I have for you today another fabulous guest post by Ron Friedman. Enjoy!
Solar heated hot water is an under-utilized technology, often overlooked due to our romance with solar electricity. But fuel for heating water is expensive and solar offers tremendous savings and payback times.
The systems for solar heated water usually include flat plate or evacuated tube systems that need a lot of room to capture enough useable solar radiation. Often the liquid in the system is used just to transfer the heat to the useable water in your hot water tank recirculating through a heat transfer system.
A new system is now being beta tested throughout the US that takes up a fraction of the space and delivers hot water directly to the tank. A company called Avalanche Energy, headed up by aerospace engineer Alex Pina, produces it. Their mantra is “solar for everyone.”
Pictured here is the dish called the ThermalSquare. Flexible installation options mean that it is a viable option even if you live in a yurt. You can mount it to a pole or the ground, rather than the traditional roof mount. The system measures only 4’ x 4’ and will be available to the public in 2015.
The system is able to capture visible and infrared solar energy and move it directly to the useable hot water from the storage tank. In this graphic, you can see the solar first hitting the reflector #2 that directs the energy to reflector #3 before transferring to your water.
Depending upon how much water you require and your amount of solar capture, this system can replace your fossil fuel usage. The size of your storage tank will be critical. #4 in the graphic are pipes that feed the water directly into your storage tank.
Size your storage tank for the number of people that will use the water. For one to three people, I recommend a 60 gallon tank. For three to four people, an 80 gallon storage tank. If you have four to six people, you’ll want an even larger tank. Check the system for leaks. Just a tiny leak can have a huge impact on your hot water supply.
Comparing the ThermalSquare to other systems readily displays the benefits. This chart represents a California location with the incentives available in the state. Your state incentives will impact the pricing and may vary.
Cost, payback period, size, efficiency and daily energy produced are shown. Though the evacuated tube system supplies greater kwh of energy, the costs are more than double and the efficiency is significantly less.
Avalanche Energy will also be introducing solar electric systems in the future. Their goal is to produce electricity at double the efficiency of what is currently available. Another goal is to impact space heating.
Visit the company website at: www.avalanche-energyinc.com to apply to be a part of beta testing this summer.