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De-installing a Solar Hot Water Heater

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  • De-installing a Solar Hot Water Heater

    I have a Schuco system that was installed 10 years ago, supposedly with a lifetime warranty. Five years ago the Computer/Controller failed, costing me over $300. A few months back I started seeing a leak. At this time it appears to be minimal but I know its a matter of time until it lets go. . I called the company that installed it who told me a replacement tank was $3000 including labor.. Now the replaced computer does not display anything but the system appears to still be working

    Even though I live in Florida, after looking at electric bill over the years we have never recouped the $12000 paid for this system. There is only myself and my wife so there is not a great need for hot water. I plan on replacing it with a heat pump water heater which should work well here in Florida. I have the plumbing and electrical skills to do the replacement myself.


    1. how do I drain the glycol from the solar collector in preparation for replacing the system.

    2. would it be possible to repurpose the collector for electricity?

    3. Is there anyone here in Florida interested in buying the collector and glycol?


  • #2
    If the collector (glycol) loop is leaking, isolate the system and stop using it. Most closed loop systems (which you appear to have) use propylene glycol which is deemed safe for domestic use. If the system uses ethylene glycol, that stuff is fatal to some domestic animals. Cats seem to particularly like the stuff.

    1.) To be on the safe side, until corrected/removed, stop using the system and call a plumber

    2.) No more possible than to turn a boat into an electric motor vehicle for terrestrial use. The two applications are completely different.

    3.) The collectors probably have ~ 20 - 25 lbm of copper in them per collector. Scrap copper has a rather high value. Just know it's a job getting at it and disposing of the rest of the material.

    Solar thermal water heaters do require some maint. Not doing it leads to problems similar to what you describe. If that's all that's required, $3K for a new tank w/install is almost as ridiculous as the 12K original price you relate. Your solar ignorance is being and was used by unscrupulous installer(s) to screw.

    If you want to continue to use the sun to heat water, get self educated starting with a copy of "Solar Power Your Home for Dummies". Know that solar PV can be both cost effective and useful but not for everyone. Your solar ignorance and poor vendors screwed you once and that may well happen again if you do nothing.

    Spend 20 bucks and a few hours reading and start insulating yourself from the same thing happening as that $20K screwing you took 10 years ago.


    • #3
      Thanks for the quick reply. The glycol is not leaking, its the water tank. My dad was a plumber and I have done all the plumbing in this house with the exception of this solar mess. I CAN install a new heater and plumb it in according to code. My concern is getting that glycol out of the system i. I know it will be HOT... gravity will drain it, but what should I drain it into, and how much of it will there be..


      • #4
        And those thermal guys say I'm stupid to heat water with PV. I don't have electrons spilling out all over the place.


        • #5
          Drain the glycol early morning while it's still cool ? Cover the panels the day before with cardboard to shade them. Not much value in used glycol, so it's going to be disposal time. Start saving gallon bilk jugs to drain the glycol into.
          Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
          || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
          || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A



          • #6
            Thanks Mike.


            • #7
              Worth putting the panels on Craigslist. Unless the glycol went acidic the collectors should be good for a long time. Its odd for tank to be leaking this early unless you have very aggressive water or acidic glycol.

              Don't dump glycol in a septic system.