Should I add panels to existing 9 year old heliocol solar system?

jayjayaz

Active member
Oct 25, 2012
28
Southern CA
We would love to expand our excellent existing heliocoI by two panels, to go from "85% to 100% coverage" providing additional heating capacity. We are uncertain if it's a good idea since the two new roof mounted panels would have to be routed 50' away from existing system and which is already nine-years old. Some installers are telling us not a good idea, new panels will cause problems and likely leaks with old system due to pressure changes, and follow-up by recommending a completely new system. Other installers are fine with the additional two panels. We look forward to hearing from you!
 

mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
15,057
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
I would say it is probably not worth the effort and cost for only a 15% increase in panel area. It won't add that much more heat. If you were doubling the area or even a 50% increase, then perhaps it would be worth it.

As for the leaks, any decent installer should be able to avoid any issues there. However, there will likely be self draining issues when panels are separated like that and plumbed together. It would be best to have two separate supply and return lines as well as a separate VRV so the two installations operate completely independent of one another in terms of self draining. Installing it separately would also avoid having to touch the existing panel installation which in turn would avoid causing any issues. The two supply lines can be combined at the pad near the solar valve and the two return lines near the return TEE.

Would the two sets of panels be at the same elevation?

Is the pipe run from the pad to the new installation a straight shot upwards or would there be localized high spots (e.g. having to go up and over a roof peak)?
 
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jayjayaz

Active member
Oct 25, 2012
28
Southern CA
The new panels would be on a section of the roof approximately 2' higher than the old sections- Our goal is to simply add a few more weeks of swim time if possible, another option under consideration is solar blanket. Thank you for solid advice!
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mas985

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 3, 2007
15,057
Pleasanton, CA
Pool Size
20000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
Solar panel efficiency drops pretty fast with air temperature so I doubt you would add that much to your swim season with just 2 panels. A solar cover would be far more effective.
 
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jayjayaz

Active member
Oct 25, 2012
28
Southern CA
Update- Another company came over today, the only one to actually check-out pool and roof in person. They seem to favor adding the two panels to the same section of the roof directly opposite the existing panels. Their logic being, significantly less pipe used is better.
 
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