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Posts tagged ‘SunQuest 250 collector panel’

Indian Project Shows Promise for Solar Thermal Process Heat

A rather extensive project in India designed to measure the cost effectiveness of solar thermal technology for process heat has shown good promise through more than a dozen case studies. The project, known as SoPro India, is a partnership between the Indian Ministry of New and Renewable Energy and the German Agency for International Cooperation.

SoPro India started with the installation of solar thermal systems at 27 locations around the country. Among them, 15 locations were chosen as case studies for measuring the effectiveness of the solutions in providing cost-effective process heat. The 15 facilities cover different sectors from food processing to textiles to manufacturing.


According to Solar Thermal World magazine, the case studies demonstrated efficiency of 20% that would lead to a return on investment (ROI) of between two and three years. The ROI can be shorter or longer, based on future energy prices for fossil fuels. Nonetheless, an ROI of three years is pretty standard for solar thermal.

Solar Thermal for Process Heat

The installations we concentrate on at Solar America Solutions tend to be geared toward providing space heat and hot water for commercial buildings. But we have been involved in some process heat installations as well. They are very similar in terms of both theory and practice.

In a process heat installation, our SunQuest 250®™ solar collector panel collects solar energy using evacuated tube technology. That energy is transferred to a thermal liquid that runs through the system and into a heat exchanger where it can be extracted.Harvested energy can then be stored or used immediately for process heat.

The only difference in a space heat or hot water scenario is that the harvested energy is used for different purposes. The process of creating that energy is the same. This is what they are doing in India as well. For example, two of the case studies in the SoPro India project are as follows:

  • Himachal Dairy – The dairy uses a system consisting of a heat exchanger and several collector circuits set up in parallel. A 20% efficiency rating was achieved with very little modification from the original design. However, engineers believe they can boost efficiency as high as 40% by optimizing the flow of thermal liquid on both sides of the heat exchanger.
  • Synthokem Labs – The installation at this facility provides both process heat and hot water. Separate collector fields are used for both, though engineers are thinking of increasing efficiency by combining them into a single circuit.

Solar Thermal World reports that investors are happy with the current 20% efficiency and ROI. As such, there are no immediate plans to modify the systems to achieve a higher efficiency. But 40% is certainly not out of the question. Perhaps the success that SoPro India has demonstrated thus far will motivate engineers to modify current systems and design future installations with a higher efficiency rating.

Solar Thermal for Your Building

Back here at home, Solar America Solutions continues to lead the way in developing effective solar thermal solutions for commercial buildings and industrial enterprises. Our industry-leading SunQuest 250®™ solar collector panel has set performance standards the rest of the industry is working to catch up to. Our panel is capable of output temperatures in excess of 400°F and up to 35,000 BTUs per hour.

A Solar America Solutions system is perfect for commercial buildings because it has an extremely small footprint compared to its high output potential. For more information about how solar thermal can save your commercial building or enterprise money, feel free to contact us.


1. Solar Thermal World –

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 Revolutionize Solar Thermal Industry

Solar thermal energy production is one of the most promising renewable energy models we have to work with right now. Yet it does have its limitations, not the least of which is energy storage. Research now being undertaken at Oregon State University could be a definite game changer by creating a new storage solution that makes solar thermal exponentially more effective and cost-efficient. This new storage technology could revolutionize the solar thermal industry if researchers are able to find a way to get to market.

Current solar thermal technology does allow for storage of unused energy during the day. We use a system of storage tanks to capture and store unused solar heat that can then be utilized to continue providing hot water and space heat once the sun goes down. Yet modern storage systems are not ideal. The industry would like to have a solution that is considerably more efficient and powerful. That goal is at the core of the Oregon state University research.


Concentrated Thermochemical Storage

Researchers are now working on an advanced thermochemical storage facility that can both store and reuse concentrated solar thermal heat through a complex chemical process. Their focus is on creating a storage device that would enhance our ability to use solar thermal to generate electricity in conventional power plants. But any storage device developed for this purpose could be scaled down for use in individual solar thermal installations in commercial buildings.

The principle behind thermochemical storage is rather simple. A storage unit is constructed using a variety of components and chemicals that very much resemble a conventional battery. When heat energy is introduced into the storage device, a chemical reaction takes place that causes that heat energy to be stored. Upon discharge, the heat is then transferred out of the storage device into whatever equipment is utilizing it.

The researchers at Oregon State University are taking this concept one step further by utilizing a group of chemicals capable of doing two amazing things. First, the chemicals can theoretically store heat energy for an unlimited amount of time with little or no loss. Second, the chemical process that occurs during discharge produces additional heat that can also be harnessed.

Solving the Storage Issue Opens Doors

Renewable energy development must always be undertaken with the understanding that none of our current sources of renewable energy is 100% reliable. The sun does not always shine, the wind does not always blow, and water does not always move. Therefore, storage capacity is necessary. A reliable storage model is the missing link that could make it possible for us to completely replace fossil fuels in the future.

That day is still a long way off in all likelihood. In the meantime, our focus is on developing the most efficient solar collector panels and storage devices possible. With each new development, we are one step closer to making solar thermal the default renewable energy option worldwide.

Here at home, Solar America Solutions focuses on solar thermal for heat and hot water in commercial buildings. Our systems are highly effective and efficient due to the evacuated tube design of our SunQuest 250 collector panel. A single 25-bulb collector is capable of producing up to 35,000 BTUs per hour in a package with a total rooftop footprint of as little as 21 ft.².

To date, we have installed our systems in prison cellblocks, college dorms, office buildings, industrial buildings, and even agricultural facilities. We would be happy to discuss the potential of solar thermal for your commercial property,. If you want to know more, contact us at 317-688-8581.


  • Power Electronics –

In Costa Rica Solar Thermal Could Be an Economy Driver

In the U.S., we tend to think of solar water heating as a way to save a little money by generating some of our own power rather than relying entirely on the grid. We hardly ever think of solar thermal technology as something that could drive the economy and attract new businesses to local areas. In Costa Rica, things are a bit different. The economy of the Central American country is impacted heavily by electricity prices to the point that solar thermal could be an important factor in economic expansion by attracting new businesses to the region.

Costa Ricans currently spend an inordinate amount of money on electric service. Even worse, nearly 40% of the money spent is directly related to heating water for residential and commercial purposes. It is a lot of money by any standard, but things are exacerbated by the reality that demand for electricity has increased four times over the last two decades. This has led to a doubling of the price as well. Electric service is simply too expensive in Costa Rica.


High demand and the subsequent high prices hamper business in Costa Rica for obvious reasons. Yet certain kinds of businesses, such as manufacturing, find themselves in an even worse position. They end up paying more for their electricity once they reach a certain capacity every month, by way of additional surcharges for extra capacity. Higher electric bills for manufacturers make Costa Rica unattractive for new businesses. Solar thermal may be the solution.

New National Targets

In order to combat increased electricity costs in a nation where sunshine is ample, Costa Rica has established new solar thermal targets to be reached between now and 2030. For example, the targets call for a minimum of 10% of all residential properties to have domestic water heating systems powered by solar thermal. Targets are also in place for new builds and commercial facilities. Right now there are no official estimates as to the current solar thermal capacity in the country.

The Costa Rican government is offering the usual collection of incentives and credits in order to encourage people to adopt solar thermal for water heating. Interestingly enough, the incentives are not as critical in that country as they might be here. Why? Because solar thermal is already a big money saver when compared to the prohibitively high cost of electricity in Costa Rica.

Attracting New Business

A robust market for solar thermal in Costa Rica would definitely help to bring both prices and demand down. It would make it more affordable for residential owners to provide their own domestic water heating systems without spending a small fortune on grid electricity. And it would certainly be attractive to new businesses looking to establish new operations in Costa Rica. In short, solar thermal could be an economy driver in a country that business owners currently find unattractive.

We have seen firsthand how installing solar thermal collectors and water heaters can save a tremendous amount of money for commercial enterprises. At Solar America Solutions, commercial applications are what we specialize in. We know the enormous potential of solar thermal for water heating and space heat, having successfully installed our own systems in a variety of commercial buildings.

Solar thermal for commercial applications using our SunQuest 250 collector panel harnesses ultraviolet energy from the sun, eliminating the need for direct sunlight. Our customers save money by not having to purchase as much electricity for hot water and space heat requirements. And, in most cases, our systems pay for themselves within 3 to 5 years.


  • Solar Thermal World –

France Sets Its Sights on Large-Scale Solar Thermal Installations

France is a country that has never been afraid to embrace renewable energy sources in everything from individual residential systems to municipal district heating. They have been heavily involved in promoting solar thermal for small-scale installations since 2009, having invested millions of euros in incentives to encourage building owners to embrace the technology. Now the French government is turning its attention to large-scale solar thermal installations in multi-family housing units, hospitals, industrial buildings, and district heating projects.

Like most other countries, France instituted all sorts of incentives when they first embarked on solar thermal promotion years ago. Those incentives led to steady market growth by way of small-scale installations for residential buildings. But the market began leveling off in 2012; it has been in steady decline ever since. According to the French energy agency Ademe, the number of applications for solar subsidies has fallen off in direct relation to a slowdown in home building.

SunQuest 250

Policymakers do not want to see solar thermal lose too much ground in France, so they have developed a new round of incentives that they hope will entice builders and existing property owners to consider solar thermal on a larger commercial scale. They also hope the new incentives will revive optimism in the solar thermal industry and among the public in general.

Solar Thermal for Commercial Buildings

Ademe’s focus on large-scale solar thermal installations is similar to that which we have been doing at Solar America Solutions since our company was established. While there is certainly plenty of room for solar thermal for individual, residential structures, we believe the real impact of the technology is strongest in the commercial sector. Commercial buildings require a tremendous financial investment in heat, especially in northern locales, and heating water is always expensive regardless of climate. Solar thermal makes doing both significantly more cost-effective.

The beauty of solar thermal is its efficiency. Rather than converting sunlight into electricity that is then used to power water and heating systems, solar thermal harnesses solar energy to heat a thermal transfer liquid. That transfer liquid can then be used for a variety of purposes. We most often install our systems to provide space heat and hot water, but solar thermal can also be used to generate industrial process heat as well.

We believe the key to efficient solar thermal installations is the solar collector panel. The more efficient a panel is the more heat it can produce within a contained footprint. That is what our industry-leading SunQuest 250 collector panel is all about.

The patented SunQuest 250 collector panel is the most efficient solar collector panel on the market. It offers 88 ft.² of solar absorption area yet requires a total roof space of just 3′ x 7′ for installation. The combination of high efficiency and a small footprint make it possible to meet 50–60% of your space heat and hot water needs with a modest rooftop installation.

The Future of Solar Thermal

The decision in France to turn their solar thermal attention to large-scale installations for commercial applications is important in that it helps to clarify the future of solar thermal industry. The reality is that the world is driven by economics. What is good for business ends up being good for every consumer as well. Solar thermal will flourish in France, and here as well, when it becomes the norm in commercial buildings.

Solar America Solutions intends to continue doing its part to promote solar thermal as a money-saving alternative to traditional energy sources. We believe the future of solar thermal is bright indeed.


  • Solar Thermal World –

Massachusetts Legislation Promotes Solar Heating and Cooling

The Massachusetts state legislature took a step forward in promoting solar heating and cooling in the Bay State, by approving legislation that would extend alternative energy credits to businesses and consumers taking advantage of the latest SHC technologies. The legislation was approved in early August 2014 and sent to Governor Deval Patrick for his signature.

Known simply as SB2214, the law provides financial incentives for developing and using solar technologies for heating and hot water. The comprehensive bill includes nearly every type of solar application, including the solar thermal systems designed and installed by Solar America Solutions. The bill also provides incentives for other alternative energy technologies, including biofuels and air source heat pumps.

Companies in the solar industry are especially pleased with the legislation given the fact that solar is now the fastest growing source of renewable energy used in America. They believe now is the time to capitalize on that fact.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that the solar power industry now employs some 143,000 individuals across the country. They anticipate passage of SB2214 will result in up to 5,900 additional jobs in Massachusetts by 2020.


The Future of Solar

At Solar America solutions, we believe the future of solar power in the U.S. is intrinsically tied to the evacuated tube technology we have helped to develop. As attractive as photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP) have been to consumers and businesses over the years, neither technology is as efficient and cost-effective as evacuated tube designs. It is only a matter of time before evacuated tube systems can produce the raw power necessary for large-scale applications. Until then, more businesses and government entities are discovering the benefits of evacuated tube solar thermal for space heat and hot water.

An evacuated tube system, like the SunQuest 250, uses highly efficient collector materials that absorb ultraviolet rays from the sun. These collector materials are encased in evacuated tubes, allowing the system to use 94% of the energy absorbed. That energy is transferred from the collector panel to a heat exchanger by way of a constantly circulating thermal liquid. The heat extracted from the liquid can be immediately used to produce space heat and hot water or, in the case of excess, stored in tanks for later use.

There are a number of measurable advantages to using systems like the SunQuest 250 for commercial applications:

  • Small Footprint – Our 25-tube collector panel provides 88 ft.² of absorption area while requiring only 21 ft.² of installation space. The incredibly small footprint of evacuated tube systems makes the best use of limited roof space without sacrificing production.
  • Cost Savings – A single SunQuest 250 collector panel can generate more than 30,000 BTUs at stagnation temperatures of over 475°F. With that kind of energy production, the system can pay for itself in 3 to 5 years. Furthermore, the amount of money saved by not having to use energy from the grid adds up substantially over time.
  • Scalability – Our evacuated tube collector panels can be added to as customer needs increase. In essence, we offer a highly scalable, modular system that can meet just about any need.

Solar America Solutions has already designed and installed a number of successful solar thermal systems at sites around the country. The SunQuest 250 is the right solution for providing space heating and hot water for your office, government, agricultural, or industrial building. We urge you to contact us so that we can design a custom solution that will save you money while also helping you participate in the renewable energy revolution that is sweeping the country.

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.


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.