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Thread: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    So I am considering add solar heat however the roof direction is not exactly in the most ideal spot. I would appreciate suggestions on placement of solar panels. The roof direction facing south east seems like the most optimum spot however the run of 50 plus ft across the back of the house seems too much. I have 2 inch plumbing and 1.5 hp pump. I am also considering at least 4 ( 4 x 12 ) fafco panels.
    Thanks for all input
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    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
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    Mod Squad Bama Rambler's Avatar
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Placing the panels on the southeast roof is a good plan but if it were me I'd consider placing half on the southeast and half on the southwest. If you don't have any obstructions to the SW I would consider placing all the panels on that roof.

    The 50' piping run isn't a concern. I see that it's only a single story dwelling so given that you have a 1.5hp pump it should be more than enough to run the solar.

    Are you planning on automating the solar operation?
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    SW would be on the front of the home right? Probably not desirable from an aesthetics viewpoint.

    Have you looked into the Heliocol brand? My understanding regarding hurricane code is that the 12' FAFCO panels will require three straps across the mid-section of the panels - meaning more roof penetrations, hence opportunity for leaks, etc. Heliocol panels do not seem to need the same strapping (per my local licensed roofing & solar guys, YMMV).
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    polyvue's Avatar
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Here's a good thread to start doing your homework on solar panels: Need help deciding on Solar Heating...Which manufacture?

    Though the discussion doesn't specifically address location, there's a link provided to the Univ. of Central Florida -- the de facto standard information center on all things solar.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Bama Rambler
    Placing the panels on the southeast roof is a good plan but if it were me I'd consider placing half on the southeast and half on the southwest. If you don't have any obstructions to the SW I would consider placing all the panels on that roof.

    The 50' piping run isn't a concern. I see that it's only a single story dwelling so given that you have a 1.5hp pump it should be more than enough to run the solar.

    Are you planning on automating the solar operation?
    I was thinking of the Goldline Auto controller, GLC-2P-A. The wife probably would not go for the panels facing SW because you can see it form the front of the house
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by lee32903
    SW would be on the front of the home right? Probably not desirable from an aesthetics viewpoint.

    Have you looked into the Heliocol brand? My understanding regarding hurricane code is that the 12' FAFCO panels will require three straps across the mid-section of the panels - meaning more roof penetrations, hence opportunity for leaks, etc. Heliocol panels do not seem to need the same strapping (per my local licensed roofing & solar guys, YMMV).
    Lee do you have heliocol? It seem that the majority have fafco on this forum
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by lee32903
    SW would be on the front of the home right? Probably not desirable from an aesthetics viewpoint.

    Have you looked into the Heliocol brand? My understanding regarding hurricane code is that the 12' FAFCO panels will require three straps across the mid-section of the panels - meaning more roof penetrations, hence opportunity for leaks, etc. Heliocol panels do not seem to need the same strapping (per my local licensed roofing & solar guys, YMMV).
    I have the option of going with 4 x 10 sizes. Will I see a big difference between this and the 4 X 12 if I want to put in less holes in the roof?????
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Lee do you have heliocol? It seem that the majority have fafco on this forum
    Not yet, but I will be going that way in about two months. FAFCO has higher efficiency numbers based on certified tests by the Florida Solar Energy Center, but for me it's the security of the panel to panel connections and minimum number of roof penetrations that matter most. YMMV.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Okay, here is an update. I met with several installers and I am leaning towards the Ecosun Hybrid Solar System made by Aquatherm. I will be getting 4 4x12 panels placed on the SE roof and will have a Goldline GL-235 auto controller. They will wire it so the pump will come on automatically when there is enough heat from the sun. I like the way the system is anchored to the roof. They use aluminum brackets and these are screwed into the rafters. They use marine exhaust hose to connect the panels, all screws and clamps are stainless steel. The warranty on the panels are 20yrs but the installer is covering lifetime on the panels. He is also covering lifetime for leaks on the roof. He is guaranteeing 88degree water from April to October. The price is $3150. I would appreciate all thoughts and suggestions
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    I see that it is a hybrid system meaning there is problably a gas or electric heating component. That would explain his guarantee of 88 degree temps - and I assume he would want you to have a solar cover on when you are not in the pool. The warranty sounds too good to be true - is it pro-rated or limited warranty?

    Its difficult to say if the price is reasonable until we know what the non-solar component is. However, I know people that have paid $4000+ just for solar.

    If I were having this installed, the only minor thing I'd request are some insulators between the stainless screws and aluminum brackets. Its not really serious, but you can get some dissimilar metal corrosion on the aluminum - especially underneath where it will stay wet. I deal with SS and aluminum all the time and most of the time it is fine, but some times non anodized aluminum looks like alkeseltzer tablets around the bolts.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by lborne
    ...That would explain his guarantee of 88 degree temps - and I assume he would want you to have a solar cover on when you are not in the pool. The warranty sounds too good to be true - is it pro-rated or limited warranty?
    ....
    In my area (about 3 hours drive south of Brentr) the FAFCO warranty is based on 20 year average temperatures, 85% panel/pool coverage ratio, and a solar cover use whenever the nighttime air temp falls below 60F. There are different curves for a screened enclosure.

    So, if they could use weather data to show the month had less average sunlight intensity, or if the temps were below the 20 year average, then I expect the warranty would be null.

    I could post a pic of central Florida solar water temp expectations (has a FAFCO logo), but I'm not sure if that would be a copyright violation, or if it would be of value to anyone other than us central FLA folks.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    lee and lborne, the solar panels are called Ecosun made by Aquatherm and it is a hybrid design with patent pending vented web and unique fluted surface design. The panels come from the factory with a 20 yr warranty however the installer will warranty for the life. He will replace free of any defective panel after 20 yrs however he will charge service fee. I have looked at the clamps and they are appear to be very heavy duty thick aircraft aluminum painted design. He as the owner of the company will warranty the roof for any leaks and repairs need due to leaks. He says that he is very confident that with 4 4 x 12 panels we would see 88degrees from April to November. He will also be installing the Goldline GL-235 which will allow the pump and solar to adjust when the sensors sense enough heat. He will also hook it up in conjunction with our heat pump. Hope this helps
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    OK, I missed the part about you already owning a heat pump. Whenever you see the word "hybrid" it usually means that you've got some reliable means of heating in conjunction with the solar.

    Price seems OK, but I really don't know. I spent $600 total to install 160 sq. feet of panels that only have a 10 year pro-rated warranty. Add another $300 if I installed the controller and I'm under $1k. But with no support if anything goes wrong.

    I do have one question maybe someone else can answer. Is it standard practice to hook the controller so that it turns on the pump? I thought it would just turn the valve. I'd be concerned that on a partly cloudy day at just the right temp that it could be kicking the pump on and off quite a bit.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    It is fairly common to have the pump turn on automatically when there is heat to be gained from the panels. Not everyone does this, but many do. The controller is designed so the pump isn't just turning on and off constantly.
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    lborne, I think in my case I would rather pay someone to install the system. The pitch of my roof is pretty steep and knowing my luck I would fall off and break a leg or arm, be out of work for a while with no money coming in. In this case it would be well worth it to pay a professional who is liscened and would not come back to sue you if he or one of his workers injured themself on the job. To besides I do not feel comfortable drilling holes in my roof.
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Brentr
    lborne, I think in my case I would rather pay someone to install the system. The pitch of my roof is pretty steep and knowing my luck I would fall off and break a leg or arm.....
    You're a wise man, Brent!

    I've gotta wonder... You already have a pretty large heat pump for a not too large pool. Is it not doing the job adequately? I'm not expert at figuring these things out, but would be a little nervous about how long the payback for the solar would be. Solar is often described as "free heat", but if you have to run the pump a lot longer than you would otherwise do to capture the heat, it's not totally free.

    Maybe you're not really worried about the payback, and maybe you're just looking for a "greener" way to go, I'm just thinking out loud here...
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    no-mas it will pay back for itself in less than 2 yrs. The heat pump is very efficient however this will be used as a back up. My plan is to use the solar as the primary source of heating as we like the temp in excess of 88deg and keep in mind that we have it screened in. Even though we pay 0.12 per Kwh it is expected to rise in the future so we would like to take advantage of some cheaper pricing and spend wisely.
    5,775 gal, IG free form, Beach Series Antigua by Marbletite Pebble finish, 2 swim out benches, Sheer Descent, IG Fountain, Dolphin / Mermaid Statues, StaRite Dura- Glas 1.5hp pump, Hayward Pro Series Sand Filter replaced with Hayward Pro-grid DE4820, Aqua Rite SWG with T-Cell 15, Polaris 360, Pentair 300w Light upgraded to Pentair IntelliBrite (OMG what a huge difference) , Heat Siphon Heat Pump DX 5.0 109,000 btu, Pool Cage, 1800sq ft Tremron Estate Pavers, solar cover, TF-100 test kit, Pentair Deck Jet, Apollo Magnetic Stirrer (Makes testing a breeze), Aquatherm Ecosun Solar Panels 192 sq ft with GL-235 Controller,Margarita Concoction Machine,
    Pics of our Spool ( Social Pool) being built Solar install Outdoor kitchen upgrade

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by JasonLion
    It is fairly common to have the pump turn on automatically when there is heat to be gained from the panels. Not everyone does this, but many do. The controller is designed so the pump isn't just turning on and off constantly.
    Jason,

    I would think that this would not be desireable since if you had a cloudy day, the pump would never turn on. Also, without the pump on, how does the controller know what the water temp is? Normally, solar is driven by the panel - water temperature difference.

    Also, I am curious which controllers have this function as I know mine doesn't (Aqua-Logic)? It panel temps only controls the valve and the controller will only turn on the pump via a timer.
    Mark
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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Hope you're right, Brent. Our kids like the pool warmed to 88-89 also, but because of the screen and shade of nearby oaks, we heat it as well. Between mid March-May and late Sept-Oct, I cover it and run the heat pump. My electric bill goes up about $50-60 per month when I'm heating during those months. During the hottest summer months, I don't even feel it in my electric bill, since the heat pump runs so infrequently. YMMV
    18k gal inground, everbrite finish, 505 sq ft; 1.5 hp two speed whisperflow; rheem 5100ti 100k btu heat pump; 3 sheer descent falls; DE filter; swg (cell out and using trichlor for now)

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    Re: Need suggestions in placement of solar panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Brentr
    it will pay back for itself in less than 2 yrs.
    How are you calculating that? Do you pay $1575 / year running the heat pump? Or do you think you would spend that if you tried to keep it at 88 F?

    I've just never seen any calculation show a solar system pays for itself that quickly.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
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