DIY Solar Loops vs. Panels

Van G

Bronze Supporter
Mar 22, 2016
190
Toronto
Going to install solar on our unshaded pool shed (12x20 low pitch black metal roof).

I’ve seen many DIY projects using 1/2” or 3/4” ABS plastic tubing.

Has anyone created a large DIY array or should I stick with 2x12 panels to make the array?

We have a 350K NG Hayward heater as well and will use solar blanket religiously.
 

Richard320

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Jan 6, 2010
22,059
San Dimas, CA (LA County)
Go with panels.

If you try the search box up above for "homemade solar" or similar keywords, you'll find lots. Nobody has had as much success heating the water as they have with commercial panels.
 

Van G

Bronze Supporter
Mar 22, 2016
190
Toronto
Never thought to close the loop in a box with glass or plexi. Wonder if you could concentrate with a focal element?

What were the ambient and input temps that day?
 

Van G

Bronze Supporter
Mar 22, 2016
190
Toronto
Go with panels.

If you try the search box up above for "homemade solar" or similar keywords, you'll find lots. Nobody has had as much success heating the water as they have with commercial panels.
There is a 12x20 aqua Solar setup with gold line controller for sale on kijiji here - asking $1k. Reasonable?
 

chayne

Bronze Supporter
i just checked the water coming from the solar heater and it is reading 150.2, the outside temp is 81 here right now. as long as the sun is hitting the solar heater, it gets good and hot. i painted the inside black and used 1/2" plexi glass for the top. make sure you dont skimp on the black pipe. i bought the cheap stuff from home depot and it melted. i got the thicker stuff from amazon and it seems to be working great. this is what i used. it is thicker than that cheap stuff
Amazon.com : Rain Bird T70-500S Drip Irrigation 1/2" (.700" OD) Blank Distribution Tubing, 500', Black : Gateway
 

ppierce2nm

Active member
Jul 18, 2018
26
Southern New Mexico
i just checked the water coming from the solar heater and it is reading 150.2, the outside temp is 81 here right now. as long as the sun is hitting the solar heater, it gets good and hot. i painted the inside black and used 1/2" plexi glass for the top. make sure you dont skimp on the black pipe. i bought the cheap stuff from home depot and it melted. i got the thicker stuff from amazon and it seems to be working great. this is what i used. it is thicker than that cheap stuff
Amazon.com : Rain Bird T70-500S Drip Irrigation 1/2" (.700" OD) Blank Distribution Tubing, 500', Black : Gateway
150 degrees????? Wow!
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
907
Bangor Maine
There is no way a DIY system will match a commercial one. The physics just don’t add up. Solar systems have very small gauge tubes that can’t be matched by DIY. Just how much water is being directed into the pool from that panel? 151 degrees tells me not much, most solar systems only show an increase of 2-4 degrees versus the pool water temp but move a lot of water versus a small DIY system. More water at a lower increase means the net gain to pool water is best.

I have 8 - 4x12 panels in my array. On a super nice sunny day, the initial water coming out is 160+ but it lowers very quickly, in like 5 minutes it’s down to 2-4 degrees higher than the pool. Depending on how your system is mounted versus the sun is what determines heat gain. IE my system from May til the middle of June will raise my pool 10-14 degrees, but once the sun is higher in the sky late summer, I lose the 90 degree angle and 3-5 degree raise is normal. The superior systems now track the suns movement and changes the panels to achieve this 90 degree for maximum efficiency.

$1,000 for one panel and a controller isn’t a deal offer him $600-$700
 

cfherrman

TFP Guide
May 10, 2017
2,280
Hays, Kansas
A diy system can and will match a purpose build system, now how many do? Very little.

150 degrees at what flow rate?

150 degrees at a slow flow rate can match overall 2 degrees at a high flow rate. It doesn't matter, watts are watts. I will say it's repurposed tubing that probably is less than efficient than a bought solar system. Most of the time we diy because it's fun, not for excellent results other wise why would we nickel and dime ourselves to something not as good?

I'm planning on using 2" black abs in long runs along my fence for a solar heater so lol.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
907
Bangor Maine
I think you will be proven wrong. Many have tried with many many failures. You simply can’t get the heating out of 1/4” tubing that you can out of a panel.
 

Pool_Medic

In The Industry
Apr 1, 2018
907
Bangor Maine
The surface area on all DIY systems isn’t big enough to gather heat. That 150 degrees quoted is upon initial purging I assume, it won’t last very long. 2” pipes might heat up a pool 1-3 degrees over a month lol.
 

pooldv

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Aug 10, 2012
25,408
FL panhandle
Once again I must point out that 150° water is unsafe for human skin contact. It will scald you and cause third degree burns.

This from here, The Burn Foundation - www.burnfoundation.org - Scald Burns
Hot Water Causes Third Degree Burns…
…in 1 second at 156º
…in 2 seconds at 149º
…in 5 seconds at 140º
…in 15 seconds at 133º

Solar panels should be installed with a pinhole 3 way valve so that the panels will drain when not in use. Water should not be held in the panels after solar is shut off as it can damage the panels and create unsafe pool conditions where scalding water temps can be introduced to the pool.

From a practical standpoint diy solar tubing will not produce a significant amount of heat over time. The measure of efficacy for solar heating is how many degrees the pool water is raised over a 24 hour period. I.e. the pool water was 75 degrees at 10am yesterday and today it is 78 degrees at 10am.
 

chayne

Bronze Supporter
i never said that my DIY solar heater was better than a commercial heater. i built it because i am not filthy rich. thought it would help out so we could swim earlier in season and a little later in a season. it works for us, that is all i can say. it might raise the temp 2-3 degrees a day. that is running it from 12pm til 6pm. that is when the sun hits it all day. the water is trickling into the pool and a very low flow rate. i like to keep slow to keep constant temp the best i can.
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,393
Tucson
I have Heliocol panels on my roof that are equal to approximately 80-90% of the surface area of my pool. On a sunny day the solar system can raise the temperature of my 19k pool by 1 or 2 degrees per hour.
 

dotbombjoe

Silver Supporter
Aug 9, 2017
114
Rancho Mission Viejo, CA
I have Heliocol panels on my roof that are equal to approximately 80-90% of the surface area of my pool. On a sunny day the solar system can raise the temperature of my 19k pool by 1 or 2 degrees per hour.
For those with commercial products, I'd be curious how long you've had them and how they've held up...do these things have a 5 year expected lifespan? 10?
 

chiefwej

LifeTime Supporter
TFP Guide
Jun 12, 2011
3,393
Tucson
The solar system has been in service, in the Tucson desert sun, for 13 years now. The only maintainance has been an upgraded controller (to a Pentair SolarTouch), replace one water temp sensor, and a couple O-rings.
 
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pooldv

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Platinum Supporter
LifeTime Supporter
Aug 10, 2012
25,408
FL panhandle
My solar panels have a 10 year warranty. I believe industry standard is a 10 year warranty. They've been installed six years and have been hailed on 5 or 6 times with no damage even though most of the roofs on our property have been replaced because of hail damage.