Introducing our newest EcoOnline solar pool heater the PoolMasterproTM - incorporating one of highest tube density profile with the blackest premium and proven grade BASF® PVC nitrile compound - resulting in heating gains approaching the maximum theoretical possible for this type of strip collector.
The PoolMasterproTM combines EcoOnline's continual low costs ethos for premium green products, with superb Australian product design and manufacture, premium materials, near universal versatility on Australian roofs, easy and well thought out installation procedure with a comprehensive DIY installation manual and expert technical assistance - all of which easily makes it your one and only choice for your next PVCu strip solar pool heating system.
Traditional well spaced PVC tubular collectors work okay in hot weather and various manufacturers will play up hot weather performance stats, however due to the large tube spacing they struggle in the cooler, windier spring and autumn shoulder months - which is exactly when you need heating the most! PoolMasterproTM PVC strips have one of the highest tube densities possible for spherical tubes† and are specifically optimized to work better in these shoulder months than the well spaced tube strips. Consider the following design comparison during cooler windy spring and autumn conditions:
As can be seen dense tube spacings have substantial advantage over well space tubes in efficiency as well as durability due to the lower pressures. This would translate into higher performance in the cooler months or slightly lower collector area requirements. See below for sizing advice.
† While still allowing some spacing for a locking collar.
* Please note, UC SRCC Certification was carried out on the sister 10 tube product only, while we believe that the 14 tube system would clearly test better than the 10 tube system in efficiency and durability, in terms of claimable certified results we can only claim our 14 tubes are at least as good as the outstanding 10 tube SRCC results.
Collector efficiency considerations are of course only one part of what you should consider when choosing a solar pool heater, consider the following further comparison between PoolMasterproTM strips and lesser PVC rubber tube type systems.
Possibly the largest cost consideration is going to be whether or not you DIY or get a pool heating company or installer to quote on a complete system with installation. Due to the seasonal nature of the work this can get very expensive; depending on system size and the amount of plumbing required you can budget about $1,000- to $3,000 just for labour and installer mark-ups on supplied components (and installers will push their components due to the marks ups they get). So is it worthwhile taking some time for a DIY project? We've seen and heard about a number of overpriced, shoddy, low quality component installs to say absolutely, if you are able to do it safely you should seriously consider DIY. You'll get the best quality components from us because we only sell the best and you have full control over how the system is installed. We supply extensive manuals to help and we're here to answer any technical questions you may have during installations. You'll end up owning a higher quality more reliable pool heating system for less money sometimes than inferior competing kits AND you'll have better quality install that you'll know how to service.
It's understandable why shoddy installs happen sometime; pool heating installations are seasonal, full-time installers wait around all year then all of a sudden they get bombarded with more jobs requests than they can handle so they feel they can charge an arm and a leg and be picky with their jobs. Companies and installers then need to take on part-time workers that may not be well trained, and they are rushed and under pressure to finish the job fast. If there are complications, installers have no motivation to take their time and do it properly to make sure the system will last as they are not paid by the hour. Most of the shortcuts they may use will tell many years down the track typically with no recourse for the consumer.
An Important Note on Safety
Having said all of that; you should only consider DIY if you're confident of performing the work safely. If you need to get up on a pitched two story roof and you are not 100% confident, best leave it to the professionals, as you should never underestimate the chance of a fall. If you can't DIY try to source a trusted installer - at the very least go with a company with good component and installation quality control standards.
Next you have to consider the size of the pool heating system required. When sizing a new system there are a number of factors to consider, but as a first rule of thumb we recommend 75% coverage of your pools water area for Northern Aus states and 100% coverage for Southern states. To work out the surface area of your pool simple multiply length x width in meters (see below for a trick in calculating the surface area of odd shaped pools).
However, we strongly recommend you take advantage of our interactive sizing calculator. This calculator is based on minimum Australian Standard pool heating sizing and uses weather, sunlight hours per postcode, and installation specific factors to come up with the best possible sizing for your budget.
It's important to factor every aspect affecting a pool's temperature, as some pools can suffer from a number of cooling factors which are multiplicative; our calculator instantly assess:
To work out the surface water area of odd shaped pools use the following trick:
Alternatively, if you were happy with the level of heating your old PVC tube system produced and want the equivalent amount, use approximately 90% of the area, so for example if your old PVC tube system was 40sqm, use 36sqm of the PoolMasterproTM strip.
Next thing to consider is what kind of plumbing system you want to set up. We always recommend Independent Systems, see definitions below or manual. These systems run a small independent pump, typically for 8 hours per day and are actually more energy efficient than systems running through the main filter pump which have to run the large filter pump for 8 hours per day just to pump the solar side. Of course independent systems require separate solar suction and return lines, whereas for older pool these might not have been installed. If that's the case you'll need to go with a plumbing configuration that taps into your existing filter return line to divert water to your roof. There are a few configurations that can be chosen, see below or manual. Most people that do not have independent solar suction and return ports will choose a Manual/Timer System and place the main filter pump on a timer to run during the warmest part of the day. These manual systems can be automated down the track. We have three class of listings:
If you need to set up a specialized system like for a Booster/Retro Fit System (requires AquaSmart 5 FS or CD controller) or the Motorized Ball Valve System (requires AquaSmart 5 AV controller), please contact us at EcoOnline.
In terms of roof mounting strips are simply glued down on the roof. On tile roofs the manifolds are attached to a floating lattice of 316 stainless steel perforated band to keep the valleys clear and allowing for water flow under the manifolds. On tiles, manifold attachment points are created by firstly sliding a tile up then screwing a length of supplied 316 stainless steel band into the batten which will then protrude out under the tile, manifolds are then anchored to this protrusion, this allows movement while not requiring risky tile drilling/perforations. See manual for full description.
Q. How many sqm of collectors do I need?
A. Please use our interactive sizing calculator to accurately size your collector area needs, if you have any difficulty please contact us. Note: we frown upon the practice of selling you more coverage than what you actually need for your heating goals - to back our sizing recommendations we provide a sizing guarantee.
Q. Can I run the strips up/down the roof?
A. Yes, for a flat pan style gal roof, however for better water flow and leaf clearance we recommend it sits on top of the valleys, hence runs across the roof.
Q. I don't have enough length to fit a 12.5m strip run across the roof, what can i do?
A. There are a number of options. Easiest is to snake the PVC strip up then back then again up and back to reduce the 12 length to 6m. However, we recommend you cut the strip and use more manifolds for the off cuts, as this will reduce the pressure and increase the flow. For example for a 6m run just cut the 25m strip in half, you'll then need double the amount of manifolds to connect up the spare off cuts. For a 9m run across the roof, just cut the strip at 18 meters, leaving 6m off cuts. Three of these off cuts can be sliced together to form another 18m length which can be connected to the main array using an extra manifold pair. See manual for full details.
Q. Can I undersize my system and upgrade as needed later?
A. No it's difficult to slice in an extra manifold section into the main manifold pipe once it's all glued up; it's best to size your system right the first time. There are very good reasons why a system should not be dramatically undersized. Effective heating requires a minimum daily turnover typically 50% of your pool water volume. However, there are flow limitations on strips; hence an undersized system may not handle the flow required which could over-pressurize strips if the flow is insufficient, will result in an unmixed stratified layer of warm water which will cool excessively overnight.
Q. Can I use my existing controller and mains power pump?
A. You can use your existing controller and pump if it’s in good working order and the correct size. We have pump sizing tables in our manual downloadable from our EcoOnline website download page.
Q. Can I use my filter pump and save electricity by not installing a second pump?
A. It is a false economy to use a large filter pump for solar applications – the pump still has to expend energy to pump water to the roof, putting back pressure on the pump reducing filter flow, hence there is no free energy gained. Besides this we don’t recommend running a high power filter pump for 8 hours per day for the solar side (potentially over pressurizing panels) if you don’t need to filter for that long. An independent system with a well matched small pump will save you money in running costs and look after your panels in the long run.
Q. Can I use a low energy usage variable speed pump?
A. No, after witnessing customers try such pumps and struggle with them our advice now is not to use them, unless they can be set to run at a constant speed without a start up surge. We find variable pumps start at full power then taper back, this puts a lot of pressure fluctuations through the system on start up which could limit system lifetimes. We only recommend pumps that can pump at a constant set pressure.
Q. I don't have independent solar lines installed on my pool can I tee into my main filter pump suction line?
A. Generally we don't recommend this as you may have priming issues with your main filter pump during start up due to air been drawn in from the solar line tee you installed. Whether your filter pump will deprime in this case will depend on how far below the waterline you installed the solar tee. Note, a non-return on the solar line will not help here as non-returns are not generally air tight over time. If you do not have independent solar lines and can't install the tee far below the water line (minimum say 1m below) then your options are a manual system, a booster system or a motorized ball valve option, see manual for plumbing diagrams.
Q. Do we have installers?
A. At present unfortunately no we do not have installers as we ship around Australia. However, our manuals are very comprehensive and cover most situations and issues. There is also unlimited tech support available. Most handymen/tradespeople can install our systems. From what we hear, solar pool heating installs are very seasonal, hence most specialist pool heating installers are run off their feet during the install season, this means they charge an arm and a leg for poor rushed installs. Our advice is if you can DIY safely or source a trusted installer that will take his/her time, you will save a great deal of money and headaches.
Q. Can I download your comprehensive manual before I purchase?
A. Yes, in fact we highly recommend you check over the manual to get a good idea of installation requirements before you purchase. The manual can freely be downloaded from our EcoOnline download page.
Q. Is this system easy to install for tiles?
A. Yes the system is easy to install for a relatively experienced DIY or tradespersons. (Please note safety notice when climbing up on a roof.)
Q. Can I slow the flow to increase the temperature gain?
A. No, this is a common misconception. Slowing the water flow dramatically may result in a warmer outlet, but will also result less harvested energy overall as collectors are being made to work at a higher temperature and hence a lower efficiency point. Faster flow rates better strip the heat from the tubes (up to a point of diminishing benefit); max flow rate for 25m loop lengths is 5L/min/m². Oversizing flow rates beyond 5L/min/m² is only possible if you double the number of manifolds and use 12.5m loops lengths, as this will significantly drop the pressure loss across the array allowing for greater flow up to 10L/min/m². This will increase the thermal efficiency of the collectors by ~5% at the expense of more electrical usage. On the other hand, we promote the "eco-flow" concept of decreasing flow rate to save on electricity at the expense of a slight collector loss which can be made up by increasing the collector area. If you're interested in this kind of system, we have produced an interactive online calculator that simulates flow rates and their impact on collector efficiencies and electrical savings.