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Posts tagged ‘SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel’

German Company Takes Solar Thermal Shopping Online

It would not be unusual to assume that solar thermal and online technologies, being relatively new in the grand scheme of things, easily coexist in the same marketplace. This is not necessarily true. Take a German company that recently began allowing customers to shop for solar thermal installations online, as an example. Their business plan seems to be drawing some consternation from skeptical installers who think the online model might hinder business.

Vaillant is a German company specializing in the manufacture of boilers and heating equipment. Their new online sales platform makes it possible for customers to shop and compare without ever having to visit a showroom or call to speak with a representative. But there are a couple of catches.


First, critics of the system say it is not easy to understand. Customers have to go through a two-stage process that includes a rather lengthy questionnaire designed to determine what kind of heating system they are looking for. Customers can also choose a particular price range.

The second catch is that the prices shown on the platform are only rough estimates based on current retail prices in the customer’s given market. Before any purchase is made, an installation specialist has to visit the premises to create an accurate estimate. Vaillant will be working with licensed installers to handle estimates and installations in local areas under their brand.

A Model That Could Work

Despite concerns that the online model will stifle competitiveness among local installers, it is a model that could work well once all of the details are ironed out. We can see it being especially attractive to millennials and younger baby boomers who have already shown an affinity for shopping online. Comparing without leaving home is pretty attractive.

Imagine a platform whereby the solar thermal customer could compare different equipment choices along with installers and designers. Competition tends to result in better pricing and service, potentially opening the door to more opportunities for consumers. On the other hand, competition can be stifled if the online platform provider restricts access to certain equipment manufacturers, dealers and installers.

It will be interesting to see what happens with the German program over the next 12 to 18 months. If Vaillant can make it work well, keeping both consumers and installers happy, there is no reason the same idea would not work elsewhere. Perhaps we are on the verge of seeing solar thermal become as widely adopted online as any other product in the digital marketplace.

Solar Thermal Is Cost-Effective and Efficient

We can see a lot of potential in offering solar thermal installations via an online shopping platform if, for no other reason, the fact that the internet makes it a lot easier to quantify the efficiency of solar thermal in ways consumers can understand. Through graphics, comparison charts, etc., companies could offer overviews of their equipment side-by-side with their competitors. Customers could easily see how different systems stack up against one another.

Done right, it could be a viable platform for our SunQuest 250®™ solar thermal collector panel. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Comparative shopping platforms are not as big here in the U.S. as they are in Europe, so it’s better that we wait to see how the German platform works out.

In the meantime, we invite you to contact Solar America Solutions for more information about solar thermal technology for your commercial building. Our systems can provide more than adequate space heat, hot water, and process heat at an affordable cost that will save you money for years to come. We invite you to check out our website’s Energy Savings Calculators on our home page and get a preliminary estimate of what our system can save you on an annual basis (


1.Solar Thermal World –

Czech Republic: Trade-Offs Keep Solar Thermal Subsidy Going

A government subsidy program in the Czech Republic that has been aimed primarily at increasing solar thermal installations since its inception has been granted additional funding through 2021. However, in order to keep the subsidy, the government had to implement a number of trade-offs between solar thermal and other alternative energy technologies. In the end, the deal is good for everyone involved because it keeps subsidies in place for another five years.

The subsidy program, known as Nova Zalena Usporam (New Green Savings), began with the first phase implemented in 2014 with CZK 1.9 billion ($80 million USD) in funding. The second phase received 0.9 billion in the spring of 2015. Phase 3 started this past October (2015) with total funding of 27 billion through 2021, providing roughly 4.4 billion annually.

The good news is that the total budget for the subsidy has increased significantly. However, one of the trade-offs is that less money will be made available to solar thermal as a result of the program expanding to include other technologies as well. More money is now available for those other technologies in the hope that builders and property owners will be more motivated to go green.


Despite less money for subsidies, solar thermal investors see a silver lining in the revised program: the government has removed a former requirement that buildings undergo an energy audit before receiving funding to install a solar water heating system. Energy audits will now be required only on projects utilizing multiple, combined technologies in the same space.

Subsidy Programs Changing around the World

Subsidies in the Czech Republic are changing to accommodate an evolving energy environment. In that part of Europe, local communities are struggling to balance the need for reliable municipal heating with the desires of property owners to increase their energy efficiency with alternative technologies for water heating and space heat. At the same time, there are multiple technologies now competing to Eastern Europe’s move away from fossil fuels. Subsidies are a major player.

We say all that, to impart that subsidy programs are changing around the world. They have to in order to adapt. Some of the programs are being expanded to be more friendly to solar thermal; others are reducing support for solar thermal to direct more money to other options. This is the natural cycle of business. It tells us that solar thermal is established as a technology for the future and is now expected to start taking steps to stand on its own. So even though solar thermal will have less money to work with in the Czech Republic over the next five years, changes in the subsidy program are actually a good sign.

Solar Thermal Here at Home

Here at home, the subsidy environment is somewhat different. The way our system is set up prevents any sort of substantial federal incentive programs from being established. Rather, most subsidies and incentives are offered at the state level. Even individual municipalities will offer incentives and programs from time to time. The less centralized system we operate under makes it easy to forget that incentives are available for people looking to install solar thermal technology.

Many of the projects we have worked on in the past involved state subsidies in one form or another. Between those incentive programs and the efficiency of our SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel, customers recoup their costs within just a few years of installation. Then they begin enjoying the benefits of lower utility bills and less dependence on grid energy for their hot water and space heat.


  • Solar Thermal World –

Market Report Shows Good Results But There Is Room for Improvement

The annual Solar Heat Worldwide report is a useful tool for giving those of us in the industry a current benchmark. The report for 2015 is no exception. It shows excellent results in terms of worldwide deployment of solar thermal systems while also clearly identifying areas where the industry has room for improvement. The annual report is produced on behalf of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Program (SHC).

The data for the 2015 report was compiled using statistics from 56 countries covering about 95% of the world market for solar thermal. Researchers requested data regarding both existing solar thermal deployments and new builds for 2013, to put together a worldwide picture of industry growth. The numbers are superb, to say the least.

According to the report, the newly installed solar thermal collector capacity for 2013 amounted to 55 GW-TH (Gigawatts-Thermal) and a total area of 78.6 million square meters. Even more encouraging is the fact that evacuated tube solar collector panels increased from 9.7% to 11.3% of total market share from 2012 to 2013.


Room for Improvement

Despite the growth and expansion of solar thermal around the world, the 2015 report certainly shows there is more work to do in two areas. First is the total growth of solar thermal in major markets. Solar thermal grew by 35% in 2010; growth fell to 2% in 2013 largely due to the Indian market all but collapsing. India’s negative growth for 2013 was due to a sudden termination of the country’s subsidy program amidst government bureaucracy. Turning things around will require India’s government to rethink solar thermal again.

The other area of improvement has to do with where solar thermal is being deployed. The 2015 report shows that 76% of the solar thermal deployments worldwide are residential applications related to single-family homes. That’s good, but what can work for the single-family home can also work for commercial buildings. Just 1% of the solar thermal capacity in use around the world right now provides process heat or space heat/hot water for commercial applications.

The industry has plenty of room for growth where commercial applications are concerned. From our perspective, the key to improvement lies in better educating commercial building owners about the power and potential solar thermal. It is an exciting technology that has already been proven to work for all sorts of applications.

Solar America Solutions Examples

Solar America Solutions has already proven the viability of solar thermal for commercial applications. For example, we installed our SunQuest 250 solar collector panels at an Ohio poultry farm that needed to replace an aging boiler system. Our solar system provided almost all of the hot water required by the farm for egg washing. The system proved so successful that we were invited back to deploy a second system when the farm expanded its operations.

In terms of space heat and hot water, Solar America Solutions worked with the state of Indiana to install a system for a new cellblock at one of their correctional institutions. Again, the installation was so successful that we were invited back to engineer additional systems for the state.

The truth is that solar thermal is an excellent option for commercial purposes. A well-designed system built with reliable equipment can provide space heat, hot water, and process heat for virtually any purpose. Solar America Solutions’ SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel is a state-of-the-art, industry-leading panel built on highly efficient evacuated tube technology and designed specifically for commercial applications. We invite you to contact us to learn more about solar thermal for your commercial building. Call 317-688-8581 to find out how our systems can work for you.


  • Solar Thermal World –

Solar Thermal: Is MA Model Right for the Rest of the Country?

Just a few months ago, the state of Massachusetts increased the rebates offered through its solar thermal energy program from $50,000 to $100,000 for commercial applications and $3,500 to $4,500 for residential. They are the most generous rebates for solar thermal in the country. The question is, is the Massachusetts model right for the rest of the country?

The Bay State’s rebate program has been in force since January 2011 for commercial customers. Residential customers were included later that year. Since the start of the program, nearly 700 applications for solar thermal installations have been received; only one has been denied. By all accounts, Massachusetts is succeeding in encouraging property owners to use solar thermal technology for heat and hot water needs.

The beauty of the Massachusetts model is that the funding does not come directly from state coffers by way of taxes. Rather, every residential and commercial utility customer in the state pays a surcharge included on monthly bills to fund the program. The state says that the surcharge is the best way to ensure the program does not run out of money. That may not always be true if the rebates continue to see increases, but that is another story for another day.

Better Payback

Solar thermal is not the only technology qualifying for subsidies in the state of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, according to a piece published by Solar Thermal World, one equipment supplier and installer in the state told them solar thermal is where the money is. This is true for both the customer and the installer.


The efficiency and production capacity of solar thermal far outpaces photovoltaic for space heating and hot water applications, as well as a fast return on investment. Solar thermal is a technology that pays for itself in just a couple of years, even without subsidies, making it very attractive with the generous rebates offered by the state of Massachusetts. It also requires a much smaller installation space, it is highly scalable, and it works well even on cold, cloudy and overcast days.

As for installers and distributors, the photovoltaic market is so crowded that competition is stiff and profit margins are falling. Companies focusing mainly on solar thermal are saying seeing just the opposite. The solar thermal business is very attractive at this point in the game.

Solar Thermal with Solar America

It is great to see what Massachusetts is doing to encourage people to give solar thermal technology a try. Here at Solar America Solutions, we have been involved with this technology for years. In fact, our SunQuest 250 solar thermal collector panel is the best performing collector of its kind on the market today. Working at a rate of 94% efficiency, the SunQuest 250 can produce up to 35,000 BTUs per hour at a temperature in excess of 400° F.

A Solar America Solutions system is the perfect option for government buildings, educational institutions, hospitals, agricultural operations, manufacturing facilities, and more. We can custom design a system for your application to include solar collector panels, control units, pumps, storage tanks, and anything else you need to start saving significant amounts of money on your energy bill.

Solar thermal is the renewable energy source of the future. The state of Massachusetts understands that, providing businesses and residential customers with incentives to convert. We hope that other states will learn from their example. In the meantime, we encourage you to consider embracing solar thermal no matter where you are in the United States. Solar America Solutions would be happy to work with your business or government agency to implement solar thermal for your space heating and hot water needs.


1. Solar Thermal World –