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SOLAR POOL HEATING - GROUND LEVEL INSTALLATIONS

Its completely understandable that one might not want to mount a solar heater to the roof of the house. There are insurance issues and safety concerns doing the work and servicing the final result. As much as we have accomplished in terms of blending these systems into the architecture, there is still a perceived if not real home valuation concern. On the other side of the coin is the fact that the roof is a perfect structure already built and it is a space that isn't being used for anything else. Additionally a solar pool heater will cool the roof. The home or building owner is often trying to cool the building AND heat the pool at the same time. Solar pool heating using existing roof space makes a lot of sense and Hot Sun has gone to great lengths to satisfy this obvious market need. Solar pool heaters take up as much room as the pool itself so real estate must be consumed in order to solar heat a pool using ground level space.

In some regions like San Diego where we are based, properties have sloped ground space that is otherwise unuseable. If the space faces south or isn't too steep then this space can accomodate a solar pool heater but building a rack structure on a sloped ground space is sometimes a much bigger challenge than anticipated. To meet code, footings must be deep enough such that from the bttom of the footing horizontally out through the dirt to daylight must be at least 6 feet. That means that if a ground space is sloped at 45 degrees you have to bury the footings 6 feet. There are many footings. We've come up with a better solution. Powerstrips can be mounted diectly to the ground. This is best in desert and semi-arid climates and when the ground space is naturally sloped to face the sun. This scheme packs the system tight to the earth making it easier to hide from view and blend into the landscape.

ground mount solar pool heater ground mount solar pool heater

PRICING

First figure out how many sq ft are appropriate for your situation at SIZING. Measure the space you have available (allow 11.25" for each Powerstrip section). This is the width of a single Powerstrip section so this is the side to side dimension, across the slope not up the slope.

WHY POWERSTRIP?

Most solar contractors will specify 4x12 polypropylene collectors. They always have to go on a rack structure. A 4x12 rectangle of plastic changes shape with changes in temperature. There's no way you're going to pin that down directly to the earth and expect it to stay put or look reasonably professional over any length of time. If the decision is to go with a rack structure then a regular polypropylene collector approach is worth considering. We have installed and supplied many polypropylene 4x12 collector systems on racks but at this stage we've phased that option out almost entirely because we feel our flexible Powerstrip collector technology is superior even in this case. For us, it mostly comes down to freeze tolerance, shippability, durability, serviceability and longevity. Read about what we have learned about regular polypropylene collectors in our 28 year history. Its completely fair to compare a local contractor's regular polypropylene collector on a rack proposal to Powerstrip on a rack from one of our dealers. In that case its all about size, price and credibility of the individual dealer. Your installer's strengths and weaknesses are far more important than the actual product he chooses in the case of a rack mounted solar contract installation. If you're taking the project on yourself or with your own contractor then the situation changes. You need the freeeze tolerance, serviceability shippability, and repairability that only Powerstrip can offer. There's one other little issue that is very important in the case of any ground level solar installation and that is that the solar collectors are not elevated up out of the pressure. Read the MECHANICAL ISSUES section below.

DIRECT GROUND MOUNTING

For a full explanation of how the direct ground mount system is configured go to this manual addendum

Then measure the space. Up and down the slope you want to use one of our stock sizes like 18, 22', 30' or 44' because these sizes eliminate any waste from the bulk material which comes in 88' rolls. We can make up any size with at most a 10% premium charged for odd lengths. Side to side across the slope we pack all the fin tubings next to each other meaning each header pipe or nominal one foot wide section corresponds to a space requirement of 11.25". Allow a foot around the perimeter for landscape logs and the structure along the top and bottom.

RACK MOUNTING

If the ground is not sloped or the ground space is inappropriate for a direct ground mount then a structure must be built.

We can either run the Powerstrip fin tubing side to side as in the example below.

or the system can be assembled same as if it was on a shingle roof. The available space is the determining factor.

This manual addendum describes rack construction in detail. Always consult with your local building department to make sure your structure meets local codes.

Go through the sizing section of this web site so you know how many sq ft you want. Then measure the space available. Then you can call us and get a quote over the phone or a referral to a dealer who will price an installed system.

MECHANICAL ISSUES

By definition ground level installations are not elevated up out of typical pool mechancial system pressure so we have to be extra careful with our mechancial design evaluation in making sure we aren't blasting the solar panels with too much excess pressure unnecessarily. Good solar design means setting solar up so it is unstressed. It means each case is special and must be evaluated separately. Other solar companies don't agree. In business everything should be repeatable for maximum growth potential and profitability. That's a sales approach, a business approach. Our approach is different. We take a technology approach to this.... technology!

POOLS is a detailed explanation of pressure and how we can set solar up to avoid unnecessary excess collector pressure. The following video is also very good but don't try to become a solar engineer if you don't have to. With new laws in California and greater awareness of the fact energy costs money on the part of the pool industry we're heading back the good old days when pools pumps were never larger than 3/4HP for residential pools.

The best way to determine the right mechancial system design (the way solar is married to your pool system) is through consultation with us. We'll either help reduce the pressure by solving pool mechanical issues (like an oversized pool pump that is costing you too much in electricity) or we'll see if there is a way to regulate the pressure to the collectors. If you're ready to go down this road please gather the information asked for at the top of the sizing page and as suggested there, fill in this form

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