Calling all real estate agents in Southwest Florida!
There is an updated form released by the Appraisal Institute® called the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum (Form 820.04). This form provides a way to value solar energy systems on homes that allow the value to be included in residential and commercial real estate appraisals.
It has long been known that solar energy system increase real estate values and reduce the time on the market for home sales. Only recently have widely accepted tools been released. Since there are so many solar panel systems in Southwest Florida, it’s important that real estate professionals understand the implications during the valuation and buying process so they can advise clients accurately.
If you are a real estate professional that would like a complete valuation report for a solar energy system, or just a friendly ballpark estimate for a solar energy system you run across, let me know – I can help!
Pool plumbing can be confusing. Solar pool heating valves can add to that confusion. If you want to learn how to turn off and isolate your solar pool heating system with manual valves, you’ve come to the right place. The images and videos below show you how to turn the valves correctly to change the flow of water in your system.
What’s pictured below is what we call a solar pool heating manifold. It is a system of valves to bypass and isolate your system. To prevent pump damage, you must bypass the solar loop before isolating the system for service or repair. This article focuses on high-quality two-way and three-way valves installed by Fafco Solar. It applies to valves made by Pentair, Praher, Jandy, and Hayward – all work basically the same way. Note that this does not apply to basic red, gray, or blue handled ball valves, which are far inferior to the valves shown. Ball valves have different handle orientations, so this article should not be followed for those systems.
Solar Pool Heat Valves Open Position
Solar Pool Heat Valves Bypassed (Solar Off)
Solar Pool Heat Valves Closed (Isolated)
(Click for Larger Images) Note – this manifold is shown with the 3-way valve on the right. In some systems this will be flipped and the 3-way valve will be on the left. The concept is the same, but you may click here for left bypass images.
Solar Pool Heat Valves Open
In this position, water is travelling through the 3-way valve to the solar panels and returning to the pool.
Solar Pool Heat Valves Bypassed
In this position, water is bypassing the solar, turning solar heating off.
Solar Pool Heat Valves Closed (Isolated)
In this position, water is bypassing the solar, turning solar heating off, and the isolation valves are closed, ensuring that no water can pass to or from the panels. It is critical that your 3-way (bypass) valve be in the proper position before isolating your system. Otherwise, the water would have nowhere to go, and you pump may be damaged.
Here is a video showing the procedure to go from solar on mode to bypass mode to isolation mode.
For more information on how these valves work, here is another video.
Note that the OFF tab on the valve handle always points to the pipe that is blocked. Your system may or may not have labels, but the important thing to remember is that the OFF tab is where the gate that stops water flow is located. In the picture below, the solar panels are bypassed, and water is returned to the pool without going to the roof.
Solar Pool Heating 3-Way Valve (Solar Bypassed)
Your valve configuration may be different, on the ground rather than the wall, or may not contain all of the pictured valves. If you have any questions about how to turn off and isolate your solar pool heating system, call Fafco Solar at (239) 574-1500.
That’s what we learned as several Fafco Solar employees toured the Lee County Material Recovery Facility today. Calling it an incinerator is like calling a car a “horse and buggy.”
The facility produces energy in a renewable and sustainable way at the Buckingham, FL facility and sells the power to Seminole Electric Cooperative. Taking household waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill, the facility turns the refuse into electricity. It’s a part of recycling and trash disposal that is rarely considered by the public. Also known as waste-to-energy, material recovery facilities are slowly replacing landfills as the economics make the technology viable.
If Florida had a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) like make other states, the Investor Owned Utilities like FPL would be required to produce or purchase some percentage of their energy from renewable sources like solar electric and waste recovery. RPS’s are seen as a factor that would make more material recovery facilities in Florida viable.
Lee County has an agreement with Covanta Energy who operates the plant that produces base load capacity, something critical for electric utilities to produce in a cost effective and stable manner. We learned how the primary focus of waste removal can result in wonderful benefits in terms of energy production. For example, one ton of processed waste can produce around 600 kilowatt-hours of energy – enough energy for an average home for over 15 days. The facility is capable of processing 1,836 tons of waste per day!
Take a look at this great video of the “claw” in action feeding waste material to the “incinerator.”
Fafco Solar just released a short promotional video on the Pentair Variable Speed pool pump.
The variable speed pump is a perfect match for solar pool heating systems, especially when an automatic controller is used. Without a controller the pump can be scheduled to run at optimum solar circulation speed when solar energy is most likely to be available. Adding a controller adds the capability of changing the pump speed based on the availability and demand for solar heating.
With or without solar energy, the variable speed pump will pay for itself with energy savings. You can cut pumping costs up to 90% with this great technology while getting a far quieter and longer lasting pool pump.
Solar pool heaters work better with variable speed pumps because the optimum flow rate can be achieved to maximize solar performance. A single speed pump is typically fine to use with solar pool heating, but if you want maximum pool heating, a variable speed pump can both save you a tremendous amount of money and provide the proper flow rate.
Typical efficiency vs. flow curve for solar pool heating panels (FAFCO Sunsaver shown).
Most solar pool heating panel manufacturers recommend a flow rate of 4 gallons per minute per panel. If you have seven panels, you need a flow rate of 28 gallons per minute. Anything less and the efficiency drops off quite rapidly. Anything more and you are wasting money on your pumping costs, pumping water at a rate higher than required for solar pool heating to be efficient.
When we have a solar pool heater installed, we insist that every job gets a flow meter installed (at least temporarily). The pump can be programmed to operate at the proper speed when solar pool heating is likely to be required. With an automatic controller, the pump can be set to go to optimum speed whenever solar pool heating is required, but reduce the speed when heating is not active.
There are lots of other variable speed pump resources on my Solar Southwest Florida blog. I have also assembled some Pentair variable speed pump marketing videos below. Enjoy!
I had a little fun creating this video from an older post about how you need different solar panels for different tasks. One solar panel can’t do it all – at least, not as effectively as panels designed for a specific purpose. Let me know what you think of this animated video.