Suntrek installation manual
Suntrek's Solar Pool Heating Installation Guide
By Aaron Hill
© Suntrek Ind.
Congratulations! You are installing a solar heating system that will give
you many years of comfortable warm pool water. Suntrek solar
collectors are made of extremely durable material and will require a
minimum of care on your part. Please read all of the instructions and
observe a few simple operating cautions to obtain peak performance
and maximum life from your Suntrek System.
Designing your Solar System:
1. Measure your pool. Multiply the average length by the average width of your pool to
determine the total surface area of your pool. For example, if your pool is 20 ft. x 30 ft this
equals a 600 sq. ft pool. *If there is an attached spa, include it’s square footage as well.
2. Calculate solar coverage. For every square ft. of pool surface area, you need at least 50%
in solar square footage. This is a suggested minimum size based on typical heating
performance and past customer satisfaction. Larger solar systems can be used to gain even
higher temperatures and longer swim seasons. For most applications 80% coverage is
optimum for comfortable swimming temperatures and a maximum swim season.
3. Consider all possible locations for installing your solar collectors.
You can use any sloped roof that does not face to the north. The most effective orientations
are towards the south, west, east and flat. Collectors may be placed on any roof or patio
cover. You can place collectors on more than one roof area to gain the desired total square
footage. A new structure can be built specifically to accommodate the solar heater. (I.e. a
patio cover or a ground mounted rack.) Check for shading of the solar heater location.
Direct sunshine hitting the collectors is what produces heat for the pool. Even on a very hot
day, a solar heater won't warm the water if it is shaded. Trees may need to be trimmed or
For Suntrek Custom Collector Series Rev. 04/30/15
Measure the roof. One of the greatest advantages of Suntrek collectors are their
versatility. Obstacles such as vent pipes can be wrapped around easily. Collectors can also be
ordered to any length to maximize your square footage on a small or oddly shaped roof.
We suggest drawing a diagram of the roof, with all measurements top-to-bottom and side-toside. Decide on how many collectors will fit on the desired area. Each manifold will require 28
inches of vertical roof space. For example, if you have a roof that is 180 inches from top-tobottom, you can install six collectors (6 X 28"=168"). We advise leaving at least a 12" of roof
space at the top and bottom of the solar collectors for the plumbing.
Make a decision about the length of the solar collectors. The collectors can be as long as 50
feet. Keep in mind that
the collectors weigh 1 lb.
per square foot, so a 2’ x
50’ collector will weigh
about 100 lbs. This can
be a difficult factor when
carrying up a ladder or
across a tile roof.
While it is easier to install
a square system,
with all
the same size, it is better
to stagger or pyramid the
system in order to keep
collectors entirely
on the same area of the
roof. This is also the best
method for maximizing
your total surface area.
Connecting the headers of a
staggered system.
5. Steep Roofs. Structures with a steep pitch can pose additional challenges for a solar
installation. Collectors should be installed vertically.
Measure along the top ridgeline to determine the number of collectors to be installed. Next,
measure from the top ridgeline to the bottom edge (allowing room for straps and plumbing) to
determine the length of the collectors.
Note. Running the
collectors close to the
top and bottom allow
you to make the bottom
connections from a
ladder rather than
standing on the edge of
a steep roof.
Important! Working on roofs with severe pitches is a dangerous job and should be done by
an experienced professional with a competent helper.
6. Plumbing. Consider the routing for the two 2" PVC pipes that will transport the water
back and forth between the pool equipment area and the solar heater. There is usually more
than one way to accomplish this. If the pool equipment is not right next to the structure where
the solar heater will be installed, the feed/return pipes are typically buried underground.
Important: The solar heater should be plumbed so that the water in the solar collector can
gravity drain back to the pool every day once the filter pump has turned off. This can usually
be accomplished by running the feed pipe (if not both pipes) up to the lowest part of the
This iron fence was modified to accommodate our solar piping
along the top.
Flexible PVC was used to hide the pipes behind this
brick archway.
Matching paint can do wonders for
camouflaging your pipe run.
7. Tools and Equipment needed:
1. Sturdy ladder
2. Power drill
3. Tape measure
4. Calking gun
5. Tube of roofing mastic ( Henry #208 is
6. PVC primer and glue
7. 2”PVC Saw or hacksaw
8. 2" PVC pipe and fittings
9. Torpedo level
10. Sharp razor knife
11. 5/16" and 7/16" nut drivers
12. 1/4” masonry drill bit
13. Teflon tape
14. 1/4" Galvanized lag bolts (1 1/2" to 3" in
length, depending on roof type)
15. #10-12 plastic anchors for lag bolts
16. Flat black spray paint
17. Paint to match house color.
Note: It is assumed that you are familiar with cutting and gluing PVC pipe. If not, we
recommend getting instructions from your pool supply center. It is not difficult, but a little
experience helps.
*If you plan to install these for a living I strongly suggest investing in a good cordless
hammer drill and a pair of 2” PVC cutters. A complete list of the tools and materials we
keep on our installation trucks can be sent via fax or e-mail upon request.
Important: Consult your local building department prior to installing your
solar heating system; a building permit may be required. The national
testing lab for solar pool collectors in the USA is the Florida Solar Energy
Center. The building department may ask for Suntrek's official certification
number. That number is FSEC 92012.
For assistance in sizing or ordering, The Suntrek FREE HELP LINE is:
1 - 8 0 0 - 2 - WA R M - I T
(Pacific Time business hours)
For assistance outside the USA, please use our e-mail at [email protected]
Parts for Assembling Suntrek Solar Collectors
Solar Collector Tubing
Collector Coupling
Suntrek Manifold
CPVC Adapter
Stainless Steel Clamps
The NSF/ANSI Standard 50 Certification is only for the solar collector (manifold, tubing, CPVC adapters, and hose connectors) and does not
include any other components. Any additional items required for installation, such as three-way valves and vacuum relief valves, are
separate from the Certification and should carry their own applicable Certification(s). Only the items shown on page 6 are included in the
Collector Installation: Composition Roofs
Of all the possible solar applications, the composition roof is probably the
easiest of all for installing Suntrek collectors. The rubber mat glues well to
the roofing surface and strapping penetrations are simple and trouble free
when done properly.
This system was installed on a new flat composition roof.
We worked with the roofer to have two 20’ 2x4s sealed
under the cap sheet for added security against leaks. All
strapping will be bolted to these.
1. Line up all collectors so that the manifolds are touching
and are in a straight line. Don't roll them out more than a
foot or two.
2. Attach an adapter to each end manifold with a rubber
coupler and two stainless steel hose clamps.
3. Continue connecting all manifolds in the same manner.
Straighten them out when all are connected.
4. This system had to be split into two banks to go
around some skylights. Connect the manifold gap with a
piece of pipe and two 2” PVC couplings.
When you’ve determined the length of pipe needed, cut
another the same size and glue on a pair of couplers &
adapters. This will be used to bridge the other end.
5. Manifolds all connected and ready for strapping.
* Strapping is a very important part of solar collector installations. Most
problems that may occur years later are due to not properly attaching the system.
Collector straps are made of a strip of collector material
five tubes wide by about 20” long, one stainless steel
washer and for this job 1/4”x2” galvanized lag bolts will
be used. (Bolts not included in installation kit.) Run the
bolt through the middle tube so that 1/4” of the strap
extends past the washer.
6. Apply a small amount of roofer’s
mastic where you plan to make your roof
penetration. Directly to the side of the
coupler, about 4” out.
7. Wrap your collector strap around the coupler and drive the bolt
through into the block.
* If you are not using mounting blocks take extra care not to over
tighten the bolts. Most composition roofs are mounted on 1/2” plywood
and the penetrations are easy to “spin out”. Start the bolt applying a
good amount of pressure and the bolt will grab the wood right away.
Tighten just enough to squish the rubber with the washer. If you do over
tighten your bolt you’ll feel the bolt suddenly spin easily in place as it
strips out the wood. If left alone the collector will eventually pull the
strap out, leaving a hole in the roof and an unsecured section of the
collector bank. Pull out the bolt, seal the hole and try again to the side.
Close-up of properly fastened manifold strap. Trim
off excess strap.
* Note placement of stainless steel clamps, allowing
access to the screws beneath the strap.
Manifolds all secure, collectors ready to be rolled out.
8. Blow or sweep the collector area. This isn't usually
necessary on a pitched roof
but a flat roof will collect a
lot of debris. If a roof is
particularly dirty, you may
need to hose it off and wait
for it to dry. The mastic
won’t adhere well to a wet
or dusty surface.
Unlike shingled roofs, this one has no tile line to
follow, so we snapped a chalk line to help us get
our first collector straight.
9. Apply a line of mastic every three feet. Make
no more than two lines per 10oz. tube, otherwise
you’ll not be using enough to properly secure the
10.After applying mastic for one collector, roll out the collector,
pulling it tightly as you go.
11.Immediately after rolling out the llector,
grab the manifold at each
end and pull the collector until you see the rubber at the far end start to
straighten out.
At this point you can remove that tape as well.
12. Go back over the collector and press the rubber
into the mastic, straightening it out as you go. This is
essential to insure good adhesion to the roof.
* On a pitched roof, especially on a hot day, you may
have to go back periodically and push the rubber back
into place until the mastic starts to set up.
13. Continue rolling out the rest of the collector bank in the
same manner. You shouldn’t need to snap any more chalk
lines. Just go off of the previous collector. Make sure your
manifolds touch each other and are straight.
* As the day progresses, especially if it heats up, you will
notice the collectors looking a little funny. DON’T PANIC!
As the fresh rubber heats up it expands and buckles up a
bit between the mastic lines. They will shrink back as soon
as you run that cold pool water through them. DO NOT try
stretching the collectors to make them lay flat again. They
will eventually shrink back to their original cold length.
14. Connect the pipe you made up in step 4 before
rolling out the remaining collectors. You may also want
to snap another chalk line in order to get the next
collector straight.
15. Once all of your collectors are rolled out, connect and strap them as
you did the other end.
Install the vacuum relief valve
to the high corner, opposite end
of your return pipe.
It goes directly into a rubber
coupler and is secured with a
stainless steel clamp.
The vacuum valve is sold separate and is
not included as a component of the
NSF/ANSI Standard 50 Certified solar
collector. An NSF/ANSI Standard 50
Certified valve should be used in
applications requiring Certification.
Schematic for plumbing the system.
Feed pipe goes to the lowest point of the system
while the return comes off the opposite high corner.
Vacuum Relief (V.R.) valve.
* All plumbing should be done with 2” schedule 40
PVC pipe, witch may be difficult to find in black
like we use, but white pipe can easily be painted.
Schedule 80 PVC is another option. It has a dark
grey color but is heavier and more expensive.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to use black
ABS pipe. ABS is not intended for this type of
application and will cause you endless headaches
down the line.
Return to pool equip.
Feed to collectors
End Cap
Paint all pipe, (if you couldn't get black PVC) fittings and
mastic that shows with flat black spray paint.
All roof work complete.
Flat Roofs:
Flat roofs pose a particular leak hazard. Water tends to puddle in some
spots, which can corrode your strapping bolts and cause leaks. It is
recommended that any lag bolt on a flat roof be stainless steel. While the
techniques in this guide have been proven effective, the fewer the
penetrations the better. Here are some safe strapping alternatives to
penetrating the deck of a flat roof.
Collectors can be ordered in lengths that allow
you to wrap your straps around the fascia.
Straps can be made extra long so the bolts
can go around the edge of a flat roof.
Straps can be lagged onto a parapet wall.
Tile Roofs:
As long as you can walk on the roof without breaking each tile, a tile
roof is our most common application in many parts of the world. Painting
the collectors to match the roof color is common for installations that are
visible from the front of the home.
1 After connecting all the manifolds on one end, drill a
hole in the tile about 3in. from the coupling. Use a 1/4”
masonry drill bit. Try not to let the drill bit connect with
the roofing felt underneath the tile.
2. A plastic anchor inserted in the hole will be used
to secure the manifold straps.
3. The rubber of the manifold straps creates a good gasket seal around the tile penetrations and does not require
additional sealant.
When attaching to a curved tile roof never drill into
the valley of the tiles. All rain water is channeled
through the valleys and greatly increases your chances
for a leak.
4. As you would a composition roof, run your mastic lines
every 3ft.
5. Straightening out the collectors is a little trickier on
tiles but not too difficult to master.
6. otherwise, a tile roof is installed like any other.
a curved tile roof should be glued at every other tile,
requiring about 50% more mastic.
Collector strapping:
Some applications require the collectors to be strapped rather than using
mastic adhesive. These include tar & gravel, wood shake shingles, patio
covers, ground mounted racks, or any roof you plan to replace in the
near future.
Tar & Gravel Roofs:
1.line up and connect your collectors
in the same manner as on page 7.
2.Use a hammer claw to scrape back
the dirt and gravel until you have
exposed a 2” area of tar directly
behind each coupling. Otherwise,
Your manifold strapping is done in
the same manner as on page 8.
3. After all manifolds are secure, roll out collectors.
Connect and secure manifolds on the other end.
4. Using the collector material provided in the installation kit,
separate the tubes in groups of four to make the collector straps.
Lay them out across the collectors every four to five feet.
5. When bolting straps, take care to use plenty of roofing mastic and not
to over tighten the bolts. If the bolt spins in place, it will pull out easily
and cause a potential leak. Tightening just enough to squish the rubber
strap is sufficient.
Keep the collectors as straight as possible but don’t worry if they sag a
bit when the sun starts to warm them up. You can straighten them up
while you strap them.
Start strapping by bolting the strap ends
at the top and bottom of the system.
Between each collector, where the straps cross the 4
inch gap, scrape back the dirt and gravel until you
have exposed tar directly under the strap.
Secure the straps between each collector, straightening
out the collectors as you go.
6. Add a small line of collector adhesive
directly under the straps this will keep the
collector strips from sagging over time.
Use some flat black spray paint to cover any
mess caused by the mastic.
Wood Shake Shingles:
Although you use the same basic
strapping technique, there are some
added considerations you need to be
aware of when strapping your
The shakes are too weak and thin to
screw a lag bolt into itself. You have
to screw into the wood supports
In order to reach the wood under the
shingles, you will need longer lag
bolts. 4” should be fine.
Shake shingles are usually supported by 1”x4” lumber, called
“stringers”, spaced 4” apart. Around the eaves, the wood is butted
together. If you try screwing a lag bolt where there is a gap between
stringers you will find that the lag bolt spins freely without cinching
down the strap. The bolt will have to be moved over a bit until you
find the stringer.
Stringers and eaves shown in yellow.
If you line up your collectors along the
eaves you’ll be sure to easily find wood for
your manifold straps. The diagram shows
how you may have to run your straps to find
A good way of estimating where the stringers are
located is to lift up a shingle near where you would
like to drive a bolt and look for one of the roofer’s
nails or staples.
Patio Covers:
If your patio cover has a finished roof ,use the
same techniques as earlier described to attach the
A conventional, open slatted patio cover,
requires a premium grade shade cloth to be
attached on top for added support for the
collectors. Use 3/8” T-50 staples every 6in. or
less along every beam and 3in. or less along
the edges of the shade cloth. A roofer’s
hammer stapler makes this an easy job and
along with the shade cloth can be purchased at
your local hardware-home supply warehouse.
If the slats are close enough together shade cloth won’t be
Ground Mounted or Hillside Racks:
A great alternative to mounting collectors on your house is to utilize some
unused property like a hillside.
1. Use four stakes and some neon colored string to mark
the perimeter of the rack. The most important thing here
is to get the top and bottom lines parallel and even with
each other when looking at them from behind.
Getting the rack as low as possible was a priority for
this customer so we had to do some shoveling to bring
down some high spots in the hillside.
2. Drive three pairs of stakes outside of the perimeter for
the post hole lines (highlighted in green). One at the
center and the others about two feet from the top and
bottom. Have your post lines lightly touch the sidelines
as they cross to the other side. These will line up the
post holes and later be used to determine the height of
each post.
3. Lay out a measuring tape. Starting from about two
feet in, use some marking paint to mark the post hole
locations every five feet. You can now get your men to
work digging post holes.
4. Your post holes should be slightly off center, up the hill from the
post line and at least 18” deep.
5. Mark on a sheet of paper a number representing each hole.
Measure the depth of each hole up to the post line and write the
length under it’s corresponding number.
6. As you cut each post, mark it’s hole number on
one end with a magic marker and circle it on the
7. Coat the posts with Henry 204 Asphalt
Emulsion or whatever wood preservative you
8. Place posts in their corresponding
holes and lay out the 2x6 joists.
9. Line up the joists just under the post lines and
use 3” lag bolts with washers to secure to the
posts. We use two bolts per post.
* Pre drilling the joists will help to prevent
snapping the bolts.
Using a 2ft. 2x6 to piece the joist ends together.
10. These 2x4’s are attached temporarily to
hold the joists and posts straight and upright.
They will be removed after the cement has
been poured and set overnight.
11. Time to pour cement.
*Take extra care not to bump into the rack. The
fresh cement cracks easily and the rack will
become wobbly.
Let posts set overnight.
Remove 2x4’s when posts have set.
12. Trim and seal posts.
13. Attach the end beams first making sure the
ends touch the top string line. These beams will
be where the collector manifolds are secured
and should be spaced 6in. beyond the actual
collector length.
At this point you only need to screw to the top
joist. (It will be to square them up when all of
the beams are in place.)
Next, lay a tape measure across the top joist
and mark it every 18in.
14. After cutting all beams to size,(14ft. for this six
collector rack.) bolt 2”x4” beams to the top joist while
lining them up with the string line. Use only one 3” lag
bolt & washer.
String line can be attached to the end beams once
they’ve been bolted to the joist.
15. Before the beams can be secured to the other two
joists, they need to be squared up to the top string
line. Here’s an easy method.
Using the first beam and one of the inner beams,
adjust them until their two diagonal measurements
are the same while staying parallel.
16. Now you can finish bolting the first beam.
Measure the rest from below, 18” apart, and
finish bolting the rest of the beams to the other
two joists.
17. Using 4” lag bolts & washers, attach a 2”x4” to the end
of each beam along the top and bottom
This is a good time to run any plumbing that you want
hidden under the rack.
18.Cover the rack with shade cloth in the same
manner as described for patio covers. Wrap the
cloth around the edges for aesthetics.
19. Connect and roll out your collectors.
20. Run a strap along every third beam.
21. Finish plumbing.
Collector Modification:
One of the greatest advantages of installing a flexible EDPM rubber
Suntrek system is it’s ability to be wrapped around obstacles such as
plumbing and attic vents. Wrapping the collectors around corners is also
a good way to maximize the collector area without complicating the
plumbing by splitting the system.
Measuring for a wrapped system:
Inside wrap:
1. Measure the roof vertically to
determine how many collectors
will be installed.
2. Measure the length of the top
collector .
3. Subtract 4ft. For each additional
Example: Suppose the top
measurement (shown in blue) is
35ft. Collector #1 will be 35ft., #2
will be 31ft., #3 will be 27ft, #4
will be 23ft. and so on.
Outside wrap:
1. Measure the roof vertically to determine
how many collectors will be installed.
2. Measure the length of the top collector
and add 4ft. to this measurement to get the
length you need to order.
3. Add 4ft. For each additional collector.
Example: Suppose the top measurement
(shown in orange) is 15ft. Collector #1 will
be 19ft., #2 will be 23ft., #3 will be 27ft, #4
will be 31ft. and so on.
Inside wrap.
Zig Zag wrap:
1. Measure the roof vertically to determine how many
collectors will be installed.
2. Measure the length of the top collector.
3. All additional collectors will be the same length.
Outside wrap.
Zig zag wrap.
* When ordering , request that
one manifold be left off of each
collector. They will have to be
attached after the collectors are
rolled out.
1. Line up , connect and secure manifolds.
2. Apply mastic up to 2ft. from the first corner.
3. Roll out collector , past the corner, until completely
rolled out. Remove the tape.
4. straighten out where there is mastic.
5. Spray silicone on the collector above the corner.
6. Using a sharp utility knife, carefully slice between
each tube (about 2in.) directly above where the
collector strip crosses the corner.
7. Pull back the rubber a couple feet to give you some slack
to work. (Try not to disturb the area that you previously
glued.) One at a time separate each channel, about
18in.each side of your cuts, as shown.
8. After all the tubes are separated, straighten the collectors enough to take the slack back out of the corner.
9. Apply mastic to the next section of the roof.
10. Starting from the lowest section of rubber, turn the
section over and run it along the next section of roof.
Take extra care to be sure the collector stays the same
height on the roof as it wraps around the roof.
Continue the same with the other collector strips as
If this were a single corner system, the collector
would look like this on the end and the strips would
have to be cut to the length of the shortest piece.
This system however, has a zig zag formation so the
rubber will line back up after going around the outside corner.
Use the same method to split the channels and turn
the corner for the outside wrap as you did on the
This better shows turning the strips as you wrap around
the corner.
It helps to have a helper hold down the corners as you
roll out the strips and straighten out the collectors.
If you do a good job of wrapping the corners on a zig zag
system your collector will line up like this on the end and
you won’t have to cut off any excess rubber.
If you do a great job they will all line up like this.
By using the zig zag formation for this job, we were
able to add 56 square feet more collector area while
saving the cost of 24 manifolds, 48 couplings, 96
clamps, 48 straps, 48 pipe adapters, 90 fittings and
about 50ft. of pipe.
Use the same channel splitting technique to wrap
around any heater or plumbing vent. Painting the
vent flat black will make it look better from below.
When going over these dome attic vents,
or around any obstacle over 18in., you
need to order 1ft. of extra collector length
for each obstacle and order the collector
with one manifold left off. This will give
you plenty of extra material to wrap neatly
around these vents and still allow you to
have the manifolds all line up.
Channel Repair:
It’s not uncommon, when splitting
channels, to accidentally cut into a
channel with your utility knife.
This can easily be repaired with
one of the collector splicers
included in your installation kit.
Simply cut the channel where the
damage is, lubricate the ends and
the splice with silicone spray and
re-connect as shown.
Connecting manifolds onsite:
Some installations require you to order some or all of the collectors with
one manifold left off and be connected at the jobsite.
1. Snap a chalk line where you will be cutting the
2. Use a sharp utility knife to cut the rubber to size.
3. Refer to the collector assembly instructions for
connecting the manifolds.
Plumbing The Solar At The Pool Equipment:
At first glance pool equipment can be intimidating. Although no two look
alike, when you understand the basics, they are all the same when it
comes to the solar tie-in.
Red arrows indicate flow with solar on.
Blue arrows indicate solar bypass flow.
Yellow lines indicate how the plumbing was prior to the solar tie in.
1. Turn off pool filter and set filter to backwash.
2. Locate the pipe that runs from the filter into the
gas heater. Cut out enough of this pipe to install
your solar equipment.
If there is no heater, this pipe will run directly into
the ground, to the pool. In this case there may be a
chlorinator device on the pipe. Make your tie-in
Before the device. (You may need to relocate the
device if it is too close to the filter.)
3. Install the check valve directly after the filter.
4. Install the solar valve after the check valve.
(Connecting it like the diagram will make it easiest
for installing an automatic controller.)
5. One port of the solar valve (shown in blue) will
go to the solar collectors.
6. The other port will be plumbed to the return tee.
7. The other two ports of the return tee will connect
to the solar collector return (shown in red) and the
heater inlet (or pool return).
8. A check valve should be installed on the return
line. This is not required for the operation of the
system. It serves to isolate the system from getting
any water when bypassed.
Valve position and flow with solar bypassed.
Valve position and flow with solar on
It’s common for the pool equipment to be located right next to
the house, allowing for the pipes to be run directly up the wall
from the pool equipment. The weight of the pipes full of water
can create a great amount of stress on the equipment if not
properly strapped to the wall. Glue a coupler on the pipe
shortly after the pipes turn up the side of the house and install
2in. wall clamps directly under them.
Very important! When wrapping pipes around an eve,
always strap the pipes at the very top, just under the
Important To Read:
Included in our installation kit is the Pentair solar valve. Used to control water flow to the solar
collectors, it has a drain down feature which allows water in the collectors to automatically drain back into the
pool at night, when used with the Pentair SolarTouch solar control system.
Three 2” / 2.5” ports
High flow rate
Drain down check valve built into the diverter
Positive sealing ports
Easy turn handle
CPVC valve body
Maintenance free diverter
Compatible with Pentair, Jandy abd Hayward
control actuators.
The installation kit and solar valve are sold separate and
are not included as components of the NSF/ANSI
Standard 50 Certified solar collector. An NSF/ANSI
Standard 50 Certified valve should be used in
applications requiring Certification.
Manual control application:
Without an auto control unit to turn the solar off every night, to prevent possible freeze damage, it is
recommended that the Stop Pin on the valve handle be moved over one slot to allow the system to drain when
the pump shuts off.
to solar
from filter
What separates the Pentair solar valve f r o m any other three way
valve is the drain down check valve. It’s purpose is to allow the
system to drain back into the pool when the solar is bypassed and the
pump is off. In addition it creates a positive seal, isolating the system
when the solar is off (When installed with a return line check valve).
When using other three way valves a 1/4” hole needs to be drilled into
the diverter to allow system drainage. In addition a shut off valve
needs to be installed on the solar feed line for system isolation.
Drainage and Drain Lines:
Essential to the longevity of any solar system is it’s ability to be drained
of all water when the system is not in use. This usually can be achieved
by simply keeping the supply pipe below the level of the system. When
this cannot be done, a drain line needs to be installed or the system
must be manually drained during winter months to prevent freeze
damage and during the summer months when the pool is sufficiently
warm without the solar to prevent overheating.
A vacuum relief valve (Included in the Suntrek
installation kit.) goes on the upper corner of the
system to take air onto the system when the
pump shuts off, allowing the collectors to drain.
These diagrams show other common options
when there are obstacles at the low corner of the
This diagram shows the typical plumbing scenario
with the solar supply and solar return pipes
coming up to the lowest part of the system for
automatic drainage.
When there are no alternatives to going up and over the
roof, a drain line made of 1/2” PVC pipe can be ran from
the low point of the system around the house and tie back
into the feed pipe or you can purchase a suntrek drain
line kit.
*Even a light frost can damage a solar system. Any water
in the collectors will crystallize and expand, causing damage to the system and shortening the lifetime of the collectors. Included in the Suntrek installation kit is a 3/4”
hose bib for manual drain down of the system as a last
Split System Plumbing:
When installing multiple banks of collectors, special attention needs to
be given to the plumbing design to ensure proper flow and drainage of
all collectors.
Return Tee
Vacuum relief valve
Solar Return
Solar Supply
1. To allow for complete drainage, the solar supply pipe must be kept below the level of the collectors,
2. To ensure proper flow through all collectors, the solar return pipe must come off the opposite upper corner of
the solar supply connection and be run to the highest point of the system before returning to the pool. (As
illustrated above.)
Drain line
either side.
Another common split system is placing the
collectors on opposite sides of a roof. (i.e. east and
west.) This way usually requires a drain line to be
run. (See previous page for explanation of drain
Automatic Controls:
A great addition to your Suntrek system is the Pentair SolarTouch
automatic control system. It will increase the efficiency of your system
by 15 to 20 percent by automatically bypassing the collectors when the
sun is not directly shining on them. Water passing through the collectors
at night, on a cool or rainy day , or even just a dark cloud passing overhead can cool the pool quickly through the collectors.
Included in the automatic control kit:
1- SolarTouch controller.
1- Pentair 3-way solar valve.
1- Pentair valve actuator.
1- Pool temp. sensor.
1- Solar temp. sensor.
1– Installation and operation guide.
Most automated pool systems come with solar control
options and only require an additional valve actuator and
solar sensor. Check your indoor controller or owners
Pentair solar valve and actuator.
The automatic controller is sold separate and is not included as a component of the NSF/ANSI Standard 50 Certified solar collector
Make Safety a Priority:
Take Every precaution when installing your solar system. The following
tips can help avoid injury.
1. Prevent ladder injuries.
Leaders should be of high quality and commercial grade and meet American national standards Institute
standards. Check ladder before use. Defective ladders should be repaired or destroyed. Keep ladders away
from power line. Place ladder on secure, even footing and secure it (tie-off) so that it will not shift while in
use. Don’t lean it against a movable object. Set ladder on an angle about 75 degrees to the ground. The steps
of the ladder will be level when it is set up properly. Allow only one person on a ladder at a time. Face the
ladder, grasping side rails or rungs with both hands. Extend the ladder three (3) feet above the roof line or
landing. Where there is a danger of a person or vehicle bumping into a ladder, have a helper stand guard.
Never step on a ladder rung that is above the roofline.
Wear good shoes that have a thick rubber sole.
Work with an assistant, never alone.
Do not work on a slippery roof. North sides are often mossy and extremely dangerous in morning dew
When working close to the edge or on a steep roof use a rope and harness to prevent falling from the roof.
Never walk backwards on a roof.
When possible, avoid working close to the edge of the roof.
Stack all materials and tools on the roof so they can’t fall (behind plumbing vents or chimney).
Make sure there are no children playing near by and alert adults of possible dangers from above in case
something were to fall from the roof.
10. When working with electricity, consult an electrician and make sure the power is turned off at the main
11. Never step on a power cord on a pitched roof. The cord will roll under your feet causing you to slip and
possibly fall. Cordless tools are beneficial.
12. If you have any concerns with regards to the conditions of your tools, roof, electrical systems, pool system
or any other aspect of the job, do not hesitate to contact a local professional or Suntrek Industries for
General Operating and Maintenance:
If you have automatic controls, check that the power light is on and the thermostat is set in a “high”
position. (you will need to find your ideal setting after the pool warms up.)
Set your filter-pump time clock to turn on at the time that the sun directly hits the collectors in the morning
(10:00 AM), and to turn off when the sun stops hitting the collectors (5:00 PM). Make day light saving
adjustments accordingly.
Your automatic controller will come with an owners manual for operation settings.
If the solar collectors are operated when the sun is not shining directly on them (at night or a
rainy day), it will cool off the pool. If you have automatic controls, asolar sensor will keep
this from happening.
Turn solar system OFF before back washing the filter.(Do not turn solar back on until filter system has run
for at least 20 minutes after back washing has been completed.)
Turn solar system off while manually vacuuming pool.
Do not walk on collector unit when possible.
For swimming during long-night/cooler weather months, it is recommended that a pool blanket be floated
on the surface of the pool to help prevent overnight heat loss.
In areas that are subject to freezing conditions, the solar system MUST be shut off and drained during
freezing periods to protect all components parts of the solar system. See “ To freeze-protect system”.
Never let water remain stagnant in the collectors (be certain system is gravity-drained when off).
In general, your Suntrek system will require little maintenance. However, to obtain the best possible
performance, it is recommended that the collectors be kept free of dust and debris by simply turning a hose
on them occasionally. It is advised that the system be inspected once a year and that the attachments
between the collectors and the roof be examined on a regular basis to avoid damage from severe winds.
Depending on the area, the recommended winterizing procedures may have to be performed.
Winterizing (in areas subject to freezing):
Position automatic control switch to “OFF” (if automatic control system), OR turn solar valve to by-pass
position (if manual system).
Wait 10-15 minutes to be sure the system has drained completely.
Open hose bib on roof to drain any remaining water from collectors. You can hook up an air compressor
to the hose bib to blow collectors empty if there is any doubt that they are not completely drained.
Leave system like this until after freeze conditions are over.
*Commercial Pools Drain Down Procedure:
Commercial pools that currently run filtration 24/7 must set a drain down period for the solar energy
system. Set the time clock to turn all the pool filtration off for a period of ½ hour every day. The
recommended time for this to occur is between 5pm-7pm. This will allow the solar system to drain
every day when there is no longer any pressure in the system due to the filtration cycle. This will
prevent the solar system from freezing in the winter and from long term stagnation year round. When
the solar system starts up the following day, air bubbles will be seen entering the pool until the solar
system has flushed all the air from the system.
If the pool is not getting warm enough in sunny conditions:
The filter may be dirty or clogged-check flow strength at pool outlets.
The time clock may not be set for best sunshine times of the day.
The thermostat may be set too low (if automatic system).
Valve may be turned off. Check water routing.
Pump may be weak and not be pumping a sufficient volume of water.
Off-season months may require floating cover on pool to prevent night-time heat loss.
Additional collectors may be necessary.
In general, it takes three days of consistent sunny weather in order for the pool to reach up to
seasonal solar heated temperature.
Constant bubble is the pool when the solar on:
Every time the solar system turns on, the pump purges all the air from the system producing a large
mount of bubbles in the pool, which should completely subside within two minutes. However, if you
see a constant stream of bubbles throughout the day, this indicates a problem not necessarily related
to the solar.
Insufficient flow through the solar collectors will draw air into the system through the vacuum
breaker, as the water falls from the collectors quicker than the water is being pumped to the roof.
Check the filter pressure with the solar off then check the pressure with the solar on. It is common for the
filter pressure to raise 8-10 pounds when pumping water to the collectors.
If the pressure is high (30 pounds or more) and does not increase with the solar on, this indicates the filter
needs cleaning.
If the filter pressure is abnormally low (10 pounds or less) and does not rise when the solar is activated,
check the pool skimmer and pump basket for debris. If there is not restrictions your pump may be too
weak and may need to be replaced.
If the filter pressure is normal with the solar off and increases 15 pounds or more with the solar activated,
this indicates that the solar collectors may be clogged with debris due to a break in a filter grid. If this is
the case, first have your filter dismantled and repaired then contact your installer or Suntrek Industries
for servicing a clogged system.
Water discoloration
Depending on your pool chemistry or lack of chlorine, it is possible to see the water discolor. Do not
be alarmed. During the curing process of the solar collectors, a salt is sometimes discharged into the
pool. If this condition exists, please make sure you have proper levels of conditioner and chlorine in
your pool and the discoloration will disappear.
Commercial Pool Instruction Manual Addendum to support CSI Program in California
In order to comply and remain current with the new CSI commercial pool rebate program in California,
this new section to our manual has been developed and will be updated as we learn more about
program changes.
S-Shaped Tile Vertical Installations:
Vertical S shape tile roof installations will require a stringer (support member) to be attached to the
ridge of the tile to provide a lateral support for the Suntrek collectors. A strapping system will hold the
collectors down every 4 ft. See diagram below:
Suntrek Stringer
Suntrek has engineered a solution that can eliminate most, if not all, penetrations with a flat roof. See
diagram below:
Winterization for Seasonal solar systems:
Seasonal Commercial Pool Solar systems can be installed vertical or horizontal and must have necessary
drain mechanisms to allow for winterization. A hose bib will be installed so the system can be drained.
Isolation valves will be installed at the pool equipment area so the solar system can be isolated and no
water will go to the collectors. Suntrek will provide the customer with the drain down procedure for
winterization to protect the system from freeze damage. The customer can also con tract with Suntrek to
provide this annual service. See drain pipe with hose bib and isolation valve diagram below:
Winterization Maintenance Plan:
1. Turn pool equipment off.
2. Go up on the roof and inspect entire solar system attachments. Open all hose bibs. In some
cases, the hose bibs may be run to ground level. Open to drain water from system.
3. Turn solar pool control system to off position. Inspect solar booster pump.
4. Close isolation valves on solar feed and returns.
5. Hook up a blower on the roof by disconnecting the feed line, end cap, and the return line to
blow residual water from system. Reconnect all hose and clamps to the feed and return lines
and close all hose bibs so that Spring start up is ready.
6. Spring start up should include opening the isolation valves.
7. Turn solar control system to automatic setting
8. Test the system for operation and leaks.
Year Round Solar Pool Systems:
Year round solar pool heating systems must be installed so the system can drain back by gravity and
syphoning. A minimum of 1/4 inch per foot is required to achieve this objective. Most “flat” roofs have
this minimum pitch. Install your Suntrek collectors so the feed is at the low point and your return at the
high point of the roof slope. Make sure there is a time clock setting for the pool filtration so you can set
aside a short down time period at sunset hours to allow the solar pool system to drain back to the pool
each day. In the morning, you will see large bubbles coming to the pool which is air being purged fro m
the collectors. The bubbles will then slowly go away as the solar collector begin to fill with water and
heat your pool.
Suntrek collectors are very durable, flexible, and versatile. When there are slight sags in the system or
roof, this will have no adverse effect on system drainage due to syphoning. When the water drops from
the roof, gravity will pull most of the water from the system leaving ample space in the event there is
residual water remaining so that this water can either expand in a freeze without structurally damaging
the system or during warm weather, this water will remain or escape through evaporation by way of the
VR valve.
Flat Roof Installations:
In order to increase performance and improve on system drain back, a racking system can be installed.
See diagram below:
Flat roof drain lines:
There will be circumstances where drain back is impaired by slope issues and parapet walls. Install drain
lines that will allow the water in the solar collectors to have a bridge between the lowest point of the
collector array and tie into the feed or retu rn lines at a point where gravity and syphoning will allow for
system drain back. See page 41 of the Suntrek Installation manual.
Solar Booster Pump:
All commercial systems require a booster pump. Suntrek systems should have a minimum flow rate of 1
GPM for every 10 SF of solar collector area and a maximum flow rate of 2 GPM for every 10 SF of
collector area. Size your pumping system accordingly.
Monitoring Systems:
For systems above 470 SF, a monitoring system is required. Due to the expense and inaccura cy of the
metering systems, CSI is requiring that we input the flow from a flow meter into the monitoring system
manually. The monitor will have two temperature sensors for inlet and outlet delta-T along with another
sensor that will determine when the booster pump is on or off. With this input data, the monitor will
display BTU’s produced.
North Facing Roofs:
The CSI program will allow slightly pitched north facing roofs for collector installations.
5 Holland #215
Irvine, CA. 92618
(949)-348-9276 Fax (949) 348-1626
(800) 292-7648
For assistance in sizing or ordering, The Suntrek FREE HELP LINE is:
1 - 8 0 0 - 2 - WA R M - I T
(Pacific Time business hours)
For assistance outside the USA, please use our e-mail at [email protected]
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