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solar on a shingle roof solar on a shingle roof

If you're interested in a complete installed system quote just call us and we can ballpark it for you and answer questions. 858 683 0800. We have qualified dealers in most major markets. We also cater to those looking to have this installed by their own contractors and to do it yourselfers. If you plan to do this yourself be forewarned that working at height (on a rooftop) can be hazardous to your health. Anyone doing this kind of work needs to have fall protection training and certification. Check the certification of anyone doing this kind of work for you for their own good and yours. The work itself is the easy part. Staying safe is where the real training is required.

To figure out how large the solar heater should be for your needs go to our sizing calculation or call us at 858-683 0800

Measure the roof space especially peak to gutter. We can get the side to side dimension from Google Earth. Read on to figure out what can fit.

Why Powerstrip?

Most solar contractors will specify 4x12 polypropylene collectors. All too often however, the situation is better served with our technology.

Powerstrips can be any length up to 88 feet so they can be fitted to the space making better use of the available space and looking like they belong there. Getting the area we want is as important as doing it in a way that adds value to the home instead of taking it away.

Powerstrip is flexible so the fin-tubing is far less likely to be damaged compared to polypropylene grid style rigid solar panels.

Powerstrips are fully repairable. You can splice them with 1/4" OD PVC drip irrigation tubing from the local hardware store using our special adhesive. The Powerstrip rigid header pipe is a styrene blend. It is co-incidentally compatible with pvc cements. You can't do things like this with a polypropylene solar panel.

Another feature the flexibility gives us is the ability to make larger banks (longer header pipe runs. You have to realize that solar panel header pipes expand and contract with temperature. Rigid polypropylene panels are large sheets of plastic and the whole sheet has to shift under the straps as the headers move with temperature change. Powerstrips however can flex so you don't need the same large spaces between sections and the incidence of failures due to shifting is minimized and if there was an issue its easily repaired. Not so with a rigid polypropylene solar panel.

One final and more subtle feature advantage with Powerstrip on regular shingle or metal roofs is that we can secure the top row of headers and the bottom row to the roof for more extreme wind resistance and to satisfy an engineer who may be asked to approve the installation for a permit. We can do this because our material doesn't pull as hard when it contracts. This feature allows for a much more wind resistant installation. This monitored commercial solar heater for the Coronado High School is connected to the building structure directly thru the roof surface. There is a case study linked at the bottom of that page showing this detail in direct comparison to how a rigid panel competitor tried to satisfy the same engineering requirements but failed.

Lastly (and this list could continue indefinitely), Powerstrips can be mounted sideways so the flow travels right to left or left to right.

This configuration reduces the price, the number of headers, the number of roof connections, improves the esthetics, and often allows even more full use of the available space. It is not recommended for steep roofs because of the installation difficulties.


You have to decide between sideways configuration where the flow goes left to right or right to left or conventional orientation where the flow goes up the roof. In both case the water enters at a bottom corner and exits at the diagonally opposite top corner.


Conventional means the flow of water travels up the roof slope. Sideways means the flow travels across the roof slope from one side to the other. Ideally we want the header manifolds to be as few as poossible. We want the longer dimension to be the length of the fin tubing so that the costs are minimized. This also tends to give the best esthetics and easiest installation as well. If the roof is steep its going to be difficult to go sideways because of the difficulties gluing the system down against gravity.

Longer collectors whether the installation is conventional or sideways afford another unique advantage. We can stagger the headers. This means we use two rows of header manifolds at each end allowing us to eliminate the spaces between the one foot sections. It seems goofy at first glance to use two rows of headers at each end but the sticks of 1.5" pvc pipe between adjacent headers turns out to be a perfect place to secure the manifolds to the roof securely while still allowing a generous movement side to side with temperature. This is detailed on page 7 of the shingle sideways manual addendum


Powerstrips can be mounted to shingle and metal roofs exactly the same way as regular polypropylene solar collectors. Hang them from the top with a "hanger" at every removable coupling location and run a strap across them and secure between solar tubes every 4 feet or so.

Note you can't strap them down if they are oriented sideways. They try this with the 4x20's from the pool store but it doesn't work out well even though those collectors are supposedly rigid. With our flexible collectors there would be even less support.

The following diagram shows how a system is strapped down conventionally- flow going up the roof.

Powerstrips are a foot wide but the header pipes use up 13.5" each so that is the space needed for a 1 foot wide section. The strips can be as long as 88 feet.

Normally you want them at least one foot shorter than the total length available on the roof. Length refers to the dimension you will run the fin-tubing of the Powerstrip.

You'll normally want to alternate the headers as shown above. The female to female connections are done with stubs of pvc pipe glued with pvc cement. The lengths of the pvc stubs can be varied to space around roof vents and the like. Then the male to male connections are removable and adjustable if the system ever needed to be taken down for re-roofing or for service. If a header was damaged, two headers are easily replaced. Just cut off the old and glue on the new with our special adhesive. The reason we don't just glue them male to female is serviceability. You don't want to have to replace the entire row if one nipple breaks. You want to take advantage of the fact this scheme allows you to take the system down for hurricanes or re-roofing easily. Note that in a windy location you can opt to secure the bottom headers down as well as the top. With any other collector type that is not allowed.

This is the stainless steel hardware used when strapping the collectors to a shingle roof:

Strap bracket
$1.00 each

Strap clamp
$2.00 each

Polypropylene coated strap
$1.00 per foot

Watch the above video and take a look at the summary installation manual for shingle roofs.

SIDEWAYS orientation- flow going right to left or left to right

Sideways is a more difficult installation because we can't prefabricate the panels in advance. Its best to build it on the roof to fit the roof. This installation manual addendum provides a good overview of this technique and some of the many capabilities it affords.

The fin tubing comes in rolls that are 3.75 inches wide and 88 feet long. Three go on each header. Each header takes up 13.5" if the configuration is rectangular but if the headers are at an angle to the fin tubing, the fin tubing can be set up so there are no spaces between the one foot sections. Staggering a double set of headers at each end is a way to eliminate the gaps on a rectangular configuration. The best way to explain all this is with the installation manual linked above.

Please e-mail Hot Sun or call us at 858 683 0800 for help deciding on configuration and for help in figuring out your solar heater.

The fin tubing can be glued to the roof directly using a construction mastic like Loctite Powergrab or Lepages Premium. In the case of a metal roof the bond is strong and the metal will not separate from the structure. In the case of a shingle roof the shingles have little strength so we like to use a glue strip. This is a 2 tube piece of Powerstrip material glued to the roof in strips every 2 feet, tube side down. To be safe we screw this glue strip to the roof via fender washers using polyurethane roof and flashing sealant. If we want to be really thorough we can line these roof connections up with the rafters. The normal installation on a residential shingle roof would be to secure the headers at each end and to use glue strip but not to put screws thru the glue strip.

Note that the sideways glue down method can be used in conventional orientation. In other words why not stagger the headers and glue the fin tubing instead or strapping if the peak to gutter dimension is long?

Styrene header pipes have a male end and a female end. You can glue to them as if they are PVC.

Fin tubing. We'll help you figure out how much material you need. That's what we're here for. Remember to please gather the information asked for on the form and then feel free to call 858 683 0800 ext 1 or wait for an e-mail response.

Special adhesive: You'll need a 4 oz bottle of this for every 60 headers. It is used to glue the header to the fin-tubing.

It's usually a good idea to use a removable rubber coupling every 2 headers (alternating headers). Figure 1 removable coupling for every 2 headers. Only use these on the headers (male to male) and never on PVC pipe directly. Includes 2) all stainless steel #32 hose clamps. Beware of hose clamps where the screws aren't ss.


To automate or not to automate. That is the question. If you decide to save money going manual control you can always add the actuator to the value at any time later without replumbing. AUTO has more on the auto controls function and detail.

Solartouch Controller

Three-Way Valve

Valve Actuator

Pump Relay

Roof Temp Sensor

Water & Air Temp Sensors


When it comes to a shingle roof solar heater Hot Sun has plenty of competition. This is the domain of the polypropylene grid style rigid solar panel. These have been the mainstay of the solar industry for decades. Polypropylene is a low cost high temperature plastic and when colored black it survives pretty well outdoors for decades. Its a proven fact even though polypropylene is not a good weatherable plastic. The PVC based plastics that the Powerstrip fin tubes are made of are a much better family of plastics for outdoor use. You don't see outdoor furniture window and door frames, swimming pool liners or any outdoor plastics for that matter...made of polypropylene. These are pvc derivatives. PVC is vinyl. Powerstrips are a special engineered thermoplastic primarily based on the same high temperature vinyl used in window and door frames. But that's not why Powerstrip may or may not be better in your unique situation. If there is a credible rigid panel dealer in your area installing this for you and providing service after the installation and your roof is suitable for that style collector then that is valid competition for what we are offering. Price depends on the dealer. Product features become less important than company credibility when it comes to installed systems where any collector type is suitable.

When it comes to doing it yourself, you don't get access to the good polypropylene collectors in many places. What you'll find is the 4x20 and 2x20 solar panels that come as complete kits. Due to the fact you normally don't have more than 20' peak to gutter on your roof they are designed and configured to mount sideways. Yikes. They were originally intended to just be used temporarily next to an above ground pool but the demand was for rooftop installs so rooftop hardware was provided even though these panels do not belong on a rooftop.

sideways rigid solar panels leak sideways rigid solar panels leak

Rigid sideways panels are a bad idea.

You have to get all the water out for winter otherwise they are damaged by the expansion of the water as it freezes as shown in the photo above. These low cost solar in a box solutions are not meant to be ganged together but you'll soon realize that you need more than 40 or 80 sq ft to heat your pool adequately. Typical sizing for a 10 degree bump in temperature is 50-100% of the top surface area of your pool. The cheap 4x20 is at least 3 times too small to have a chance at that 10 degree bump for an average sized pool. Their sizing calculators are based on the idea that they are only used in the summer months when very little heat is needed.

This link takes you to our web site on polypropylene collectors. Its funny how sales on those products stopped abruptly when we told people honestly and up front that if there was a leak, we couldn't cover it. They'd have to deal directly with the mfg and their chance of warranty success was limited even if it leaked from day one right out of the box and the cause was clearly a defect. Best case you still have to pay freight. The Powerstrip design addresses this major problem through repairability, modularity, and shippability, allowing us to offer a generous warranty.


Once we have prioced this turnkey system for you or your local dealer has quoted it, there is one step left in the process and that is making sure the system is going to be set up correctly so the pressure on the collectors is minimized. We try to do this as part of the sales effort rather than after the fact like everyone else. We have to make sure we don't overload your pool pump and conversely that your pool system doesn't overload solar. Its pretty simple to do but very difficult to understand. Let us do this for you OK?

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. If that's the case then solar is a simple tie in as shown in Figure 1a in our main installation manual

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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