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Thread: ABS for solar collectors

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member kjkrum's Avatar
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    Default ABS for solar collectors

    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. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    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.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member kjkrum's Avatar
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    I am planning on building my own. It'll supply our showers and sinks.

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    DIY Senior Member dlarrivee's Avatar
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    Do you have ABS vents sticking out of your roof?

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

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member kjkrum's Avatar
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    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 by kjkrum; 05-12-2012 at 04:26 PM.

  6. #6
    In the trades Dana's Avatar
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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. #7
    DIY Junior Member kjkrum's Avatar
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    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. #8
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    spray the abs with some undercoater or a good black paint.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    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.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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