Old solar shot - new solar or heat pump - Central FL

viking68

Silver Supporter
May 9, 2010
70
0
Lake Mary, FL
#1
12 year old Fafco system (dealer installed - no longer in business).

Panels are loaded with leaks - over 20 at this time.

Many leaks fixed over the years per Fafco warranty - plugging tubes = reduced efficiency.

The roof penetration tie-down straps with "caps" - some have come completely detached - flopping around on the roof.

This may have happened due to our "little blow" last summer - 85+mph gusts during Irma for half a day and night. That was fun!

Heliocol dealer kindly temp fixed the "holes" and, of course, gave me a quote on a new system, complete with professional roof repair of the disaster left by the original installer. They tell me they see this all the time on old Fafco systems.

Helicol installs to rafters - as a contractor, I know they won't come loose - if properly installed. Dealer has very good rep and been in business for over 30 years (wish I'd gone with them back in the day)! Also wished I'd had my contractor hat on when I was sold on Fafco's tie-down system! Must have been a mentally challenged day for me when I inked the deal.

BUT.

Solar works on it's own schedule, i.e. - solar radiation dependent. Won't heat the pool late/early season - for us, that's mid/late Oct or so through mid March/early April. Pool blanket is not happening - and yes, I know it would help.

Panels on 45 degree angle SSW exposure - no shade. Pool is west (520 SF/~20K gallon free-form), screened, partial shade late afternoons.

SO.

Considering Heat Pump. In Central Florida, it won't run at all mid/late May through mid September - or maybe an hour or 2 a day (rain cooling water, etc.) - no big deal, electric cost-wise.

Brands? Thoughts? Opinions? As far as I can tell, the up-front $$ are about the same - even with the wiring for a new 50AMP circuit to the heat pump. Have quotes - and am NOT doing it myself. Too busy on the final run-up to retirement and too old to fool with it. And I am not roof-crawling!

Benefit of heat pump - if I want to have a party in January for my snow-bird friends, I can spend the bucks and heat the pool.

Bigger benefit - wife can swim earlier in the season and later, again, spending electric $$ = happy wife!

Con - spending $$ for electric! Any others?

Other considerations:

(1) I will need to pay to have Fafco removed and roof repair (30 year shingle - 12 years old - installed 1 month before solar) by a 40-year friend who owns a commercial roofing company. He actually installed the new roof back in the day. I know that will be done correctly - but that will add $$ to the heat pump install, making it marginally more expensive up front.

(2) Also thinking of combining with new VS pump - the savings of which will be negated (I have been told) to some degree if I retain solar, because the pump will have to push water up to the roof, running at high speed.

I have been TFP for 8 years; actively using TFP methods for the last 3-4.

All comments and recommendations gratefully solicited. Thanks all.
 

pooldv

Mod Squad
LifeTime Supporter
Platinum Supporter
TFP Expert
Aug 10, 2012
24,976
0
DFW, TX
#2
We've got both. Had a small-ish solar for a few years and it wasn't enough, especially with no cover. We have 240sf of solar and 700sf of pool, 20k gal. So, I installed a small 50k BTU heat pump to supplement the heat and it only needs a 20a circuit so my pool sub panel already had enough capacity.

With solar only we would swim mid-may to mid-October. Now, with solar, a cover and a heat pump we swim mid-march to end of October I don't know how it would do without the cover though. Once I started paying for heat I started using a cover. It is really great to have both, free heat when the sun is blazing and heat pump when it is raining or cloudy or cool. The heat pump really hasn't had much impact on the electric bill which is lower anyway in spring in fall because we're not heating or cooling the house much.

For your climate I would be somewhat inclined to go with a heat pump. Especially if the extra electric bill isnt a big deal. Having total control of the pool temp is great. It is really nice to be able to heat the pool for a sunny weekend even if it is a cool, rainy week.