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Posts tagged ‘Solar Thermal Collector’

Solar Thermal: It’s All About the Collector Panels

Solar America Solutions is not the only company in the U.S. offering solar thermal for space heat and hot water. But we are one of the leading players, as evidenced by the patent we obtained for our SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector in 2015. Why should you care about the SunQuest 250™? Because when it comes to solar thermal, it is all about the collector panels.

In recognizing our patent achievement, patent counsel Victor Indiano remarked that he knew our collector panel was “a winner” the moment he saw it. He went on to explain that many of the technologies in our industry do not live up to manufacturer claims. Our collector panel is different. Not only does it do what we say it does but it sets the standard for all others to follow as well.

SunQuest250

Spend Your Money Wisely

If you are thinking about a solar thermal installation for your commercial building, spend your money wisely. You can invest in an inferior system with substandard solar collector panels, or you can invest in a Solar America Solutions SunQuest 250™ system. Just remember this: it is all about the collector panels.

How important are panels? A recently completed study in Germany provides the answer. Researchers analyzed the total cost of solar thermal installation for process heat applications. And although the peripheral equipment used for process heat production is somewhat different from the equipment we use to produce hot water and space heat, the solar collector panels are the same.

Researchers discovered that the biggest single cost of solar thermal installations is that of obtaining collector panels. They further found that there were drastic swings between prices offered by providers. Those price swings accounted for the unreliable pricing structures for building new solar thermal processing plants.

On average, 34% of the cost of a typical solar thermal installation in Germany is consumed by collector panels. For systems in excess of 100 square meters, collector panels consume 43% of the budget while smaller projects dedicate roughly 29% to collector panels.

There is no hard data to make an accurate comparison between Germany and the U.S. However, our own experience suggests a comparable situation here. The largest cost of a solar thermal installation tends to be in the collector panels. That being the case, you might just as well invest in the best panels in the industry if you want to achieve the best results.

The Future of Renewable Energy

To date, Solar America Solutions has installed solar thermal systems for space heat and hot water at buildings ranging from state prisons to college dorms. Through combined efforts with our partners, we have helped improve an egg washing operation in Ohio and create a heated sand mass radiant heat solution in Wisconsin. Our system has been installed in large scale manufacturing processes, state and federal corrections facilities, universities, major resort hotels, etc. We have even provided free occupational training to help inmates learn a marketable skill in anticipation of their eventual release.

For us, solar thermal is more than just a means to a successful business. It is the future of renewable energy in America. Solar thermal is a highly efficient way to convert the sun’s powerful ultraviolet rays into usable heat thermal energy for generating hot water and space heat, all while creating ZERO carbon emissions.

Our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collector is based on evacuated tube technology that minimizes heat loss. The collector material we use inside our tubes absorbs energy from ultraviolet rays, so collection continues even on cloudy and overcast days. Lastly, one of our 25-bulb collectors requires just 21 square feet of installation space.

When it comes to solar thermal, it’s all about the collector panels. Invest your money in the SunQuest 250™ collector panel from solar America solutions.

Sources:

Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/europe-collector-field-main-cost-driver-industrial-solar-heat-plants

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

Technology Just Keeps Making Solar Thermal Better

Solar America Solutions is focused on providing space heat and hot water solutions for commercial buildings. Our patented SunQuest 250®™solar thermal collectors are the perfect collector panels for commercial applications. Still, that does not stop us from paying close attention to industry news in order to stay abreast of what is happening across the entire industry. For example, a Spanish company has figured out a way to incorporate solar thermal with slate roofing tiles for residential purposes.

According to TreeHugger, a company by the name of Cupa Pizarras has developed a new solar thermal system that utilizes slate roofing tiles along with collector plates and storage batteries that can supply a household with hot water, space heat, and even supplemental heat for swimming pools. While the idea is far from being adopted on a wide scale for residential purposes, it holds a lot of potential.

SunQuest250

How the System Works

Natural slate has been used as a roofing material for centuries. It is extremely durable, very attractive, and does an excellent job of absorbing heat. Homes with slate roofs tend to stay cooler in summer and warmer in the winter because of the thermodynamic properties of the material. Those properties are what made engineers at Cupa Pizarras decide to use slate for their new solar thermal system.

In a typical installation, a roof is first covered by collector plates, which are themselves connected to a system consisting of storage batteries and heat exchangers. The collector plates are then covered with slate roofing tiles. As energy from the sun warms the tiles, the plates underneath collect the heat and transfer it to the storage units.

Heat exchangers within the system take that heat energy and use it for other purposes. In some installations, heat goes directly from the roof to the swimming pool during the summer months and is redirected indoors for space heat during the winter.

Solar Thermal Just Works

So what is it about this idea that excites us so much given that we do not do residential applications? In one word, potential. Every time a new technology like this is developed, it is further evidence that proves solar thermal just works. The concept is so incredibly simple: heat energy from the sun is collected and transferred to solar collector panels and specially designed storage units. That heat energy can then be used to do virtually anything we might have used fossil fuels for in the past.

For example, one of our first installations involved a rooftop set-up at an USA-based correctional facility’s inmate housing unit. We were able to supply space heat and hot water for that facility by simply taking advantage of what the sun naturally offers. The state corrections department was so pleased with the installation that they contracted with Solar America Solutions for additional installations.

The advantage of solar thermal over other kinds of renewable energy use is efficiency. Our patented SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector is a perfect example of that efficiency. Because it is based on a highly efficient evacuated tube design, there is very little heat loss between collection and transfer. Nearly all of the energy our panel collects from the sun goes right into the system.

There is no way to tell whether Cupa Pizarras’ solar thermal solution will be widely adopted across Europe. But we can say that ideas like theirs are creating the technologies that are leading solar thermal forward. With every new idea, there is more evidence that solar thermal is one of the best and most promising technologies for sustainable energy development.

Sources:

1.TreeHugger – http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/solar-thermal-system-integrates-invisibly-slate-roof.html

San Francisco Mandates Solar for New Builds

San Francisco has become the fourth California city to implement a mandate for the use of solar installations in all new builds. The cities of Lancaster, Sebastopol, and Santa Monica already have similar mandates in place. We say ‘similar’ because there’s one significant difference in San Francisco: builders can choose between solar thermal and PV. The other four cities mandate PV.

Beginning January 1, 2017, all new residential and commercial builds must include some sort of solar installation. Under the ‘Better Roof Requirements for Renewable Energy Facilities’ code, solar water heating systems must produce 100 kBtu per square foot of installation space, per year. This applies to both residential and commercial applications. There are also requirements in place should builders choose PV.

sanfrancisco

The Next Logical Step

San Francisco residents are not surprised by the city council’s decision to mandate solar installations. The city previously joined the ‘Go 100% Renewable Energy’ initiative in 2010, and they have set ambitious goals of reducing emissions to 80% of 1990 levels by 2050. This latest mandate is just the next logical step in their goal to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and the resulting emissions.

In preparation for the mandate, the city began working on standards back in 2014. For example, the city’s ‘Solar Ready Requirement’ has forced builders over the last two years to design roofs to accommodate solar installations in the future. Builders of both residential and non-residential structures have been doing just that. Now they expect rooftop installations, so enhancing new building designs to accommodate solar thermal collector units should not be a problem.

The only question that remains to be seen is who chooses what. Common sense seems to dictate that commercial building developers who decide to use only one method to meet mandated obligations will choose solar thermal for hot water and space heat production. Why? Because solar thermal has proven to be more efficient and cost-effective than PV. Furthermore, a solar thermal solution can be adapted to provide thermal energy for air conditioning as well, which would further enhance what solar thermal can offer a warm state like California.

Potential for Solar Thermal Installations

What we expect to happen in San Francisco over the next few years is by no means uncharted territory. Cities all across Europe have done exactly what the City by the Bay has done, with very good results to boot. Europe’s builders are wholeheartedly embracing solar thermal for commercial and residential buildings even as local communities are looking to adopt as many alternative energy sources as possible. In short, the potential for solar thermal now looks virtually limitless.

Here at home, we are seeing solar thermal being adopted on a more regular basis as well. At Solar America Solutions, we have seen demand for our patented SunQuest 250™ solar thermal collectors increase year after year. We have also had the pleasure of being involved in some revolutionary installations covering everything from government buildings to educational facilities to poultry farms.

Solar thermal offers the potential of generating cost-effective space heat, process heat, and hot water regardless of the size of a commercial building. Our system is especially attractive because of its extremely limited footprint requirement. It doesn’t take a lot of available roof space to install a system that can more than meet the demand for space heat and hot water.

The city of San Francisco has made it possible for solar thermal to gain a very strong following in that city. In fact, that is exactly what we expect to happen. Hopefully, other cities will follow San Francisco’s lead.

Sources:

1.Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/california-san-francisco-passes-first-mandate-solar-thermal-option

Austrian Project Puts New Twist on Solar Thermal

A brand-new construction project now underway in Vienna puts an entirely new twist on solar thermal power. Not only will the 1,500-m² solar array eventually provide energy for hot water and space heating needs, it will also be put to use throughout the building phase by providing energy for screed drying and construction heating.

Austrian energy and facilities management company Energiecomfort has been hired to design and install the solar thermal system for a residential construction project located on the outskirts of Vienna. The project calls for several multi-family residential buildings built on a site that is too far away from the city center to take advantage of district heating. Energiecomfort was chosen partly because it has already successfully deployed roughly 5,000m² of solar thermal collector area and peripheral equipment at some 50 similar buildings throughout the Austrian capital.

vienna

The completed project will provide each of the residential units with the space heat and hot water they need without any dependence on the municipal system. Energiecomfort will be using a collection of solar thermal collectors, storage tanks, and heat pumps to deliver space heat and hot water 24 hours per day.

Energy collected from the sun will be transferred to a thermal liquid to be used to heat water and provide space heat. Excess energy collected during the daylight hours will be stored in one of three storage tanks for use once the sun goes down. Energiecomfort will be supplementing the system with a gas boiler capable of making up for any lack of thermal energy produced by the solar system.

Large-Scale Solar Thermal

Solar America Solutions is interested primarily in commercial projects including agricultural operations, office buildings, and government buildings. However, we are intrigued by the Austrian project because it proves that solar thermal is effective in nearly unlimited potential applications – literally anywhere that thermal energy (heat) is needed. Where we often see solar thermal used for individual buildings on a case-by-case basis, the Austrian project deploys a 1,500m2 solar array to generate and distribute heat and hot water across multiple buildings simultaneously.

The fact that Energiecomfort has already successfully deployed this model for dozens of similar buildings in and around Vienna shows that solar thermal as a renewable and sustainable energy source for heat and hot water is not just theory. It is real, it is practical, and it is workable.

Furthermore, the fact that Energiecomfort has been enlisted by the building contractor to install the solar array and equipment first demonstrates additional value from the solar thermal model. Construction crews will be able to use the energy produced by the system to enhance and speed up drying of concrete floors in the early stages of the building. They will also have interior heat once construction moves indoors over the winter.

Sustainable Energy Future

Projects such as this further convince us of the potential of solar thermal to be the sustainable energy choice of the future. At Solar America Solutions, we have invested all of our resources in developing one of the best solar thermal collector panels on the market. Our panel, known as the SunQuest 250, is based on an evacuated tube design that is highly efficient and incredibly productive. Just one collector panel can deliver more than 30,000 BTUs per hour, with output temperatures reaching as high as almost 500°F.

Solar America Solutions has already successfully deployed our collector panels and peripheral equipment on a variety of projects of different scopes and sizes. We would be happy to discuss your project if you are ready to experience the power of solar thermal.

Sources:

  • Solar Thermal World – http://www.solarthermalworld.org/content/austria-1500-m2-esco-project-vienna-residential-area

Solar Power for the Hospitality Industry

The hospitality industry is one that uses a lot of energy in order to provide all the comforts of home. A good portion of that energy is used for things like laundry, providing hot water to individual hotel rooms, and heating swimming pools. For companies that want to convert some of their energy consumption to green and sustainable technologies, the solar thermal collector panel is a good starting point.

Solar America manufacturers the nation’s leading evacuated tube solar thermal collector panel; a panel we’ve dubbed the SunQuest 250. Our advanced technology has made this panel the most efficient and productive collector panel of its kind.

SunQuest 250 by SolarAmerica Solutions

Uses for the Hospitality Industry

Our SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel is based on the idea of heating a liquid component that can be used for several purposes, rather than just generating straight electricity. This method of harnessing the sun’s ultraviolet rays offers the hospitality industry a number of options:

Laundry – The expenses associated with laundering linens and bedding materials put a serious dent in any hotel budget. However, a solar thermal collector panel system mounted on the roof of a hotel can change that dramatically. The energy harnessed by the panel can provide all the hot water needed to do laundry.

Space Heat – Despite what you might think, solar thermal technology is an excellent source of efficient space heat. Evacuated tubes can generate a hot liquid that can be forced through radiant floor or baseboard heating systems to provide space heat on any scale. Right now Solar America panels are doing just that at locations around the country.

Hot Water – Just as a solar thermal collector panel can provide space heat for building, it can also generate hot water for hotel showers and sinks. Imagine being able to provide your guests all the hot water they need without having to use external energy sources.

Scalable Solutions

The other thing to consider about systems like the SunQuest 250 is that they are scalable. Start with just a single panel or two to provide supplemental space heat or hot water. As your needs grow, you can add additional panels without any major modifications to the system.

The scalability of these types of systems make them ideal where expansion and growth are expected. As an example, we installed the SunQuest 250 system on a newly completed cellblock at an Indiana prison in late 2012. The results were so good that Solar America has been contracted by the Indiana prison system to equip the entire campus with our solar thermal collector panels. In case you’re curious, the pilot project saved the state corrections system 43% on their energy bills.

There’s no doubt the hospitality industry could benefit greatly from switching to solar power for their space heat and hot water needs. Most systems pay for themselves completely within 3 to 5 years through reduced utility bills. You cannot go wrong with the solar thermal collector panel from Solar America.

The Tax Advantages of Solar Energy

It is no secret that the current Washington administration is heavily invested in renewable energy sources as a means of reducing America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Likewise, many state and local governments are also pushing renewable energy. It should come as no surprise, then, that there are tax credits available to companies willing to utilize solar energy.

Solar America Solutions wants to help America’s businesses take advantage of those tax credits with the SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel and evacuated tube system. We have already helped businesses just like yours reduce external energy consumption, lower their energy bills, and take advantage of tax credits.

Sun

How it Works

A good example of the benefits of the SunQuest 250 system is found at Minnich Poultry in Fort Recovery, Ohio. This thriving poultry operation needed to replace three aging boilers used for space heating and egg washing. Solar America Solutions answered the call with three SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panels mounted on the roof. The system generated enough heat energy to much of the needs of that building.

The SunQuest 250 system works on the principle of solar thermal energy (heat) rather than the more commonly recognized photovoltaic energy (electricity) conversion. In a nutshell, rather than converting the sun’s rays into DC electricity, it converts ultraviolet rays into heat. The heat can then be stored in a highly efficient collection tank to be used for hundreds of purposes.

In the case of Minnich Poultry, the system was used to provide hot water for egg washing and space heating for the entire building. The system works so well that building now has no need for external energy sources, thus reducing the overall energy consumption and allowing the company to take advantage of a federal tax credit.

Efficiency Is the Key to Success

The main advantage of the SunQuest 250 lies in its solar thermal collector tubes, also known as “evacuated tubes.” These tubes collect the generated heat in a vacuum environment; the vacuum prevents heat transfer loss to create an incredibly efficient system. The vacuum tubes’ internal coatings and components also boosts that heat energy before sending along to a collection tank where the heat is stored for use after the sun goes down.

With convection also in play, that heat transfer system continuously works so that there is always thermal energy available for whatever purpose needed, regardless of the outside temperature or even cloud cover. This gives the SunQuest 250 system the potential of very large-scale applications in a variety of industries.

Right now, we are hard at work deploying our systems in manufacturing environments, government facilities, hospitals, and so forth. Solar thermal energy from large scale concentrators is already being used for commercial power generation in around the world and the scalability of our system is such that it is only a matter of time before we tackle that application that as well.

While photovoltaic solar energy has been good to us this new solar thermal technology available from Solar America Solutions is opening up solar applications never dreamed possible before. Photovoltaic energy is still good technology for generating electricity like supplemental home electrical generation, solar thermal technology utilizing inexpensive and cost effective evacuated tube solar collectors will drive the industry into the future. We are excited to be a part of it at Solar America Solutions.