When we think about adding solar power to our homes, super-sexy photovoltaic panels get most of the attention. But photovoltaics are extremely expensive while solar water heaters can save power at a much lower cost.
I've been assuming that there simply isn't a lot of room for innovation in the solar-water-heater field. I mean, they're just black tubes with water running through them, right? But apparently I was wrong. An Irish company has just received independent certifications of its claim that their solar water heaters are as much as 131% more efficient than other solar heaters. The efficiency gains are enough to reduce the payback time for these systems by as much as 50%. That time, of course, will depend on how much sun your roof gets.
The company, Surface Power, says that the panels are more technologically advanced, but not much more expensive than other systems. Unfortunately I haven't been able to decipher what exactly makes these panels more efficient than others, but I'm still on the lookout.
The new panel was designed specifically for the renovation market. Surface Power wants to be a part of the new efficiency markets that the economic downturn, and resulting stimulus packages, will likely create. And since these panels can reduce hot water electricity use by 70% even in stormy Ireland, this could be a pretty good step toward decreasing the U.S.'s power use.
Surface Power has a lot of growing to do, though, before they can make a significant impact. They're still a small company, and most green consumers still spend most of their time thinking about photovoltaics. I think it's time we look at solutions that will work for us today...and this is certainly one.
written by Mark Bartosik, February 09, 2009
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written by Sunbelt Solar, June 04, 2009
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