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Solar Thermal Prefabrication: The Wave of the Future?

There is something exciting going on in the solar thermal industry in Germany and Belgium. In an effort to contain costs and encourage more installations, several manufacturers have developed prefabricated solutions that can be delivered, installed, and connected in a very short amount of time. Creating prefabricated systems has even created a secondary benefit of making it possible to manufacture large systems with collection area capacity of up to 1970 ft.².

The prefabricated systems are known as container systems because of the way equipment is shipped and installed. Building a container system begins by consulting with the customer to find out what the needs are. Once the size and scope of a particular system are determined, everything is built and tested at the factory. The finished product includes the necessary collector panels along with a container holding the solar water heater and all of the associated hydraulic equipment.

Building prefabricated solar thermal solutions has already proved successful in a limited number of early installations. One of the German manufacturers supplied a system for a lodge in Kenya; a system that delivers water for both guest and staff accommodations through a rooftop installation in which the collector panels and container sit side-by-side.


Manufacturers of the systems claim that solar thermal prefabrication offers a number of substantial benefits that could drive the industry forward:

  • Standardization – Standardization is generally seen as a good thing in manufacturing. It results in more opportunities for more manufacturers, interoperability of systems and replacement parts, and lower costs due to manufacturing efficiency.
  • Easy Installation – Prefabricated solar thermal solutions are relatively easy to install, mainly because all of the engineering has already been completed at the factory. In some cases, systems can be installed and turned on by facility staff – without a need for any extra help from manufacturers or installation specialists.
  • Modularity – Some of the new prefab systems are fully functional with solar collector areas of up to 1970 ft.²; others utilize smaller areas. But in either case, prefabricated systems are modular. This means it is possible to create systems that include thousands of square feet of collector space with numerous containers all connected to provide a complete solution.
  • Turnkey Solutions – Lastly, the prefabricated solar thermal system is a turnkey solution that can be implemented with very little effort on site. The system can be delivered and installed on the customer’s schedule, without interrupting other things, and immediately turned on for instant production.

Prefabrication seems a logical next step as the solar thermal industry seeks to make greater inroads into the commercial market. We all realize that any need for solar thermal in residential construction will first have to be supported by commercial applications. Manufacturers need those commercial contracts to provide the financial foundation that will allow them to pursue residential in the future.

It will be interesting to see how popular prefabrication becomes over the next several years. Manufacturers in Belgium and Germany are already banking on it, making plans to create some of the largest modular systems ever made. We believe any success they enjoy will eventually motivate U.S. manufacturers looking to increase their own market share. Prefabrication is just another trend that is leading to the solar thermal wave of the future.

At Solar America Solutions, we are proud to manufacture one of the most efficient and powerful solar collector panels in the business. Our SunQuest 250 collector panel would be ideal for any modular or container system designed for a large commercial project. We invite you to contact us at 317-688-8581 for more information.


  • Solar Thermal World –

New Storage Technology Could Greatly Benefit Solar Thermal

A consortium of public and private institutions has agreed to begin working on advanced thermal storage technology that could pave the way for more efficient and cost-effective CSP (concentrating solar power) projects. As it turns out, what the group develops for wide scale electricity generation could greatly benefit the solar thermal industry as well.

The consortium’s plans have been developed as part of an investigation conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Their investigation aimed to determine whether large-scale CSP projects would benefit from technologically advanced thermal storage solutions. The NREL has determined they would. Therefore, the organization has joined forces with the Colorado School of Mines and Spain’s Abengoa to start work on developing new storage capabilities. The consortium was chosen by the Department of Energy to work on the project together.

Project Goals

The official goals of the project include developing high-capacity storage solutions that would allow thermo-electric plants to continue producing electricity during the overnight hours by using stored energy gathered during the day. In order to make that happen, power plants would need high-capacity storage systems that were both efficient and reliable. The solution? Water.


The NREL report suggests that storing energy would be straightforward once the water inside a storage unit was heated to the proper temperature. That same energy could then be extracted on an as-needed basis. As it turns out, the solar thermal industry is already deploying storage designed from this concept. For example, Solar America Solutions frequently includes water-based storage units in many of the systems we install.

The only problem with the storage systems currently on the market is that these do not have the capacity to handle what large-scale power plants are looking for. That is where the NREL project comes into play. They need to take the technology we already use and the scale it up for the power generation industry.

Benefits to Solar Thermal

When the consortium eventually achieves its goal of high-capacity energy storage there will be a number of benefits to the solar thermal industry. First and foremost, the new technology will likely be more efficient and cost-effective than what we now use. In turn, this will open the door for new solar thermal applications above and beyond just providing hot water and space heat, or at least overcome the current “non-solar hour” heating constraint stigma.

Second, what the consortium accomplishes will likely lead to increased storage capacity even in the smaller units our industry uses. Where more storage capacity is present, more energy can be harnessed and used for a variety of purposes. We might eventually get to the point where a solar thermal system installed for hot water and space could also be generating supplemental electricity that reduces dependence on the grid.

Energy storage has long been one of the most daunting problems for solar thermal and other solar power initiatives. At Solar America Solutions, we have made great strides in overcoming the inefficiencies of energy collection through our SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collector. If we could combine it with a high-capacity storage solution in the future, there is no telling what our systems are capable of.

In the meantime, the SunQuest 250 remains one of the most efficient and productive solar collection units on the market. Each collector uses 88 ft.² of absorption area to generate up to 35,000 BTUs per hour. Our systems are easy to install, highly scalable, and each collector requires an area of only 3′ x 7′. Once installed, a SunQuest system can provide all of the hot water and space heat your building requires. Feel free to contact us for details.

Solar Panels: What to Consider Before Buying

Solar America Solutions’ SunQuest 250 panels are the most advanced and efficient solar thermal collector panels on the market, capable of producing up to 30,000 BTUs per hour and developing output temperatures of over 300˚ F. Our panels have an efficiency level of 94 percent and are suitable for both residential and commercial applications, making them the ideal solar solution for the budget and environmentally conscious property owner.
However, while we are confident that our solar panels are the best around, and tax credits and governments grants make them highly affordable, we understand that investing in solar energy is a big step to take. With that in mind, here are a few things you should consider before buying.




Which way does your roof face?

Roof mounts are the most common type of solar panel installation and the majority of SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panels are installed on the rooftops of the homes and businesses of our customers. Traditionally, in order to get the maximum benefit from solar panels, it was important that a roof faced the right direction. The U.S. being a northern hemisphere country means that solar panels performed best on a south facing roof. Because the SunQuest 250 utilizes the massive power of the sun’s UV rays rather than infra-red rays (heat), the direction the panels face is no longer significant. We have many successful applications with east and west facing panels. The pitch of the roof was also be important; because traditional solar panels work best at a 30-35 degree angle. Again, this is not the case with the SunQuest 250 – it only requires that the panel sits at an angle of at least 20 degrees. The angle to the sun is not important.

Shading and obstruction from trees and other buildings may also affect performance and a ground or pole mount could prove to be the best option.


When do you use the most energy?
SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panels harness the sun’s UV rays and convert it directly into thermal energy (heat) for your business or home. Solar panels therefore provide the best value when using a lot of energy in daylight hours but heat collected in daylight hours can be stored in solar tanks to supplement heat applications after the sun goes down. Making changes to your daily routine such as taking a shower or bath and drying clothes during daylight can really maximize the benefits of solar power.


How long will you live in a property?

SunQuest 250 panels can typically pay for themselves within 3 to 5 years, so to really benefit from their installation you should consider staying in a property for over 5 years. That being said, if you do plan on moving home or business before a system has paid for itself, the value that solar will add to a property can ensure you recoup your initial outlay. In addition to this, a property with solar panels instantly becomes more desirable to potential buyers.
How much are you spending on energy?

As the cost of energy continues to rise, solar thermal collectors consistently prove to be a wise investment. Depending on energy usage, solar panels can reduce energy bills by 50 to 90 percent, resulting in savings amounting to thousands of dollars each year.

If, after having taken these considerations into account you feel ready to go solar, get in touch with Solar America Solutions and prepare to reap the benefits of SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panels.

Mounting Your Solar Panels

When people think about Solar America’s SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collectors, they think of them as being installed on the roof of a property. There is an obvious reason for this– most solar SunQuest 250 panels are installed on roofs! However, a rooftop is not the only place for a solar installation. Solar America products are as versatile as they are efficient and can be installed or retrofitted in a number of different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the ways solar panels can be mounted.

Solar Panel-Installation

Roof mounted solar systems
As we’ve already explained, roof installations are the most common place to find a SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel and choosing this type of mount allows you to make the most of space that would remain otherwise unused.
Installing solar panels on a rooftop will allow them to face the sun for long enough to provide sufficient energy for hot water and heating. There is also no worry of shade from trees or other properties blocking the sunlight.

Ground mounted solar systems
When there is enough usable space on the ground surrounding a building, a ground mount can be the ideal solution. Ground mounts are probably the easiest way to mount evacuated tube solar collectors, with a simple A-frame structure attached to concrete providing a solid and sturdy base. A ground mount system can be mounted to make the absolute most of the sun’s UV rays and harness the energy for maximum gains.

Pole top mounted systems
It is also possible to mount SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collectors on poles. This type of installation is straightforward and allows panels to remain away from potential damage that can be caused on the ground.

Solar panel placement
Regardless of what type of mount you choose for your solar panel installation, the placement can make an important difference in the amount of heat generated by the panels.
For more advice on Solar America’s SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collectors, and how to best mount your panels, contact us today by following this link.

Beating the Weather with Solar Energy

What is enemy number one for traditional flat plate solar thermal energy collection? Lack of direct sunlight. Flat plate collection panels work well on clear, bright, sunny days; they become virtually useless in cloudy and cool weather. However, with Solar America Solutions’ new evacuated tube solar thermal collectors, it is possible to beat the weather.

The Solar America SunQuest 250 system depends on an evacuated tube solar thermal collector panel to harness the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) energy and transfer it to thermal energy. The highly efficient system is reliable, powerful, and fully scalable. That means it can be used on a small scale for residential homes or for large-scale industrial and commercial applicaitons.

SunQuest 250 by SolarAmerica Solutions

The Difference between Flat Plate and Evacuated Tube Solar Thermal

There are two primary differences between traditional flat plate technology and the SunQuest 250. The first of those differences lies in the way the sun’s energy is captured. Flat plate systems take advantage of what is known as “infrared” (the heat you feel on your skin) to generate heat. Because it captures only infrared rays this type of system is not very dependable without direct sunlight.

The evacuated tube solar thermal collector panel used by the SunQuest 250 depends on ultraviolet rather than infrared rays. The advantage of ultraviolet rays is the fact that they penetrate cloud cover and are not affected by the outside temperature, making it possible to collect heat regardless of most weather conditions. It works equally well on both hot and cold days and quite well even on cloudy days.

The second difference between the two systems deals with heat loss.  A flat plate system delivers the sun’s infrared energy into heated fluid but loses much of back into the atmosphere because of inefficient insulation. While this makes the system practical for seasonal applications like heating swimming pools and for providing supplemental domestic hot water, it is not efficient enough for large scale industrial and commercial applications.

The SunQuest 250 is a solar thermal solution that very efficiently converts solar UV energy into significant amounts of heat year round, and dependably regardless of the weather conditions. That heat can be used to, provide hot water, space heat or any other application where BTUs are needed.  This system even promises to be a source of electricity generation by powering turbine generators. Solar thermal, using UV rays has a lot more potential than traditional flat plate technology.

A Case Study

Just to give you a taste of the potential of the SunQuest 250, consider the University of Indianapolis. Last summer we installed 10 SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panels on the roof of a brand-new, 65-bed dormitory. The system now provides 98% of the hot water for the entire dormitory.

As a result, this building consumes virtually no external gas energy for hot water provision. That saves the university a significant amount of money over the course of a school year. What’s more, it is just the start of what Solar America Solutions can do for the school.

By using evacuated tube solar collectors, it is entirely possible to provide hot water and space heat across the entire 50-acre campus. And while it would cost some money to retrofit existing buildings at the University, the scalable SunQuest 250 system would pay for itself very quickly.  The University is also targeting its competition swimming pool as a near future candidate for this solar heat technology.

If you’ve been thinking about solar energy for your business, there’s no longer a need to be concerned about the weather. Now you can beat the weather with the SunQuest 250.