THE CONSUMER'S BIG SOLAR PANEL QUESTION
A consumer writes to one of SolarAttic's Florida dealers the following question:
“I am weighing options between two kinds of solar pool heating systems......yours and a more traditional panel installation on the roof. I've been advised by those guys to ask for some kind of guarantee on deliverables (in terms of energy costs and final outcome for amount of heat). I've also been advised that I will have a nightmare on my hands with a sometimes-vacant vacation rental that springs a leak in the attic solar heating pvc system. I invite your comments, not only about these issues, but also those critical of a traditional solar panel system vs yours.”
THE ANSWER FROM SOLARATTIC
1. SolarAttic’s 30+ years of field experience indicate that its pool heater will perform on a par with that of a solar panel system sized to 100% of the surface area.
2. In terms of temperature gain, this usually translates into a 10-15 degree gain over the pool’s unheated state.
3. SolarAttic does not offer specific performance guarantees on customer systems.
4. The 10-15 degree gain in pool temperature is our typical field experience where the attic being used is 100% of the surface area of the pool. Ergo, if the pool is 600 sq ft, the attic floor area should be at least this in size.
5. Having set a 100% surface recommendation, I do not know how low one can go in terms of attic size in floor sq ft. I myself put the unit in an attic in Canoga Park, California that was 50% of the area of the pool and the customer was ecstatic about the performance and this particular customer would not allow the unit to run on automatic mode and restricted its operation to 3-4 hours a day. This is 30-40% of what the unit could run in terms of optimized automatic operation.
6. Left to run on automatic mode with the thermostat set to max, the SolarAttic pool heater would run a maximum of 10 hours per day. The PCS3 draws 4 amps of current at full load and 115 vac. Running 10 hours a day max and at 10 cents per kilowatt hour, this would translate into a $10-15 per month bill.
7. The SolarAttic pool heater uses the existing pool pump and booster pumps are not required.
8. All pvc pipe used has a pressure rating of 120 psi. The SolarAttic pool heater is tested at over 300 psi. Therefore, there should be no general concern about pipes breaking in attics.
9. As far as I am aware, solar panel manufacturers do not offer specific performance guarantees on solar panel installations. Some state that the pool will reach 85 degrees during swim season.
10. Since both units are solar and weather dependent, their performance depends upon weather conditions. Ergo, it is a “seller of snake oil” that would guarantee the weather for their product performance.
11. The SolarAttic pool heater is not a replacement for solar panels in some installations and vice versa.
12. SolarAttic site selection criteria as recommended by SolarAttic is found at this link -- http://www.solarattic.com/criteria.html
13. SolarAttic solar pool heaters compared to solar panel pool heater systems is found at this link -- http://www.solarattic.com/sioa2.htm
14. SolarAttic solar pool heater energy performance data is found at this link -- http://www.solarattic.com/therm.htm
15. In general, the main issues concerning panels would be available roof space, aesthetics, and, in Florida storm damage.
16. In general, solar panel sales people would claim you will flood your home. However, this has not occurred in over 25 years and the PCS3 is specifically engineered to prevent this from occurring. In this regards, an internal sensor detects excess moisture in the base of the unit and the connections to the PCS3 are enclosed within the unit to take advantage of this protection.
There is no need for multiple joints in the attic and a continuous length of flex pipe can be used from the SolarAttic pool heater to the outside of the attic. This means there can be only one joint in the attic. That would be the pipe union to the PCS3 connection.
18. Solar panels have been reported to have leaked into the attic and through the roof. In addition, panels have been ripped off the roof during storms and damaged the roof in the process.
The SolarAttic solar pool heater is protected inside the attic from weather conditions and it has a twenty year [20-year] design life as long as pool chemistry is properly maintained. As of Sept 2013, several system of our original design are at this age.
20. Solar panels are notorious for leaking and that is why they may be promoting a leak fear when selling against the PCS3. However, it is unfounded and such talk demonstrates an engineering lack of understanding of SolarAttic's technology and the basic installation of the PCS3.
21. Solar panels and the SolarAttic heater use the same type of solar control technology.
22. When going away on vacation, the SolarAttic attic pool heater can be simply turned off until your return.
23. Booster pumps are often required with solar panels, but are not used with the SolarAttic solar pool heater. It is capable of much higher flow rates.
24. Solar panel warranty rates run around 4% due to leaking panel joints. This can be verified by viewing FAFCO’s public filings.
25. Warranty issues with the SolarAttic pool heater have been almost non-existent and certainly less than 1/8th of 1%.
26. Warranty issues are simple math when computing assembled joints. In panel systems, there are many joints actually assembled while installing the panels onto the roof. In the SolarAttic system there are no field assembled joints. There are only standard plumbing connections on the intake and outflow manifolds.
27. SolarAttic is now on its THIRD generation pool heater and has over 25 years of field experience in using the technology that we invented. It is facetious to make a claim that the technology is dangerous to use and only demonstrates ignorance or self interest in selling a competitive product. How else could you explain the longevity of the SolarAttic solar pool heater?
28. Over 28 years of solar pool heater testimonials from satisfied customers are at this link and at this link you'll find early SolarAttic solar pool heater testimonials.
29. Six independent Television News Station reports and videos are available at this link -- attic solar pool heater video testimonials.
30. In addition, these news videos show what actual residential and commercial users are experiencing first hand and in their own words. The videos can be found on Google, Yahoo and Bing by searching videos with “solar pool heater videos” used as the keyword phrase search.
31. The SolarAttic pool heater is generally comparable to a solar panel system that is sized to 100% of the pool surface area. This is a general rule of thumb for proper panel installation. Sizing a panel system less that this would result in poorer performance. A panel system sized less than 100% of the surface area could work under optimized orientation conditions. This is generally at a 45 degree inclination and due south or 15 degrees east of due south.
32. In many locations, it is impractical to install panels since the available roof space is insufficient. For example, on the east coast, panel installations are typically sized at only 50% of the pool's surface area due to lack of roof space available for the panels.
33. Click here to view a list of solar panel pool heater problems eliminated by SolarAttic's attic solar pool heater.
There are some locations more suited to solar panel installation and likewise there are other locations more suited to the SolarAttic pool heater. Having said that, I would estimate that well over 90% of all pool owners could easily use the SolarAttic solar pool heater and much less could use panels without modifications to the roof.
There are places I would not recommend our system. Don’t use it on a barrel tile concrete roof when the home is directly on an ocean front property. At least not without consulting SolarAttic first about the installation particulars. On inland areas with barrel tile concrete roofs, temperature data should be collected first to ensure a 20 degree difference exists between the attic's internal peak temperature and the outside ambient temperature.
Some barrel tile roofs have been found to work well, but others have failed to produce any measurable results. This is because some attics and roofs are designed and built for ventilation. Such an attic might seem hot, but only exhibit a 5-12 degree temperature difference.
Do not use the SolarAttic pool heater where the roof deck is undercoated with radiant barrier sheathing.
An over ventilated attic can inexpensively be reversed. And, radiant barrier sheathing can be easily removed to return the roof into a “collector” state.
Most solar panel dealers are uninformed about the technical facts concerning SolarAttic, but all of this information is available online for everyone to see. In addition, various pool forum conversations exist concerning the proven performance of the SolarAttic pool heater.
The reason the SolarAttic pool heater has a 20 year design life using copper is also not readily understood in the industry. There is an estimated 120 feet of 5/8 inch copper coiled up in a five inch thick heat transfer coil. There are nine individual circuits and when used with our automation system, the copper in our heat exchanger is typically only exposed to running pool water 4% of the time in comparison to that of a pool heat pump heat exchanger's 100% exposure. Yet, this is only part of the story. There is no direct flame to this copper. There is no high temperature on this copper. There are no corrosive chemicals used in the copper as in a heat pump. And, there is no high pressure in this copper. Ergo, as long as the pool owner is responsible with his chemistry, there is a 20-year design life on what amounts to a simple innovative approach to pool heating using proven air-to-liquid direct heat exchange technology.
A complete discussion of any fear of a leak is here.
A first and 12 year cost comparison may be found online at this link -- http://www.longislandsolarpools.com/solar-attic-pool-heater.shtml
On units sold by SolarAttic where we could verify the installation conditions, we have offered a 100% performance guarantee. If it didn’t work to their satisfaction, SolarAttic would fix it or buy it back. Nobody in 25 years has taken us up on this offer, because the energy dynamics are just too awesome. Imagine installing a pool heater and actually reducing your monthly energy costs. Well, that is very common and doesn’t include pool heating costs. Simply put, as our system heats the pool, it cools the attic and the rest of the house reducing a/c bills substantially.
Now, that’s a question for panel sellers. Will your panels reduce my air conditioning costs?
Finally, the SolarAttic solar pool heater was patented and independently verified by a number of other inventors. It is a fact, that it does work.
Here is a simple list of twelve installation dos and don’ts --- http://www.solarattic.com/dos_and_donts.html
For additional information including attic solar pool heater specs and engineering data, visit http://www.solarattic.com
75 West Veum
Appleton, MN 56208
(320) 297-9101 fax
SOLAR Without PANELS!