump will really only work overtime getting the water up the house once. After the lines are bled, the siphon action will help keep the pump from getting overworked

    PVC is alot more forgiving that I expected. Our pool builder told us to fix our sprinklers ourselves or hire someone because they quoted us $1,800 to reroute them after they built our pool (a couple days ago). I fixed the valve manifold and reran 3 zones for about $70.

    Welding PVC is a piece of cake. You add solvent to both pieces (usually a pipe and a fitting like an elbow or a coupler), then immediately add glue, then twist the pieces together with a 1/4 turn and hold them there for a few seconds if your in Texas or a few minutes if you're in Canada. Then enjoy a Molson or something ehh? Here's a good how-to on PVC - http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to- ... -Fittings/.

    Let us know how it goes!!!
    7,500 In-Ground gunite / marble plaster. VS-3050 & VS+SVRS Variable Speed Pump. Rainbow-inline chlorinator (not even used for vacations). Pentair 520 cartridge filter. Paramount Clear O3 generator. SunTouch Controls. Pentair Legend Platinum.

  9. Back To Top    #9

    Re: Questions regarding installing solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Tengage
    twist the pieces together with a 1/4 turn and hold them there for a few seconds if your in Texas or a few minutes if you're in Canada.
    A few seconds in Texas vs a few minutes in Canada... Is that because it's so much colder up here and it takes longer to set?
    Your Texas seconds are naturally wayyy bigger than usual, and combine that with our metric time....It would probably work out to about the same thing.

    Several people have suggested burying the pipes...I figured I would just run them alongside the pool, then when I get to the patio, either fasten them up under it or possibly run the along the top of the privacy wall that I'm building aling the right-hand edge of the patio.
    I don't have far to go before I get to the patio.... The pump and filter are located at about 2 o'clock on the pool.
    Diagram
    And the frost line is about 3 feet down, so I'd think it would heave and spit the pipes out of the ground the first spring.

    Plus, wouldn't running them underground cause them to lose more heat than if they were exposed to the warmer ambient air?
    The "I have never built anything in my life, summer of building stuff album"....Have a look!

    21' AG w/ Overlap Liner
    10400 gallons
    Hayward SP2290 1hp Pump
    Hayward Xstream CC150CAN Filter
    2 2'x20' Solar Panels

  10. Back To Top    #10

    Re: Questions regarding installing solar panels

    I pictured a longer run, I think you'll be fine hiding them near the deck for that short of a distance. Is the right side of that diagram the south facing side of the property?

    Let us know what the contractor neighbor thinks about your plan.
    7,500 In-Ground gunite / marble plaster. VS-3050 & VS+SVRS Variable Speed Pump. Rainbow-inline chlorinator (not even used for vacations). Pentair 520 cartridge filter. Paramount Clear O3 generator. SunTouch Controls. Pentair Legend Platinum.

  11. Back To Top    #11

    Re: Questions regarding installing solar panels

    The left side faces South (ish).

    The sun actually travels from 6 o'clock on the picture to 12 o'clock. Straight over the roof and the backyard, just about directly overhead, so it's perfect for catching the sun all day.


    Something else I'm not thinking about, is sinking two posts, getting a couple pillow-blocks and building a solar blanket reel. But, running the posts a bit higher and mounting a 4'x20' platform to hold the panels right above the reel, and being able to tilt them East for the morning-noon sun, and then west for the afternoon sun...

    Would require some bracing likely, but might just work.

    Have to decide on something soon though...
    The "I have never built anything in my life, summer of building stuff album"....Have a look!

    21' AG w/ Overlap Liner
    10400 gallons
    Hayward SP2290 1hp Pump
    Hayward Xstream CC150CAN Filter
    2 2'x20' Solar Panels

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