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Thread: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

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    ryansteele's Avatar
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    COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    I recently purchased a set of solar panels from costco (canada), was a bit leary due to the cost compared to a similar size from the local pool store. Costco 4' x 20' panels were $249, compared to pool store price tag of $599. http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Product....895&lang=en-CA

    I have the units installed, and after some modifications to the manufactures instalation instructions I am pleasantly surprised. I have been gaining 6 - 7 degrees per day for the last 2 days (Sunny and 23 deg. and 22 deg. days). So while probably not as high quality as the local pool stores unit, still a good "VALUE" product.
    27' Rnd x 52" Vougue Resin Inspiration AG, Hayward 2speed pump, 150 sq ft cartridge filter, SmartTemp heat pump

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    NWMNMom's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Just because something comes from the pool store we don't immediately assume it is better quality - but we DO correctly assume that the price will usually be much higher. Their markups are HUGE at every pool store I have walked into. My Pool Rover Jr was almost $300 more at the pool store than I paid (almost double the price) and mine was not on sale. I'm sure that is what happened for you.

    If your panels are working out fine, then they were apparently just what you needed and at a better price to boot!
    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Doheny Jet Drive (RIP -Pool Rover Jr) - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

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    ryansteele's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    The factory set up seemed very inefficient to me so I changed the set up and added some pipe and caps, and noticed a difference immediatly. The first image (excuse the drawing) is after i made the changes, but the second image is how the factory instructions had the heater set up. My opinion was that there would be less water actually traveling through the solar heater then would be traveling straight up through the manifold and back into the heater.
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    27' Rnd x 52" Vougue Resin Inspiration AG, Hayward 2speed pump, 150 sq ft cartridge filter, SmartTemp heat pump

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Neither of those setups is ideal, though the upper one is worse. The lower diagram is a classic hooked up in series setup. You actually want them hooked up in parallel.

    You need to know if you have in ground panels or you have above ground panels. In above ground panels, one of the headers is blocked in the middle. From the look of the diagrams, it appears that you have above ground panels. In ground panels are actually more efficient, but you need longer hoses.

    The ideal setup for above ground panels is to split the flow from the pool into two, and run them to each panel at the end of the panel where the header is blocked in the middle. Then take the other ends of the headers, pipe them together and run that back to the pool. That runs the panels in parallel, instead of in series, so they are more efficient.

    If you have in ground panels, where the headers are clear on both ends, you connect the two panels headers together, run water in at one end, and take water out at the other end. That is even more parallel, since the water doesn't go down the panel and then come back, it only goes one way.

    Hopefully I have explained that without a diagram well enough for you to follow.
    19K gal, vinyl, 1/2 HP WhisperFlo pump, 200 sqft cartridge filter, AutoPilot Digital SWG, Dolphin Dynamic cleaning robot
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    NWMNMom's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Here is a picture of parallel panel plumbing - you can see the bottom of the panels we have a T that feeds the inlet of both panels and at the top there is a T for outlet from both to a single pvc pipe - they don't have to be set end to end this way but it uses less plumbing when it is. One panel is flipped over with the labels facing to the back so that both of the inlets are on the bottom. My panels have valves inline to adjust flow - some brands do not.
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    18x33x52 Buttressfree Seaspray (Wilbar) AGP - 1.5hp Pentair Maxim w/22" Pentair Meteor Sand Filter, Aqua Rite SWG System, Biltmore Walk In Steps - 2/4x20 Solar Panel Setup - Doheny Jet Drive (RIP -Pool Rover Jr) - finally hard plumbed the whole darned thing -
    Beats Driving to the Lake!

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    ryansteele's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    OPPS, I missed part of "my setup" when I did my diagram, there is also a connector between the two panels at the right end between the two manifolds.

    My panels do have a "baffle" positioned 1/2 way through the manifold on each panel, I'm assuming to create a bit of back preassure to force the water through the bottom half of each panel and back again through the top half of each panel. However this "baffle" is deffinitly blocking less then 1/2 of the manifold, so in my mind with the factory setup, at least 1/2 of the water coming through the supply end of the panels would actually pass straight through the 2 manifolds and back into the pool. While the way I set the panels up, all the water that makes it to the panels HAS to go through the panels. I had the panels set up as per factory instructions for 1 day, then switched it. And while i can't be 100% sure both days were exactly the same temp / sun etc, they were similar, and there is no doubt there was a larger gain after the setup changed.

    I'm not arguing, as I admit I know very little about this stuff, I'm just providing the details of what happened.
    27' Rnd x 52" Vougue Resin Inspiration AG, Hayward 2speed pump, 150 sq ft cartridge filter, SmartTemp heat pump

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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Quote Originally Posted by ryansteele
    I recently purchased a set of solar panels from costco (canada), was a bit leary due to the cost compared to a similar size from the local pool store. Costco 4' x 20' panels were $249, compared to pool store price tag of $599. http://www.costco.ca/Browse/Product....895&lang=en-CA
    I just bought the same kit, it was delivered today. It, and the one shown in the link, are above ground kits, with no splits in the manifolds.

    I did not buy the install kit, which has more clips, the strapping, a vacuum relief, a 3-way valve (and a one-way as well I think), I probably have to order that now. Either that or source some strapping, and valves ad such.

    The manual does support having a parallel "input", and yes, longer tubing for the return, but what the hey- more of a dark pipe to heat that water up (trying to be optomistic).

    Wish me luck....

    EDIT: Here is the way the manual show to install..
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    27' x 52" Round AG
    18,600 gal.
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    reebok's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    how did it go? I have these exact same panels that I got off ebay a few years ago. I've been happy so far, though I do have them installed vertically instead of horizontally due to sun exposure and my roof setup. did you find it cheaper to get the three way valve and vacuum relief on your own?
    16x32 21,000 gallon in-ground exposed aggregate, 1.5hp pump, 120 sqft catridge filter, birdcage, solar panels, aquavac tigershark qc robot.

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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Quote Originally Posted by reebok
    how did it go? I have these exact same panels that I got off ebay a few years ago. I've been happy so far, though I do have them installed vertically instead of horizontally due to sun exposure and my roof setup. did you find it cheaper to get the three way valve and vacuum relief on your own?
    Hi. It went okay, EXCEPT, the ****, freaken, *&%%$ Costco 3-way diverter valve leaked on all 3 openings. I used the proper primer, and glue, proper PVC connectors, ... and over 3 days, 1 hose blew out and the other 2 leaked. Good thing I was home to see the blow out, otherwise the pool would have drained, and/or the pump would have maybe burnt out.

    I used a rubber elbow on the roof, incase I want to reshingle, it then becomes a quick disconnect point. But, on the down-pipe, the elbow collapsed when the pump was on. I think due to the combination of gravity and pump pressure, that side was "faster" exitting than the input pressure. So I replaced that with a hard ABS 90, all is fine.

    I did buy the "kit", I found that the diverter and hoses and clamps and vacuum relief was more than the kit cost, so I bought it anyways.

    Other than the leak, and the "red neck" fix (3 2"-1.5" rubber adapters with clamps at the diverter), its working fine.

    Pictures: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2 ... =673820122
    27' x 52" Round AG
    18,600 gal.
    Sand filter

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    reebok's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    who sells that black pvc? or did you spray paint it?
    16x32 21,000 gallon in-ground exposed aggregate, 1.5hp pump, 120 sqft catridge filter, birdcage, solar panels, aquavac tigershark qc robot.

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    ryansteele's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    its not PVC, its ABS, Acrylonitrile-Butadiene-Styrene, which is usally used for non pressurized drain systems..... but I cant imagine why it won't work in this application....
    27' Rnd x 52" Vougue Resin Inspiration AG, Hayward 2speed pump, 150 sq ft cartridge filter, SmartTemp heat pump

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    reebok's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    oh, I see he said that but I had no idea what it was. everyone who has solar panels around here has black piping (professional installs) and I always wondered what it was.
    how are things up there in canada? FF/PM in hillsborough county (tampa, fl area) here.
    16x32 21,000 gallon in-ground exposed aggregate, 1.5hp pump, 120 sqft catridge filter, birdcage, solar panels, aquavac tigershark qc robot.

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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Yes, the black is ABS. To mate ABS to PVC, there is a transition glue, but, I will guarantee that the seal will let loose eventually. Transition glue only works on seams that are not under pressure. I used a rubber adapter with clamps when going ABS to PVC.

    What a brutal summer so far for a solar heater. Not much sun, lots of rain though. Maybe August will be better.

    s
    27' x 52" Round AG
    18,600 gal.
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    ryansteele's Avatar
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    Re: COSTCO SUNHEATER SOLAR PANELS

    Last year, with no heat but a solar blanket we JUST broke 80, and only twice.... this year, with only 1/2 a solar system (80 sqft), and poor sun conditions, we have been over 80 most days, and have broke 85, so we are HAPPY so far!!
    27' Rnd x 52" Vougue Resin Inspiration AG, Hayward 2speed pump, 150 sq ft cartridge filter, SmartTemp heat pump

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