Hotspot FPH AC heat reclamation pool heater - a review!

bizzle

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2017
231
Imperial County, CA
I wouldn't try to heat my pool in the winter, I guess I gave the wrong impression when I wrote, "throughout the year." We have what other people would call summer for about 9-10 months of the year so I used that as shorthand. I don't use my AC often because I set up a swamp cooler, but I have one. Our average temps are around 80 until the few summer months when we hit triple digits (it's 100 right now at 10am and in another hour or two it'll hit 105...and it's cooling down!).
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
225
some further questions: What temp does your pool naturally get? What temp do you want it? How big is your pool? If you didn't have the swamp cooler, how much would you need to run your AC?
 

Fishbulb

Member
May 21, 2017
7
MD
Hi everyone,

Well after about 4 months of trying to find someone to install this for us, I found a friend of a friend that happen to know a guy. Long story short, it's finally installed. The unit seems pretty nice and I'm excited about it.

Last night was the first night that it ran and everything seemed to go well. The air conditioner ran most of the night to cool and dehumidify the house and when I went to check the pool temp this morning, it read as quite warm. I seemed to have jumped up several degrees. When I got home from work today I heard the unit click over from the pool heater back to the condenser unit because the pool had reached 90 degrees. I was shocked. I felt the water on top of the solar cover and it felt quite hot to the touch. Likely right around 90. When I reached a little deeper, I noticed the water was still REALLY cold. Likely around 75 degrees.

We have an 18' dia above ground pool. I use a solar heater (which does amazingly little) and this goes pretty much right up to the skimmer intake. The pool has a single return that is high and right near the skimmer. So I think the combination of the solar cover and heater right near the skimmer intake just created a zone of very hot water that greatly exaggerated the temperature of the pool. But I'm not really sure how to get around this? The water circulation is clearly better when I have the cover off, but I think trapping the heat from the FPH would be a huge plus. I also see this as an issue we would have had with ANY pool heater and not just the FPH. Has anyone else ever experienced this? I there a simple solution around it? My fear is that even if I pull the cover off, we will always have a crazy thermocline where the bottom of the pool will always be freezing. Do they make a separate in-pool lower power pump that is just used for circulation rather than filtration? That seems like what we would want in this situation.

Thanks and sorry for the rant. Just trying to get the most out of this heater,
FB
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
225
Simplest solution? Point your return down. That will mix the water. Problem solved!

A more DIY solution: fit a Y-adapter to the hose after the filter and right before it goes to the return. Attach one end back to the return. Attach the other end to a longer hose that goes to the bottom of your pool. This way you get to keep the skim action of the return and you get the mixing action from the other hose.

I'm looking forward to see if others have a better solution. I (kind of) have the same problem. I have two returns and a skimmer, so all my filtering/mixing/skimming is basically at the top of the water and not the deep end. I mix by going swimming!
 

bizzle

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2017
231
Imperial County, CA
some further questions: What temp does your pool naturally get? What temp do you want it? How big is your pool? If you didn't have the swamp cooler, how much would you need to run your AC?
I don't know what temp it gets naturally, but keeping it cooler is probably going to be more difficult than warming it. I live in the desert--and literally listed as one of the hottest places on the planet.

If I didn't have the swamp cooler, I'd be running my A/C at least 10 months of the year. That said, I'm working with an engineer to switch over to geothermal, which is what made this device interesting. Otherwise, running the A/C is cost prohibitive even at .12/kwh.

I'm mainly interested in heating the spa. It's about 600 gallons. The pool is around 22K.
 

arri

Silver Supporter
Apr 24, 2016
43
Central California
I agree with the aforementioned mixer suggestions.

In addition, I'd recommend swimming if possible! Also, many of the robotic vacuum systems do a good job of pumping water vertically while having the obvious side benefit of cleaning the pool.
 

Fishbulb

Member
May 21, 2017
7
MD
I agree with the aforementioned mixer suggestions.

In addition, I'd recommend swimming if possible! Also, many of the robotic vacuum systems do a good job of pumping water vertically while having the obvious side benefit of cleaning the pool.

Well the kids finally went swimming in the pool today for the first time since we installed the FPH. It was a nice 85 degrees. It was just fantastic. They spent more time in the pool today than the whole summer combined. Obviously the pool took a long time to heat over the week. The pool is 75K and the AC is 2.5 Ton. But since we run the AC overnight, and I kept the cover on the pool, it just crept up slowly over time. This is clearly extend our swimming season by a lot. It helps that our pool is really in the shade too. So we use the AC to cool the house and just dump the heat into the shaded pool. I tried for a couple nights without the cover on, and the gains were far more minimal.

Great unit! My recommendation would just be to make SURE you work out all of the installation BEFORE you buy it. That was a hassle.

FB
 

Fishbulb

Member
May 21, 2017
7
MD
I don't know what temp it gets naturally, but keeping it cooler is probably going to be more difficult than warming it. I live in the desert--and literally listed as one of the hottest places on the planet.

If I didn't have the swamp cooler, I'd be running my A/C at least 10 months of the year. That said, I'm working with an engineer to switch over to geothermal, which is what made this device interesting. Otherwise, running the A/C is cost prohibitive even at .12/kwh.

I'm mainly interested in heating the spa. It's about 600 gallons. The pool is around 22K.
I think they do not recommend it for spas. The water would be so hot that it's would no longer cool the AC réfrigérant sufficiently. Even with the pool. They recommend setting a max temp of 90 and then it switches back to the he condensor.
 

OneLoveAmaru

Member
Apr 17, 2017
10
Tampa, FL
Yeah it sounds great.

So July Tampa weather of highs in the 90's and lows in the mid 70's and pool is only 74 on average? Ok

Then 2.5ton ac = 30,000btu an hour times 6 hours nets 180,000 btus. That's enough to heat a 4,300 gallon pool 5 degrees.
Yes, that is correct. The front of my house faces east, the back faces west and the pool is in the back, which means I don't get sun on the pool until the day is half over. Not only that but it is screened in with super screen. The hottest the pool ever got before we got this heater was generally in August and topped out at 78.

The pool is ~10,000 gallons with a pebble tech shell. I think 14' x 28' but I'd have to look at the schematics again.

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Those numbers are a bit suspect. We've got another member in Tampa who is actively working to cool their pool because it is close to 100 degrees. Whichnis also questionable and they probably need a new thermometer. My brother's. pool near Destin has afternoon shade and is in the upper 80s all by itself.

But, with highs in the low 90s and lows in the low 70s pool water will naturally seek the midpoint between high and low temps so it would be expected that the pool water would be in the low 80s without any solar heat gain from the sun. If the sun shines on the pool then it should be mid-80s or warmer.
Suspect huh? You do realize there are multiple variables in the heating of someones pool? I have neighbors that have pools 10+ degrees warmer than mine. They also aren't screened in like mine is AND their pool gets sun ALL day, mine does not.

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How much do you run your AC in January? What temperate is it by you in January?
I run my A/C here in Tampa almost 365 days a year. These last few years its been warmer and warmer in the winter. I think last year in January it was almost 85 ever day.
 

Fishbulb

Member
May 21, 2017
7
MD
We had a pretty warm start to the week and the pool is still sitting at 90 with only a few ours of AC each night now when we go bed. With the cover on, the heat seems to be trapped and I think there's even a chance we'll go swimming this weekend, which is supposed to be chilly! But with the pool, it might not matter. I think the key is that it just takes a really long time to get it up to temp, but once it's there, it seems quite stable. Next week we'll get more warm days here near DC so it's likely it will just get heated a little more.

Really glad to have this in. We are actually now finally enjoying the pool!
FB
 

Fossil_bil

Member
Oct 5, 2017
6
Riverview, FL
Yes, that is correct. The front of my house faces east, the back faces west and the pool is in the back, which means I don't get sun on the pool until the day is half over. Not only that but it is screened in with super screen. The hottest the pool ever got before we got this heater was generally in August and topped out at 78.

The pool is ~10,000 gallons with a pebble tech shell. I think 14' x 28' but I'd have to look at the schematics again.

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Suspect huh? You do realize there are multiple variables in the heating of someones pool? I have neighbors that have pools 10+ degrees warmer than mine. They also aren't screened in like mine is AND their pool gets sun ALL day, mine does not.

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I run my A/C here in Tampa almost 365 days a year. These last few years its been warmer and warmer in the winter. I think last year in January it was almost 85 ever day.

@OneLoveAmaru could you provide your installer in the Tampa Bay area? Same issue many A/C folks are not familiar about the product. I already have the equipment from HotSpot, now seeking someone to perform the connections. I can send you my contact information, if your installer is interested I'm in Brandon/Riverview area. Thanks!
 

pacsun

New member
Oct 7, 2017
1
Miami, FL
This thread is a treasure trove of info! Loving it.

I can see that there's a bit of controversy regarding the true nature of this "free" energy as captain points out. I'm in south florida and installing this would likely mean my pool heater would run more than the 6-8 hours I like to run it per day.

Has anyone wired it with a timer, so that you can set a particular hour range in which the FPH is allowed to operate?
For example, I'd like to limit the FPH such that it only operates between 11pm and 11am. I run my pool pump 6 hours between 12am and 6am since my electricity is cheaper at night.
Our AC runs for about 4 hours between 11pm and 11am in months april-october.
In months november-march, my TOU rates shift and electricity becomes cheaper between 10am and 6pm, so I'd run the FPH then and get about 3hrs of AC usage per day.

So I guess my question is two-fold.
1. Is this possible?
2. If possible, is it worth spending ≈5k to get an average of 4hrs of pool heating per day? My pool is 40k gallons.
 

OneLoveAmaru

Member
Apr 17, 2017
10
Tampa, FL
This thread is a treasure trove of info! Loving it.

I can see that there's a bit of controversy regarding the true nature of this "free" energy as captain points out. I'm in south florida and installing this would likely mean my pool heater would run more than the 6-8 hours I like to run it per day.

Has anyone wired it with a timer, so that you can set a particular hour range in which the FPH is allowed to operate?
For example, I'd like to limit the FPH such that it only operates between 11pm and 11am. I run my pool pump 6 hours between 12am and 6am since my electricity is cheaper at night.
Our AC runs for about 4 hours between 11pm and 11am in months april-october.
In months november-march, my TOU rates shift and electricity becomes cheaper between 10am and 6pm, so I'd run the FPH then and get about 3hrs of AC usage per day.

So I guess my question is two-fold.
1. Is this possible?
2. If possible, is it worth spending ≈5k to get an average of 4hrs of pool heating per day? My pool is 40k gallons.
The FPH doesn't draw almost any electricity on its own, it's the A/C units that do the heavy lifting. If you restrict when the A/C unit can use the FPH and your pool pump, you are going to be severely restricting it from heating your pool, especially since you have a 40k gallon pool. FPH might not be the right choice for you anyways, unless you have a really big A/C unit, like 5 tons and can let the FPH and your pool pump run when the A/C switches on.

I have a 2.5 ton unit with a 10k gallon pool, my electric didn't change after it was installed. I even have my variable speed pump run 24/7 now since it doesn't use an external timer but it does run slower at night than during the day.

You should reach out to HotSpot with your specs and see what they say.
 

OneLoveAmaru

Member
Apr 17, 2017
10
Tampa, FL
@OneLoveAmaru could you provide your installer in the Tampa Bay area? Same issue many A/C folks are not familiar about the product. I already have the equipment from HotSpot, now seeking someone to perform the connections. I can send you my contact information, if your installer is interested I'm in Brandon/Riverview area. Thanks!
You don't want to use the person I did, they made a mistake that cost me $640 so far and the heater is broken right now. He didn't braze the pipe well enough so I had a very small leak which I didn't notice for about 4 months until I got a tuneup and they told me the refrigerant is very low and the system could freeze up at any time now.

They repaired the leak but broke the solenoid since it is heat sensitive and I didn't realize until I started having problems and checked the manual. :-( I had to pay $400 for new refrigerant plus $200 for the leak repair, plus tax. I'm still looking at another $75 for the solenoid I need and someone to pull all the refrigerant back out, replace solenoid and refill. Probably another $200 in labor. :-(

Did you try reaching out to the installers who HotSpot recommends? They stood me up twice after waiting over a month for them but apparently it was because the 2 employees were doing a poor job so the owner fired them.

I tried reaching out to the installer I used for warranty repair but he told me he is out of business. LOL, he was a one man shop and has 6 kids to support, he just doesn't want to fix it. Might end up taking him to small claims court.
 

Brucebulluck

New member
Oct 8, 2017
1
Nashville,nc
I purchased the Fph in April 2017. Long story short, I have spent thousands and in September had to replace my condenser. Hotspot says it's because my installers installed the valve wrong. They are not willing to help me recoup any of my expenses.
 

OneLoveAmaru

Member
Apr 17, 2017
10
Tampa, FL
I purchased the Fph in April 2017. Long story short, I have spent thousands and in September had to replace my condenser. Hotspot says it's because my installers installed the valve wrong. They are not willing to help me recoup any of my expenses.
This is the serious downside to their product. If they had to reimburse because of bad installers they'd probably go out of business.

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I purchased the Fph in April 2017. Long story short, I have spent thousands and in September had to replace my condenser. Hotspot says it's because my installers installed the valve wrong. They are not willing to help me recoup any of my expenses.
Were the installers licensed? Here in Florida if they aren't, you are entitled to all of your money back. If they are, you can put in a complaint with the licensing department.
 

Fossil_bil

Member
Oct 5, 2017
6
Riverview, FL
OneLoveAmaru,

Thank you for the reply. I did get the installers information from HotSpot and waiting for a response to my voicemail this afternoon. Will update the forum once installed and have some data.

I'm sorry to hear about the installation issues with your FPH. I know how frustrating it is to go in circles with vendors.

On a separate note, my neighbors family is in Atlanta, GA and swears by their HotSpot FPH.

Looking forward to an extended season and supplementary heat. We just installed our pool and everyday of use, helps me to mentally justify the huge cost of it...lol!
 

Fossil_bil

Member
Oct 5, 2017
6
Riverview, FL
Called the HOTSPOT recommended installer and the company he worked for went out of business. I been trying to track down the installer, but going straight to voicemail.

This is part of the issue with innovative technologies like FPH. There is limited installation support, which causes the technology to not be adopted by larger pool construction companies.
 

Joshii

Well-known member
Jul 15, 2013
225
My experience at least with HVAC installers is they do not like to stray from their comfort zones. They have enough bread and butter work to do they don't need any experimental stuff to deal with. I imagine pool companies are the same way.