One of our friendly competitors has been using yet another scare tactic regarding the iSwim solar pool heating system. This time they are saying that between solar panels rubber couplers leak. These are the couplers that join together individual solar panels.
Note: the technically correct term is rubber couplings, but many people use couplers and couplings interchangeably.
Alternative to Rubber Couplers
The particular competitor saying this has unique (proprietary) solar panel connection hardware. They use an o-ring with a clip. Their biggest problems are o-rings leaking, clips breaking, and coupling clips digging into shingle roofs. But they need to deflect those issues, so they point to myths created about our rubber couplers.
The problem with using o-rings is that the solar panel headers need to mate up perfectly, and expansion and contraction can cause the surfaces to become askew. More often the o-ring itself simply wears out or dries out. That’s a pretty easy fix, and we carry spares on our vehicles for this common issue with our competitor’s solar pool heaters. The clamps on this particular brand have also been know to pinch the end tubes causing leaks if positioned incorrectly or if they rotate over time. The clamps also dig into shingles if they are not properly supported.
And guess what… EVERY other local distributor uses rubber couplers with stainless steel hose clamps to join solar panels together. Why? It is the proven best way to connect solar panels. Rubber couplers allow for expansion and contraction with leak-free performance.
Leak-Free Performance with Rubber Couplers
There is a catch with rubber couplers. You have to do it right and use the right materials. It’s true that rubber couplers can leak if done improperly. That’s why our installers do it right through careful training. That involves positioning the clamp properly with respect the the solar panel header and proper tightening of the clamps. It also involves using a manufacturer approved/supplied coupler that is tested and proven, and hose clamps that have the proper torque rating. For the most part, at least locally, everyone has had that figured out for years (decades in some cases).
Another (uncommon) issue with rubber couplers is that panels installed in the summer when they are hot may contract slightly in the winter causing small leaks to form. This is resolved by tightening the clamps, and is a one-time phenomenon. This is combatted with proper tightening during the initial installation, taking into account the time of year. We also use specially selected couplers that exhibit better elasticity.
The bottom line is the superior, proven, reliable connection method in the industry is rubber couplers. This method is used by the vast majority of solar pool panel manufacturers. There is nothing to worry about with respect to leaks when installed by a capable technician. Any coupler leaks normally become evident during the first year of installation and this would fall under our workmanship warranty anyway.
Coupler leaks between solar panels are essentially a non-issue. We have been back to ONE job site in the last year to resolve a minor issue.