Solar panels for heating pool in Scottsdale AZ area

surferbum

LifeTime Supporter
May 18, 2013
69
North Scottsdale
Hi,

I have read the threads here and many are 3+ years old. I am constructing a new pool and need some advice on solar heating panels.

I will be purchasing the solar panels and have either the PB or solar panel company install. Have some questions:

  1. What commercial companies are the top ones?
  2. Which products work best and are the most reliable in my locale?
  3. What should I expect to be the out-the-door price for a solar heating panel setup?
  4. Are there any solar heating panel feature to must-have or avoid?

Thanks for any insight you can give me.
 

JohnT

Admin
Mod Squad
TFP Expert
Apr 4, 2007
9,900
SW Indiana
Fafco and Heliocol are two of the bigger names.

Most any panel has about the same efficiency. Your mounting area may drive you to a particular panel.

The cost is going to depend on the installation location and how much panel area you have. $4-$5000 seems to be a number people report a lot.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Or buy the panels used off Craigslist and install yourself for 1/4 the cost. Lots of panels available in your area, that is where I got mine. Of course you have no warranty, but there is really nothing to fail.
 

gwegan

TFP Expert
Apr 19, 2013
2,769
Sacramento, CA
I would call the local Heliocoil and Fafco dealers and have them come over and give you a bid. Ask them about tile roofs. They do installations on them all the time. They should be able to explain how their system attaches and what the problems with it are. One problem is that all the manufacturers use propitiatory mounting systems so if you want to switch brands down the road you have to change roof mountings too.

Prices vary around the country so get several installers to bid to get the lowest price.

Also spend a couple of hours on the internet reading up on the various panels before you interview the reps.

I believe the Fafco panels are slightly more efficient, but a lot depends on your exposure and on how you use them.

Buy the way -- worth every penny.

Expect your roofer will not like it and will charge for roof repairs.

They only last ten years at the most so your roof will have a much longer life.
 

surferbum

LifeTime Supporter
May 18, 2013
69
North Scottsdale
Have received quotes for two solar install companies with one using Heliocol panels and the other using Ecosun panels. Read a few threads and these appear to be 2 of the 3 major players with products with nearly the same performance.

The pool is around 450 sq. ft. and this is the number both companies developed quotes for. The panels were going to be partially placed in a flat portion of my roof and the remainder on the sloped portion on my roof. One of the companies gave me two quotes: the first with a section of the panels attached to a flat roof lying flat and a second quote where that portion was angled at 30 degrees. This was selected (according to the sales guy) to be equal to the latitude of Scottsdale.The argument seemed logical.

Would it be worth it to spend the extra money for the 30 degree framework?

Additionally, I have read many threads about these two panel products but they're dated. Does anyone have recent experience?

Lastly, one quote included an "automatic temp. control value" controlled by my Pentair easy touch controller. Is this important in Scottsdale, AZ? Does it just sense 38 degrees or lower and run pool water through the panels? There is no self-draining of the panel because it comes off the pump, up the side of the house so the panel will contain water lower than the pipes as they go over the house.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
If you have an Easy Touch already, that will do all the control of the pump and solar valves. You will not need a separate controller for the solar. You may need another temp sensor and the 3-way valve with actuator and a few check valves.

So, I am not clear what they are trying to sell you with that "auto temp control valve"
 

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surferbum

LifeTime Supporter
May 18, 2013
69
North Scottsdale
solar in & programmed - went with Helicol

Solar panels installed; Pool computer programmed & all painted for attractive look (& HOA bliss).

Programmed for 85*.

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Isaac-1

TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 10, 2010
6,711
SW Louisiana
Don't worry too much about "dated" information, there has not been much change in commercial solar panels themselves in years. They come in a variety styles (semi rigid panel, flexible, separate tube, etc) however for most of the better brand name panels (Fafco, Aqutherm, Heliocol, TechnoSolis,etc) the thermal performance will be similar, so don't let the salesman talk you into buying their latest and greatest panel with proprietary spiral flow technology, or similar over their "mid" grade product, as while it may be true that the new design may offer a little better performance (less than about a 5-10% improvement over their older "mid grade" style they will often cost 20-50% more, at which point adding one more of the cheaper panels will likely more than make up for the difference, assuming you have the spare mounting space. The same sort of math should go into flat vs slanted mounting. In this case the farther south you are the less you need to worry about slanting panels, also the optimal angle of mounting also depends on the length of your expected swim season (this is a factor most installers ignore and work with the 12 month optimal angle). For your location optimal summer solstice angle is only 6 degrees, spring/fall equinox is about 29 degrees, and winter solstice is a very noticeable 53 degrees. With the optimal full year angle also being 29 degrees. Having said all that studies show very little performance difference if you are within 15 degrees of optimal, and only a slight degrade in performance within 30 degrees of optimal (about 15%) compare this to the added cost of mounting at an angle.
 

gwegan

TFP Expert
Apr 19, 2013
2,769
Sacramento, CA
Looks good very professional installation. Can you feel the heat coming through the returns when they are on? I'm always amazed at how much heat is sitting on my roof everyday.
 

jblizzle

Mod Squad
TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
May 19, 2010
43,238
Tucson, AZ
Looks good very professional installation. Can you feel the heat coming through the returns when they are on? I'm always amazed at how much heat is sitting on my roof everyday.
If there is enough flow through the panels, the returning water should only be a few degrees warmer. Certainly it should not feel hot.
 
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