Solar plumbing question for ground mount solar system?

Dirk

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So here's another obscure installation tip. Heliocol panels have stringers, placed about every foot or so, that do two things. They keep the little tubes aligned, and they function as spacers between the tubes and the surface on which the panels are mounted. In Dog's pic, you can see how his tubes are laying on the metal bracing. As the panels heat and cool, they expand and contract, and so rub across the metal bracing. This causes undo wear to the tubes and can cause premature failure. This is much more of an issue if your panels are mounted over typical roofing material (concrete tiles, asphalt shingles, etc) because those roofing materials are much more abrasive.

Dog, it looks like your panels also have some sort of stringer. Your panels would be better off if their stringers were touching the metal bracing, instead of your tubing. Booshy, this is something to consider, depending on how you've mounted your panels. Only the stringers should be in contact with the surface of your mounting structure, the tubes should stand off from everything, so when they expand and contract they don't rub on anything.
 

Desert Dog

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Apr 4, 2020
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Good tip Dirk on the tubes touching the metal. The tubes don't touch any sharp edges so I'm not too worried. Don't make me wrap every brace with a pool noodle! :LOL:
 

Dirk

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Don't make me wrap every brace with a pool noodle!
Sorry, no sympathy here. After I installed all my panels, and the tubes heated up and drooped a little, I discovered that many were laying directly on my concrete roofing tiles. It was then that I realized that would be a problem, and that the stringers were the solution. Unfortunately, the stringers were not placed such that they coincided with the high points of the tiles. Plus, because I skewed my panels, the stringers were no longer parallel to the tile layout. Groan. So not only did I have to disconnect all the panels, I had to meticulously mark each row of tiles onto each panel so that I could tell where the roof tiles would touch them, and at what angle!

Then all the panels back down off the roof, then remove all the stringers, about 28 per panel, times 8 panels! Then relocate each stringer into its new position. Each stringer has some 20 or 30 tubes, and they were stubborn as h! Both taking them out, and squeezing them back in. Thousands and thousands of tube/stringer connections!! Then back up on the roof and hooked all back up. Absolutely brutal. But now it's done right and I'm convinced I increased longevity by years.

Which is why I shared the tip, not so much for the longevity of your panels, but because misery loves company!! 🤪
 
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Dirk

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Good tip Dirk on the tubes touching the metal. The tubes don't touch any sharp edges so I'm not too worried.
I wonder if there is some sort of teflon tape you could affix to the metal... Probably overkill. The metal won't cause nearly the abrasion that roofing tiles would...
 

Andrew_D

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Lots of above ground pools, including mine, have solar heaters below the water/pump level. My solar heaters stay full all summer. No issues so far. They run approx 8am - 8pm through the summer. I run them in overnight early or late in season if freezing at night.

Andrew
 

Dirk

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Lots of above ground pools, including mine, have solar heaters below the water/pump level. My solar heaters stay full all summer. No issues so far. They run approx 8am - 8pm through the summer. I run them in overnight early or late in season if freezing at night.
Seems like that would significantly cool off the water, circulating near-freezing water from panels to pool during the night. Have you noticed that? Do your solar panels actually warm up the pool during the day in those times of the year, enough for swimming, after cooling the pool at night?

My system can't do that even without running water through my panels at night. Way before my nighttime temps get to freezing I've already shut down the solar system for the season...
 

Andrew_D

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When running at night, yes it will cool off the water. Only time it is done is when I have set out the panels too soon in the spring and get a cold night. Or am delayed taking them down in the fall. I drain my panels and take them inside my garage for 8 months of the year!

Andrew
 
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Dirk

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That's an interesting possibility/advantage with ground-mount, I have to admit. My panels are doing nothing but rotting in the sun for about half the year, but there is no practical way to cover or move them to reduce UV exposure...
 

Andrew_D

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Up here in the north, the pool is open approximately 5 months, with useable temps for 3 months(June, July, August). Pumps, heaters, plumbing are all taken down, drained, and put away. I built a shelf in my garage that is 3ft wide and 22ft long to stack the pool heaters on. Not rolling them up helps longevity I hope! I leave the pool up, with about 6 inches water (ice) in the bottom, simply due to the size of it. Back in the 12-16ft diameter days, the pool was taken down also.

Andrew
 
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Dirk

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I take down my shade sail for half the year, hoping it'll last twice as long. @Booshy, maybe you devise a way to put some shade over your panels in your off season... Tarps are bound to be cheaper than replacing panels...
 

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