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POWERPRO STRAP DOWN SOLAR POOL HEATING SYSTEMS

 

Solar collectors made of polypropylene are more common than the flexible style promoted on this web site. At Hot Sun we don't manufacture these polypropylene panels ourselves but we have access to the finest products from many major manufacturers.

It's very important to realize that with any polypropylene collector, warranty is an issue. Unless the dealer that sold it has inventory and is local, shipping will have to be paid in order to test a manufacturer's warranty promise. Some contractors prefer this type of collector because it is simple and quick and easy to install so it can be offered up at a lower installed price in many cases. As an end user this technology is something the roof of the house is married to and its something the end user you care a great deal about over possibly the next 25 years so it may be important to the customer that it be repairable, serviceable, freeze tolerant, and that it captures more of the solar resource on the roof space because it is fitted to the roof space to make best use of the roof space. Esthetics and overall home value should also be considered. Hot Sun finds that only about 1/3 of the situations we run into are appropriate for a polypropylene collector.

If you want to buy this over a distance and install it yourself, we're going to tell you the truth. It can be damaged in shipping. That's between you and the freight company and you need to identify that damage before you take possession of the goods. It can be damaged in handling. If you want a warranty you'll be hard pressed to prove it happened at the manufacturing plant and not after it left their dock. If it is damaged by wind or hail those are acts of God. You're out of luck again. If it is damaged by freezing, that's also considered your fault. Don Harter once had us ship 9) 4x12's all the way from Spokane to New Jersey for warranty evaluation only to tell us,"Nope it was freezing damage". We knew that up front. We also knew it was a defect in the collector that prevented the water from draining out. Aquatherm, the manufacturer of the HI Deluxe panel at the time said no warranty. Its up to the licensee, Harter Industries! Hot Sun changed panel suppliers. That was our only recourse after buying this customer new panels. We've been through this exercise several times. We've run out of options now. There are no polypropylene collector manufacturers who will get a collector to your rooftop guaranteed not to leak. The bottom line is do not buy polypropylene collectors over a distance. If you want to go this way use a local supplier who carries inventory and private labels it so he is responsible for the warranty. He will usually have to install it under contract. At Hot Sun we now sell nothing but Powerstrip because we manufacture it so we can make the rules and the rules are we guarantee it. We are the only company that can sell you a solar heater and include shipping as part of the warranty. That's important because the cost of shipping can be more than the value of the collector being replaced in the case of a regular polypropylene collector. Hot Sun can do this because our fin tubing is practically indestructible. Its flexible. You can smash it with a baseball bat in sub zero conditions and it will not break. If there is a rip or an animal bite or some need for repair it is repairable easily without even losing a flow core. You can freeze it solid. You can drop it off the back of the truck. The wind can tear away at it and worst case you are replacing a header or splicing a tube. Its a lot more secure in the first place. Our "issues" disappearred once we stopped selling everybody else's low cost solution. The only time we sell polypropylene grid style collectors now is when you have no choice. You're replacing one of a bank of many existing for example. If you do want conventional collectors or if you're shopping with a local installer who sells them read on for an education on what to look for.

It's the little things that matter. For example, when you put collectors like these on shingle roofs you have to realize they expand and contract 1/4" per collector over a typical temperature swing. That's 2" over 8 panels. The rubber couplings between panels dig into the roof and wear a hole right through it in no time. Why haven't more solar contractors figured out that you need a wear plate?

 

Below left is a strap bracket and below right is a strap clamp at the end of each row of strap. The strap is plastic coated stainless steel. Same hardware used to hang the weight of the collectors at the couplings. We get all this stuff made ourselves.

 

There are several grades of collectors on the market. Unfortunately the industry has been polluted with some real cheap stuff lately. It may seem like a bargain but there is a reason major solar contractors will never offer you a 20 foot long collector like the solar in a box solutions you'll see at the pool store or on e-bay. Real solar panels used by real solar contractors selling real solar solutions come in 4x8, 4x10, and 4x12 sizes with some exceptions.

 

Within the category of good polypropylene panels meant to last more than a season or two we do find some differences that do matter. First of all we believe strongly in the need for a profiled surface. If the surface of the collector is flat it can't absorb shock or thermal stresses associated with situations like part shade. The part in the shade will want to be a different size than the part in the sun and if its not profiled it can't absorb the stress naturally. Below, compare the $240 collector (Vortex or Techno-Solis) on the left with the $329 collector on the right. Vortex is a private label of a Techno Solis collector and our price right here for the exact same collector is less than our biggest online competitor, Solar Direct.

The header on the left is made of an extruded pipe and an extruded absorber. The two parts are welded together sonically in a less-than-sophisticated manner. There is a weakness at the weld and we can't roll these panels for shipping in a UPS oversize box like we can with the product on the right. The header on the right not only has a nice profile to it but the header is molded. Because it's molded, a lot of extra meat is added at the weld zone but to take it one step further, the manufacturer has eliminated the weld entirely. It's called "overmolding." The absorber extrusion is actually put right into the mold cavity as the header pipe is molded! There is no weld. There is a free open passage from absorber to header and no weak spot. Repairability comes from the fact there is so much meat at the header. See this repair movie we made to demonstrate the worst case repair. We feel these are worth the extra money but, truthfully, if you get it to the site and install it without incident and the straps don't let go, the product on the left will last a long time. It's in the category of the good products as opposed to the cheap stuff you need to watch out for. One other difference is the elliptical flow cores. We prefer a round flow core out of principle more than anything. Ellipses want to become circles when stressed with pressure and, try as we might to minimize it, solar heaters still have to handle stress from pressure. We've heard claims recently that Techno Solis collectors (The $240 collectors on the left above) are being used on flat roofs in Canada. The thinking is that the ellipses become more circular as water freezes and expands inside them. They survive winters apparently. Personally I believe this is possible but I wouldn't be staking my reputation on that. The warranty is explicitly denied for freeze damage. That isn't a defect after all. You can't walk on those panels and are you really bolting them down on flat roofs or trying to hold those 48 sq ft sails down with ballasts? Its a low cost way to do solar on a flat roof but its just plain wrong in our opinion. The flexibility of a Powerstrip means no issues with frozen water inside and the flexibility allows the use of ballast. Its not a rigid sail. Powerstrips can be walked on.

 

Another option we have available is a 2x12 and 2x10 version of the better product made with 1.5" headers. We used to like this product a lot when we weren't looking for 2" header pipes on our collectors. A 2' collector is half the size "sail" so its better for wind resistance. The screws into the roof taking weight are taking half a collector width and its half the weight again due to less water in a 1.5" header.

 

We'll drop ship the above to you by UPS from Florida and ship the hardware and balance of system direct from San Diego but remember we recommend against this type of collector in favor of the Powerstrip we manufacture.

 

We can install or help you install these systems on a tile roof with no roof penetrations! Powerstrip is our preferred choice on tile roofs but in some places like Florida this goes together faster and easier and doesn't have to be permanently glued in place and the specifications for hurricane rated roof connections are better established.

 

Ground mounted rack systems are very common. Often there is real estate available and there isn't roof space and it's nice to not have to deal with the roof at all. We can help you with the rack design details, costing and supply. Powerpro used to be the most common collector choice for a rack mount but now we always do them with our Powerstrip mostly just because there is no warranty on a rigid panel. If you're going rigid polypropylene panels you have to go with the local solar guy who carries that product.

 

On a ground level rack mount we do have to be especially concerned with pressure because we are exposing the collectors to the full system pressure. We aren't conveniently elevated up out of it on the roof. See Pools for a full discussion of this and why we usually want a separate pipe to the pool for solar. This product has a 12 year warranty but the warranty explicitly states that it is void if installed by anyone other than a factory trained and authorized dealer.

Next, check out the auto controls and plumbing section which details plumbing needed as well as auto controls options, then go to sizing and fill in the form you'll find there.

You can e-mail any questions to ken@h2otsun.com

For technical support after the sale and for ordering please call 858-627-9007.

Download the Powerpro Installation Manual under the Powerpro link on the left.

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