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SOLAR HEATING SYSTEM CONSTRUCTION LOG

PROGRESS REPORT:
November 21: system tweaks

Well, I've learned a lot by watching my solar system gauges and pumps.
It turns out that my solar collectors will need to be replaced due to
a manufacturing defect.  These units are Empire series made by SunEarth
in California.   Once they realized that I and some other users weren't
getting the temperatures they were supposed to, they immediately
began working on a solution.  The highest temperature I got so far
from the collectors was 155F, I should be seeing closer to 190F.
In the colder weather I am now getting 145-150F.  So sometime
in the near future I'll get new collectors.  In the mean time I am heating
largely with propane.

I have also added another  Solarex 20 Watt Photovoltaic panel.
 I learned from Dan Feldman of Ivan Labs, maker of the El-Sid DC
circulation pumps that I needed 20 Watts per pump when operating
north of Jacksonville Florida!   I'm definitely north of Florida here!
The new solar panel is right below my satellite modem dish:

 

NOTE!  If you are building a system like mine that has circulation pumps that run on solar panels, I am producing an inexpensive Differential Temperature Controller that runs on 12 Volt PV power.  It will increase your system efficiency significantly.

I added the panel yesterday and the pumps are running earlier in
the day and later into the afternoon, and more vigorously in full sun!
My system heated the water in my 80 gallon tank to 118F today.
Ideally I should be seeing at least 140F to eliminate the propane
heater.

June 2005
I found a new use for the solar panels in the summer when they are not needed.  They now re-charge my electric lawn mower. See how I converted an old gas mower to electric
here.

I have also added a few gauges and valves in order to make
maintenance easier.  And I replaced the floor circulation
pumps with model 006 units provided by Taco .  These ones are
best suited to my application according to Taco engineers.
Furthermore they have 3/4" fittings -- the previous 003 series
pumps that I had used 1/2" fittings so I had to reduce down
to the pumps causing unnecessary flow restriction.  The
new (brown) pumps are visible to the lower left below:

 

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