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Thread: Looking to install a solar heater!

  1. Back To Top    #1

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Tucson AZ

    Looking to install a solar heater!

    Me and the wife went to the home show here in Tucson this past weekend, looking at Solar Heating vendor. Most vendors only have a two or five year warranty. My plan is to get three estimates but what I've researched Heilocol seems to be a good company.

    Please review and give advice on what we should be looking for to get the most out of a system. Currently they are setting it up for a 1 to 1 ratio. Roughly 400 sq feet to cover. We have enough of a foot print on our two story home for this coverage. We have great southern exposure. Should we upgrade to the digital control panel?

    Had HeliocolWest come out to give an estimate. One of the strong selling points on this system is a 12 year parts and labor on the Heliocol Collectors, There is a two year warranty on the solar controllers, pipes, valves.

    Here is our quote and is this decent estimate?

    7 HC50's (2x12.5 solar Panels)
    HM4000 Auto Control Panel w/ sensors and valving (Heliomatic)
    2" schedule 40 PVE plumbing lines - trenched / painted
    Shut-off, drain, check & V.R. Valves
    Full Installation

    Price Quote: $5,125
    Homeshow Discount: -$500 (priced increased to show a savings??)
    Cash Discount: $300
    Final Price $4,325

    Addl upgrades if wanted:
    HC40's - Installed $400 each
    Suntouch Digital Control $300 (Pentair)
    17k gallon, IGP Plaster with spa, Hayward Cartridge Filter, Intelliflo Variable Speed 1.5hp, Quick Clean III In-floor actuator.
    Zodiac Baracuda G3 Robot Cleaner, TF-100 Test Kit.
    Upgrades projected: 400sq ft Heliocol Solar Heating, Pool resurfacing and deck repair.

  2. Back To Top    #2
    Mod Squad jblizzle's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Tucson, AZ

    Re: Looking to install a solar heater!

    I paid to have Heliocol installed at my previous house and did a DIY with some of their panels I found on Ebay at my current house.
    That price seems inline with what I would expect. My DIY (non-warranty) install for 500sqft ran me about $1200 total. (I paid $50 per HC50 panel ... but then had to buy the mounting hardware that I did not realize was missing)

    I am surprised that the upgrades are that much. I think you can get the Suntouch online which includes a 3-way valve AND the actuator for less than $400. That does have some nice features like being able to calibrate the temp sensors and to run in cooling mode that the Heliomatic and even my Hayward full automation do not have.

    Actually as I recall, at my previous house, I bought the electronics myself and had them install it. You may be able to save yourself a little money if you are able to buy some of the parts yourself, although you may run into warranty issues.

    Also realize that a cover will still make a large difference in how warm you can get your pool in the spring and fall ... the evaporation rate is so high here it really cools off quickly. In the summer you will not likely be needing to run the solar at all.
    Jason, TFP Moderator
    18k IG pebblesheen pool, Hayward ProLogic P4 w/ T-15 SWG, Pentair 1HP 2-speed Superflo, Hayward 6020 DE filter
    500 sqft Heliocol solar panels, ThePoolCleaner, TF-100 test kit w/ SpeedStir
    Pool School + Test Kit + PoolMath = A TROUBLE FREE POOL
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  3. Back To Top    #3
    Isaac-1's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010
    SW Louisiana

    Re: Looking to install a solar heater!

    Heliocool does seem to make a good product, and price is in the right ballpark for what one would expect. I will say though to be careful about using warranty length as a key for purchasing decisions. At some point it seems much of the time you will be paying a premium for a longer warranty and not be getting a better product, also check the fine print, many include clauses about prorated after a certain period, paying for service call "labor", or paying for shipping on replacement panels. In the case of a single failed panel these charges can add up to around the price of single panel bought as part of a system.


    p.s. I think the SunTouch is a nice upgrade, but not sure if it is worth the upgrade price they listed.
    Indoor 20x40 35,000 gallon vinyl pool with 1.5 HP 2 speed Jandy FloPro pump, Hayward EC75 Perflex DE filter, 11 4x12 Techno-Solis solar panels w/ Aquasolar controller, Aquabot Turbo T Robot Cleaner. Also LMI metering chlorine dispenser pump and HotSpring Jetsetter
    I use and endorse TFtestKits TF-100 from
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