New England and Solar

cnr1089July 27, 2010

I know there are lots of posts about solar (I did a search and looked through all of them), but I want to be sure I have all my information.

My pool build should start in about 2 weeks. As of right now we are going to have a 400kBTU propane heater and an electric heat pump. The pool is 41'x24' and about 715sqft (not a rectangle).

I would really like to entertain the idea of solar of heating the pool. Being in New England (southern NH) we don't quite get the sun that California or Florida gets, but this year it has been quite sunny since April. We have a fairly large roof, and although my wife doesn't want solar panels on the front part of our roof, there is plenty room on the back. The back of the roof gets sunlight by 9am (although the angle of the roof is the opposite of where the sun is coming from until about noon) and it stays lit with sun until about 5pm (the pool will get similar sun).

We have a 2 story house, although the pool is at our walk-out basement level, so the roof is 3 stories up. The pool equipment (at this time) is supposed to go where our air conditioner units are in our house, which is slightly below the first level (but not quite at basement level).

Are solar panels out because of the hight roof? The pool pump is going to be a 1.5 HP pump (there are booster pumps for water features and pool cleaner).

I know "Solar Attic" is a touchy subject here, but anyone have any new experiences to add? It sounds like a great idea (except pumping your pool water into your attic). I asked for a quote and the raw device (PCS3 system) is roughly 3.3k (plus installation). My pool builder had no opinion, except that if we really wanted it, they would install it (and we would become a guinea pig for future installs, if it goes well).


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solar panels have water running thru them
i would think that they will freeze in the winter yes?
u would have to make sure u drain them before winter.
to much work in my opinion.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 5:46PM
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That is true for all the lines going to and from the pool equipment. Besides, I would imagine draining solar panels on a roof is relatively easy (lots of gravity).

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 6:18PM
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I would call the local aquatherm, helicol or fafco dealers in your area and get their opinions. I called all the top three dealers and had quotes and opinions. I went with aquatherm and were pleased with our decision. I would also go to trouble free pools forum and ask questions. Hope this helps

Here is a link that might be useful: new solar install

    Bookmark   July 27, 2010 at 8:29PM
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I don't think the height is an issue. FWIW - I have solar hot water on a 3 story house. The HW storage is in the basement.

Think of a well - 200-300 ft with 2 HP. 30 feet is not an issue. You don't need a huge flow going up there.

Why would you do both gas and heat pump? Just wondering - I mean I have both to heat my house but it seems a bit extreme for a pool.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 3:45AM
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>> Why would you do both gas and heat pump? Just wondering - I mean I have both to heat my house but it seems a bit extreme for a pool.

Well, I may be mis-informed here, but....

I want the gas heater (which is cheap enough to install, especially compared to the overall cost of the pool) for quick heats (bring my 60 degree pool at the beginning of the season to 80 degrees quickly).

The heat pump, is my way of keeping costs of heating down, but making the pool swim-able. Maybe, unnecessary, but I figure the cost of doing it now is way less down the road. I don't ever want to look at my pool during the summer time and decide not to swim because it is way to cold. But I don't want to spend $500/month to keep it swim-able.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 9:21AM
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Talk to your insurance agent as well. Seems to me putting something like solar on your roof might give them a reason to deny claims. I'm in the business here in the midwest and wouldn't even consider putting my solar mats on our roof. Would there be anything left on the roof during your winters? Ice damming is a big problem here in our winters. It's just something to consider.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 10:18AM
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Do you think the insurance company would rather have solar panels on the roof, or a "Solar Attic" system in the attic that routes water through the attic?

I am so tempted on the "Solar Attic" thing, but water in the attic makes me nervous. It just feels like there is so much waste when it comes to heating a pool.

1) Our attic is hot, why not use that?
2) Our air conditioner condensers spit out hot air, why not use that?
3) Our pool water is cold, can we use that to cool our house someway?
4) The sun is just beating down, waiting to be used. Plants can live off sunlight, why can't my pool....(Yes, I know, Northeast weather can be cloudy sometimes, although not this summer).

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 10:36AM
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Ok - I am totally surprised by the negativity about solar panels. I know that hot water panels are better built but there are really no issues in freezing weather. Sure, they use antifreeze but draining a pool system should be easy. And really - a little ice is probably not a big deal if the panel is 90% empty.

The best way to heat the pool when you are running a/c would be to use the pool as a place to dump the heat. It is totally possible but would require a jerry rigged system.

I can certainly see a downside to the attic system if you get freezes. I mean a leak on the roof is just a bit messy and needs repair. I leak in your attic is potentially disasterous. Now - I might do it with a pressure test every spring. There are millions of hot water heaters in the attic and while this is a bad idea, I think the houses are still insurable.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 11:55AM
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Not trying to be negative about solar panels, I run ours with 4 2x20 mats and nothing else. We're fortunate though and have the land to lay them on the ground. All I'm saying is talk it over with your insurance company to make sure that adding the mats would not void any claims. Its a simple phone call. We have been hammered here in the midwest with storms, I've seen my share of claims as we sit half way between Milwaukee and Chicago and have seen record rain and storms in the past week. The attic system, don't know anything about that but I'd probably run it by my insurance company as well. The way I see it, never give them a reason to deny a claim.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2010 at 4:20PM
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I would never build another pool without solar heating again. Cant comment on the solar attic concept, but it seems to me it would both heat your pool and cool the attic, Ive seen the company reply to the question of leaks and they seem to have it covered.

I live in so cal close to the ocean (about 5 miles east) and no matter the temp during the day it cools down at night sucking the heat our of the pool.

My solar routinely puts 800K BTU's a day into the the pool that I would otherwise have to pay for. I have a 400K btu gas unit I use for teh jacuzzi and as a kicker. I can run both the gas and solar concurrently for a staggering output to the water for a quick few degrees when visitors arrive.

The second story should be fine with a 1.5, but an inteliflo or Epump would be better as your pool doesnt likely need near that much pump when the solar tap isnt open. Remember you have to size the flow for the amount of panels you have as each has an ideal GPM rate so although usually the faster the flow the better for efficiency you literally cant run 1.5 HP through 1 or 2 panels without overpressuring them.

Going solar was the best pool decision I've made.

Uncle Dave

    Bookmark   September 16, 2010 at 9:09PM
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