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Community and Q&A

Wanted: Flat-plate solar collectors in MN.

Lucas Durand - 7A | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Just wondering if anyone from MN can recommend a renewables outfit that supplies good quality flat-plate solar collectors?
Any comments about dealing with said outfit also appreciated.

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  1. J Chesnut | | #1

    I would recommend Energy Concepts -
    Worked on a couple of projects with them. Craig Tarr the owner has commercial HVAC engineering background. On a Passivhaus project installation they did with us we weren't 100% satisfied with the insulation of the piping but that was in part to communication issues between us.

    From their website:
    "Energy Concepts is proud to feature SolarSkies flat-plate collectors, manufactured locally in Minnesota. Solar Skies purchased the manufacturing rights to these collectors from AET (Alternative Energy Technologies) in Florida, which has been the pre-eminent flat-plate collector for over 30 years.

    Solar Skies collectors are quality built, durable and well-suited for optimum performance in our drain-back systems. They have a long and proven track-record. They also have the advantage of melting snow and ice as the glycol fluid solution circulates within the insulated collector plate."

    SolarSkies from what I have seen in the twin cities is standard among the different outfits.

    I'm not a renewable expert but hardware for the Solarskies flat plates looks good and there has not been any complaints of the installations that I know of.

    More info about renewables in the Midwest can be found at the websites of the following advocacy organizations:
    MRES - Minnesota Renewable Energy Society -
    MREA - Midwest Renewable Energy Association -

  2. Lucas Durand - 7A | | #2

    Thanks J for relaying your experience and the resources.
    Locally, all that is available is evacuated tube type collectors. I had heard that there was a manufacturer of flat plate collectors in MN which is not so far away.

    we weren't 100% satisfied with the insulation of the piping

    Where was the pipe located and what issues did you have?

  3. Garth Sproule | | #3
    Have you checked out this Canadian maker?

  4. Lucas Durand - 7A | | #4

    Thanks Garth, I hadn't.

  5. J Chesnut | | #5

    Concerning the pipe insulation, this is not really a criticism of Energy Concept's installers as it is a point of difference between PassivHaus expectations vs. conventional practices and the building components common to our market. Insulation in this case was only an issue because in the PassivHaus approach the DHW system is intended to be thermally isolated from the conditioned space in order to maximize the solar contribution to the DHW demands. Our spec of "continuous insulation" was understood differently by us and the installer but this was minor in the overall context.

    If you are not pursuing PassivHaus standards heat escaping from your solar hot water system into your conditioned space may be welcomed. If you are as nit-picky as we were then you may want to familiarize yourself with the different insulation options and how well they can be executed in the field (which is more a function of simplifying pipe runs.)
    One thing we learned was that the glycol solution can exceed XX degrees and many 'foam rubber' insulations cannot be used on the supply off the solar collectors. There are high R value commercial products available that we would have preffered but for cost and timing issues we settled with a fiberglass wrapped insulation.

  6. Kurt | | #6

    check out

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