WELCOME TO UMA UNIVERSITY
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WELCOME TO UMA UNIVERSITY
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Depending upon your specific job, you will need various plumbing items and materials. Be sure to use quality products that will withstand direct sunlight year after year. All components should meet minimum standards set forth by the local building code.
It is important that you use the proper size PVC pipe for the size of the solar array. Under sizing the pipe will produce too much restriction to the water flow and unnecessarily reduce the flow rate to the collectors.
Use the following as a guide:
Plumbing runs should be as short as possible and the “hot return” pipe should have the shortest run to reduce the potential heat loss in the pipe.
The fewer the fittings and direction changes the better.
Care should be taken to make sure that no traps are present and all water will drain back to the pool when the solar is off.
For a truly professional looking installation, take time to clean the PVC pipe. Use a clean rag, pour PVC cleaner on it, and then wipe the dirt and identification marks off the pipe.
Proper support of pipes is key to installing a system that drains properly and meets code requirements. The International Mechanical Code (Table 305.4) defines the maximum horizontal spacing for PVC pipe at 4’ O.C. and vertical spacing at 10’ O.C.
The following procedure represents the most straightforward way of plumbing the system from the pool equipment to the collectors. While every installation is unique there are a few aspects that should always be included:
1. Cement the appropriate size PVC 90-degree elbow to the return line connection facing down toward the bottom manifold. Repeat the process for the feed line manifold connection and face the elbow down away from the bank. (Fig
2. Determine where the feed and return piping will transition over the eave or edge of the roof.
3. Measure the distance from the return elbow down to the location of the next transition (either over the edge of the roof or to the next elbow). Be sure to include the depth of the fitting socket(s) in your measurement. Cut a section of PVC pipe to this length. • It is advisable to dry-fit piping prior to cementing to ensure it is correct. • De-burr all cut piping prior to inserting it into any fittings.
4. Repeat this process for the feed line. The feed line should run parallel to the bottom manifold of the collectors.
5. The feed and return piping should be located close together once they meet near the bottom of the collector bank opposite the feed line connection.
6. Continue the piping runs to the roof transition point and then down the wall to the pool equipment location. Piping should be as short as possible and properly secured to the roof and wall with pipe supports.
* Download and Print the above pdf to use as a reference while installing
The Download above shows how a typical solar pool heating system is plumbed into existing pool plumbing. While the pool equipment may not always be configured exactly as shown it illustrates the key points for interconnecting the solar pool heating system to pool’s filtration loop.
FIRST - Ensure that the pool system is turned off and isolated if possible.
* All piping being used in the solar loop should be minimum 2” Sch. 40 PVC.
Install a check valve on the pipe coming out of the filter. The check valve should be installed so that flow is only allowed to move away from the filter (I.E. the flow indicator should be pointing away from the filter). This is done to ensure that water does not flow back into the filter when the pump shuts off.
NOTE: When cementing check valves, try to do so in a horizontal position to prevent cement from dripping into the spring loaded valve and cementing it closed! When this is not possible, use cement sparingly and allow it to dry slightly before inserting the pipe into the socket. When cementing to a 3-way valve, either remove the diverter from the valve or cement with the diverter turned away from any open port to prevent the cement from running onto the diverter cementing it in place!
The three-way diverter valve should be installed after the check valve. It is advisable to install the valve in the standard position with the common port facing the check valve as shown in the Download. This will allow for installing an actuator motor without having to reset the cams for automatic systems.
The 3-Way valve can be manually or automatically controlled. To control automatically, an actuator needs to be added.
*SEE AUTO CONTROL SECTION for installation instructions.
Below are helpful images that explain the water flow on 3 Way and check valves as well as some helpful plumbing schematics for the 3-way diverter.
Plumb the solar feed line to one of the ports on the 3-way diverter valve. A two-way isolation valve should also be plumbed into the feed line after the diverter valve in an accessible location at the pool equipment area.
To better assist the Homeowner, or even the Pool Service Technician, it is always a good idea to label your Feed and Return Lines. Ball valves are used to isolate the system for Seasonal Shutdown or Service and these labels can be very helpful!
The Vacuum Breaker is used with solar pool heater collectors to break the vacuum, by letting air into the system, and allow the solar panels to drain when the pump is turned off. A valve must be installed in every solar pool heating system to allow air into the system when pool water drains out of the panels. This relieves the vacuum that would be created by falling water inside the solar collectors and plumbing on the roof. There are various styles of vacuum relief valves, but all automatically allow air into the system when there is a vacuum created by a void of water pressure. The Vacuum Relief Valve should always be in a plumbing system, just like an irrigation vacuum breaker. The idea is to allow water to drain back down the solar feed line without collapsing the collectors or plumbing on the roof.
Properly installed systems are designed to drain back to the pool every night when the pool pump shuts off. This is to eliminates the risk of freeze damage in the collectors and plumbing. Freezing water expands and can bursts panels and pipes, and solar collectors radiate a great amount of heat to the night sky, making them susceptible even when the air temperature is above freezing. Another reasons collectors should drain is to reduce the risk of stagnation in the summer, causing overheating and warped and discolored plumbing. Finally, draining panels for service purposes is helpful.
A solar pool heater is an open loop system, expanding water and air due to heat easily escapes back to the pool, and no pressure relief is necessary. It is a vacuum (negative air pressure) that we are trying to avoid. A good vacuum relief valve will allow air into the plumbing efficiently and allow the collectors to drain quickly. VRVs can cause a bit of noise during draining, so quick draining is ideal.
If installing the vacuum relief valve on the feed line, a PVC tee and ¾” threaded reducer bushing should be plumbed into the feed line at least 8 ft above grade level (I.E. beneath the roof overhang prior where the piping transitions to the roof). Wrap the threads of the vacuum relief valve with Teflon tape and screw into the reducer bushing.
The vacuum relief valve may also be installed at the collector bank. The end cap on the upper manifold may be replaced by a CPVC connector with a ¾” female threaded adaptor to accept the vacuum relief valve.
Sometimes the vacuum breaker may “gurgle” when draining. If this occurs the vacuum breaker may be located incorrectly. If the vacuum breaker is located correctly then using a slightly lighter spring in the unit can remedy this issue if it is an older system. However, the new UMA VRV (2017) has been re-designed with a lighter spring to help alleviate this issue.
Pipe Joint Compound
A pipe joint compound is an adhesive type mixture that can be clear in color or look like white putty. It is usually applied to the threaded end of pipes to produce an airtight seal that prevents water leaks. In fact, pipe joint compound used for PVC pipes and connection fittings is often referred to as simply PVC glue. Pipe joint compound is usually applied with a brush, small piece of wood, or even by hand. It is applied on the threaded end of pipes and also on the inside of connection fittings before the two pieces are attached to each other. Over time, the adhesive dries and expands ever so slightly creating an airtight seal between the pipe and connection fitting where the compound has been applied. Generally speaking, pipe joint compound creates a more durable and airtight seal than pipe joint sealant tape. In fact, most professional plumbers use pipe joint compound for pipe and fitting connections that are considered to be permanent. A good example of this would be a gas or water pipe that is buried underground or is run beneath your home. Since the chances that these pipes will be disconnected from the connection fitting are slim, it is considered a permanent connection. For lasting connections, pipe joint compound is a much better choice than Teflon tape.
Pipe Thread Sealant Tape
Pipe thread sealant tape, or Teflon tape as it is more commonly referred to, is a type of pipe sealant that comes on a roll that is similar to electrical tape or masking tape. Teflon tape comes in a variety of thicknesses that make it more or less suitable for certain installations. In some areas, Teflon tape can be used in place of pipe joint compound if the thickness of the tape has been approved for use for a specific type of plumbing applications. Teflon tape is applied by wrapping around the threaded end of a pipe or fitting. (usually clockwise) However, most professional plumbers tend to shy away from Teflon tape for permanent connections. Instead, they will use it for projects that may occasionally need to be replaced or disconnected. For example, consider the water lines that supply water to your bathroom sink or toilet. If you look at the shutoff valves, you will notice that the shutoff valve and water supply lines are sealed with Teflon tape. This is because these types of connections are often the source of leaks in the bathroom and may need to be replaced. If the connections were made with pipe joint compound, it would be much more difficult to remove the fittings and replace them. However, with Teflon tape, it is easier to remove bad parts to make the repairs needed.
Properly cleaning and gluing PVC pipe & fittings will eliminate leaks and give the system a longer life span.
Apply primer to pipe and fittings.
Before primer dries, apply solvent cement to pipe and fitting. While cement is wet, push pipe and fitting together with a 1/4 turn of the pipe.
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