Vortex Install Manual

Vortex Install Manual
Vortex™ Installation Manual
Read the complete installation manual and Owners Manual
before beginning the installation.
Sizing the System Size the system using the “Simplified
Sizing Guide For Solar Pool Heaters.” From this form you will
determine the System Size in Square Footage. Based on this
area, choose a panel size. Panels are available in 4’x8’, 4’x10’,
4’x12’ & custom sizes. Divide by 32, 40 or 48, respectively, to
determine the number of panels. Using larger panels, where
possible, results in a lower cost per square foot.
Where to Install Determine the roof(s) where the panels will
be installed. In the northern hemisphere, the panels may be
faced (in the order of efficiency) south, flat, west or east.
Panels may never face north. Panels must be mounted at a
minimum of 15° for proper drainage. In tropic and sub-tropic
climates, the panels may be installed on flat roofs (in the
event of freezing conditions, the water from the pump must
be circulated through the system to prevent panel damage.)
Most roof surfaces are acceptable for installation; including
shingle, barrel tile, flat tile, metal, cedar shake, built-up gravel
and modified roof systems. The system can also be installed
on a aluminum or wood ground mounted rack system. For
more information on rack or flat roof installations, consult our
technical support team.
Verify Space Requirements Determine the available area on
the roof(s) for the installation. Panels are 48” wide with a 3”
gap between absorbers for mounting, totaling 51”. Panels are
placed next to each other in a row; each panel requires 51”
horizontally (i.e. 7 - 4’x10’ panels would be 357” horizontal by
120” vertical.) Panel Rows may be split to circumvent large
obstacles, to install one row above another row, or to install
on separate roofs. Each split requires a “Split Kit.” Panels
may be spaced around small vents up to 5” without a “Split
Kit” provided they fall between panels by using a 6” Rubber
Coupling. Each Row requires a minimum of 3” on all sides to
allow for feed and return plumbing. See the chart below for
typical system space requirements (the Overall Length
includes the 3” on each side.) Different size panels may be
combined; however, we suggest you call for technical
assistance on these types of installations.
# Panels
Overall Length
# Panels
Overall Length
Typical Panel & Plumbing Layouts See typical layouts
below. Do not use more than 12 panels in any row. For larger
systems, split the panels into several rows. Feed the water
into the bottom corner and return from the opposite top
corner. Never use “Bottom End Feed Same Top End Return”
because of reduced efficiency at the opposite end panels. All
bottom headers and feed plumbing should allow for gravity
drain. In tropic or sub-tropic climates, the panels and
plumbing may be level; in northern climates, they must be
installed with a ¼” per foot slope towards the feed. Refer to
the owner’s manual for draining requirements. All return lines
from separate panel rows must meet at the highest point of
the system.
5. Installation Materials Below is a standard list of
materials required for a typical installation.
PANEL KIT (1 per Panel, 1 per Row/Double Row, 1 per Split)
Kit includes
3” Rubber Coupling
Stainless Hose Clamp
Stainless #14x2” 3/8 Hex Screw
Stainless Header/Strap Clip
ROW KIT (1 per Row)
Kit includes
End Plug
Pipe to Panel Adapter
Note: 2” System Plumbing Standard; 1½” Kits by request
DOUBLE ROW KIT (1 per Double Row)
Kit includes
2” Tee
End Plug
Pipe to Panel Adapter
SPLIT KIT (1 per Split)
Kit includes
Pipe to Panel Adapter
Note: 2” Split Plumbing Standard; 1½” Kits by request
7. Panel Installation The following procedure assumes a
shingle roof; for other roof types including flat roofs, see the
section on Special Roof Requirements. Establish a horizontal
chalk line across the roof for the location of the top of the
system. This line must have 3/4” clearance above and below
it for mounting the Header Clip on a flat surface. For tile
roofs, the line should be approximately 2” above the bottom
of the tile. (For northern climates, this line must have a ¼”
per foot slope towards the feed end to allow for drainage.)
Then drop a vertical line (90° to the horizontal line) at the left
or right end of the installation to locate the first panel. Allow
a minimum of 3” on all sides of the panel row for piping.
Inspect the roof for any sharp projections that may damage
the panels. If there are any vents, chimneys or other obstructions, layout the system before attaching the panels.
Begin installing the panels from left to right (or right to left)
working towards the opposite end. Vortex Panels use a
header design where the board attaches to the middle of the
bottom and top header. This design reduces the buildup of
snow, leaves and debris on the absorber surface near the
header. The panel can be installed either side up, and can be
reversed after five or more years to lengthen its life.
PLUMBING KIT (1 per System)
7.1 Lay the top header approximately 1¼” below the horizontal
chalk line. Using the parts from the Panel Kit, install a 3”
Rubber Coupling on the right end top & bottom header
outlet. Notice that the header outlet has a groove near the
end. Install a
Stainless Hose
Clamp over each
Rubber Coupling
and position it
over the groove
as detailed below;
position the head
of each clamp
facing out and up
for easy access,
then tighten until
Kit includes
1½” ID / 2” OD 3-Way Valve
1½” ID / 2” OD Check Valve
2” PVC 90 Elbow
2” PVC 90 Street Elbow
2” PVC Coupling
2” PVC Tee
2” x 1 1/2” PVC Flush Bushing
2 1/2” Galv 2 Hole Pipe Clamp
Stainless #14x1½ “ 3/8 Hex Screw
Tube Sealant
PVC PIPE per Ft (typical amount shown below)
# of Panels Ft
# of Panels Ft
8 - 12
# of Panels
# of Panels
13 - 18
Note: For Tile Roof Installations, request & use Tapcon screws
6. General Tools Required
¼” Variable speed drill
5/16” & 3/8” Nut driver
Caulking gun
Chalk line
Tape measure
Hacksaw or pipe cutter
PVC glue & cleaner
7.2 Slip another Hose Clamp over the bottom and top Rubber
Coupling. Position the next panel to the right of the first
panel, and insert the header outlet into the top and bottom
Rubber Coupling of the first panel. Position each Hose
Clamp over the groove of the second panel; facing out and
up for easy access, then tighten until snug. The top and
bottom should look like the diagram below when finished.
7.4 Open the last Hose Clamp and slip the end down through the
Stainless Header Clip (slotted end with a lip) and around the
under side of the Rubber Hose Connector. Close the Hose
Clamp and tighten snugly around the Rubber Hose Connector so that it is firmly seated against the lip of the Header Clip
as shown in Detail A.
If the roof is not too steep for the panels to slide, you may
continue connecting panels following Step 7.1 then Step 7.2;
otherwise move to Step 7.3.
7.3 Verify that the panels are in position (the top edge of the
header should be parallel to the horizontal line; the left edge
of the very first panel
should be on the
vertical line.) Then
mark the horizontal
line directly above the
center of the top
Rubber Coupling.
Apply a generous
amount of sealant to
the bottom of the
Stainless Header Clip,
and position it on this HEADER CLIP
mark with the lip end
facing the Rubber
Coupling. Using the
drill and the 3/8” nut
driver, install a
Stainless #14x1½” 3/8
Hex Screw through
the hole in the middle
of the Header Clip
into the roof until
tight. The Clip should
be tight, but be sure not to strip the screw in the wood. Also
be sure the lip on the Clip
is square against the
Rubber Coupling. Apply
a small amount of sealant
over the head of the
screw. When complete, it
should look like the
diagram to the left.
Continue with Step 7.1 through Step 7.4 until all panels in the
row are installed. Note that the bottom headers are not
secured with a Header Clip to allow for expansion. Note that
this expansion can cause abrasion to some roof surfaces. To
eliminate wear on the roof, use silicon to adhere a small
square piece of galvanized sheet metal (approxiamately 4”x4”)
under each Rubber Hose Connector.
7.5 The completed row should look like the Roof Diagram. It may
vary based on the actual layout. To finish the row, use the
parts from the System Kit. Install a Rubber Hose Connector
on the four outside panel corners using the Hose Clamps.
On the feed and return corners, insert the Pipe to Panel
Adapters into the Rubber Hose Connector using the end that
resembles a header outlet; secure with a Hose Clamp. On the
remaining two corners, insert an End Plug. Be sure that the
End Plug is inserted with the lip facing in towards the panel
so that lip is in between the Hose Clamp and the panel.
Secure the two top end Rubber Hose Connectors to the roof
with Header Clips just as you did for each panel.
9. Pipe Layout Use 2” Schedule 40 PVC plastic piping
between the bottom end plumbing and the panels. White
pipe is recommended because of its excellent outdoor life.
The pipe may be painted with a good outdoor paint to match
the structure or roof. 1½” pipe may be used on splits
between panel rows. All plumbing should allow for gravity
drain. In tropic or sub-tropic climates, the panels and
plumbing may be level; in northern climates, they must be
installed with a ¼” per foot slope towards the pool equipment. The panels should gravity drain back to the pool.
Refer to the Owner’s Manual for draining requirements. If it
is not possible to route plumbing to allow for panel drainage,
a manual drain valve or line should be installed, or the end
plugs may be removed to drain panels. Support all pipes
every 4’ using 2½” Galvanized Pipe Clamps.
10. Flow Rate The sizing calculations made to determine the
number of panels to install must be matched to the flow rate
from the pool pump, to operate at maximum efficiency. The
ideal flow of water per panel is 3 to 5 gallons per minute. The
acceptable range is from 3 to 8 gpm per panel. The total gpm
flow rate supplied by the pool pump is divided by the number
of panels installed to determine this figure. The gpm rating of
a pool pump (as indicated on the pump or in the operating
manual) will not be its actual output because of the pressure
drop due to piping, filter, fittings, and the panels (only when
panels are on.) The actual output must be measured by an inline flow meter or calculated from the pump’s efficiency curve.
(As the pressure drop increases gpm decreases.) The gpm
rate can also be estimated using the pump rating or by
consulting the manufacturer. If there is inadequate flow,
reducing the number of elbows or using 2 - 45° elbows
instead of 90° elbows will reduce friction loss and increase
51” C.C.
flow. A larger pump (or upgrading the pump motor and
impeller) may be required if the flow is below 3 gpm per panel.
A simple test to insure that the panels have enough flow is to
feel the surface of the panels on a sunny day; it should feel
cool to the touch (the heat is being absorbed into the water).
If there is too much flow, throttle the 3-way valve towards the
bypass to divert additional flow; or install a bypass line
across the feed and return lines with a ball valve for adjusting
and bypassing flow.
A properly sized pool pump and filtration system will circulate
the entire volume of pool water once each day; typically in a
8 to 10 hour cycle. Panel sizing is based on circulating the
entire volume of pool water through the panels once each
“solar” day. If the filtration system is under sized or can not
be extended to run 8 hours per day, a booster pump will be
11. Startup & Testing Consult the owner’s manual for
complete startup procedure. After system is filled with water,
check all fittings, hose couplings and panels for leaks. Set
the time clock to operate during the solar day, typically 9am
to 5pm. Feel the surface of each panel to ensure proper flow;
as the pool water flows through it on startup it will cool to the
temperature of the pool water. Check for air bubbles from the
pool jets.
12. Correcting Problems: Problem: Air bubbles coming out
of the pool jets. This condition results in poor heat transfer,
and should be corrected. Solution: First, check the pool
pump basket for air bubbles. If the basket is not completely
clear of bubbles, there is a good chance that there is a
suction leak between the pump and the pool. Check the
skimmer to insure the water is at the proper level. Lubricate
the basket lid o-ring (consult the pump instructions). There
may be a suction leak between the pump and the pool, or in
the pump internal gaskets. This may require a professional to
service. On systems with an optional vaccum breaker, try
relocating the vaccum breaker to the bottom header. On some
systems, the water flows down from the panels faster than
the pump will supply it. This allows air to draw in at the
rubber connectors. First try tightening the hose clamps; next
install a ball valve in the return line from the solar above the
tee. Adjust the valve towards closed slowly over a five
minute period until the bubbles have stopped. If this valve is
closed 50% or more, there may be other problems; consult the
technical support line or a professional. The pool pump may
be under sized, not supplying adequate lift and flow to fill the
Problem: Inadequate heating. Solution: Inadequate flow;
see section on flow rate. Improper time clock setting;
systems with a southern exposure should run from 9 AM
until 5 PM. Heat loss at night; use a solar pool cover to
insulate the pool surface against heat loss when night time
temperatures are below 60°F. Shade on the panels; remove
obstruction or set time clock to run only when panels have
sunlight on them. Under sized system; increase the number
of panels.
12. Special Roof Requirements: Variations in the
installation procedures are outlined below. Consult the
technical support for other types of roof installations.
Flat Tile or Barrel Tile Roofs: The mounting hardware is
attached to the tile using Tapcon Screws supplied with the kit
(you must specify tile roof when ordering). This requires
drilling a pilot hole in the tile before inserting the screw. Use
a 3/16” masonry drill bit. DO NOT drill into the substrate
below the tile; doing so will cause a roof leak. The mounting
screws should be positioned 1” to 2” above the bottom edge
of the tile. This will allow a space between the tile and the
substrate due to the overlap in the tiles. On barrel tile roofs,
try to lay out the panels so that the mounting holes fall on
the tops of the barrel tile. This can be accomplished by using
6” rubber couplings where additional spacing is required; cut
the coupling to the correct length.
Cedar Shake Roofs: If the cedar shakes are installed on top
of a plywood surface, use a galvanized metal flashing
(approximately 4”x4”) under each shake where the mounting
screw will penetrate. Center the flashing under the penetration location before installing the screw. Drill a pilot hole and
apply a generous amount of sealant into the hole. If the
cedar shakes are installed on fir strips, call for alternate
installation method.
Flat Built-up Gravel Roofs: Use caution when installing on
this type of roof. The roof must be in good condition and be
completely dry. If you are uncertain of the condition of the
roof, consult a professional. At each mounting location
remove the loose gravel in an area approximately 6”x6”. At
the exact location of the penetration, remove the gravel which
is embedded into the tar surface of the roof using a chisel or
the back of a claw hammer. Scrap back the gravel until you
have a smooth tar surface approximately 2”x2”. Apply a
generous amount of sealant under the mounting hardware
and over the head of the screw once installed. Using a 2” to
2½” fender washer under the mounting hardware will provide
additional mounting surface. The screw must be tightened to
hold the hardware securely to roof surface; however, use
extreme caution not to over tighten and strip the screw in the
plywood. An alternate method is to have a roofing contractor
install “roof curbs” where the mounting hardware will be
Open Beam Roofs: Any ceiling with exposed beams must be
checked to avoid the screw ends from penetrating into the
interior space. Call for alternate installation method.
Metal Roofs: If the metal roof is installed on a plywood
surface, you may proceed using the normal installation
method. If the metal roof is installed on fir strips, the
mounting hardware must penetrate into the fir strip to insure
a good seal and to avoid bending the metal surface. If screw
heads protrude above the surface of the roof, a substrate
must be used to prevent damage to the panels.
Rubber or Asphalt Modified: This type of roof is typically
installed flat. Using a 2” to 2½” fender washer under the
mounting hardware will provide additional mounting surface.
Be sure to use a generous amount of sealant under the
washer, between the washer and the mounting hardware, and
on top of the mounting screw.
Roof or Ground Mounted Rack Systems: Rack systems can
be made from pressure treated wood or aluminum. For roof
mounted racks aluminum is preferred for its additional
strength and longevity. Aluminum racks are available in a kit
form. To order a kit, or to request a wood rack design
specification sheet, call the technical support line.
To order parts or for technical support, call Pool Heating
Distributors at 1-800-909-WARM; facsimile at 1-800-897-6527;
or Email at [email protected]
For sales and service, call Solar Direct at 1-800-333-WARM;
facsimile at 1-800-897-6527; or Email [email protected]
This box contains solar panels rolled up under tension. When removing, place box on side
and remove one panel at a time. Use caution when removing, the panel may attempt to
spring open into an un-rolled position and could cause injury if you or any item is struck by
the panel. Two people should carefully unwind panel to release tension.
Once the panel is removed from box, it will likely remain in a slightly rolled position. To
return the panel to a flat shape, place the panel in full sunlight. Begin to unroll panel and
use a heavy weight (without sharp edges) in several spots to hold the panel flat or mostly
flat. As the sun heats up the panel, it’s memory will return to a flat configuration. This
process typically takes 30 to 60 minutes depending on how long the panel was boxed and
the intensity of the sun. Exercise the same warning as above when unrolling the panel,
until it has completely returned to a flat position. Carefully remove weights.
The panels are assembled in four 1 foot strips which are connected together with a tack
weld. This is to hold the individual panels in place during shipping and handling until they
are placed on the roof. In some cases, the tack weld will break apart during rolling, shipping
or un-rolling of the panel. This is normal and does not in any way effect the integrity or
performance of the panel.
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