Web-based system monitors solar usage

To ensure that energy conservation is widely accessible to California residents, the California Department of Community Services and Development, and the Southern California Forum for Energy Efficiency, Environmental and Human Services Providers has initiated a renewable energy pilot program. solar hot water heating systems have been installed in four of 22 low-income single family homes across the state. Energy and gas consumption will be monitored by Web-based HOBO U30 Remote Monitoring Systems to determine the efficiency of the solar hot water heating systems.

Sacramento, Calif - To ensure that energy conservation is widely accessible to California residents, the California Department of Community Services and Development, and the Southern California Forum for Energy Efficiency, Environmental and Human Services Providers has initiated a renewable energy pilot program. As part of the program, funded by the State Petroleum Violation Escrow Account, solar hot water heating systems have been installed in four of 22 low-income single family homes across the state. Energy and gas consumption will be monitored by Web-based HOBO U30 Remote Monitoring Systems to determine the efficiency of the solar hot water heating systems.

“Our goal is to provide low-income homeowners with access to renewable energy solutions designed to decrease energy consumption and reduce energy bills,” explained Arleen Novotney, executive director of SCF and project leader. “For this program, we installed solar hot water systems in various climate zones across the state and will monitor the efficiency of the solar hot water heating systems.”

To monitor systems performance, Novotney chose Web-based HOBO U30 Remote Monitoring Systems manufactured by Onset Computer Corp. The monitoring system consists of a GSM cellular-based data logging unit and sensors that monitor gas usage, cold and hot water supply temperature, solar collector water temperature and hot water flow.

The device collects data at one minute intervals, twenty-four hours a day. Novotney and her team can access the data from the firm's Website.

“The ability to view data remotely allows us to see how the hot water heating units are performing without having to go back into the field to manually collect the data,” said Novotney.

According to Novotney, many factors are being considered for this study. The evaluation of these systems will include a snapshot of the costs associated with the homeowners' gas and electrical usage, as well as the energy costs following the installations. The energy savings will be reflected by the climate zone, the household size and fuel type.

“Since no one in our state has ever monitored the natural gas usage associated with a solar water heating unit, we wanted to track the consumption of gas when the solar power was on versus when the solar power was turned off,” said Novotney.

The collected data indicates that the solar hot water heating systems are helping. During daylight hours, the system turns off and only turns back on at night.

“This is the kind of data we needed to see,” stated Novotney. “We wanted to determine whether or not the systems were performing the way we hoped they would. The data showed us that during the day there is no need for the system's gas or the electric power to turn on, and this will ultimately save homeowners money.”

In order to have comparison data on all of the solar hot water systems by next year, the device systems will continue monitoring the current test homes until October, and then the location of the loggers will be changed to include additional test homes, according to Novotney.

Additional information is available at http://www.onsetcomp.com.

TAGS: Solar