ABS for solar collectors

Discussion in 'Solar and Geothermal Water Heating Forum' started by kjkrum, May 10, 2012.

  1. kjkrum

    kjkrum New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I've read some sites that say never to use ABS pipe for solar collectors, because it's damaged by UV. (But so is PVC and polyethylene.) And other sites specifically recommend ABS for their collector designs.

    Has anyone here ever used ABS? What was your experience?
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,258
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    swimming pool solar heaters are ALWAYS ABS. Unless you are making your own collector, you will buy whatever the manufacturer produces, but get a good warranty with it.
  3. kjkrum

    kjkrum New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I am planning on building my own. It'll supply our showers and sinks.
  4. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

    Messages:
    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    Do you have ABS vents sticking out of your roof?

    Go look at them, and you'll see why it isn't recommended.
  5. kjkrum

    kjkrum New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    I do, but they've been painted. Enlighten me?

    Edit: And what would you recommend instead of ABS - black or painted PVC? I know copper would be ideal, but I can't afford it.

    Edit2: For blackening the collector, I'll also be experimenting with laser toner. I have about a half gallon of the stuff left over from another mad science project. It's basically nanoscale carbon particles coated in wax or polymer, which become adhesive when warmed. It's so black that it's hard to look at. I need to experiment with applying it to different materials and testing its long-term durability in the sun.
    Last edited: May 12, 2012
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Like PVC, ABS has to be de-rated for pressure at elevated temperatures. Pool heaters are pretty much at atmospheric pressure, and run at fairly low temps, but in some other solar heater you could get a lot of deformation (or a superheated shower, or a steam exlposion) with 200F+ stagnation temps and 50psi system pressure.

    For drainbacks/drain-downs running at atmospheric pressure you can probably run it at 180F without much of an issue, but not a whole lot higher.
  7. kjkrum

    kjkrum New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Tucson, AZ
    Thanks for the info. I should probably build an instrumented model of my system (same type and diameter of collector pipes, but smaller capacity) and see what happens when it's 100° outside.
  8. ballvalve

    ballvalve General Engineering Contractor

    Messages:
    3,261
    Location:
    northfork, california
    spray the abs with some undercoater or a good black paint.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,258
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ABS collectors CANNOT operate at "line pressures". For that you need copper collectors. If you do a "drain down" you also must have "vacuum vents'' otherwise the superheated temperature and "suction" will collapse the collector.
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