In December we installed an eight panel solar hot water system that provides both potable hot water and space heating for a work shop. Our customer, Dave Cimma, already had a three panel system which he refurbished and had been running for a couple of years. It was time to go big though! In order to eliminate (as much as possible) the electric bill for heating the shop the new system is nearly 4 times the size. It utilizes 8 Heliodyne panels and a 120 gallon Stiebel Eltron tank along with Dave's existing old Sepco tank and domestic hot water system. We had a blast installing it and working with Dave. In part because there are several really exciting elements to this system:
- Our customer Dave is a controls engineer and designed and implemented his own data collection and monitoring system. It can be viewed at http://www.davecimma.com/Barn/SystemView.html
- When Dave had his workshop built, in addition to a radiant slab, he also included what is known as sand bed storage system. The general idea is to put an insulated box around all of the fill that goes under the slab and put pex tubing in it. Then, during the fall, before one really needs much heat, charge the large mass of sand with heat. There are not many examples of sand bed design that are available so we are looking forward to seeing how this one performs as well as providing public data for it.
- The system we installed is a drain-back style system that is charged with water--not the typical fluid: glycol. The design means that when the system is off, air from a holding tank rises into the panels and the water falls into the holding tank. This simple design provides both overheat and freeze protection.