My company does service for all brands of solar pool heating systems, so naturally we get to see some things that are funny, dangerous, wrong, and downright terrible. Yesterday I was sent a picture of a solar pool heating manifold (system of valves) that was pretty funny, if not a little dangerous (left, below). One thing is certain – it’s absolutely hideous!
The strange thing is that this was installed by one of our major competitors, not an inexperienced dealer or fly-by-night handyman. They do a lot of business, routinely beating our price (surprise, surprise). A neat and tidy solar pool heating bypass and isolation valve system is shown on the right.
The major issues with this solar pool heating manifold are:
- Pipes are inadequately supported. Turning valves could cause plumbing to break.
- Cheap ball valves are used. The red handles tend to get brittle and break. The valves become very hard to turn over time. High quality NeverLube valves are available and not much more expensive.
- The valves used are not convertible to motorized valves that can be used with automation systems installed at a later date. Automation systems are highly recommended when upgrading to energy saving variable speed pumps, which are required for new pools.
- The pipes are uneven coming off the roof and along the wall. They are also unnecessarily in front of a window.
- The pipes are in front of the electrical load panel, which violates the National Electric Code (this is a common problem – not providing adequate working space for disconnecting means).
- The manifold transitions down from the existing 2″ to 1-1/2″ plumbing before necessary. It’s bad enough that competitors use panels with 1-1/2″ headers, which restrict flow, but there is no reason other than cost to reduce the plumbing size until it reaches the panels.
- No labels, which are a helpful reminder for people who rarely use valves on their system.
- Once again, it’s absolutely hideous!
You get what you pay for, and this homeowner probably got a great price and little more.