Solar show continues 40-year tradition

Solar show continues 40-year tradition

RALEIGH, N.C. — The solar market can be simultaneously mature and immature. On the show floor of the recent American Solar Energy Society Solar 2011 here, giants like Westinghouse coexisted with mom-and-pops that barely have any distribution for their solar collectors.

The market should be more mature considering how long it’s been around. ASES was founded in 1954, and it is primarily an education and research society. The halls and conference rooms of the meeting and show were filled with contractors and installers as well as college professors and utility representatives. More than 3,800 attended this year’s show. ASES is an umbrella organization, including solar installers, manufacturers and distributors, architects, engineers, scientists, researchers, policy and permitting personnel, teachers, students and other academics.

According to the Society, the solar market, water heating and photovoltaic, both on rooftops and utility scale, doubled in 2010 and is on track to double again this year.

The show floor contained some familiar names and faces, including Rheem, Caleffi Solar, Viessmann, A.O. Smith, Taco, Heliodyne, Bradford White and Stiebel Eltron. Caleffi’s Robert “Hot Rod” Rohr taught a session on solar design and installation, as well as participating in a panel discussion. Caleffi also showed its familiar line of solar collectors, storage tanks, pumping stations and controls on the show floor. A.O. Smith spokesman Ed Begley Jr. was the keynote speaker on “public day” on Saturday. A.O. Smith displayed its water heaters, solar collectors and storage tanks at the show.

Bradford White showed its extensive line of water heaters and storage tanks, all of which come with an integrated ASSE mixing valve at the top that allows tank temperature to go up to 180°F while controlling DHW to a safe and comfortable level. The tanks contain the same internal heat exchanger that Bradford White has in its PowerStor line of indirect tanks. The EcoStor series includes single-wall, single-coil with electric backup; double-wall, single-coil with electric backup; dual-coil with a single-wall upper coil and dual-wall lower coil that can be paired with a boiler or geothermal and serve both DHW and space heating; double-wall, single-coil with atmospheric gas backup using a 75,000 Btuh low NOx burner; double-wall, single-coil power vent gas backup; double-wall, single-coil with high-efficiency atmospheric Eco-Defender gas backup; and Solar Saver models for open loop systems where the water from the collector is pumped directly into the DHW system.

Stiebel Eltron displayed some of its electric water heating products, including its heat pump water heater and whole house electric tankless water heater.

Viessmann showed its line of flat plate and evacuated tube collectors, but also introduced a new pumping station called the Solar-Divicon-HX Pumping and Heat Transfer Station for Closed-Loop Solar Systems. The Divicon-HX connects a solar system to any standard domestic hot water storage tank by way of a large, integrated double-wall stainless steel heat exchanger. It includes three-speed solar and DHW pumps, an integrated solar control and all required safety devices. It is pre-assembled, pre-wired and fully insulated, with high-quality brass fittings. The Divicon HX is available in two sizes for 20 or 30 tubes and two models, DN 20 for up to 4-GPM and the DN 25 for up to 6-GPM.

Heliodyne, America’s oldest solar manufacturer established in northern California in 1976, showed its low profile GOBI flat plate collectors that come with either black paint or blue spatter surfaces and in sizes from 4x6, 4x8 and 4x10. Non-solder unions connect plates together quickly. Heliodyne, which offers off-the-shelf packaged systems and has an engineering staff to assist with project design and troubleshooting, also has a selection of heat exchangers, controllers and tanks. Its residential heat transfer appliances in either open loop or closed-loop configurations, can be monitored on the Web. Its commercial pumping station with two plate heat exchangers, expansion tank, valving and pumps, can likewise be monitored on the Internet. System controllers monitor collector and storage tank temperatures, feature automatic pump recirculation for freeze protection and have a high temperature limit shutoff.

Jomar Group, Warren, Mich., showed its Evosolar Plus Series of fully integrated solar collector/tank/control systems for residential and commercial applications. The flat plate collectors can be paired with a variety of storage tanks, such as a single-coil/single-wall with electric backup; dual-coil indirect with a single-wall lower coil and double-wall upper coil; a single-coil, double-wall indirect with natural gas or propane backup; single-coil single-wall indirect; an open loop solar electric tank with two 4,500W elements; and a selection of large-volume commercial tanks with capacities up to 1,225-gal. All of the tanks are American-made. Jomar also has a large selection of accessories, including mounting hardware, pumping stations (with Grundfos pumps), controllers, mixing valves, insulated tubing, air vents and more.

21st Century Solar LLC, presented its Infinity solar hot water systems. The Infinity system uses evacuated tube technology that consists of two glass tubes of impact-resistant borosilicate glass. Between the glass tubes are an anti-reflection layer on top of a stainless absorption layer on top of the inner copper layer. The company says the collectors are effective on cloudy days. A glycol-like fluid is heated in a thin tube placed in the middle of the evacuated tubes, and boils up to a copper header that is wrapped around ½-in. pipe through which water is circulated. The tubing will withstand 150-mph winds and 2-in. hail, according to the firm.

Several exhibitors were showing re-labeled versions of solar controllers made by Resol Elektronische Regelungen GmbH, Hattingen, Germany. Resol, which was also at the show, introduced show-goers to its DeltaSol BX system controller. The control has seven sensor inputs, data logging on an SD card, inputs for Grundfos Direct Sensors, two outputs for speed control of high-efficiency pumps, a thermal disinfection function/heat dump function, drain-back option, and programming and remote control of the system via Resol software. The company also has available visual displays, including one that works with the iPad; flow meters, temperature sensors, and a LAN interface adapter.

Sunda showed various versions of its Seido evacuated tube. Inside the borosilicate tubes are a corrugated plate coated with aluminum nitride. Heat transfer fluid boils up into a needle-like heat exchanger that plugs into the header. The advantage of this design is that individual tubes can be changed out of the header without shutting the system down. The Seido 5 collector tube is semi-cylindrical and contains a bent-plate absorber, which the company says is well suited for high latitude installations.

Aeroline Tube Systems Baumann Gmbh, Ulm, Germany, displayed solar connection tubing in flexible copper and stainless steel. The pre-insulated lines are available in copper in ½-in., 5/8-in and ¾-in O.D., and in stainless in 5/8-in., ¾-in. and 1-in. Lengths range from 35-ft. to 80-ft. The lines will service collector areas from 75-sq.ft. up to 388-sq.ft. and will tolerate temperatures to 347°F.

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