This self-built solar water heater is made of plastic bottles, black painted milk cartons and PVC pipes. It is popular in southern Brazil.
The water is heated passively by solar energy. As the hot water rises, it is naturally replaced by cold water, so no pump is needed.
For more information see eco-ideas.net
By Chrisitina Rowland, Staff writer, SCNTX.com
The city of Southlake currently has no ordinance on the books concerning solar energy systems. They are prohibited in Southlake.
That could soon be changing, however. There was a citywide SPIN meeting Monday night to inform the public about a proposed ordinance that will go before planning and zoning April 9.
Daniel Cortez, a member of the city planning department, gave Monday’s presentation and answered questions for citizens.
He said the interest in solar energy came about last summer when some residents inquired with the city about it. They decided not to move forward, but it made the city begin to weigh such items for the future.
Although there is currently no one asking the city about permits for solar energy systems, the city is trying to be proactive and put an ordinance in place.
The new ordinance would address both solar PV systems and solar thermal systems. The solar PV systems generate solar energy for a home, while a thermal system heats home water.
According to the PowerPoint presentation, a solar thermal system in Texas can generate up to 90 percent of annual water heating needs.
The initial cost of either system can be expensive, but the federal government does offer some assistance for those wanting to switch to solar energy. The government will cover 30 percent of the cost of the system. In Texas, property taxes will not be raised if the system increases your property value. In addition, Oncor offers customer rebates of up to $2.46 per installed watt of system size for those who want to use solar power.
There are also similar incentive programs for commercial businesses wanting to be greener.
For those residents wanting to use solar energy, they would have to apply for a specific use permit and meet certain requirements.
For residential systems mounted on the ground, they can not exceed a height of 14 feet and must be 10 feet from any property line or building. For roof mounted systems, the ordinance notes it cannot extend beyond the thickness of the panel itself and an addition of up to six inches from the roof.
For commercial use, the units must all be mounted on the roof and must “not extend beyond the lowest point of the parapet wall and shall be installed at the same angle as the roof.”
For both residential and commercial use, the ordinance would require that the system is not to impact any neighboring properties or public right-of-way from nuisance glare. The ordinance also states the solar energy system cannot be installed on a lot until a building permit has been issued or the building is built.
Some residents at the meeting had a problem with this, noting that if they own a lot adjacent to their home with no building on it they could not use that lot to house a solar energy farm.
Public input was gathered at the meeting and will be presented to both planning and zoning and city council as the ordinance moves forward. No changes will come out of Monday’s meeting and it will be presented in the same form to planning and zoning as it was to the public on Monday night.
By Ariel Schwartz, CleanTechnica.com
I’ve always wanted a solar water heater in my imaginary house that I own, and now I think I know what brand I want, too. EnerWorks solar water heaters are the first to qualify for the new ENERGY STAR residential water heater program. The heaters were judged based on numerous factors, including solar fraction (portion of hot water delivered by solar energy), solar energy factor (energy delivered by the system divided by electrical or gas energy put into the system), and warranty.
According to ENERGY STAR, solar water heaters can save a typical household $220 each year.
EnerWorks solar water heaters are available in 1, 2, 3, and 4 panel systems, and all models come with a 5 year warranty. In colder climates, a solar water heater can provide up to 50% in energy savings. Warmer climates can yield up to 80%.
So in the long run, investing in a solar water heater might be a wise choice— especially when you consider the 40% to 50% greenhouse gas reduction compared to traditional heaters.
North Gainesville homeowner Gary Peters is in hot water, thanks to the first solar water heater installed under Jackson Electric Membership Corporation’s new Right Choice Sun Power program.
The 80-gallon unit, powered by two solar panels on the roof above the garage, provides 50-80 percent of the home’s water heating needs without racking up a cent on his electric bill.
“I’ve always kept up with renewable energy and have been interested in reducing my carbon footprint,” said the retired Peters. “I’d like to save some resources for my grandchildren. Anything I can do to move us toward a sustainable future, I’m happy to do.”
As a Jackson EMC customer, Peters not only is eligible for federal and state tax credits, but will receive a $450 rebate from the cooperative.
“After heating and cooling, water heating makes up the next largest portion of a typical home’s energy use. Our Sun Power program is a great incentive for Jackson EMC customers to use a renewable, environmentally friendly power source,” said Amy Bryan, Jackson EMC director of residential marketing. “This is a win-win situation – our customers save on their electric bill, we reduce the need for additional power generation and together we help the environment.”
Peter’s two solar panels heat a propylene glycol solution that flows through pipes to his basement water heater, where the heat is transferred by a heat exchanger to potable water inside the water heater tank. On cloudy days, the unit reverts to electric power to heat water. An energy monitor tracks the system’s productivity, measuring how much water was heated, and estimating the savings in both electric use and CO2 reduction.
Bill Hosken with Solar Energy Marketing Inc., the system’s distributor, said that computer modeling for the system indicates a family of four will save an average of $24 per month based on current electricity rates, produce about 3,300 kilowatt hours of energy a year and reduce CO2 emissions by about 4,700 pounds.
“The solar-produced energy is roughly equivalent to the amount of energy contained in 90 gallons of imported gasoline, 118 gallons of propane or 113 therms of natural gas,” Hosken said.
Since it’s still a relatively new technology in Georgia, a very limited number of technicians are qualified to install solar power and solar water heating systems.
“We wanted to make sure our customers have a positive experience with the solar program,” Bryan said. “So we have arranged for an independent pre- and post-installation inspection, partnered with equipment manufacturers who meet high performance standards and are offering manufacturers’ training to increase the number of contractors who can provide quality installation of solar water heating systems.”
Independent inspection through Home Diagnostic Systems (HDS) of Lawrenceville ensures the home site is suited for solar, that equipment is properly sized for the homeowner’s use and that the quality of the installation is monitored.
Peters’ solar water heating system is distributed locally by Solar Energy Marketing of Atlanta, a Jackson EMC partner in the Sun Power program.
“Before I even knew about the Jackson EMC program, I’d been researching solar water heating systems and had professionals who agreed that this was the best system on the market. I found the local distributor, who had just begun to work with Jackson EMC, and found out about the incentives,” Peters said.
Brett Smith of BW Heating & Air in Madison County, one of the contractors who attended the Jackson EMC-sponsored solar water heating training, installed Peters’ system.
“I had done some water heating systems, but I was really interested in the solar water heating program because with rising energy prices I think this technology will be the norm in the future, rather than the exception,” Smith said. “The training was extensive and really prepared us to do the work.”
The Peters system was Smith’s first installation as well. “We took our time and made sure we followed procedures exactly. Everything went together just like it was supposed to, and the system has been operational and passed its post-installation inspection,” he said, noting that he’s looking forward to working on systems for other customers who have expressed an interest in solar.
According to Bryan, the solar water heating program is a natural extension of the cooperative’s dedication to providing its members with renewable energy choices.
“We joined Green Power EMC in 2001, the state’s first program to generate energy from renewable resources. Our first solar program was the Sun Power for Schools project at Mill Creek High School in Gwinnett County, which provided the school with a solar power array and monitoring system to educate students on the benefits of renewable energy,” she said.
By Debra Atlas, Contributing writer, Redding.com
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Do-it-yourselfers can now reduce home water bills while taking advantage of a new solar energy system.
Hot2o is a lightweight, affordable solar DIY solar water heater. Launched in 2007 by Chico-based FAFCO Inc., this system was designed in conjunction with Oregon’s Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
Hot2o is a complete solar system in a box. Weighing about 65 pounds (traditional solar panels weigh hundreds), the system can be easily self-installed in less than a day. It is designed to work with existing electric or gas water heaters.
It doesn’t depend on heat, only sunshine, says Doug Kohl, spokesman for FAFCO. Kohl, who lives in the Sierra Nevada and installed his Hot2o system in under eight hours, said “if the panels are seeing sunshine, even if it’s in the 40s, they generate hot water around 104 degrees.”
A switch senses when the roof temperature exceeds the tank temperature, turning the collector on. It channels water through the unglazed panels, absorbing the sun’s heat. Heated water is then transferred to the hot water tank for storage until needed.
When not in use, water in the solar collectors is stored in the drainback tank, preventing the water from freezing.
FAFCO’s solar panels heat water up to 120 degrees. Their low profile makes them almost invisible to passers-by and enables them to withstand severe weather conditions.
FAFCO’s DIY system qualifies for federal tax credits, pricing a basic system to about $2,200. Dealer-installed systems average $5,000. This is significantly less than a standard home solar electric system’s price of up to $50,000.
Homes with gas water heaters require adding an additional storage tank to accommodate this innovative system, to offset the tank’s internal heat exchanger, which normally heats the water.
“The net effect is your gas hot water heater goes to sleep,” saving energy and lowering utility costs, said Freeman Ford, FAFCO’s CEO and co-founder.
Realistically, said Kohl, the return on investment is four to five years on a FAFCO solar heater. Compare that to the normal 20-year ROI for traditional solar heaters.
For eco-minded consumers, there’s an added plus. “When you install one of our systems, you’re parking a car for a year in terms of carbon saving equivalents,” said Ford. “It’s the right thing to do.”
You can find a Hot2o dealer at www.hot2o.com.
Debra Atlas is a freelance environmental writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. View her blog at www.envirothink.wordpress.com.