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I have 6 SunHeater S120U panels as suggested for my pool size according to the Installation and Operation Manual using a ground install. However, I am limited to 10 feet of width, which with connector spacing will only allow 4 across per 20 foot section. There is more length to my available space so I am wondering if I can connect the two additional panels to the "end cap" side of the panels and still get proper flow through all sections.

Here is my proposed layout6 panel proposed layout The end cap side of the two center panels of the initial 4 will likely have to sit above / below the label side of the two extended panels. Realizing this is not an official configuration, will the water heat and flow through all 6 panels sufficiently enough to closely match all 6 labeled ends connected in a 14 foot wide setup?

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    Any particular reason not to do it in two groups of three, connected in series or parallel to each other as necessary (to get the desired pressure drop / flow rate)?
    – TooTea
    Dec 13, 2021 at 12:49

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It appears to me that these are basic solar hot water heaters with a pump to run your pool water through them. You set up the pump in the vicinity of the pool, run some tubing from the pool, through the pump, through the panels, then back to the pool.

From the linked instructions:

S120U INSTALLATION
This layout is for a single collector installed near the pool filter equipment. Installing the collector on a roof, rack or fence may require additional plumbing and hardware kits.
Emphasis added

It appears to me that with some of that additional plumbing and hardware kits, you could make a configuration similar to below:

Proposed plumbing layout

The "cold" water comes in at the blue line, gets partially heated by the first 3 panels, then runs through the purple line to the next two panels where it's further heated, then exits the red line and goes back to the pool.

To me, there doesn't appear to be anything in the instructions that allows you to connect the segments at both ends, only from one end. This means that, based on your desired layout, you'll have to run some of that "additional plumbing" to get from the in/out end of the first row to the in/out end of the second row.

Another, possibly less plumbing alternative might be something like this:

Alternate layout

By turning the 3-unit section, there would be less plumbing between the sections, through there may be more at the ends. If, however, you can place the pump and inlet at the center, that would significantly reduce the amount of extra hose you'd need. Of course, if your extra hose is black, then it's absorbing sunlight, too, and is providing a modicum of extra heating on the way.

You seem concerned about water pressure, too. If the provided pump is sufficient to push water through the 5 sections of panel you've purchased, and the instructions indicate you can install this on a roof, fence or other remote location, then it seems fairly intuitive that the pump will produce sufficient pressure to push it through extra plumbing and that the pressure will be sufficient, so long as the size of the extra piping is sufficient.

I believe that if you either buy their kits (likely significantly over priced), or buy equivalent hose and hose clamps (I can see an advantage of purchasing their hose-to-panel connections - you're assured the threading will be correct), there's no reason that the pressure would be affected by a bit of extra hose.

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  • Good job. As I was reading, I was thinking "why not reverse so the inlets/outlets are all in the middle" and then I scrolled down and saw it. Dec 13, 2021 at 13:20
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    Thanks, @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact. I tend to answer the question as asked. Sometimes, mid-answer, the creative juices get to flowing and alternatives come to mind. Sometimes, I keep the blinders on and can't see the forest for the trees...
    – FreeMan
    Dec 13, 2021 at 13:22
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    Without delving into the documentation, my general knowledge of solar water heating and specifically how pool heating differs from domestic hot water is that you are best to put them all in parallel. The most water flow with the least temperature rise gets the job done best, because more temperature rise (by running in series and heating heated water, rather than cool water) is also more heat that doesn't make it into the pool being re-radiated off the collectors. I'd also put them 3&3 instead of 4&2, or else get two more and do 4&4.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 13, 2021 at 13:35
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    Not going to argue your point, @Ecnerwal, I'll just note that putting them in series is what the documentation for this shows. The nice thing is that the whole kit just screws together with hose clamps, so rearranging from series to parallel, to 2 parallel groups of 3 in series, or any other combination is a matter of some hose & a few minutes with a screwdriver.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 13, 2021 at 13:41
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    It's just Engineering & Physics. Which is often enough ignored... ;^)
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 13, 2021 at 14:43

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