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Discussion Starter #1
1st call of the day.

Picture 1. Shot of the air vent valve spraying out of a crack from freezing.

Picture 2. The spray from the valve frosted the ground and AC condenser nicely.

Picture 3. More frosty goodness.

picture 4. Close up of the valve spraying.

picture 5. The neighbor across the street has a progressive tube collector. Also known as an ICS (Integral Collector Storage) system/ While these things are pretty freeze resistant, they don't heat water well compared to an active-direct system with a flat plate collector.

I plugged the 1/2" FIP for the air vent valve and ordered a new valve.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
2nd call

I was not happy about this one as it was for a good friend of mine. About 2 years ago, I installed a system for the local barnett counter guy who I tight with. He didn't want one of the normal kits that come as a package with an AET collector because he could get most of the parts from barnett at cost. I agreed and we got a Chromagen collector instead. When I got a sample of the collector from my supplier, the sample had 1/2" runners and a 1" header. Well aperantly they ( Chromagen ) pulled a bait and switch.

I get a call from him today saying that the collector broke. Sure enough I go out there and not only did it freeze split one of the runners but it actually shattered the glass too! I have never seen this happen before. It apears that the split formed right where the runner tube is welded to the absorber fin. I also found out that the runner is only 3/8" instead of 5/8" like the collectors I normally install. Every thing worked the way it was supposed to but the collector still froze. I think it was do to the runners being so small that there was not enough flow to keep the panel warm (the volume to surface area ratio was to low).

Well, my friend is ordering a new AET collector and this Chromagen is going in the trash where it belongs. Lesson learned.

picture 6. the collector

picture 7. the ice leftover from the freeze valve blowing off all night (most had melted by this point). In any other panel, this would have protected it.

picture 8. Another shot of the shattered collector. Also notice how the cheap barnett insulation is not UV rated and has already started to break down. My normal stuff is UV rated and does not do this. He supplied the materials so don't hate on me for it :)

picture 9. another shot

picture 10. more non-UV rated sun rotted insulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
more from second call.

pic 11. shot of the small 3/8" od runner leaking.

pic 12. runner-header connection

pic 13. top of the panel and valve cluster

pic 14. my thoughts on this brand
 

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Discussion Starter #5
3rd call of the day.

HO has water running down the roof from his solar water heater's collector. I get there and it's pretty obvious why the panel froze. The freeze valve is on the bottom of the panel instead of the top. Now for those of you who don't do this type of work, let me explain. The water comes in from one of the bottom corners of the panel and exits from the opposite top corner. When it's done this way you have even flow on all of the runners. Well, the installing contractor ( John Happle Solar ) put the freeze valve on the bottom corner like on most of his installs I come across (for the same reasons, frozen collector), Because it was done this way, the top collector runners were starved of flow when the freeze valve opened because water does not like to take the scenic route. The top froze and that's all she wrote. Homey gets to buy a new collector now. But hey, at least the freeze valve will be in the right spot now.

You notice that the neighbors collector had it's valve in the right place and it survived the freeze just fine as did mine at my house.

Pic 15. Me snapping a pic of the neighbors collector on the way in. No leaks :)

Pic 16. The damaged goods.

Pic 17. neighbor’s collector and my truck.

Pic 18. notice that the neighbors freeze valve is on top where it should be.

pic 19. A close up of the runner leaking right at the connection to the header.
 

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Drain Cleaning Specialist
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I was hoping you would post on frozen solar panels. I was wondering how well they were holding up down there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
more from 3rd call.

pic 20. Nice flashing John Happle :rolleyes: :laughing:

pic 21. Giving the HO and his son the bad news on the roof.
 

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So how long will it take the collector to pay for YOU and start getting the owner a return?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
4th call of the day.

Same deal as the last call. This panel was installed about 30 years ago. I have no idea how it survived so long with no cross flow and no freeze valve. It went last night though so another panel install for me. Notice how the inlet and outlet are on the same side instead of being on caddi-corners like they should be. This thing was barely working as only one side was seeing any flow. It was also under sized and had NO FREEZE VALVE WHAT SO EVER!

pic 22. A summary of this monstrosity.

pic 23. that's normal right?

pic 24. side view

pic 25. As an added bonus: Low temperature, non-uv rated polyethylene foam insulation. Thermister is secured using a plastic ziptie. sweet. :blink::laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter #11
They all had already paid for themselves when they broke. It will take about 2 years for the replacement panels to pay for themselves again. Each case was a little bit different so you will have to specify which one to get an exact answer.

So how long will it take the collector to pay for YOU and start getting the owner a return?
 

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They all had already paid for themselves when they broke. It will take about 2 years for the replacement panels to pay for themselves again. Each case was a little bit different so you will have to specify which one to get an exact answer.
Thats close enough! Whats the installed price plus your trip today for the ones your going to replace?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
A little under 2 grand

Thats close enough! Whats the installed price plus your trip today for the ones your going to replace?
 
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