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Thread: Solar Heat Decision...

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    Solar Heat Decision...

    I am trying to decide on a solar heat solution for my pool. We were quoted a fairly high price for a heliocoil system fully installed. What are the benefits of such a system vs a system from Costco or elsewhere that would be a self install at less than 1/4 the price
    Pool Details:
    - inground vinyl liner, approx 35,000 gal; Hayward DE-6000; Pentair VS3050
    - 600sq ft Heliocol; Blue Diamond; 8 Gal Liquidator
    - TF-100

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    It might depend on the complexity of the installation. A single bank system is not complicated to plumb, but a larger system where the panels are located on different roofs etc. can be pretty complicated.

    The sizing of systems is an area where most pros overdo it, IMO. The large systems at 80% of the pool's surface area are good when you live in a warm climate where the main difference between summer and winter is the length of the day, but in areas with real winters, I don't think you need to go as big. I think the primary reason for the 80% sizing rule is that in the cooler part of the year, days are so much shorter that the extra panel area is required to maintain heat gain.

    In my area (and yours too, I'd assume), you can't get the water warm enough to be comfortable swimming with the air temps we have in April or November, so the primary function of the solar heat is to warm up the water when you have long hot days during the swimming season. A week or two on each end of the season is a bonus.

    If you'll read this post for-anyone-considering-solar-heat-i-have-a-21k-gal-hot-tub-t8997.html , you'll see that I get plenty of heat gain with just 192 square-ft of panel even when the air temps were in the low 80s and upper 70s. I didn't even use a solar blanket for much of the season.

    I'd recommend that you consider a DIY system. Start small with whatever roof area is reasonable, and you can always add panels if you don't get enough heat when you want it.
    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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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    John, thanks for the reply. I actually had read your other post which is what made me wonder if I should be doing a DIY as opposed to spending so much

    The system we were quoted was roughly 60%, so more middle of the road, but probably still a little more than we need.

    Hopefully some others will add their experience as well so I can make a good decision.

    Thanks!
    Pool Details:
    - inground vinyl liner, approx 35,000 gal; Hayward DE-6000; Pentair VS3050
    - 600sq ft Heliocol; Blue Diamond; 8 Gal Liquidator
    - TF-100

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    I was getting crazy quotes from the pool companies, so I bought my panels off e-bay.
    I phoned one of the local pool companies during slow time(mid July). Asked if they where interested in installing my panels? I had two roofs so it was a bit tricky. They charge me $60.00/hr for 2 men plus the extra fittings and valves. I figured I saved about $2000.00 from the quotes I was getting. I phoned a solar company to see if they installed customer supplied panels and the price was $145/hr for 2 men. Good Luck
    16x32 inground vinyl 8' deep end
    1hp Northstar Pump, 20" Sand Filter
    6ft Double Lounge, 2 Aqua Lamps w/remote
    216sqft Sungrabber Panels (9- 2'x12') a little undersized

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Living in the hurricane zone, we went with professional installation. "Guaranteed" to be hurricane proof and roof-leak proof. We shall see.
    About 23,200 gal vinyl in ground, "stop sign" shaped 22x22, Polaris 280 cleaner, Hayward Aqua Plus Pro Logic Controller, Hayward T-15 SWG cell, Hayward S244T sand filter.

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    launboy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    First, I have a Question... What's the difference between IG solar panels and AG solar panels and why do the IG ones cost so much more?

    Now, on to the OP's question. I personally would get panels off eBay. I got 2 from eBay, and with shipping it only cost $168.00. The ONE panel I got at a local store cost $139.00. Installation isn't that hard, in fact, if you can cut and glue PVC, it's pretty easy! Even if you do have a Multi-Bank instalation It's not much harder. Just a little more pipe to run and maybe an extra valve if you really want to make sure you get even flow.

    If you can give me some specs and measurements(panel size, roof size, number of banks, number of panels per bank/total) I can draw up a pretty good diagram including the plumbing and possible ways to run the pipes.

    That being said, I LOVE my solar. I only have 47% Panel to S.A. ratio and I can warm my water from 80*F to 88-90* on a Full sun day(solar panels in full sun and running 9 hours).

    HTH,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    If installing multiple panels, is there any significant advantage to hooking them up in parallel, rather than serially?
    Location - Vallejo, CA
    Above-ground Intex 15'x42" with standard pump & cartridge filter
    solar cover

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    Mod Squad JohnT's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nubo
    If installing multiple panels, is there any significant advantage to hooking them up in parallel, rather than serially?
    Yes! Parallel avoids exceeding individual panel flow recommendations, and is more efficient at heating the water since the water that enters each panel is cool.

    Imagine that you are trying to cool the panels (which you are), and some concepts are easier to understand. The preheated water from the first panels can't do a good job removing heat from the last panel in a series connection.
    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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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Thanks JohnT,

    Yeah, Newton's Law of Cooling made me think about parallel, just wondering if it had much practical significance. I've ordered a couple of SunHeater panels so will be installing soon. Since these will be on my roof and one will be higher than the other, I figure I'll install a few more valves so that I can check and balance the flow rate between the 2 panels.
    Location - Vallejo, CA
    Above-ground Intex 15'x42" with standard pump & cartridge filter
    solar cover

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    mas985's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Parallel panels also reduces head loss for the pump which increases the total flow rate and decreases turnover time. Not only will the pool heat up faster, it will also be cleaner (for a given run time).
    Mark
    Hydraulics 101; Pump Ed 101; Pump and Pool Spreadsheets; Pump Run Time Study; DIY Acid Dosing; DIY Cover Roller
    18'x36' 20k plaster, 1/2 HP 2sp pump, Aqualogic PS8 SWCG, 420 sq-ft Cartridge, Solar, 6 jet spa, 1 HP jet pump, 400k BTU NG Heater

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    If your going to have the panels on multiple levels, make sure you pipe the exit from the lower bank of panels up to the exit(highest point) of the upper panels. I'd still add ball valves, but this will make the flow more even because the water has to go to the top no matter which bank it goes through.

    HTH,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Did any of you mess with the electric or auto controllers that they sell for solar systems? Doesn't your pump end up being your solar controller, unless you turn off the diverter valve to the solar system and let the pump run without it (like in the middle of summer)?
    Also, is there any difference between Sunheater and Solar Bear (Fafco) and Sun Grabber (Fafco).? They look similar in the pictures, but then the pictures are not real detailed. The only stated difference that I can see (by comparing at http://www.aqua-pool-warehouse.com/Cata ... eaters.asp) is that the Solar Bear has 2" headers (I assume they mean the point where the hoses connect to the solar panel assembly) as opposed to 1.5 inch headers on the other two. What does the difference accomplish?
    We have an AGP and will be ground-mounting our panel, as the house is too far away from the pool. We will build/install our own sytem.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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    launboy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    I have both the Sunheater and Sungrabber panels on my pool. The Sunheater panels are designed where the water flows to one end in half the panel and flows back in the other half. In the pics on that site the Sungrabber panel is one 4x20 panel with the inlet and outlet at the same end. My set came as 2 2x20 panels with the inlet and outlets at opposite ends. Either you have to use two panels in parallel or one with the inlet and outlet at opposite ends.

    HTH,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Quote Originally Posted by launboy
    I have both the Sunheater and Sungrabber panels on my pool. The Sunheater panels are designed where the water flows to one end in half the panel and flows back in the other half. In the pics on that site the Sungrabber panel is one 4x20 panel with the inlet and outlet at the same end. My set came as 2 2x20 panels with the inlet and outlets at opposite ends. Either you have to use two panels in parallel or one with the inlet and outlet at opposite ends.

    HTH,
    Adam
    Sunheater appears to have different styles. The AG versions they have on their website appear to have the "out and back" design on a per-panel basis. This is what I was expecting to receive, as I ordered an above-ground kit from Costco (model 425C), and I was planning on a parallel installation on my roof. However, the panels in this kit are one-way. So installing a parallel design would require a minimum of an additional 20 foot run of pvc on the roof. So, I'm just going with a series install. The heat gain should only be a few degrees so a series design shouldn't really loose too much efficiency I hope.

    My real gripe with Sunheater at this point is they turn the customer buying experience into an easter-egg hunt. Unless you're just going to leave the panels laying on the ground you really need a mounting kit, which they do not include so you have to purchase separately. Costco sells thousands of these panel kits but NOT the mounting kit. To make it even more aggravating, Sunheater manual says "if you live in a high wind area", then yet another different kit of mounting hardware is needed, and you have to call them to ask about it. Since they don't bother to define "high wind", any prudent customer is going to have to think they need this additional kit. After all, MOST places get wind at some point. Oh, and by the way if you don't hunt around to source their mounting kit(s) and come up with something on your own, you void the warranty. How convenient. When you see what the mounting kit consists of, it's outrageous that it's not simply included with the panels. I mean, it's just a few small, thin stampings of stainless steel "brackets", a length of narrow nylon strapping, and some stainless steel screws. Probably costs them about $2.
    Location - Vallejo, CA
    Above-ground Intex 15'x42" with standard pump & cartridge filter
    solar cover

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    JasonLion's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Parallel is a really good idea, well worth 20 feet of pipe.
    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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    amjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Quote Originally Posted by launboy
    I have both the Sunheater and Sungrabber panels on my pool. The Sunheater panels are designed where the water flows to one end in half the panel and flows back in the other half. In the pics on that site the Sungrabber panel is one 4x20 panel with the inlet and outlet at the same end. My set came as 2 2x20 panels with the inlet and outlets at opposite ends. Either you have to use two panels in parallel or one with the inlet and outlet at opposite ends.

    HTH,
    Adam
    Launboy, I am confused by the directions on the water- "flows to one end in half and then back in the other half"? How does that work. Are you saying it is divided into halves in the long orientation (10 feet in one direction, 10 feet in the other) or in the other orientation. A picture would be really great, as I have not really seen one other than what they put on their sales website. I am planning on installing parallel.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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    launboy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    No worries, I actually do have a picture from when I was planning my install, piping and all. The arrows show water flow.

    The bottom panel shows the Sunheater(AG model) water flow. The top two show the Sungrabber(AG model) water flow.


    HTH,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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    amjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Thanks launboy, that helps considerably. Do you have a preference on the panel types of one over the other- ease of installation, performance, durability, etc? Ours will be laying on the ground, so durability is an issue. Since we are surrounded by pasture, that means we are under constant attack from critters that chew through things. That and my husband is not the most careful of mowers.
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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    launboy's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Well, nothing has chewed on our yet, but our 110 lb. Newfie has run across all of them when I was preparing them this spring and they were laying on the ground. Nothing bad happened to them. I don't think any panel will stand up to a lawnmower hitting it.

    If you want some protection from critters and the lawnmower, I suggest surrounding the panels with chicken wire or something similar.

    Good luck,
    Adam
    18' x 42" Intex Easyset Pool, with 16' x 52" deep end in the middle. Approx. 5500 Gal.
    Hayward Power-Flo LX 1 HP, 100# Jacuzzi Brand Sand Filter(Piped underground so it looks nice) 8)
    3 - 2' x 20' Solar Pool Heater Panels(roof mounted)
    Goin' on 9 summers...NOBODY thought it would last this long.
    Buried Portable Spa sharing pumps and water with pool (Almost complete project)

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    amjohn's Avatar
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    Re: Solar Heat Decision...

    Launboy, what did you use for the connector (shown as a yellow shape) between the paired Sungrabber panels? The websites I have seen sell a "kit" that is two radiator hose clamps and a piece of rubber tubing- about $1.50 at the hardware store. Did you use one of their $30 "kits" or make up your own?
    28 ft round Doughboy Sand Dollar II AGP, Aug 2008: 4 ft shallow, 6ft deep end: 24K gal approx Hayward Power-Flo Matrix
    1&1/2-HP 2-SPD Pump, Hayward 27-Inch Sand Filter with a little DE -(2) 4ftx20ft Solar Bear AGP Panels w/ Goldline auto-controller, 50ppm Borates And some day, maybe this year, a DECK!!!

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