Solar Heater installation on a rack instructions?

catchyoulater

Active member
Apr 26, 2010
32
West Hollywood, CA
Hi Everybody :wave:

I have searched the forums but guess I'm not doing a very good search job and need a lot of help putting up a solar panel. Have found a few posts here and there showing racks built and suggestions on hooking up the solar panels. But I would love to have instructions on how to build a rack and tape down/fasten the panels to the rack and then hook up the heater using the PVC pipes. I don't know how to use PVC but after seeing all the wonderful hard piping on here I'm game to try! Do you have to use some kind of glue when you attach pieces of pipe to one another (see how lame I am???)? I won't have to put this on a roof but can build a kind of lean to rack about level with the pool and lean it against a wooden fence (if I put it on the ground it'll miss a lot of sun as there is just 4 feet between the pool and the wall/fence). Or can I just hang the panel from a fence (I read on here somewhere that's what someone did with theirs!).

I'm not completely useless as I did build a wooden gate and can use circular saws and have repaired by deck, so know my way around the tool shed.

Also while I'm at it I would love to replace my flexible hoses from the skimmer and filters with that PVC piping. I just don't know how to start and what I'd be looking for at Home Depot. I'd have to measure my hoses to see what size they are, also after doing extensive research online I saw that Fafco now has a 2" header 4'x20' panel -- would that mean I need to get 2" header PVC piping -- sorry for the dumb question :hammer: -- for everything? Also how and when to use elbow PVC and three-way valves, etc. :wave:

UPDATE: Okay, did even more research online and actually found a Sunheater manual that lays it all out! How to build a rack, what materials you need and how to set up the solar heater. It's here:
http://www.poolsupplies.com/PDFs/sunheaterag.pdf

But I think I found a great deal on a Fafco sunsaver 4'x20' (which from all I'm reading is better made?) that comes with free shipping so total cost is $231.97. That's at nationalpoolwholesalers.com -- if anyone knows of a better price for the Sunsaver please let me know.

I guess I'll just head over to Home Depot and ask a friendly guy or two what PVC stuff I need to hard pipe this thing. I still don't really understand the manual by-pass valve thing. It says it's to regulate the pressure and to shut off access to the panels when you don't need heat. Oh well... I'll muddle through.
 

NWMNMom

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 8, 2007
1,582
Waaay NW MN
We have a PVC/Wood/Chickenwire supported rack system even with the top rail as we only have about 5' between the pool and the trees on the north side and NO sun on the south side of the pool. It works like a charm.
 

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catchyoulater

Active member
Apr 26, 2010
32
West Hollywood, CA
What I like about your install is that it doesn't look like it's flat, right. So it doesn't have to be perfect to work! That's helpful. I wish I could just lay it down alongside the pool but I just don't have the space. Thanks for the photo!
 

matt4x4

Well-known member
Apr 2, 2007
312
Here's my rack, I replaced my deck on the house last year and repurposed all the lumber to build the rack for the panels.
If you live in cold climate, I recommend that you don't hard plumb everything, for ease of winterization, I ran tigerflex between my pump and the panels, this allows me to remove the tigerflex in the fall and the panels drain through gravity.


 

NWMNMom

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 8, 2007
1,582
Waaay NW MN
Ours is hard plumbed but with the unions installed as they are its a breeze to disconnect and drain as needed. We freeze about as hard as anyplace and have had no issues.
 

catchyoulater

Active member
Apr 26, 2010
32
West Hollywood, CA
Thanks, hanau -- I did see that thread. It gave me ideas on how I might adapt the rack. It has to fit into a 4' space that runs along the side of a fence for about 20'. Matt4x4 I never saw yours. That's a good one too. I guess I'm just worried about making sure it's all level.

I'm in Los Angeles so no worries about freezing. Can't even imagine what that's like! The pool stays open and uncovered year round. One year we even had a dip on Christmas Day (years ago) when it hit 90!!! Not my idea of a white Christmas, but whatever.

In fact the pool water usually gets up to 80 around May and stays there into October. It's perfect for me. However, everyone else is a weenie!!! They shiver like it's 70!! So am tired of seeing the adults stay out of the pool at BBQs! Figure the solar heater will raise it for their comfort! And hey, maybe I can even swim thru Thanksgiving too!
 

NWMNMom

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 8, 2007
1,582
Waaay NW MN
Well a few panels should do the trick! You can even run them at night to cool the water when it gets too warm - believe it or not that has actually happened here in northern Minnesota once or twice! Mid to upper 90s water temps is not refreshing.
 

catchyoulater

Active member
Apr 26, 2010
32
West Hollywood, CA
NWMNMom said:
Well a few panels should do the trick! You can even run them at night to cool the water when it gets too warm - believe it or not that has actually happened here in northern Minnesota once or twice! Mid to upper 90s water temps is not refreshing.
Oh I have to agree about 90 degree water! When we get the really hot Santa Ana winds here in Sept/Oct, the temps go over 100 for a few days and my pool is a bathtub! It's been as high as 92 degrees. Not refreshing AT ALL!!! That's why 80 is perfect for me. Just can't imagine why you'd want it warmer on a hot summer day.

From all the suggestions here and visual references I've found for lean-to builds, etc. I think I'm going to be able to design a rack that suits the space soon. Once it's built then I'll order the panels. Because if I can't build a rack then no point in buying the panels.
 
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