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Posts tagged ‘solar collector panels’

Solar Thermal Proves Its Winter Mettle in India

One of the concerns people have about solar thermal as a means of providing effective space heat is its ability to produce during the winter months. In the U.S. Northeast, the upper plains, and certain parts of the Midwest, winter temperatures can easily dip below zero for extended amounts of time. Well, now we know that solar thermal can get the job done even in some pretty harsh conditions. Thanks to a test conducted in the mountains of northern India, solar thermal has proven its winter mettle.

The real-world test of the solar thermal system was conducted by the Indian Defense Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR) at a troop shelter built at Chang La, a mountain pass that stands more than 17,000 feet above sea level. Moreover, tests were conducted during the winter months to see how well the system would perform in providing adequate space heat.

india

Researchers set up the system to store solar heat during the daylight hours using a phase-change storage tank. The stored energy was then used to produce the heat necessary to keep the shelter warm overnight. Throughout the test period, the ambient temperature inside the 295-square foot shelter remained between 44 and 50° despite exterior temperatures that reached as cold as -22°.

Saving Oil and Diesel

DIHAR officials say there were some points during the test when a diesel generator had to be operated to compensate for temperatures below -22°. Those occurrences were mainly in the coldest months of January and February. Still, the evacuated tube design of the solar thermal system performed well because they rely on ultraviolet “A” (UVA) rays from the sun, not the warm infrared (IR) rays that are not effective in cold or cloudy conditions.

Under normal conditions, the troop shelter is kept warm with wood, diesel and paraffin oil burners. Heating the shelter in the dead of winter consumes hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel and oil every year. Researchers estimate that using the solar thermal system overnight could save as much as 10 liters of paraffin oil per day for every system installed.

Solar Thermal Suitable for Winter Climates

The solar thermal industry is very pleased with the results achieved by the Indian study. The study proves that our technology is more than suitable for winter climates, even when temperatures dip well below freezing. If an evacuated tube system can generate sufficient heat to keep a Himalayan shelter at 50° despite outside temperatures of less than -20°, imagine how well it might work here in the U.S. where most winter environments are not nearly as harsh

The key to the success of the Indian test was the evacuated tube design of the solar collector panels. Evacuated tubes, which happens to be the same technology the patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector is based on, make for the most efficient collection and transfer of solar energy for both space heat and hot water.

Evacuated tubes are glass tubes with an enclosed absorption surface surrounded by a vacuum. That surface absorbs solar energy which is transferred to a thermal liquid to be then sent to a heat exchanger for heat extraction. Extracted heat is either used immediately for space heat or hot water or forwarded to a highly insulated storage tank for later use.

Solar thermal space heat built around evacuated tube solar collector panels has proven up to the task in harsh winter environments. It has worked so well that DIHAR plans to begin installing the systems in several hundred buildings. All being well, what they have learned will improve the technology worldwide. In the meantime, there are a lot of buildings here at home that would benefit from a solar thermal solution for space heat and hot water.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/india-vacuum-tube-system-pcm-storage-tank-heats-troop-shelter

Can Solar Thermal Be Harnessed for Sports and Leisure?

One of the first projects involving the Solar America Solutions patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector was a system installed at a correctional facility in Indiana. The project was designed to save Indiana’s correction department a significant amount of money by providing space heat and hot water for a new cell block. Since then, we have installed systems in a number of other commercial buildings. Expanding beyond our usual scope, we are looking into projects in which solar thermal can be harnessed for the sports and leisure sector.

sports

According to a UK company known as Stokvis Energy Systems, there is considerable potential in sports and leisure. They estimate that as much as 30% of the total running costs of a typical UK sports and leisure facility is devoted to energy. And much of that energy goes to space heat and hot water. Stokvis is committed to introducing solar thermal to the UK sports and leisure sector.

The Potential of the Sun Is Extraordinary

In our worldwide push for renewable energy sources, it is surprising that more attention hasn’t been given to solar thermal. Indeed, ask a person on the street about his/her impressions of renewable energy and this individual will likely mention creating electricity from wind turbines and solar photovoltaic (PV) panels as the main contenders. What many people don’t know is that solar thermal is more efficient and cost-effective for a variety of needs, especially for space heat and hot water.

According to UK-based Modern Building Services (MBS), the surface of the sun boasts temperatures of nearly 10,000°F; temperatures at the core could be as high as 59 million degrees. MBS says that the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth in just 30 minutes is roughly equivalent to all the energy humanity consumes annually. That’s a lot of energy.

What makes solar thermal systems so attractive is that it is the most efficient way to harness solar energy that we know of. Take our very own patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector as an example. Now in its third generation, it is 96% efficient. That means there is very little energy waste when converting solar energy into usable heat energy by way of a thermal transfer liquid. Just one of our solar thermal collectors can produce up to 35,000 BTUs and output temperatures as high as 400495°F.

We’ve learned how to harness the tremendous power of the sun to eliminate the need for fossil fuels for producing hot water and space heating. And as our technology improves, we don’t doubt for a minute that the potential applications for solar thermal will only grow. That potential can easily be put to use for sports and leisure.

Your Sports Facility Could Benefit

Solar America Solutions focuses on solar thermal installations for commercial buildings. One of our systems is the ideal renewable solution for your sports and leisure facility whether you are building from the ground up or looking to upgrade or replace an existing system. And rest assured you don’t need an excessive amount of roof space to enjoy the benefits of solar thermal.

One of our solar collector panels requires just a 3′ x 7′ surface area for installation, yet it provides 88 ft.² of absorption space. In other words, we can produce a lot of heat energy in a very small area. By setting up the right number of panels and connecting them to the peripheral equipment we supply alongside our collectors, we can give you a highly efficient system that will pay for itself within 3 to 5 years. Now that’s how you generate energy savings for your facility.

Sources:

1.Modern Building Services – http://www.modbs.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/16256/Renewable_energy_at_your_leisure.html

Canadian Project Utilizes Large-Scale Solar Thermal Heating

The projects we typically work on at Solar America Solutions involve individual clients looking to utilize solar thermal for hot water and space heat in commercial buildings. For example, one of our first projects was to install our SunQuest 250 solar collector panels and peripheral equipment in a new housing block at an Indiana correctional facility.

Though we are thrilled to be able to apply solar thermal technology on a building-by-building basis, we look forward to the day when solar thermal is applied to large-scale space heat and hot water needs. A revolutionary project now thriving in Canada offers a perfect example of what we are talking about.

canada

Drake Landing – Okotoks, Alberta

Take a trip up to the southern Alberta town of Okotoks and you’ll find a unique housing community known as Drake Landing. What’s so unique about it? The way the community receives its space heat. Thanks to a demonstration project sponsored by Natural Resources Canada, the average household in Drake Landing pays just $70 per month for space heat with very little need for supplemental energy from the grid. It is made possible by combining solar thermal with borehole storage.

Each of the homes in the Drake Landing community has a detached garage with a roof covered almost entirely with solar thermal flat plate collector panels. Those panels work 365 days a year, whenever the sun is up collecting infrared energy from the sun and Okotoks, it is one of the sunniest places in Canada. Had the developer known about the patented SunQuest 250® evacuated tube solar thermal panels from Solar America Solutions, these systems would have been even more efficient and required fewer panels because they draw their solar energy from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and are effective even on cold and cloudy days.

A thermal transfer liquid inside the solar collector panels converts energy from the sun into heat. That heat is transferred to the community’s energy center where it is extracted with a heat exchanger before the liquid returns to the panels. Extracted heat is stored underground in a network of 144 boreholes. It is retrieved and used for space heated as needed.

Incredible Results Thus Far

To say that the Drake Landing project is a huge success would be to state the obvious. Drake Landing’s system has consistently provided more than 90% of the heat the community’s 52 houses need during the winter since it was completed in 2007. Over the last several years, the system has provided 98% of the heat.

The linchpin of the system is its borehole storage. Engineers have created a storage model that is so efficient that it can store enough energy on summer days to heat the entire community throughout the winter season. The combination of stored energy and what is generated by the system during shorter winter days is more than enough to virtually eliminate any need for space heat generated from natural gas.

No Further Proof Needed

Those of us in the solar thermal sector have long known that storage is the biggest challenge to taking solar thermal to the next level.But the project in Canada changes everything.

From what we can tell, no further proof is needed to demonstrate that solar thermal can be implemented on a large scale to provide entire communities with heat and hot water. Solar thermal is incredibly efficient and cost-effective, especially when deployed using the right equipment. A good example is our SunQuest 250® solar collector panel, which just happens to be the most efficient panel in the industry. We would love to see it put to use in a project like Drake Landing here on American soil.

Sources:

  • CBC – http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/solar-thermal-energy-community-alberta-drake-landing-1.3436178

Minnesota Community an Example of Solar Efficiency

The temperature in rural Pine River, MN was near zero at the time this blog post was written. The cold temperatures and often overcast skies are such that most people do not consider the state a hotbed for solar power. But reality says otherwise. One need only take a look at the Pine River community to understand that solar is alive and well in an environment known for its cold and harsh winters.

Traveling the country roads of Pine River is an experience that includes plenty of pine tree stands and herds of cattle in the fields. But every now and again a clearing reveals a traditional ranch house with a surprising feature: a solar panel array on the roof or in the adjacent yard. Solar energy is so popular in this part of Minnesota that a local nonprofit known as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) gives tours of area homes to show skeptics what is possible.

Property owners in the area use a combination of different solar technologies to achieve their purposes. For example, solar thermal is used to generate space heat and hot water to reduce dependence on grid energy. Some of the local homeowners have systems that are so efficient that they can completely shut off their traditional electric water heaters for 5 to 6 months of the year.

SunQuest 250

Understanding Solar Capacity

Most of us do not consider Minnesota a great place for solar installations because of its relatively high northern latitude and heavy winter storms. But according to RREAL, Minnesota has solar resources equal to that of Houston, Texas. The trick is harvesting the resource in the best way possible for both commercial and residential use.

To understand this, consider our SunQuest 250 solar collector panel. It is one of the most powerful and efficient collector panels in the industry, capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour. What you may not know is that the evacuated tube design of our panel is so efficient that there is almost no waste. Furthermore, the materials we use in the collector unit do not require direct sunlight to work. Rather, they rely on ultraviolet rays, readily available regardless of temperature and plentiful even in cloudy weather.

This means that one of our solar collector panels performs up to expectations even on cloudy and overcast days. Systems like this, operating in Pine River can convert sun energy into heat throughout the daylight hours, then use that heat to deliver hot water and space heat.

Supplemental and Replacement Energy

It is true that Minnesota experiences incredibly harsh winters that often include subzero temperatures. In the midst of a frigid winter, a traditional flat panel solar thermal system is unlikely to produce enough space heat and hot water to completely disconnect from the grid. But it with new technological breakthroughs, like the SunQuest 250 from Solar America Solutions, a significant supplement is offered that can reduce a property owner’s energy bills considerably.A SunQuest 250 solar thermal system can be a complete replacement for grid energy for hot water and heating needs or at least reduce the fossil fuel requirement by more than half. That translates into some serious savings.

What property owners are doing in Pine River can be done all over the country. Solar thermal can be used to provide space heat, hot water, and process heat for both commercial and residential structures.

Here at Solar America Solutions, we concentrate on commercial projects in the agricultural, education, healthcare, and government services sectors. Our systems have been installed in numerous states, providing green energy for hot water and space heat at government facilities, dormitories, industrial buildings, and more. We would be happy to discuss your project to see if we can provide an effective and affordable solution for your property.

Sources:

  • Brainerd Dispatch – http://www.brainerddispatch.com/news/3934539-here-comes-sun-solar-power-shines-snowy-tour

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.

SunQuest250

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.

Sources:

  • Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/germanybelgium-container-solutions-standardise-commercial-solar-thermal-systems-0

A Solar Winter: Using the Sun to Battle Snow

The recent blizzard that buried the East Coast in a mountain of snow left millions of residential sidewalks and driveways impassible. Homeowners used shovels, snowblowers, and any other tools they could get their hands on to clear away enough of the snow just to be able to get to work. However, one family in Paramus, NJ had nothing to do while their neighbors battled the elements. All of the snow that landed on their sidewalk and driveway melted away thanks to a solar thermal heating system that kept the pavement warm.

Homeowner Raj Parikh installed the radiant heating system as part of a complete overhaul of his modest suburban home. His rebuild project was undertaken with one goal in mind: to create a truly green house that uses no natural gas or heating oil for any purpose. During the rebuild, he got the idea to install the exterior heating system as a way of “using the environment to battle the environment,” according to Parikh.

How It Works

Parikh’s snow melting system starts with rainwater collection that stores hundreds of gallons of water in multiple insulated tanks. That water is kept at a constant 105° by way of a solar thermal system that collects ultraviolet energy from the sun and transfers the energy to the water by way of heat.

Activating the system to melt snow sends the warm water through a series of tubes and pipes running under the concrete. According to Parikh, the water running through the system maintains a temperature of about 100°, effectively melting snow at a rate of about an inch-and-a-half every hour. But that’s not all. The water created by the melt is also collected, recycled, and used for irrigation, laundry, and the toilet.

SunQuest250

Solar Thermal Gets It Done

Using the sun to battle snow is an incredibly creative way to take advantage of solar thermal technology. What Mr. Parikh and his family have done in New Jersey proves the potential of solar thermal for a variety of applications, both around the home and in commercial environments. This potential is why we are so excited about the future of solar thermal in America.

Solar America Solutions has designed, and now manufactures and sells, our industry-leading SunQuest 250 solar collector unit. We combine the SunQuest 250 with additional equipment including pumps, heat exchangers, and storage tanks to create systems capable of providing all of the space heat and hot water required by a commercial building. Our systems have also been adapted to generate industrial process heat as well.

Our systems work on the same principle as Parikh’s snow-melting system. Solar collector panels absorb heat energy from the sun, then transfer that heat energy via a thermal liquid in a closed loop. A heat exchanger allows us to apply the heat energy to a variety of applications – whether it be space heat, water heater, or industrial equipment that uses heat in its operation.

While we concentrate primarily on commercial buildings, we can see the potential of solar thermal systems like ours for a variety of residential purposes. If one family in New Jersey can completely rework their home so that it has no use for fossil fuels, many more homes can also be reworked. New construction can be equipped with solar thermal systems as well, making it possible for all of us to use the environment as an active partner in maintaining it.

For more information about solar thermal and its potential in your commercial building, we invite you to contact Solar America Solutions at 317-688-8581. Let’s see what we can do for you.

Sources:

  • Paramus Daily Voice – http://paramus.dailyvoice.com/neighbors/who-needs-a-shovel-paramus-family-melts-snowfall-away/620538/#.Vqk9dWIiZbI.facebook

More Businesses Incorporating Solar Thermal in Product Line

America’s solar power sector is enjoying a resurgence thanks to a slowly growing and expanding economy. According to Solar Industry Magazine, that resurgence is not limited to homeowners installing panels on their roofs in order to reduce their electricity bills. Businesses involved in solar equipment installations are also adding solar thermal space heating, solar domestic hot water, and solar pool heating to their product lines.

As America’s consciousness of the potential of solar energy increases, home and business owners alike are looking more to the sun as an energy source than ever before. This is leading to both increased demand and increased competition among solar suppliers. Remaining competitive requires expanding product lines and pushing innovation. That’s where solar thermal comes in.

Solar thermal is seeing growing interest in energy technology as it utilizes the sun’s energy to produce space heat and hot water. It is preferred because it is the most efficient and cost-effective use of solar energy. Rather than relying on direct sunlight to create electricity, solar thermal uses ultraviolet energy to transfer heat to a thermal liquid, which is then used for hot water, and space heating needs, even in cloudy and cold conditions. The technology can also be used to create more efficient and consistent pool heating.

Not Just Residential Applications

The average American thinks of solar energy primarily in relation to residential power supplementation. However, as Solar Industry Magazine explains, practical solar applications go well beyond residential use. For example, greater numbers of hotel operators are coming to realize the potential of solar thermal on their properties. We are seeing more roof-mounted solar collector panels providing the necessary energy to produce reliable space heat and hot water for hotel guests.

Apartment building owners also recognize the same potential. Property owners are gradually replacing older systems with new solar thermal installations while builders of new units are increasingly looking to solar thermal to be the primary provider of hot water and space heat. Even the manufacturing and industrial sectors are getting involved.

Solar America Solutions is thrilled to be part of this exciting and dynamic market. Over the years, we have installed our patented SunQuest 250 evacuated tube solar collector panels and peripheral equipment in all kinds of commercial buildings. We have worked with correctional facilities, educational institutions, agricultural operations, commercial buildings, industrial processes and more.

We focus on commercial applications rather than residential because we believe the future of solar thermal lies in the large-scale manufacturing and industrial deployment that will reduce our clients’ dependence on fossil fuels . However, we welcome others who focus their efforts on residential applications.

SunQuest250

State Governments on Board

Solar Industry Magazine says that one of the driving forces behind the recent resurgence of solar energy is the state governments now on board with the technology. They cite California as just one example. The Golden State has a very aggressive rebate system in place designed to encourage as many residential and commercial property owners as possible to make the switch. Solar Industry Magazine says solar thermal hot water is extremely popular in California right now.

Commercial property owners in California are especially open to solar thermal because incentives and tax rebates often result in a net-zero installation cost. In other words, it costs commercial enterprises virtually nothing to install the equipment, yet they immediately begin realizing savings by reducing their dependence on traditional fossil fuel energy sources. It would be great if other states followed California’s lead.

Solar equipment and installation providers are adding solar thermal to their product lines because it is good for business. As the solar market grows, solar thermal will be an important part of that market for years to come.

Sources:

  • Solar Industry Magazine – http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.15650

BC Hotel First to Take Advantage of Thermal Incentives

A prominent Canadian hotel is the first establishment to take advantage of a British Columbia incentive program for solar thermal installations. The Hotel Grand Pacific in Victoria received a $4,750 government grant toward the installation of a new system now supplying hot water and pool heating. Hotel officials are pleased with the results thus far.

Though the exact numbers have not been released, the system cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to install. Since the system was turned on a few months ago, it has been providing 2,700 liters of hot water for domestic and pool heating purposes. This has allowed the hotel to reduce the amount of natural gas it burns for water heating.

The entire system is comprised of eight rooftop panels, a heat pump, and a heat recovery system. All three components work together to heat water throughout the hotel property during the daylight hours. Hotel officials say that the savings have been estimated at roughly 16,625 kWh, which is enough energy to power three average homes in Canada for a year.

Officials from the Capital Regional District say they still have an additional 75 grants available to both residential and business customers on a first-come, first-served basis. The grants can pay for up to 30% of the total cost of a solar hot water system for those who qualify. Obviously, there are some restrictions, including the types of systems that can be used and who installs them.

BC-Hotel

The Times Colonist says that qualifying homes or businesses must have roofs with little or no shade and at least two square meters of space for installation of solar collector panels. Space will be required inside for the installation of a second water tank for preheated water. That preheated water is circulated throughout the building as needed.

Solar Thermal Makes Sense

Solar thermal energy production for hot water and space heat makes perfect sense where efficiency and cost-effectiveness are concerned. Perhaps that is why more and more businesses are looking to solar thermal for their own needs. That’s been our experience at Solar America Solutions.

Where efficiency is concerned, solar thermal collector panels such as the SunQuest 250 by Solar America Solutions are more efficient per square foot of space. You can get greater output from a smaller area because the collector panels require a smaller footprint. In addition, solar thermal technology is more efficient at producing usable energy than photovoltaic (PV), traditional flat panel thermal collectors, or even concentrated solar power (CSP). Our SunQuest 250 collector panel is the most efficient of its type in the industry, using up to 94% of the captured energy.

It is hard to beat solar thermal for space heating and hot water when it comes to cost-effectiveness. For example, our SunQuest 250 system can pay for itself within 3 to 5 years – even without government incentives. When you throw incentives in, the savings is even greater.

Critics of the Hotel Grand Pacific installation believe the cost savings are not justified compared to the amount of money spent on installation. With traditional flat panel systems, that may be a legitimate criticism. However, with a SunQuest 250 system that pays for itself in 3 to 5 years, the savings offered by solar thermal are very real and substantial.

Solar America Solutions believes that solar thermal is on the cutting edge of solar energy use. We would be happy to speak with you about your building and its space heat and hot water needs. Our systems have already been installed in industrial and government buildings across the country with excellent results. We can do the same for you.