How to Install a Heliocol Solar Panel

Written by richard belmondo
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How to Install a Heliocol Solar Panel
A Helicol solar heating system fits into the filtration system to heat the water. (an open swimming-pool image by Valeri Vlassov from

The Heliocol solar pool heating system operates by using an existing pool pump to circulate the water through its solar panels. Ideally, these solar collectors are located on the roof or in a vicinity close to the pool where they can get unobstructed exposure to the sun. The pool water enters through the bottom part of the Heliocol panels, rises up in individual rounded tubes and is consequently heated by the sun. The water then returns to the pool, and the cycle is repeated until the pool reaches the required temperature.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Power drill with bits, 5/16-inch and 7/16-inch sockets
  • Pipe cutter or hacksaw
  • Garden hose
  • Sliding lock pliers
  • Caulking gun
  • Ladder
  • PVC pipe
  • PVC fittings
  • Vice-grip clamps

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  1. 1

    Evaluate the placement of your Heliocol panels. Ideally, collectors should be located on a south-facing or flat roof or on a elevated ground-mounted rack facing south.

  2. 2

    Determine the size of collector you need. The Heliocol collectors come in six sizes, but for economy and efficiency issues it is best to use the largest panel possible (HC-50), roof size permitting.

  3. 3

    Make sure that you have the three Helicol components needed to fit each system -- panels, panel kits and row kits. For each panel you will need a panel kit. For each row (bank) of panels you will need a row kit. To go around vents or pipes larger than 6 inches -- chimneys, skylights or changes in roof elevation -- you need a row-spacer kit.

  4. 4

    Use the proper size PVC pipe for the size of your solar array. Under-sizing the pipe restricts the water flow and reduces the flow rate to the panels. For example, for a flow rate of zero to 45 gallons per minute (GPM) a pipe size of 11/2 inches is needed. A flow rate of 46 to 80 GPM a pipe size of 2 inches is more suitable.

  5. 5

    Ensure the "hot return" pipe has the shortest run to diminish potential heat. Pipes should be supported with pipe clamps spaced accordingly to prevent sagging. The pipe clamp used on the return pipe should be 1/2 inch larger than the pipe diameter to allow for expansion and contraction. The vertical and horizontal pipe runs should be the same size as the pipe diameter to eliminate vibration.

  6. 6

    Be sure that the horsepower of your swimming pool filtration pump is adequate to provide enough water to ensure the recommended flow rate necessary for the panels required. For example if using HC-50 then you will need minimum 5 GPM.

  7. 7

    Install vice-grip clamps (centrally spaced and on each corner of the individual panel) to hold the collectors firmly in position, making an allowance for tube expansion and contraction. Obstructions smaller than 6 inches can be dealt with by pushing the panel riser tubes out of a spacer bar and spreading them around the obstruction.

  8. 8

    Cement PVC joints and glue fittings to the PVC pipe.

  9. 9

    Connect the feed line to the low end of the bottom header, which should be the corner farthest from the pool pump. The return line will be connected to the top header on the opposite end to ensure the heated pool water the shortest route back to the pool.

  10. 10

    Connect the Heliocol system, with accompanying check valves and pressure test kit, to your existing pool filtration configuration.

Tips and warnings

  • Please take care to avoid hazards such as overhead electrical wires or loose shingles.
  • Be sure to secure ladders, so they will not slip or fall.
  • Do not allow extension cords to lie in the pool or in standing water.
  • Wear shoes with proper tread to prevent slipping on the ladder or sloped roof areas.

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