solar thermal

Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

Back in early 2012, in an article called “Solar Thermal Is Dead,” I announced that “it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic array than solar thermal collectors.” Now that almost three years have passed, it’s worth revisiting the topic. In the years since that article was written, the cost to install a photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped significantly. Moreover, I’ve come across monitoring data that allow for a more accurate estimate of the amount of electricity needed to heat water with electric resistance elements or a heat pump.

Solar Hot Water System Maintenance Costs

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in maintenance

I installed my solar hot water system about six years ago. It’s a good system. I have two 4’x8’ AE-32 flat-plate collectors (manufactured by Alternate Energy Technologies), a Superstor Ultra stainless-steel tank (at 80 gallons, it’s a little small, but it’s what I could afford), and an El Sid DC pump from Ivan Labs. Since I installed the equipment myself, it cost significantly less than a professionally installed system.

Solar Thermal Plant Blamed for Bird Deaths

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in bird fatalities

The huge Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station in the California desert generates electricity with thousands of mirrors that focus sunlight on towers as high as 40-story buildings. But the technological marvel, which can produce enough electricity for 140,000 homes, is apparently proving fatal to a growing number of birds, according to published reports.

Can Solar Power Solve the Coal Problem?

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in climate change

I recently read a New York Times article on the coal problem. In the future, the article notes, we won’t be able to burn coal at our current rate, so there is an obvious need to make a transition to alternative sources of energy. According to the Times article, the most likely replacement for coal is solar energy.

Historic Solar House Has Been Bulldozed

Posted on March 02,2015 by AnthonyDenzer in active solar

Here is some sad but not surprising news: the George Löf house — one of the seminal buildings in the history of the solar house and certainly a modernist landmark worthy of protection and preservation — was recently destroyed. I visited the Denver site earlier this year and found a large excavation and a foundation (presumably) for a McMansion.

Passive House Certification: Looking Under the Hood

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-961160 in passive house

[Editor's note: Roger and Lynn Normand are building a [no-glossary]Passivhaus[/no-glossary] in Maine. This is the 20th article in a series that will follow their project from planning through construction.]

Getting Into Hot Water — Part 4

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-1095434 in DHW

I've now had a year with the Geyser heat-pump water heater (HPWH). With the exception of the puddle on the floor in July 2011, it has performed consistently. Its performance has not been thrilling, though. In the summer, it was making hot water at about 0.13 - 0.15 kWh/gallon, with incoming water in the mid-60°Fs and basement air temperature around 70°F. In the winter, with basement temperatures in the low to mid 50°Fs, and incoming water at 50°F or a bit below, this consumption ratio increased to 0.25 kWh/gallon.

Getting into Hot Water — Part 1

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-1095434 in electric resistance

Dick and Tim Mavro, with the help of a large friend of Tim's named Justin, came and took our oil heating system away. I was glad to see the truck drive off with all that equipment on the trailer. Now I have to find a home for the Vermont Castings gas heater, and then we'll be fossil-fuel-free, at least as far as site energy is concerned.

Solar Thermal is Dead

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in domestic hot water

In the northern half of the U.S. — and even much of the South — installing a residential solar hot water system doesn’t make any sense. It’s time to rethink traditional advice about installing a solar hot water system, because it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic (PV) array than solar thermal collectors. In short, unless you’re building a laundromat or college dorm, solar thermal is dead.

German Innovation in Solar Water Heating

Posted on March 02,2015 by AlexWilson in domestic hot water

I was in Boston last week for the annual Building Energy conference, sponsored by the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association. Each year this conference provides an opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues, catch up on leading-edge building design, and learn about product innovations in energy conservation and renewable energy.

All About Water Heaters

Posted on March 02,2015 by user-756436 in heat-pump water heater

If you want to save energy, there are lots of exciting appliances and building materials that you might want to specify for your home: triple-glazed windows, an efficient refrigerator, and compact fluorescent or LED lighting, for example. When it comes to choosing a water heater, though, clarity evaporates. Simple, affordable water heaters aren’t very efficient, and efficient equipment is complicated and costly. So how do you go about choosing a water heater?

The PV/Solar-Thermal Switch-up

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in California

A recent story about market forces at work in the solar-power world underscored the notion that large-scale photovoltaic systems, at least in regions where sun exposure favors their use, are dominating the renewable-energy landscape.

Top 10 Green Building Products for 2011

Posted on March 02,2015 by Tristan Roberts in green product

It is well understood that formations of flying geese ride on a wave of air piloted by the leader of the group. As described in the excellent book “Sensitive Chaos,” by Theodor Schwenk, “The beats of their wings follow the ups and downs of the wave and simply make visible what, as a vibrating aerial form, surrounds and bears them all in the arrow formation.”

Solar Decathlon 2011: Tidewater Virginia

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in Hampton University

Team Tidewater Virginia set out to build a house that will work exceptionally well as a stand-alone home. The modular house is also designed to work as one of six units in a multifamily project being designed for the Park Place neighborhood of downtown Norfolk, Virginia.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Team New York’s Rooftop Haven

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in green roof

Densely packed and pricey as it is, New York City usually isn’t thought of as fertile ground for single-family-home development, particularly if the goal is to keep construction costs low. And yet Team New York – a collaboration of students and faculty at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering, of the City College of New York – has found a comfortable place in the city for the single-family concept to roost: the rooftop.

Using Sand to Store Solar Energy

Posted on March 02,2015 by ScottG in active solar

John Klingel's question was simple enough: what's the best way of heating up a thick bed of sand beneath a concrete slab with PEX tubing? But the underlying issue — whether a sand bed is a good idea in the first place — quickly takes center stage in this Q&A post at GreenBuildingAdvisor.

Solar Decathlon 2011: A Flat-Roofed House from Florida International

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in energy efficiency

In terms of climate, there isn’t much difference between living in South Florida and some of the more inviting parts of the Caribbean just to the south, where the rhythms of warm, sunny, often humid summer days seem to stretch on indefinitely, and where summer-afternoon thunderstorms, an assortment of aggressive insects, and seasonal hurricanes break up the quiet.

Solar Decathlon 2011: New Zealand Vacation Cabins Inspire Designers

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in international

For many New Zealanders, forging a close connection between one’s home and its environment is more than an afterthought. While that is partly because the island nation is such a beautiful place, it's also because the New Zealand climate is generally mild and sunny.

Solar Decathlon 2011: Appalachian State’s Solar Homestead

Posted on March 02,2015 by Fretboard in energy efficient homes

To the extent they try to squeeze a lot of innovation into small packages, all Solar Decathlon entries reflect a pioneering spirit. But Appalachian State University’s entry, the Solar Homestead, also reflects homebuilding strategies that arose from the pioneering spirit of an entirely different era – that of Appalachia’s early settlers, whose houses and outbuildings were designed to help them cope with isolation and wilderness conditions in the mountains of North Carolina.

Solar Thermal: Types, Cost, and Investment

Posted on March 02,2015 by ChrisBriley in solar thermal

Hi, Everyone! For better or worse, Dan (Morrison) tossed us the keys to the blog, so we’re posting without a net, so to speak. Phil and I were very lucky to have a special guest for this episode: Pat Coon. Pat is co-founder of Revision Energy, and is well under way in starting a new company, Revision Heat. Pat brings to the podcast his in-depth knowledge of solar thermal design and installation, as well as his craft in home-brewing technology.

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