Tuesday, December 06, 2016
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Terry Fenwick, Harwood, Ontario

 Terry Fenwick, Harwood, Ontario
 
I installed my two 30 tube collector system in late November 2010.

My design goal was to maximize the winter heat gain to help heat water used for radiant floors and my domestic hot water. I have started with two 30 tube collectors set at a 60 degree slope and plan to add two more collectors later this summer. I enlarged and converted an old cedar hot tub into a 220 gallon storage tank with 4 copper heat exchanger coils in it. The tank water is heated by the solar glycol loop and by my ground source heat pump. The other exchanger coils in the tank are for domestic hot water, radiant floor heating and a heat dump coil which will send excess summer heat to my outdoor hot tub. I am using very basic ETCs (Electronic Temperature Controllers) to operate the solar loop pump, domestic hot water recirculation pump and activate the heat pump when the storage tank temperature falls below the required level.

As I have built much of the system components myself, I have done lots of tweaking and checking the system function, wanting to learn how well the system operates, when and what adjustments to make. After several months, it still gives me a thrill to see the solar loop raising the storage tank temperature from 100 F to 140 F on a sunny spring day. With only two (of 4 planned) collectors in place, I have not had any need to "dump" excess heat from the storage tank. I have not yet done a review and comparison of my electrical consumption since adding the solar hot water heating but I do know that I am now doing about 90% of my DHW heating with the solar collector (my heat pump use is very noticeably less since adding the solar collectors). When I do an energy use comparison, I will update you on my energy savings.

Future plans are to add at least two more 30 tube collectors to the roof (perhaps 3 more) and to change the solar loop pump to a PV panel powered pump. I will also revisit (and increase?) the solar loop exchanger coils in the storage tank, currently they drop the loop temperature by about 8F and the design goal is to drop the loop temperature by about 15F.

I did encounter a few problems during my system installation, most of which I documented in the photos Stefan will post on this site. Most irritating problem was in using silver solder for the header lines, I had to resolder one section of pipes several times. I finally cut the pipe section out, brought it into the shop to resolder the problem connections, pressure tested the new joint (failed the test!), cut new pipes and tried soldering it again! The problem is in joining copper pipes to heavier brass fittings, it is difficult getting the brass fittings hot enough to accept the silver solder. My other concern is the final siting of the collectors... because of the steep collector angle and shallow pitch of my roof, the top foot of the collectors are visible over the ridge line of the roof, this is an aesthetic problem for my wife and I. Solution will be to lower the collectors down the roof line when I add the extra collectors this summer.

Terry Fenwick
Harwood, Ontario
 
Solar storage tank made from a 220 gallon old hot tub. The height was extended to increase the tank volume.

To view these images, either click the arrows

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Click the large image, this will open up a window where a descritpion of the picture will give you some more information.

  • 18- Scaffold to roof made access easier and provide a flat work station, plumbing vent cut and moved out of the way for header lines
  • 21- Two frames in place with S & R lines to header being insulated
  • 27- Tube install going faster with realigned header pipe and bottom cups off!
  • 26- Silver solder is hard to do well in cold temps especially at copper to brass joints, I redid this set of joints several times
  • 24- Installed the first 5 tubes the hard way before finding that the bottom cups screw out for tube installation
  • 23- At last doing the tube installation
  • 20- S & R header lines in place and silver soldered together-2
  • A sheet of aluminum flashing and a hockey puck with a hole drilled in it, sealed with roofing sealant worked well to mount the strut for the frames. Roof Mounts
  • Used a 14 metric wrench at 90 degrees out from the nut to hold it and torqued on the bolt head. Frame construction
  • 15- Solar collector frames preassembled on ground
  • 15- Solar collector frames preassembled on ground-2
  • 1- solar storage tank 220 gal from old hot tub, note the added 12 in height to increase capacity
  • A 5 - Enlarged tank with lid and metal studs to hold insulation
  • 2 -Tank lined with 12 faom insulation to cushion the wp rubber liner
  • 3 -EPDM rubber roof membrane used to waerproof the tank
  • 7 - Lid with layout of pipes going into the tank
  • 4 - Pex pipe hoops to hold the membrane against the tank wall
  • 12- Added prefinished aluminum skin to finsih out the tank exterior walls
  • System Installer Comment - An afterthought I added blueskin stick on membrane to the plywood lid to prevent it from water damage Solar Tank
  • 14- Water level alarm on storage tank with added float sensor so both lo or hi water level sets off the alarm
  • 18- Scaffold to roof made access easier and provide a flat work station, plumbing vent cut and moved out of the way for header lines
  • 21- Two frames in place with S & R lines to header being insulated
  • 27- Tube install going faster with realigned header pipe and bottom cups off!
  • 26- Silver solder is hard to do well in cold temps especially at copper to brass joints, I redid this set of joints several times
  • 24- Installed the first 5 tubes the hard way before finding that the bottom cups screw out for tube installation
  • 23- At last doing the tube installation
  • 20- S & R header lines in place and silver soldered together-2
  • Roof Mounts
  • Frame construction
  • 15- Solar collector frames preassembled on ground
  • 15- Solar collector frames preassembled on ground-2
  • 1-  solar storage tank 220 gal from old hot tub, note the added 12 in height to increase capacity
  • A 5 - Enlarged tank with lid and metal studs to hold insulation
  • 2 -Tank lined with 12 faom insulation to cushion the wp rubber liner
  • 3 -EPDM rubber roof membrane used to waerproof the tank
  • 7 - Lid with layout of pipes going into the tank
  • 4 - Pex pipe hoops to hold the membrane against the tank wall
  • 12- Added prefinished aluminum skin to finsih out the tank exterior walls
  • Solar Tank
  • 14- Water level alarm on storage tank with added float sensor so both lo or hi water level sets off the alarm

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I installed my two 30 tube collector system in late November 2010.

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