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Installing My Solar 
Domestic Hot Water Heating System

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Day 8 - pulling the umbilical

July 29, 2006. Time Invested:
0:45 Drilling holes
0:40 Pulling the umbilical

July 30, 2006.
0:30 Connecting to the collectors
0:20 Strapping up the umbilical in the basement
0:15 Adding new outlet behind new tank

Today I began by drilling a hole through the outside siding, and then in the drywall inside.  I got a surprise when I opened up the drywall as there was an active ant nest in there.  I use an environmentally friendly bug spray to kill them all off before proceeding.  I didn't want to harm "Phil" our giant philodendron that wraps around the top of all the windows in the dining/living room!

I had previously painted the provided weather seal to match and had to cut it down a bit, then tucked it up under a shingle.

I then drilled a hole through the interior floor to access the basement. 

My friend John Grill came by to help with the pulling.  Before we pulled the pipe, we pulled the 2 cables through from the outside and down to the basement.  The orange one brings PV power down to the pump, and the gray one carries signals from the thermistor mounted to the collector outlet pipe and the float sensor in the overflow tank.

Down in the basement John and I carefully unrolled a length of the umbilical being very careful not to stress the copper.  We removed 4 feet or so of the prepared insulation from the end.  This un-insulated section will be pulled through the 1.25" hole in the exterior wall and then bent to meet the collector outlet. 

Here's John preparing to feed the pipe up to me above on the first floor.

Once we got the pipe pulled through into the first floor, I bent an "L" so that we could feed that 4 ft. length through the wall.  Then on the outside I bent another "L" for the line that feeds up to the collector outlet.  The collector inlet shoots straight into an "L" on the collector.  I happened to have a nifty tubing bender from a previous project, I got it from Harbor Freight Tools for about $7.00.  You can't bend small diameter copper pipe to this tight a radius without the proper tool or the wall will collapse.       It was getting dark so the shot at right was taken with a flash.
Next day I completed the connections by cutting the pipe to length with a pipe cutter, and deburring the inner edge, then the pipe just slips into the swage fitting and I tightened down the nuts with adjustable wrenches.

I really like the simplicity of these connections!  I hope they hold up to the extreme temperature variations in Maine though.

I wrapped the exposed pipe with lengths of boiler insulation that came with the kit for this purpose, and tucked some of it firmly into the hole to form a gasket seal.  Then I covered all the plumbing with a nicely prepared and painted section of downspout that is split so that it can go around the pipe and then screw down to the collector frame at top and bottom.  I had to cut and modify this a bit at top and bottom to accommodate the weather seal at the bottom.  They even provided a little weather cap formed from another piece of matching downspout, this screws onto the top of the downspout with sheet metal screws.
Back down in the basement I used the provided wire ties to strap the cables to the insulation.  It's about a 10 foot run across the ceiling to the closet.

I then strapped it to the joists with 1 1/2" conduit clamps that I had previously bought for this section.

In the closet I noticed that the outlet where the power vent for my existing propane water heater would be permanently blocked by the new 40 gallon pre-heat tank that will totally fill that space.  So I installed another outlet above it - using a GFCI outlet that I had laying around.

Note the umbilical and cables entering from the upper right.  I'll bring in the new tank tomorrow.

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