FAFCO leak at header for plus misc advice

jacobg

Bronze Supporter
Mar 31, 2021
20
Lodi, CA
Pool Size
22000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Friends,

I purchased this house in November 2019 with inground salt water pool. Pool is heated by 6 4x12 FAFCO panels and I'd estimate pool to be between 18-22k gallons. Pool is oblong shape, have no idea the surface area. One of the FAFCO panels has sprung a leak where the risers meet the header on approx 4-8 of the tubes due to a vent chimney that separates the tubes on this particular part of the roof. Everything I have searched for says it is not possible to repair this type of leak with plugs, either the header must be sealed somehow (#10 SS screw???) or the entire panel replaced. Sierra Pacific quoted me $1100 to replace the panel. "Replacement" panels online appear to run $300. I have no idea the age of the panels but the pool pump equipment all have dates of 2010. Panels not covered under warranty due to no owner transfer. I have 2 small kids so the idea of hanging off of a 30ft ladder to replace a solar panel on 2nd story roof does not seem in my best interests.

We are in the process of bidding out solar PV, which require the complete removal of solar thermal. The current company says they will remove the existing solar thermal as part of the bid (no charge). Last year other companies quoted me $3-$5k for panel removal. Solar Thermal currently takes up entirety of south facing roof.

So the dilemma is wife says pool must be heated. We are in central valley of northern california, pool heat is normally not needed from June-Sept but our pool is shaded by tall redwoods. I'd say 50% shade or more. If I go PV, I need to put in either a heat pump or gas heater. Is this something people do, replace solar thermal with heat pump when switching to solar PV?

We have a pentair easytouch with power subpanel capable of 150A connected to main breaker with 50A fuse at the main breaker. Cord connecting subpanel to main appears to be 6AWG which means it is not big enough to handle current load (pool pump with 20A fuse and cleaner blower with 20A fuse) with additional heat pump load (50A by itself for 140k BTU?). There is no gas hookup at pool equipment so estimate 40ft gas run from meter to pump and meter is directly under main breaker. Same length for electrical cable replacement/dedicated run for heat pump, 40 ft.

I'm just trying to figure out what to do with all of these variables and need guidance from anyone who has done something like this. 40ft run of electrical cable vs 40ft of gas costs. Heat pump running costs vs gas. I assume both the electrical cable and gas will have to be buried, which means digging up the concrete? Like, these problems seem to fit inside so many different domains, how do you find someone with knowledge on how to do all of these things the right way? Any advice or guidance will be helpful!!!
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,901
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Welcome to TFP.

Your question is unique to CA and it's environment. Let's see if @Dirk comes by as he has given some thought to pool heating in CA.
 

jacobg

Bronze Supporter
Mar 31, 2021
20
Lodi, CA
Pool Size
22000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Thanks!
Since I posted this I had a plumber out who told me it will cost close to $5k for the (now measured) 50ft gas run from meter to equipment. He said running electrical will always be cheaper and to just go with the heat pump. The solar pv people have to upgrade my main panel anyway, I’ll see if they can run a dedicated 60A line to the pool equipment for a heat pump.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,901
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Have you run your heating needs through some of these calculators?

Raypak has a Gas Pool Heater Sizer. It tells you the Temperature Rise/Hr and Natural Gas and Propane costs to heat a pool in your local area to selected temperature by month. Adjust the natural gas cost and propane cost in the lower left to your local gas prices for accurate costs.

Pentair has a Heat Pump Calculator to determine the appropriate size Heat Pump for your location. Pentair seems to do honest calculations based on the physics and efficiencies of each type of pump and energy source.

Raypak also has a Heat Pump Heater Sizing App.

To get the most accurate cost comparison you should change the default electric kwh, natural gas price, and propane price to actual prices in your area.
 

jacobg

Bronze Supporter
Mar 31, 2021
20
Lodi, CA
Pool Size
22000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Have you run your heating needs through some of these calculators?

Raypak has a Gas Pool Heater Sizer. It tells you the Temperature Rise/Hr and Natural Gas and Propane costs to heat a pool in your local area to selected temperature by month. Adjust the natural gas cost and propane cost in the lower left to your local gas prices for accurate costs.

Pentair has a Heat Pump Calculator to determine the appropriate size Heat Pump for your location. Pentair seems to do honest calculations based on the physics and efficiencies of each type of pump and energy source.

Raypak also has a Heat Pump Heater Sizing App.

To get the most accurate cost comparison you should change the default electric kwh, natural gas price, and propane price to actual prices in your area.
I have used these sites but they have a few problems:
The average temps closest to my location are off by 20-30 degrees F. Unless those are dew point adjusted temps they are way off and so I can only use them to compare against one another.

I’m also not on PG&E, I’m on an municipal utility that has tiered usage. Once you go over 800kWh/month your price per kWh doubles. My average is somewhere near $.30/kWh due to most of my usage going above that threshold. But when I switch to solar PV we sized the array such that it should mostly offset my usage, any electricity pulled from the grid would then typically be near $0.14/kWh as long as we stay under 800/month.

PG&E does supply the gas and it’s also tiered usage. Even though we have a gas furnace, dryer, stove are usage is usually in tier 1 which is $1.83/therm. Tier 2 usage is >$2/therm though and so a 400k BTU gas heater could put us into tiers that make it hard to predict what these prices will be.

Like I said, I’m going crazy with all of these variables. I think we’ve decided on a heat pump though since it will be cheaper to run the electricity and usage sits nicely with peak solar PV production.
 

ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,901
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Like I said you have a uniquely CA problem. Life is a lot simpler in NJ. At least for a while. :unsure:
 

jacobg

Bronze Supporter
Mar 31, 2021
20
Lodi, CA
Pool Size
22000
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-40
Update:
I paid $3k for an electrician to run 50A service from my main panel to where the pool equipment was. Ordered Raypak 8450 back in March that's sitting on a truck somewhere and will be delivered sometime. Going ahead with Solar PV and removing the solar thermal.