Bubbles in Your Pool

October 15th, 2020

 

Do you have bubbles in your pool? Maybe it's the kids? Is grandpa in the pool? Want to blame it on the dog? Let's talk about this. If you have a solar pool heater and experience bubbles surging from the return jets in the morning hours, this is probably OK. It's perhaps an indication that your solar heating system was correctly installed. This stream of bubbles should only last a couple of minutes. The reason for this surge of air bubbles from the return jets is the displacement of air with water in the solar panels. A professionally installed solar pool heating system should drain the water from the panels every night. The water simply drains back into the pool after your pump turns off for the night.

 

Excel Solar systems are designed with a "VRV" (vacuum relief valve) at the highest point within the roof plumbing. This valve is held closed by a spring and your pump pressure while the system is operating every day. Only when your pool pump turns off for the evening does this valve come into play. When the pump shuts off, the pressure within your pool plumbing system goes to zero. The pressure will try to go negative and pull a vacuum on the system. This "vacuum" effect is what pulls on the VRV spring and forces the valve to open. This will introduce air into the pipe at the highest point within your pool plumbing and release the water, allowing it to drain back into the pool. Have you ever tried to keep water or soda in a drinking straw by holding your finger over the hole and lifting the straw out of your drink? If you keep the top hole of the straw tightly covered with your finger, the fluid magically stays in the straw and defies gravity. As soon as you remove your finger from the straw's top opening, the fluid spills out. This example illustrates the same thing that is happening within your solar pool heating system. The VRV is acting like a giant finger blocking air from being introduced into the solar plumbing top. When the pump turns off, the VRV opens and introduces air into the system's highest point and releases the water.

 

Why are our solar pool heating systems designed this way? Well, this does equalize pressure and relieve the "vacuum pressure" on the system. The system shouldn't have that vacuum pressure, but the real reason for the VRV and the system draining back every night is freeze protection. Yes, I know that sounds a bit strange in central Florida, but systems are designed to drain back primarily to protect against freeze damage. Although it may not freeze every season, our systems are designed to drain back 365 nights a year. If the systems did not drain and water was left in the panels on your roof, when the temperature drops below freezing and ice forms in the solar panels, they can rupture. When water freezes, it expands, and that expansion can severely damage solar panels.

 

When you see a surge of air bubbles coming from the return jets of your pool in the morning hours, it usually means that the system is operating correctly. If you see a constant stream of bubbles coming from one or more of the jets all day long while the pump is running, you probably have a problem that will require a service call. This small stream of constant bubbles usually indicates a leak within your pool plumbing system on the suction side of the pump. No water is escaping (while the pump is running), but the air is being sucked in at the leak source. That air runs through the entire system until it exits at the return jets, where you notice it in your pool. Most of these suction leaks end up being a loose-fitting at the pump. All that pump vibration can loosen up the fittings at the pump connections, and this is the result. On rare occasions, when you have constant air bubbles, it can be a broken fitting or cracked pipe underground within the suction pipe. This is not as easy to fix and usually requires a professional leak detecting company and some digging.

 

So, let's review: If you have a solar pool heating system and you experience a surge of air bubbles upon the system startup every morning, and it lasts a couple of minutes, the system is probably doing what it is designed to do. If you have a constant stream of air bubbles all day, every day, you probably need a service call from your pool company. This will likely be a simple repair the tech can do within about one hour. Let's hope the tech does not have to call in the leak detecting company. If you ever have questions about your solar heating system, Excel Solar is just a phone call or email away. We are always happy to answer your questions. Now go, enjoy that solar-heated pool!

 

C. Russell Moutsatsos
President of Excel Solar, Inc.
State Certified Solar Contractor (License #CVC56933)


Lessons Learned... or Not

July 1st, 2020

 

These past few months have taught us all, once again, that lower prices and fancy talking salesmen are not reasons to purchase solar. As many have probably seen on the central Florida news, a prominent solar company located in Brevard County, went out of business. This caused hundreds of customers to lose their deposits—which were TOO HIGH—and with partial installations. Many rules are broken when people shop based on price alone. This Excel Solar competitor was selling solar panels for approximately what we could purchase them for wholesale. Of course, this competitor was selling the cheapest, Chinese panels, and equipment available. Conversely, Excel Solar uses only top-quality, American-made products. Therefore, we at Excel Solar could easily predict this “quick exit” our competitor recently took with their customers’ money. Personally, I have always screamed it from the rooftops: Do not shop only based on price! But no one would listen. Why? Probably because Excel Solar’s price has always been almost 30% higher than our competitors. Well, guess what? There was a good reason... there usually is.

 

There is another company in Brevard County doing the same thing as the competitor I discuss above. In fact, this company does not even possess a state-certified solar contractor’s license. The company is paying a general contractor and using his license to install solar systems. If an individual or business is selling solar and wants to be an expert in the field, they should at least take the time to acquire a state-certified solar contractor’s license. Yes, a general contractor's license allows a company to “legally” pull permits to install solar. But here we go again. PLEASE do your homework: Who is the contractor? What kind of license does he or she hold? Is he or she even part of the company? What is the reputation of the company? How long has the company been around? What products is the company selling and using? It is only after these questions are answered that you should begin comparing prices.

 

I have been doing solar in Brevard County for over 37 years. I have seen many so-called “solar companies” come and go in that time. Every customer that chose Excel Solar, over one of these “cheaper,” fly-by-night companies, has made the right choice. We always have and will always sell the best products at a fair price. This guarantees we will be here for another 37 years to service our systems and stand behind our warranties. It is no accident that so many solar companies have come and gone, while Excel Solar, Inc. is still here.

 

C. Russell Moutsatsos

President of Excel Solar, Inc.

State Certified Solar Contractor (License #CVC56933)

Solar Tax Credits

April 29th, 2020

 

The federal solar tax credit, known as the ITC (Investment Tax Credit), was initially established by the “Energy Policy Act of 2005.” This gave homeowners across the country the opportunity to invest in an energy-saving solar system and get a federal tax credit of 30% of the purchase price. The credit was needed due to the high cost of solar equipment, specifically, solar photovoltaic panels. With other incentives available to manufacturers, cheaper raw materials, and competition, the price of photovoltaic panels has decreased in the past decade. These lower prices have lessened the need for subsidies. For example, we (Excel Solar) were selling photovoltaic systems (solar electric) for about $10 per watt just fifteen years ago. However, today, our price is near $3 per watt, installed!

Now, the federal solar tax credit is being phased out. 2019 was the last year for the 30% tax credit. This year, 2020, the credit is reduced to 26% and, in 2021, the credit will be reduced again to 22%. This will be the end of the residential tax credit. By 2022, a 10% federal tax credit will continue for commercial buildings only.

There is still plenty of time for homeowners to take advantage of this government program. However, they should start shopping now. Of course, Excel Solar offers free, no-hassle estimates for all your solar needs. Maybe it’s finally time to take control of your FPL bill?

Please review Instructions for Form 5695 to learn more.

C. Russell Moutsatsos
President of Excel Solar, Inc.
State Certified Solar Contractor (License #CVC56933)

Florida Renewable Energy Statute 163.04

January 21st, 2020
 
I have heard it a thousand times: “Our HOA won’t allow us to have solar.” It is true that HOAs would love to dictate your rooftop solar; however, Florida has a renewable energy statute that will probably allow you to have your solar panels in the most efficient placement (positioning) on your roof, in spite of your HOA rules. This does not mean you can stick your finger in the eye of the HOA, but it does mean you have a legal right to produce renewable energy.
You must still submit requests and drawings to your review board but that is where the law will dictate your HOA’s limits. The statute is written to protect your rights to produce renewable solar energy in the form of photovoltaic, pool heating, water heating, and even a clothesline (solar clothes dryer). Excel Solar is always happy to help with the process.
 
Please review Florida Statute Section 163.04 to learn more.
 
C. Russell Moutsatsos
President of Excel Solar, Inc.
State Certified Solar Contractor (License #CVC56933)

January 2020

Now is a good time to make preparations for the 2020 hurricane season that starts in June. An inspection of your solar installation will bring peace of mind.

 

The Excel Solar Team



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Serving all of Brevard and Indian River Counties: Melbourne, West Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, Palm Bay, Indialantic, Indian Harbour Beach, Satellite Beach, Cocoa Beach, Cape Canaveral, Merritt Island, Titusville, Mims, Cocoa, Rockledge, Viera, Suntree, Grant-Valkaria, Malabar, Micco, Sebastian, Wabasso, Vero Beach, Fellsmere.

 



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