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Solar Thermal Systems Components FAQs

How Do I Install An Expansion Tank?

How Do I Install An Expansion Tank? Installation of an Expansion Tank  

How Do I Balance The Flow of My Collectors?

How Do I Balance The Flow of My Collectors?  I have 2 arrays of 6. Use balancing valves, 1 on the cold side for each array. This will allow you to adjust the flow in each array and optimize your collectors output. SunMaxx Carries these for a variety of applications from small residential (2-7 Gallons Per Minute) all the way up to Large applications (12-50 Gallons Per Minute). Available SunMaxx Balancing Valves: XMaxx-HW-BV-2-7-34F : 2-7GPM XMaxx-HW-BV-3-10-1F : 3-10 GPM XMaxx-HW-BV-5-19-54F : 5-19 GPM XMaxx-HW-BV-8-32-64F : 8-32 GPM Xmaxx-HW-BV-12-50-2F : 12-50 GPM

Do I Need To Mix The Glycol I Purchased From SunMaxx With Water?

Do I Need To Mix The Glycol I Purchased From SunMaxx With Water? No. You can commission your system with glycol strait out of the container. Our XMaxx Glycol Solution is not only premixed with distilled water but also made with bio-based raw materials and uses 20% less energy to produce than standard propylene glycol!

I Just Got Finished Installing My Solar Thermal System, Its About 3pm and The Sun Has Been Shining All Day. Should I Begin Commissioning The System With Heat Transfer Fluid?

I Just Got Finished Installing My Solar Thermal System, Its About 3pm and The Sun Has Been Shining All Day.  Should I Begin Commissioning The System With Heat Transfer Fluid? NO!!!  This is dangerous.  If your collectors have been sitting in the sun all day they have been heating up.  As soon as you introduce the Heat Transfer Fluid in the system it will immediately steam and could cause personal harm.  Wait till early the next morning when the collectors are cool to commission the system.

How Do I Mount Solar Collectors To A Metal Roof?

How Do I Mount Solar Collectors to a Metal Roof? SunMaxx makes it easy! No need for roof penetrations. We have clamps that mount directly on the seam of a metal roof, making installation quick and painless!

What Are My Options For Heat Exchangers?

What are my options for Heat Exchangers? SunMaxx offers a wide variety of Heat Exchanger options for your solar system. External Brazed Plates are available for applications from 50,000 BTU’s to 160,000 BTU’s. SunMaxx also offers Air to Water Heat Exchangers from 60,000 BTU’s to 220,000 BTU’s allowing your solar system to be utilized in central forced hot air applications. If Internal Heat Exchangers are what you are looking for we got those to! Available in Copper and Stainless Steel, these exchangers can be utilized in our non-pressurized tanks and piped in parallel or series to achieve desired tank stratification.

What Is A Pump Station And How Do I Size It?

What Is A Pump Station And How Do I Size It? SunMaxx’s Pump Stations are an all in one solar hot water component featuring a circulator pump, a digital controller and valves engineered to keep your system circulating the solar heat transfer fluid through the collectors and into the storage tank. SunMaxx will size a pump station specific to your needs. No need to do the math!!!

What Is The Difference Between Flat Plates And Evacuated Tube Collectors?

What is the difference between Flat Plates and Evacuated Tube Collectors? While both types of collectors capture the suns energy and convert it to hot water each have there own advantages. Evacuated Tube Collectors are best used in northern climates where freezing can occur and can be utilized in areas where temperatures drop down to -60°F. Evacuated Tubes are are extremely efficient by virtue of the Tubes themselves. Each Evacuated Tube is hermetically sealed meaning it is highly insulated due to the fact that it is a sealed atmosphere nearly impervious to outside temperatures. Evacuated tubes can also be replaced […]

The sight glass on my drainback tank is broken. What do I do?

The sight glass on my drainback tank is broken. What do I do? SunMaxx has replacement sight glasses for the drainback tanks we currently sell. Call your sales rep.

What type of splice should I use when joining sensor cables to system wiring?

What type of splice should I use when joining sensor cables to system wiring? Do not use wire nuts or connectors. Solder all wire connections, and cover them with shrink wrap tubing. Additionally, since most shrink wrap tubing is not rated as high temp or UV resistant, make sure that those connections are tucked inside UV sheathing, but outside the pipe insulation. See the SunMaxx “Sensor to Wire Connections” installation guide for the entire step-by-step process. Sensor to Wire Connections Installation Guide.pdf

My sensor cable is only 4 feet long. How do I wire it from the controller all the way to the collectors?

My sensor cable is only 4 feet long. How do I wire it from the controller all the way to the collectors? First off, when wiring to the collectors, make sure you use the high temp sensor (usually black or red). One end of the sensor cable has the sensor, which needs to be at the hot end of the collector array, and the other end has crimped wires that fit easily and securely into controller slots. So, the best thing to do is cut the sensor cable in half, and use each half where it is meant to be […]

How do I get my SmartMaxx DHWPlus controller from Celcius to Farenheit?

How do I get my SmartMaxx DHWPlus controller from Celcius to Farenheit? Push the “+” button until you move to end of the main menu (time). Press the “+” button continuously for about 3 seconds to get into the adjustment submenu. You should see “Arr.” Temperature scale choice is near the end of the submenu, so keep pushing the “+” button until you see “UNIT.” When you get there, press the “OK” button once. “SET” will start blinking on the screen. Press the “+” button once, and Celcius will change to Farenheit. Push the “OK” button again to make the […]

What is involved in setting the drainback option (ODB) on my SmartMaxx-DHWPlus controller?

What is involved in setting the drainback option (ODB) on my SmartMaxx-DHWPlus controller? In the submenu, switch ODB from “OFF” to “ON.” Four new items will appear in the submenu: tDTO, tFill, tSTB, and OBST. Some experimentation may be necessary to get these settings correct for your system. tDTO (time period switch-on) is the amount of time the DT O must be met before the controller will turn the pump on. The factory setting is 60 seconds. The collector/tank temperature differential must be met for 60 seconds straight before the controller will trigger the pump. tFill (filling time) is the […]

How do I get into the adjustment submenu on my SmartMaxx-DHWPlus controller?

How do I get into the adjustment submenu on my SmartMaxx-DHWPlus controller? Press the “+” button to move through the main menu (Display Channels) until you reach the last item in the main menu. Then press the “+” for about 3 seconds straight until you access the submenu (Adjustment Channels). The first code displayed will be “Arr.”

How Do I Get My SmartMaxxDHWPlus Controller from German to English?

How do I get my SmartMaxxDHWPlus controller from German to English? With the controller plugged in, push the “+” button until you reach the end of the main menu. You will see the time displayed under the German “ZEIT.” Then push the “+” button for about 3 seconds straight until the controller goes to the submenu. “ANL” is the first German code in the submenu. Once you have accessed the submenu, press the “+” button until you reach the end of the submenu (a version number). Then press the “-“ button three times to go back to language (German “SPR”). […]

Can I Mount Solar Thermal Collectors On A Flat Roof Without Roof Penetrations?

Can I Mount Solar Thermal Collectors On A Flat Roof Without Roof Penetrations? Yes you can. Collectors can be attached to our ballast system, which uses the weight of standard patio blocks to hold the collectors in place. Wind load calculations must be done by an engineer to conform to local building codes. With the proper weight attached, collectors will stay in place without putting any holes in the roof. This has been done with our evacuated tube collectors and our flat plates. Flat plates obviously have a much higher wind resistance, and therefore require greater weight to hold them […]

How Can I Match Up Collector Connections On A Roof With The Rafters?

How Can I Match Up Collector Connections On A Roof With The Rafters?

What is the best option for piping my Solar Hot Water System?

What is the best option for piping my solar hot water system?

Can I use PEX in a Solar Hot Water System?

Can I use PEX in a Solar Hot Water System? NO!!! PEX will fail in a Solar Hot Water System. Only FlowMaxx line set and standard L-Copper tubing is rated for the high thermal loads of Solar Hot Water Systems.

What is the best angle to position my collectors?

This answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For simple Domestic Hot Water systems you should try and position you collectors at the same angle as your latitude. For systems that are tied into the home heating system, as in a combisystem, you should position you collectors 15 degrees higher than your latitude. For summertime use only systems, as in a pool system, you should position your collectors at your latitude minus 15 degrees. For systems that have a high solar fraction, i.e. 75% or greater, you should increase the angle of incline in order to decrease your […]

How do I properly size my storage tank for the collector area?

The rule of thumb of 1-3 gallons of storage per ft2 of collector will only get you so far, so it is best to try being creative with your storage. As your load increases in the winter and production decreases, you should adjust your storage capacity accordingly. Even slight changes from day to day in your production vs. consumption, can dramatically affect total system performance. Tank prioritization allows you to maintain a target temperature in one tank while still charging another. Better yet, you may be able to run directly from your solar field to your heat load and bypass […]

What is more important, postioning the collectors for maximum aesthetic appeal or maximum solar gain?

Do you want to make this system perform to its highest ability or should it look nice and fit the architecture of the house? We have all seen those albatrosses on the roof that are cantilevered at a compound angle to get a few extra BTU’s at the cost of aesthetic appeal. Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding what is most important in determining collector orientation and inclination. For most collectors, tubes or flat plates, the angle of inclination has a 30 degree window of variation and the performance will still be within 95% of the expected maximum. […]

Is it possible to melt snow off of my collectors?

Yes it is. Depending on your type of collector, you can program your controller to manually activate the circulator which will bring heat from your storage vessel and into the collectors, which will radiate that heat back out thus melting the snow. This method only works for FLAT PLATES however and will usually take as much energy as it makes. When the sun is out in full force, the rays passing through thge snow are typically enough to create substantial heat that in turn, melts the snow on flat plates. For Evacuated tubes however, there is very little you can […]

How do I know which type of storage tank that I need?

Well, there are really two main options here; pressurized tank or non-pressure tank. The pressure tank will come with heat exchange coils on the inside (2 or 3 depending on style) that will be tied into a closed solar loop and open DHW loop. The additional coil (s) can be used for space heating or auxiliary heating. The drwaback to large pressurized tanks is that they require larger doors when you exceed 200 gallons or so. The Non-pressure tanks are basically custom built, insulated tubs that can be brought in through the smallest of doors and assembled on location to a volume […]

How do I know which size of storage tank I need?

There are many answers to this question but it really boils down to this…you need the one that best suits your application, your solar collector field, your budget and your available space. If you use a Heliomaxx kits from Sunmaxx, we have sized the storage vessels relative to the size of the collector field. For sizing, we generally consider first the temperature requirement of the tank. For instance, if you need your solar tank to be a cetain temperature before it ties into your home heating sytem then we would likely reduce the storage capacity but if you are using […]

Do I have to run the piping through the roof?

No, you do not have to. You can, and should, use flexible stainless steel piping which allows you to direct the piping anywhere you want with very little trouble. Many installers will choose to send the piping the ;ong way around just to avoid a roof penetration. While this works well for ensuring that there is no leakage, it does however waste a bit of solar energy. But if you can avoid going through your roof, then do it! Click here to view our flexible stainless steel piping

How do I decide between Flat plate and Evacuated tube?

This will be a debate well in to the future. For an more in-depth review please watch this Click here to watch this 1/2 hour webinar. Your decision should be based primarily on the following considerations: 1- Temperature demand– What is you existing application? EVT’s will outperform FP’s at higher temp load. 2- Climate location- In a general sense, flat plates have more value than evacuated tubes in warmer climates and EVT’s will do better in cold, cloudy climates. 3-Aesthetics appeal– This is where there is no “right” answer. Instead, each person has their own personal view. We recommend that […]

How do I attach solar panels to my shingle roof without causing leaks?

Our ConnectMaxx roof hooks are designed for any roof. We suggest that each be attached directly into a rafter using two Simpson Strong-Drive screws. Roof caulk can be used to seal these penetrations. (One installer we know used butyl rubber.) Our concave X-mount flashing then fits securely over the roof hook and under the shingles for a weatherproof connection. All of our collectors can be mounted using these roof hooks.

How well will my collectors perform if they are not positioned perfectly?

Fortunately, solar thermal collectors are not nearly as sensitive to light conditions as PV collectors. As for performance, you have roughly a 60 degree window of opportunity to mount the collectors toward south before you begin losing a small bit of total production. In other words, your house can be situated 30 to the east of true south or 30 degrees to the west of true south and your performance will still be at or above 95%. As far as tilt angle goes, this window opportunity is slightly smaller but still you can have a roof pitched about 20 degrees […]

Setting your solar thermal system differential temperature setpoint.

Q:What is the most appropriate differential temperature for my solar thermal system? A: The factory setting on our controllers is 12 Degrees. This will work fine but for northern climates it is better to have a delta T of 17 Degrees. This will allow the collector to heat up sufficiently so as to not turn the pump on and off early in the cold mornings. In warmer climates, say mid-latitude and below you can keep the factory setting at 12 deg F.

How do I determine the most appropriate solar thermal storage size?

Q: How to determine the best solar thermal storage size. A: Choosing your storage tank size is dependent on three things. 1- the number of ft2 of collector- for example we typically recommend any where from 1-3 gallons of storage per ft2 of collector,   2- the daily load profile (usage pattern) for example if most of your usage occurs in the early morning or in the evening, then you would not adjust your storage ratio. However, if your usage occurs more in the mid-day then you would reduce your storage ratio because you will be consuming that which you […]

What is the most appropriate delta T for Northern climates?

Question: What is the most appropriate delta T for Northern climates? Answer: 17

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Contact SunMaxx Solar SunMaxx Solar
Sales & Main Office
Rte 206
Bainbridge, NY 13733

P: 1.877.SUNMAXX
P: 1.877.786.6299
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