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Thread: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

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    DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    After reading Brentr's post and seeing his nice professional installation, I wanted to post a list of tips and lessons learned when I installed mine in hopes that it can help others.

    1. I would not get the 20 foot long solar panels as they must be installed horizontally and it is difficult to get them to stay flat and not potato chip. They expand / contract over over 2 inches as the temp changes.

    2. Get someone to help. I did the install myself and ended up with extra holes in the roof because of it.

    3. Use only metal pipe clamps to attach pipe to roof. I first tried the pvc ones and they became too soft in the heat and shifted.

    4. Try to find black PVC pipe. I did not search hard enough and ended up painting it which was a royal PITA.

    5. Use chalk to mark out placement of the panels. This helps a lot because the panels kept sliding down the roof or trying to roll back up. I also used weights and rope to hold them in place, but that is mainly because I did the install alone which was not smart. See tip #2.

    6. I cut 2" pvc couplings into 1/2" donuts, then cut those in half and placed them every couple feet along bottom of the pvc lines. This raises the pipes just a bit so that leaves and debris pass under and don't get stuck behind them on your roof.

    7. At first I attached the pvc feed and return pipe to the wall of the house, but it caused too much vibration to the inside room. So I instead just attached the pipe to the soffit and placed a brick at the lower elbow to support the vertical run.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Not to rain on your post lborne but I would also like to add that you should do the install on a very nice sunny day. The reason is such that the panels come rolled up and it makes it much easier to work with when they are flat. The only way to do so is to have the sun heat them up so that they will straighten out.


    lborne posted 7. At first I attached the pvc feed and return pipe to the wall of the house, but it caused too much vibration to the inside room. So I instead just attached the pipe to the soffit and placed a brick at the lower elbow to support the vertical run.

    I found out that my second room had much noise and vibrated. I revised their clamp system by putting foam insullation in between the pipe and the wall and I also put it between the clamp and the pipe. I do not have any vibrations or noise. See the pics[attachment=1:j2n3rpfj]DSCN0685.JPG[/attachment:j2n3rpfj][attachment=0:j2n3rpfj]DSCN0686.JPG[/attachment:j2n3rpfj]
    Attached Images Attached Images
    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: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Since I'm still in planning for a DIY solar - I love you guys (in a good way of course ).
    Geometric 16X36', 16K gal, shotcrete, exposed aggregate plaster, acrylic coated concrete deck/cantilever coping;
    Pentair equipment suite (EasyTouch w/wireless, 2 Intellibrites, Intelliflo VS-3050, C&C 200 Filter, IC-40 SWG);
    Heliocol solar panels, Rocky's Roller, Blue Diamond robot

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Quote Originally Posted by lbridges
    Since I'm still in planning for a DIY solar - I love you guys (in a good way of course ).
    I just love this forum and it has helped me a bunch, so I am trying to give back. As I recall are you looking at Helicol or is it lee23903??? Seems that you both are in the Space coast area. Nice to have neighbors that you could actually meet and bond (in a good way of course)

    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: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Quote Originally Posted by Brentr
    ..As I recall are you looking at Helicol or is it lee23903??? ...
    I asked Jason to change my name to conform to what I have used on other forums - and he was kind enough to grant my request.
    Geometric 16X36', 16K gal, shotcrete, exposed aggregate plaster, acrylic coated concrete deck/cantilever coping;
    Pentair equipment suite (EasyTouch w/wireless, 2 Intellibrites, Intelliflo VS-3050, C&C 200 Filter, IC-40 SWG);
    Heliocol solar panels, Rocky's Roller, Blue Diamond robot

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    Brentr's Avatar
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    Re: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Good to know, I mentioned you in my solar install post. How is the pool coming along? I have not see any pics posted lately.
    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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    Nov 2009
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    Indialantic, FL
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    Re: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    They have been out to compact the sand three times. I can report no movement after the torrential rains recently. Plumbing might start tomorrow, but my guess is they will wait until Monday since thery have set aside 2-3 days for plumbing.

    OP - sorry about this drift.
    Geometric 16X36', 16K gal, shotcrete, exposed aggregate plaster, acrylic coated concrete deck/cantilever coping;
    Pentair equipment suite (EasyTouch w/wireless, 2 Intellibrites, Intelliflo VS-3050, C&C 200 Filter, IC-40 SWG);
    Heliocol solar panels, Rocky's Roller, Blue Diamond robot

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    Join Date
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    Vero Beach, FL
    Posts
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    Re: DIY Solar Panel Installation - Lessons Learned

    Quote Originally Posted by Brentr
    I would also like to add that you should do the install on a very nice sunny day. The reason is such that the panels come rolled up and it makes it much easier to work with when they are flat. The only way to do so is to have the sun heat them up so that they will straighten out.
    Great point. I let them sit and heat up, but they still wanted to curl some.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brentr
    I found out that my second room had much noise and vibrated. I revised their clamp system by putting foam insullation in between the pipe and the wall and I also put it between the clamp and the pipe.
    Yep - your photo is what reminded me. The foam idea is a good one. I'll have to try it.
    25' x 13' Roman, 12000 gal IGP, Plaster, with 500 gal Spa
    SWG, 1 HP Max Flo Pump, C-900 cartridge filter
    Solar heat

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