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Has anyone tried the solar attic heat exchanger to heat the pool?

16 years ago

I stumbled upon this website www.solarattic.com and thought it was quite interesting and would lend itself good in my situation...i have big hip roofs and i know when they were re doing my a/c last summer it was 135-140 degrees up there. Was wondering if anyone tried this?

Comments (43)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi offthedeepend
    I seem to remember a thread from back in the summer re attic heat exchangers. I have no idea how to provide the link but if you do a search you should find it. Good luck!
    Joanneswimsct

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    My friend in Thousand Oaks, CA has used one for over 10 years and loves it. He's never had any issues with the heater always brags about it when I go visit him. I don't have a pool so I don't need one

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    A friend I work with in Sacramento had one in his last pool and said it did not work for him. I had researched it before I bought my solar panels.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Yes I have the PCS1 from solar attic. Works fantastic I have used it for 7 years I have referred at least 20 people to them. I know of at least 4 of them purchased and love it too. If you would like you can email me. evidently it keeps my pool around 89-92 degrees

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Excuse me for being skeptical, but...

    1) This is your one and only post on these forums.
    2) You have 20 friends that have swimming pools and were all interested in heaters? Seems a little far-fetched.

    Now I read up on this heater a few weeks ago and really love the sales pitch on it. It certainly SOUNDS good, heat your pool and cool your attic at the same time. But despite doing a lot of digging on the internet, the only customer comments I could find were either in this thread or on the manufacturer's web site. Of course we can't depend on comments on any manufacturer's web site, so that leaves this thread. Two comments, one for and one against. A 3rd comment that I suspect is a plant. I think what the manufacturer needs to do (assuming the heater really does work effectively) is offer some really deep discounts to get some of these out there to people, then encourage those people to spread the word on the internet.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I am in the process of building a pool here in Houston. I looked into these units and decided the cost was not worth the gain.

    Finally no rain, perhaps I will be getting my deck Friday.

    My house being new has radiant barrier installed under sheathing and there are ridge vents. Having experienced the long summer of August to October in my house, the temp gains were not sufficient enough to heat the pool. Based on my required attic air changes through this coil, the cost of electric to run the fan and the increased load/current requirement of a pump to get the water up 2.5 stories exceeded the benefit. Add in the factor that at these hottest times I dont wish to be heating the pool anyways. Take today for instance, high of 65 out, my pool could have used heat but, my attic will only reach about 75 tops. Not enough to gain anything there. Besides that the cost of equipment, the install for me is cost prohibitive being that I should remove the radiant barrier, ridge vents and install powered attic fans to exhaust warm air when heat exchanger is not running or needed.

    With some thought, my money would be better spent on putting 250Â+ of continuous 2" Sch 80 PVC (grey) on top of my fence sandwiched between the cedar pickets, making it virtually invisible and gaining heat from my homemade solar loop. (HOA doesnÂt allow visible solar panels.)

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Tres,

    I said I referred the pool heater to at least 20 people in seven years thats not hard to do and yes 4 people (friends) own the system too. It seems your pretty hostile towards this unit. It was asked if anyone knows about the system and 7 years of use qualifies me to make a statement. " I am a very satisfied user"

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Quote: "Add in the factor that at these hottest times I dont wish to be heating the pool anyways. Take today for instance, high of 65 out, my pool could have used heat but, my attic will only reach about 75 tops."

    That is one of my concerns as well. The times that we would really be interested in heating the pool are the same times that the attic temps are not high enough to effectively transfer any heat. Our attic is vented and decked. No radiant barrier, but when it's cool outside it's cool up there too.

    Quote: "(HOA doesnt allow visible solar panels.)"

    You can expect that to change very soon. HOA's are going to get overruled by state and federal laws at some point when it comes to energy conservation. In fact, someone recently posted in another thread here that their HOA prohibited solar panels, but a new Florida law overrode the HOA and they are indeed installing them now.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    All I have to say is wow nice discussion on our pool heater. I was invited here from flsol in this forum.

    I would like to address a couple of concerns about this heater if I may.

    1st It will not work in all applications meaning if your attic has no to low heat they PCS2 will not work and I advise using something else.

    2nd Cost effectiveness our national average pay back for customers has been around 18-24 months. It's life design is 20 Years

    3rd HOA restrictions. Some state laws forbid HOA to ban solar panels installations. However if you read the fine print the HOA have a right to deny installations of panels that are visible to the common traffic areas or any roof line slopping down were the panels are visible to the streets.

    4th Solar is not a year round heat source you will need something else o provide heat in the winter months.

    5th There is no doubt that there are cheaper types of solar pool heating systems. I would say they are the experts on their product line and know what their systems are worth.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Quote: "It seems your pretty hostile towards this unit. It was asked if anyone knows about the system and 7 years of use qualifies me to make a statement. " I am a very satisfied user"

    I'm hostile towards this unit? Read my posts again. I think I pretty clearly stated that I myself am interested in this unit and bothered to research it. I even contacted the manufacturer and got a price on it. In fact if you ping my posts you will find additional comments I've made in other threads about the potential benefits of this. My biggest concern is a lack of feedback from actual owners, and excuse me but I'm still not convinced that you are unbiased. No offense, but people don't just fall out of the sky with zero posts and revive months-old threads unless they have an ulterior motive. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you guys pushing your products, just don't pretend to be someone you're not.

  • 16 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'll save you the trouble of a search, check this thread:

    http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/pools/msg0118515822277.html

    Here's my post from that thread, read it and tell me if you think I'm being hostile towards the product:

    Posted by tresw (My Page) on Tue, Jan 15, 08 at 10:19

    Huskyenduro, if you're serious about heating your pool then you should consider solar as well. We all know energy isn't getting any cheaper whether it's electric, NG, propane, etc. There are plenty of solar pool heating options out there that'll keep your pool warm and your carbon footprint to a minimum. There's also a rather ingenious attic pool heater available that transfers heat out of your attic to heat your pool water. It's reported to actually reduce your home cooling costs because it reduces the temp inside your attic as well as warming the pool water. This is the one I'm contemplating for my pool. Unfortunately I couldn't find much neutral feedback on it, but the idea is brilliant. More info here:
    http://www.solarattic.com/

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Guys,
    My name is Patrick Kenney. I own and operate a swimming pool service out on the East end of Long Island- Patrickspools.com and I also own Longislandsolarpools.com where I sell the solarattic units. My clientele is strictly wealthy Hamptons homeowners who use these homes as a vacation home. My customers are all long term service customers. I install these systems on the homes of my clients.
    You can take that for what it is worth. I would not install a system that did not perform well on one of my clients' homes because I would either have to deal with an unhappy customer for years to come or lose them altogether, which is 180 degrees away from my goal.
    As long as you have the proper situation, which is clearly outlined on solarattic's website the system does perform. My customers' pools average high 80s for the Summer. take into consideration that is in NY.
    Another thing that should be pointed out is that when someone is happy with something they may or may not share that info with others. But you can sure bet that if you spend $6k to have something installed on your house that simply does not work, that you will be making a stink about it. So search the web for those complaints because they are simply not there. I searched before I became a dealer.

    Solarattic has also grown by over 80% in the past year...a year in which we have had a financial meltdown. That does not happen by selling a product that does not perform.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I think the solar attic heat exchanger is way overpriced. The unit is basically a heat exchanger and a fan. Yet the attic heat exchanger is priced higher than a heatpump that includes a compressor (the most expensive part in the heatpump). I think since you will save $ heating your pool they justify charging such a high price for the attic heat exchanger.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I disagree completely. The price could be easily justified even if it were doubled or trippled. The payback period on a SolarAttic system is faster than any other form of solar that I know of. You get to eliminate the electrical cost of running attic fans, reduce air conditioning costs, and eliminate any type of cost associated with heating your pool, which would be staggering maintaining a pool at 85 degrees for an entire season using a heat pump or propane/oil. Check out the cost comparison charts at the right of this page: http://www.longislandsolarpools.com/solar-attic-pool-heater.shtml

    If you really want to learn about pool heating check out the PDF file under the comparison charts with the title: Guide to Pool Heating. There it will explain how to create a good pool heating environment as well as give you the formulas to really calculate pool heating costs using the different methods. If you really sit down and do the math its plain as day that heating a pool using a heatpump or especially propane is too expensive...its litterally like burning money. Heatpumps draw 30 amps. That is 5 times the electricity that the solarattic draws and the heatpump gives you no cooling benefits on the house.

    Where I live, at the current rates of propane it costs $227 to raise a 20 x 40 pool by 15 degrees....that is not maintaining that temperature, that is only achieving that temperature, then to maintain that temperature for an entire weekend will cost you over $500. Again I will state: "Just like burning money". How can you enjoy a pool when in the back of your head you know that every minute you spend in that pool costs you $10...I couldn't!

    So now the cost of the SolarAttic starts to make a little more sense. Especially considering that it qualifies for a state tax credit in many states, making the price about the same, or even less than a heatpump:

    www.dsireusa.org state solar tax incentives

    Yes a SolarAttic is basically a heat exchanger with a fan on it. I hate to sound sarcastic but it is slightly more involved than just that. The SolarAttic now has dual blowers mounted on one axle inside the unit. What you may fail to realize is that these blowers are not your typical fans. You can feel a very strong breeze from these blowers a good 50 feet across an attic. No regular fan is doing that, especially while drawing such a low amperage. These blowers achieve this high air flow, all while causing NO VIBRATION and very little noise at all. Again something a regular fan simply can not match. The SolarAttics contain a good amount of sound proofing technology behind them as well as an integrated water senser to shut off water to the attic in the case of a leak.

    People always question me on the possibility of one of the pipes blowing out and pumping water all over the attic. If the installation is done properly it is next to impossible for this to happen. The installations use flex PVC pipe in the attic with the only joint taking place inside the unit itself. Flex pipe can not blowout. Flex PVC burst pressure is 355 PSI @ 70 degrees and ten of your pool pumps combined could not achieve that PSI. You can hit flex pipe with a hammer, you can run it ovew with a tractor trailer, you can hang 500 lbs from it and it will not break.

    Although extremely unlikely if installed correctly, the only location that could realistically leak would be at the joint inside the unit. The bottom of the unit is a self contained belly pan with a water senser at the bottom. If any water leaks, the unit sends a signal down to an automated valve which shuts off all water to the attic.

    So again I will state that the unit is not overpriced and in fact I will go as far as to say that even at double the current price it would still be the best pool heater in the world, bar none.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Does anyone know of someone in the Tampa/Apollo Beach area of Florida who could/would install a PCS2 pool heater?
    We have a new PCS2 pool heater sitting in our garage but would much prefer it mounted in our attic and actually heating the pool water. We would appreciate any assistance. Thank you.

  • 15 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This has been both interesting and entertaining reading. However, I think one of the most important topics has been missed. While i believe that the assumption that this is just a heat exchanger is absolutely correct, in regaurds to the unit being overpriced, there is only ONE reason that this price is NOT over priced.And it is NONE of the things mentioned by james@solar attic! This surprises me and concernes me alittle. As much as I am interested in this product, I am also interested why no mention of the coil construction is made ANYWHERE! The only component that would seperate this unit from an ordinary heat exchanger is the material used on the coil tubes : copper= unacceptable. Cupronickel or stainless steel tubes would be needed and would be the one factor that would elevate production cost. SO JAMES, WHATS IT MADE OF?

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Greg Smith
    City of Sunray
    PO Box 250
    Sunray, Texas 79086
    806 948-4111 806 948-4485 (fax)
    CITY OF SUNRAY
    SOLAR ATTIC

    Installed two units in Treasure Island bath house/snack bar/pump room attic in 2008 for $12,000 to supplement natural gas fired boiler for 117,000-gallon public pool. 2009 was first full season of operation (late May through mid August).
    Average gas consumption for 2006-2008 - 2,560 mcf
    2009 consumption - 1,639 (36% reduction from 3 prior year average)
    Fuel cost savings
    2009 - 921 mcf average savings x $5.60 (2009 average summer retail rate) = $5,157.60 (43% of equipment cost);
    921 mcf average savings x $9.12 (2006 -2008 average summer retail rate) = $8,399.52 (70% of equipment cost)
    Average Temperatures for Sunray, Texas
    June - 61 low, 97 high
    July - 65 low, 91 high
    Aug - 65 low, 90 high
    Maintained water temperature - 85 degrees
    Without any supplemental heat (natural gas or solar) - 73-78 degrees
    · Additional benefit - pump room where boiler is housed is normally 95 - 100 degrees; with Solar Attic, pump room is typically 85-90 degrees.
    · Solar Attic continues to work during nighttime until attic temperature is cooled down to water temperature.
    · Low electricity cost

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow someone dug up a really old thread!

    BILLY MAYS HERE!

    SHAMWOW!

  • 14 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Great that you are getting these results. Thank you. While it's an old thread, actual numbers do help. I hope you continue achieve these results.

    I have a homeowner in NJ who removed the system from his pool. I opened him yesterday. Winterizing was problematic since the unit was three stories up and nobody had thought about the need to draining it. Yep, and thats all I am going to say about that.

    The following concerns still haven't been addressed however:

    Termites still eat flex. Flex can collapse and kink, especially under suction. Flex can abrade if allowed to rub. These are the main reasons I don't use flex.

    We still don't know what the heat exchanger is made of. If it's copper, it will leak eventually. It will inject copper into the pool, especially with the typical chemistry swings large pools, particularly commercials, they experience. Too much copper in the water will turn things green, be it light hair, decking,or the pool water. How it responds to salt pools is also relevant. How large is the heat absorption area? Telling me it cools the attic by ten degrees doesn't tell me much, like how big the attic is, roofing, ventilation, etc...

    Enjoy the savings. I hope that they continue for you. I can't share the enthusiasm.

    Scott

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I know this is an old thread, but I wanted to provide an answer to mike and poolguynj's question about the heating coils. They are copper.
    From their own pamphlet it states:
    "The heat exchanger system incorporates an energy efficient 3 tiered aluminum finned copper piped heat transfer coil..."

    I guess that explains the short 3 year warranty, which is void if the pool is ever not between 7.2 and 7.6 ph. (I'm just curious how they would figure out that my pool got above 7.6 or below 7.2 for a short period or not.)

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Regarding poolguynj's concerns, here's my input:


    "I have a homeowner in NJ who removed the system from his pool. I opened him yesterday. Winterizing was problematic since the unit was three stories up and nobody had thought about the need to draining it. Yep, and thats all I am going to say about that. "

    That isn't a issue with the solar attic unit, it's an issue
    with improper installation. Regardless of how high up the unit is, the unit is designed to be installed in an
    attic which is accessible for winterization. To winterize it all you have to do is unscrew two unions at the unit, at which point about a quart of water runs out of the unit, easily collected in a 5 gallon bucket. You then pour in a quart of antifreeze, reconnect the lines and you're done. Otherwise, the rest of the lines get
    drained in the normal pool winterization process.

    "The following concerns still haven't been addressed however:

    Termites still eat flex. Flex can collapse and kink, especially under suction. Flex can abrade if allowed to rub. These are the main reasons I don't use flex. "

    All that may be true, but it has little to do with the Solar Attic unit. I live in NJ too and Flex PVC is widely used on new pool installs. It's what one of the large pool
    companies used on my pool. IF there is a big issue with flex PVC, then it's going to exist on a lot of pools that routinely use it under stamped concrete pool decks for example. I don't disagree that I would use rigid PVC for
    those runs, but I don't believe this issue has anything really to do with the SA unit.

    Plus, I don't see termites or abrasion being an issue at all. The pipes to the solar attic unit go up the side of the house and through the attic. If you've got termites there, then that is the problem, not the SA. And if you want to use rigid PVC for any runs for whatever reason, that's up to the installer.

    As to the issue of flex collapsing under suction, again
    a non-issue because the SA goes on the output side of the pump system, not the suction side.

    "We still don't know what the heat exchanger is made of. If it's copper, it will leak eventually. "

    No secret there, it's stated that it's copper right on their website.

    "It will inject copper into the pool, especially with the typical chemistry swings large pools, particularly commercials, they experience. Too much copper in the water will turn things green, be it light hair, decking,or the pool water. How it responds to salt pools is also relevant."

    That's probably true if you let the pool chemistry get completely out of whack, but again, you have to have
    some responsibility to properly maintain a pool. If you
    want to let your PH get totally out of range, then SA isn't for you.

    "How large is the heat absorption area? Telling me it cools the attic by ten degrees doesn't tell me much, like how big the attic is, roofing, ventilation, etc... "

    Those specs are on the website for anyone that cares to look. The performance of the heat exchanger I believe is around 60K BTUs with a 30 deg temp delta between attic
    and water.

  • 13 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Flex is still, IMHO, a poor choice of materials to use in most pool applications, regardless of who is using it. It gets used because it's convenient and doesn't require as much skill to install.

    It isn't uncommon for pH swings to occur. If someone uses tablets to feed their pool, pH goes down typically. I hear people tell me "I just use tablets" all the time.

    A 30 degree delta is going to create condensate, just as it does for an AC unit. More risk.

    If the unit isn't elevated or the pool lines don't have enough straight pipe before the unions, good luck getting a bucket under the unions.

    If you got 60K BTUS, a 20K gallon pool would take several hours to rise one degree. With overnight losses, you're taking two steps forward and one and a half back.

    To suggest that these known situations are not the problem of the attic heat exchanger, while technically true, is like the ostrich sticking his head in the sand and thinking there is no danger. People get lazy. That is a fact.

    Seems to me that the costs/risks/benefits ratios aren't there.

    Scott

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just got a price from Solar Attic. $3300 They HAVE to be kidding but they weren't. My plan is to get a car radiator(1998 cherokee(low profile)) hook to a waterfall pump(3000gph)(just like the flow SA says they have, and the use only one of the existing 3 gable fans currently in use. Pull all the air from the house through one fan and at the worst, spend $300 for pump and pvc/hose. ???

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wasted $$$s. You won't pull enough BTUs to warm a 5 gallon bucket of water with either solution.

    Scott

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If this is such a good heater solution, then why has it not been used to heat the home itself?
    Even if it did work, I would never put a 3000 gallon an hour water pump in my attic.

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ncrealestateguy, why would anyone wish to heat their home in the summer?

    Frank

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The premise is to remove heat from the attic, ergo the house and to move the heat into the pool. The issues are, however, is there enough heat to move (nope) and do you feel lucky having 3000 gallons per hour flow over the inside of your house, risking anything and everything in the house that you own (I don't feel that lucky).

    Scott

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    poolguynj, do you have a link or some data that shows that there isn't enough thermal energy gained by attic spaces to support this concept? I realize that each home is different. I am seriously considering doing a diy version of one of these. I am not going to place the heat exchanger in the attic. I intend to bring the heat from the attic to the unit, which will be placed in my garage. My attic gets very hot in the summer since there isn't a ridge vent on my roof. There is no shade on my house and the roof faces due east/west. I have approximately 7200 cubic feet of space with black shingles, and I have a very hard time keeping my attic temps below 135 to 140 deg f in the summer. Just the other day I measured the inside temp of my roof on the west facing side to be 151 deg f, and that was in March with an ambient temp of approx 80 deg with full sun late in the afternoon.

    My main concern with one of these heat exchangers is that I would outpace the thermal gain of my attic.

    Thoughts?

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    While I don't have the data you requested, I think I can answer a few other questions that are pertinent.

    1) How long is the water in the heat exchanger? A few seconds. This does NOT provide enough time to raise the water temperature appreciably.

    2) How long does the plumbing need to leak before causing a disaster? Not very.

    3) An attic without vents?

    Scott

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Scott,

    Data is good. Here's some:

    1 - "How long is the water in the heat exchanger" - Less than a second at 40 GPM. You are wrong about that not being enough time to raise the temp of the water. The laws of thermodynamics would prove you wrong. Question: how long does water remain in a length of heat exchanger inside a PNG, LPG or Heat Pump pool heater? Here's a hint; way less than one second. Water is one hell of a great sink for thermal energy. How is it that a heat pump or other pool heater can heat a pool, but a heat exchanger using hot attic air can't? Heat energy is heat energy, is it not?

    I've done substantial research over the past few days and it would appear that there is enough thermal mass in my attic, on most days, to help keep my pool comfortable (86 - 92 deg). My calculations show that my attic has the ability to take on in excess of 300K BTUH of solar energy. That's a veritable endless supply of energy for my purposes. I'm sizing my system with a heat exchanger that is capable of up to 220K BTUH of heat transfer. The empirical data proves that heat exchangers are an excellent way to heat water, and vice-versa. Based upon your comment that there isn't enough heat in an attic ...., I was concerned that my project would be a waste of both time and money. My concerns were unfounded.

    2 - No worries about leaks here. I have a handle on my controls and how to shut off the pool pump in the event of a leak. All this will happen automagically via my home automation system. No power due to a loss of power at the computer? Got that covered: my pool control will not operate when the computer looses power. Even if it weren't for the ability to shut off the pump within moments/seconds of a sudden pressure drop and/or a float switch being tripped, I'm placing the heat exchanger in my garage for a reason... If there were to be a leak, there would be much less damage, if any. My garage has one foot of foundation/brick from the floor up to the point where the sheetrock begins.

    3 - Yes, my attic does not have a ridge vent. Notice I didn't say that there aren't any vents. The attic has gable and soffit vents. Those vents provide enough airflow to replenish the air drawn out by the fan I intend to employ.

    Frank

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Frank, I worry for anyone with this system in the attic, or more specifically, with stuff under it. Automation doesn't do diddly when you aren't there to shut it off and everything gets wet. It really becomes a nasty insurance claim. Leaks happen.

    IMHO, a normal, roof top mounted solar system is a far better system. It doesn't let water in the house, except for the valves/actuators to open and close and to relieve air, there are no moving parts so reliability is substantially higher, and it can't leak in the house, only down the rain gutter so your stuff is safe.

    Scott

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Has anyone actullay had an attic heater leak? I would imagine this would really piss me off and I would post it everywhere all over the net. Why can't I find a single post about an attic heater leaking?

    My neighbor has an attic heater and says it works great! We are in the process of plastering our pool and will know if our attic heater works by June.

    Solar panels probably work great but I say they look funky. I didn't pay bucks for a pool to turn around and make my house look funky. You can't see my attic heater. I'll stick with my beautiful spanish tile roof.

    And yes, I don't have to winterize in California.

    Peace!

  • 12 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Have you considered a heat pump? Then nothing is on the roof or in the attic. You will likely get a lot more BTUs too!

    The heat exchanger is copper as far as I know. It will leak at some point.

    I don't know how big the heat exchanger is. How many GPM will it allow to pass and at what pressure is that rating at? Is there an automatic bypass?

    The head loss will be variable but significant.

    Any flex pipe used underground can be subjected to termites. They don't have to be, and usually aren't, in the house.

    Scott

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Geo War - Did you end up installing the solar attic unit - and if yes, how has it worked for you/ what can you tell us about it?

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    no matter how many auto shutoff and safety features there are, I would never want to pump 25,000 gallons of water into one of my customer's attics! I read all the ways that leaks can't happen, but what if someone walking in the attic kicks a pvc pipe and cracks a fitting (like happened to one of our AC condensate lines in an attic?) Just too risky for me. a opy of the spe

  • 11 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey it is a good idea, heat exchanger with attic..
    i also tried at my level...
    those who have already used this will please give me some tips

  • 8 years ago

    I am a homeowner in Ohio. I have a salt-chlorinated pool. I installed the original PCS1 when I built my home in 1997. I added a large fiberglass pan under the unit with a 2" PVC drain pipe out through the eves as an added safety in case of a major catastrophic leak...which has never happened. As has been explained here by others, that is extremely unlikely because of the low pressure and automated shut off in case of any water leaking into the built-in pan. Still, the extra catch-pan-and-drain has provided peace of mind for a few dollars of materials.

    On the plus side, the Solar Attic is VERY effective. We have a 2-story house with 2500 square feet on the main floor and a 6-12 pitch roof above, with the back side facing south and no shade over it. We have a large 30,000 gallon pool. Without the Solar Attic unit running, the temp in the attic on a summer day reaches about 135 to 140 degrees. One day, just for the fun of it, I turned the auto-sensor off and let the attic heat up until it read 135 on the digital thermometer I installed in the peak. The temp outside was 84. I then turned on the unit. In 10 minutes, the attic temperature dropped to 95! In 30 minutes, it was 85 and maintained that for the rest of the day. Logically, it produces very warm water initially. When it has run for an hour or so and everything is stabilized, the water temperature entering the pool is 1 to 1.5 degrees warmer than the pool (measured with a pool thermometer by diverting incoming water into a bucket). That is significant, especially for this large a pool. We typically set the thermostat to 90 degrees...probably too warm for a pool, but it sure is nice...and it is basically free.

    What surprised me most was how it heated on relatively cool overcast days. The attic always heats up warmer than the outside air, and more importantly, warmer than the pool water. Any time the attic temp is 7 degrees warmer than the water, it kicks on...if we haven't already reached the desired temperature.

    I was initially planning on designing and building a way to block off the dozen roof vents, thinking that I was losing a lot of heat that I could otherwise put into the pool. But the Solar Attic system has worked so well without doing that, I have never blocked them.

    In a previous house, I had a solar system with black pipes in heat boxes on the roof. The problems with those solar systems are many, but from a strictly functional point of view, they don't heat when the sun isn't shining. The attic does.

    I wish I had a way of knowing how much money I am saving on my air conditioning with the cooler attic. It might be more than the cost of running the fan and the increased pump pressure to circulate the water 2.5 stories high. If that is the case, it is paying me to run it!

    On the down side, I have had to replace the heat exchanger twice, and now need to do it a 3rd time in 18 years. In other words, it has lasted about 9 years. It develops leaks in the copper over time (in which case the unit has automatically shut off properly). I take responsibility for this because I don't pay any attention to my PH. As long as my pool water is clear, I don't mess with the chemistry, an admittedly lazy approach. I know for a fact that my PH gets too high. So that's not on Solar Attic, its on me. I should pay attention and save a lot of money.

    Even with the initial cost of the unit, and the cost of replacing the heat exchanger (about $1200 each time), I have saved huge amounts of money compared to any form of fossil heating. We open our pool in late May, and even with moderate Spring temperatures and cool nights, it heats up to swimmable temperatures in a week...then up to 90 degrees July and August. We get an extra month out of it in the Fall compared to no heater.

    So, after reading quite a bit of skepticism from those who DON'T have a Solar Attic, I hope that hearing from someone who has had one for 18 years helps clarify some of the issues.

  • 8 years ago

    I am not an 18 year veteran of the solar attic however I had a PCS3 from 2002 till last year.

    I have owned a Solar Attic system. I purchased it from solar Attic directly around 2002 I owned rental property so I had the advantage of having the maintenance people to assist me in the Installation. I talked directly with the engineer/owner/designer of the system. He was and has been very helpful over the years. As a matter of fact I emailed with him just a few day ago.

    OUR INSTALLATION

    We build a pan 4 inches deep and 6 inches larger than the PCS3 system all the way around. We equipped it with a 2 inch drain which we eventually put a cut off on in that we had a float switch system cutoff that was in parallel with the emergency cut off in side the PCS3. The reason we put a cut off and an additional emergency float switch was that the longer I thought about it having the system pump 25000 gallons of water into the catch pan with a two inch drain would not be able to remove water fast enough than it would be better to just have the system shut down so the issue could be corrected.

    We mounted the unit about 5 feet off of the attic decking to get it as high and in the hottest area as possible. That installation we did with rigid 2" pvc We had 2 90 degree elbows and a total of 5 joints that got the water out of the attic. In the beginning I had some of the same concerns that have been brought up here about a possible leak however considering the fact that almost all of the water pipes in this house are PVC as are 99% of all of the water pipes in all of the houses built in america are PVC and the fact that the water pressure in the solar attic system is as I understand it less than the pressure that your home water system has a leak is not very likely.

    OK, so here we go. We had to pump the water up 2 stories. In that this was a close loop system with strategic check valves our concern for the 1.5 HP (up rated) pump being able to move the water was quickly retired as soon as we started the system. No problem. Great flow.

    The quality of the product was good. The unit was well designed, thought out and put together. The only moving part on the system was a GE electric motor that could be manually adjusted from low to medium to high speed. This would change the flow of the air over the heat exchanger. I came set on medium an after 5 years of messing with the speed it is now set on medium.

    We used their electronic control system which consisted to a electric control valve and an electronic controller that detected the temperature in the attic and the temperature of the pool water. If the attic got to be 5 to 10 degrees warmer than the pool water the unit would come on and stay on till the water got warmer than the set point. We had system on a time and regardless of how the system was set we turned the pool pump off at 11PM and on at 9AM

    In 2015 we sold that house and the solar attic system went along with it. Our new home has a slightly smaller pool and an electric heat pump from heat siphon(325Kbtu) system. We are thinking of installing a solar attic PCS3 in conjunction with the electric heat pump. The cost to run the PCS3 is about $10 per month for the GE Fan motor. My electric bill for the Heat Siphon is $300 plus per month.

    As I am writing this the time is 2:36P EST in Atlanta Georiga. The outside temperature is 73F Degrees and the attic Temperature is 105F. At this rate we would have in our house that had the Solar attic system have turned the system on at this point. This would have started the heating process. Unlike electric or gas systems where the heat will start immediately the solar attic system will raise the temperature however this is over a period of time. If you installed a solar attic system in July and started it up on July 4th you probably would not see the water temperature rise quickly. I would say it would talk a week or more to bring the temperature to its set point. My current pool is a free form pebble tec with about 15,000 gals of water. With a solar attic system if it operates as my last system did I will have the largest hottub in the north Atlanta are. It can and will bring the water temperature to 95 degrees. My wife likes warm water.

    As I see it the biggest draw back is the price. If the system were priced in the $2000 range, for the basic system and $2500 range for the full electronic system this would be a product everyone would have like a salt system or LED lighting. A $2000 adder to you Aquilink system is small dollars with a great reward.

  • PRO
    7 years ago

    Great feedback charleslittle2016, if anyone has questions on the product itself and would like to know how you can save hundreds to thousands of dollars on your heating bill, while keeping your pool at the perfect temperature you can reach us at xchangepoolheaters.com

  • 3 years ago

    Why could the unit not be designed to mount on the outside of the roof with just a 12 inch tunnel tube for input air from a ridge cap on roof...this would keep the unit on a roof if any leaks, but still be able to suck the hot air out of attic then just disperse to atomosphere

  • 3 years ago

    Adam, I think that idea has merit. The tunnel could be located just under the peak where the hottest air is located, and have graduated openings along its length so the hot attic air could suck into it. To get the full benefit, it would be nice to have it be a closed system so the air that is taken from the attic and cooled by the pool water could be fed back into the attic to cool it down. At least that is a benefit with our attic pool heater. It reduces our attic heat by 30 degrees...and still continues to put plenty of heat into our pool.

  • 3 years ago
    last modified: 3 years ago

    The unit can be mounted on the outside of the building. They have a couple installation options. See this page for the different options: Installation Options | Fourth Generation Solar Pool Heater | PCS4 Install Options (solarattic.com)