Solar pool heating panel repair service is something that most local solar panel dealers will do for any brand. We service all of our competitors’ brands, and they do the same. When a panel needs to get replaced rather than repaired, we see some people doing something really unfortunate – they replace a leaking solar panel with a different brand.
Why is replacing a leaking solar pool heating panel with a different brand a problem?
Solar pool heaters are all about flow rate and even flow. Each brand of solar pool heater has a different resistance to flow, and therefore will not have the same flow rate through that panel. If the new solar panel has a higher resistance to flow, little or no water will flow through it. That’s bad because it will impact your system performance. Replacing a panel with one that has a lower resistance to flow will have the opposite effect, sending a disproportionate amount of water through the new panel, reducing the performance of the original panels.
On a recent service call we discovered a system installed by a competitor in 2001 (pictured below). The new owner was experiencing a leak. The system already had two panels replaced by prior owners, each with a different brand. One of the original panels was leaking (again). The owners were chasing leaks and replacing panels with whatever they could get. This resulted in three different panel types with three flow rates.
One of panels was a Techno-Solis™ brand with relatively low flow resistance. Most of the water was going straight through this panel, making the rest of the system far less effective. The other replaced panel was a FAFCO™ brand panel with the highest resistance in the industry. Essentially no water was flowing though this panel, making it pretty useless in the system. It also had an improvised header connection that was slightly leaking. And one of the original Aquatherm™ brand panels was leaking (again). It was a mess.
We see this pretty frequently. Sometimes a system owner will make a DIY replacement with a panel they purchased online or at retail through a local solar dealer, but it is also done by solar dealers for some reason. It is possible to integrate different brands into a system, but only using balancing valves, which add cost and complexity to the system that is usually unwarranted.
Among other problems, this system’s header clamps were also too tight, causing bucking at the header junctions, and the metal strap’s coating was coming off, another common problem with this brand.
What to do if a solar panel needs to be replaced?
Sometimes it’s no longer advisable to repair solar pool heating panels. If they have reached the end of their useful life, plugging a panel may just result in leaks popping up in another place. Sometimes you may just have a bad panel from a bad batch of manufacturing. In these cases, you really have three options:
- Replace the panel with the same brand. This usually means you need to find and contact the dealer that installed the panel in the first place. Professional dealers that represent exclusive brands will be hesitant to use another dealer’s panels, and may not have access to the proper installation hardware.
- Eliminate the panel from the array. Even if the panel is in the middle of a row of solar panels, bypassing that faulty panel or moving a panel from the end to replace it may be your best option. This will reduce you system performance proportionally, but often this is the most economical and sensible way to go.
- Replace the entire system. If a system has reached the end of its useful life, repairing and replacing panels can become a game of “whack-a-mole.” Chasing repairs can get costly and frustrating. Replacing the system with the same brand is not necessary because all of the hardware and plumbing should be replaced at the same time. Don’t try to replace all of your panels without using new and compatible system components. That defeats the purpose of a new warranty and long-term worry-free operation from new panels.
Get a professional to replace your solar panels.
When it does come time to replace your solar panels, even if just a single panel, don’t mix brands and hire a professional to do the work. If your dealer says it is okay to use different brands, challenge them and see what they have to say. Contact us to come out an give you a second opinion. We do offer repair service on any brand (for a fee), and we offer free replacement estimates. If your system is beyond its warranty period, consider a new system with a new warranty. No matter what, if you do it yourself, seek the advice of a professional first. Good companies will steer you in the right direction when it’s time to replace a solar pool heating panel.