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Old 11-11-2008, 05:48 PM   #1
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Solar collectors


Questions about solar heat collectors (not electric), particularly the evacuated tube/heat pipe variety.

I have done a fair bit of research on the Apricus and SunMaxx collectors online. Does anybody have any experience with either of these brands? Would you install again, or not ever again? Recommend other brands? Comments on sourcing these things via online sales vs. finding a local supplier? Know of any DIY friendly dealers in Western Washington.

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Old 11-11-2008, 10:50 PM   #2
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Evacuated tubes are nice. They work better since they are sensitive to ultraviolet light which is present even on cloudy days which is going to be necessary on your side of the mountains.

Several suggestions here.

Get more tubes than you think you will need because they are less efficient on cloudy days. Getting more tubes will come closer to meet your needs on a cloudy day.

Storing heat is the other big thing. On good days when the system is going full tilt storing heat is the best thing you can do. It will help you out on days that are less than optimal. Making room for lots of storage should be a top priority.

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Old 11-12-2008, 06:56 PM   #3
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Does anybody have any experience at all with Silicon Solar? http://www.siliconsolar.com/

I am having very little luck finding retail dealers.
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Old 11-12-2008, 07:15 PM   #4
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Does anybody have any experience at all with Silicon Solar? http://www.siliconsolar.com/

I am having very little luck finding retail dealers.
I ran into them at the solar fair in John Day, OR a few years back. Their knowledge was marginal and they didn't know that these were more sensitive to UV light making them more efficient on cloudy days. I had to explain it to the guy how it worked.

They might be up to speed now but I was not impressed at the time.

The really funny part is that I was really high on narcotics since I had just got out of the ER after getting my finger caught in the bolt of my semi automatic rifle. The doc loaded me up so I was not feeling any pain. Then the doc and I walked to the solar fair.

You will have trouble finding anyone in the northwest on this side of the Cascades since there is little demand for solar anything. Many have tried to make a go of it and almost all have failed.

Many of the solar hot water panels I get used on craigslist were made in Tigard OR many years ago and they are out of business now.

Even east of the Cascades there are not a lot of people who will do solar anything.

It's all about affordability. Many talk about being green but when the money starts to leave the wallet they go cheap.

Bottom line is alternative energy is expensive and only those with disposable income will "consider" it. The key word here is consider. Few will actually do it.
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:03 PM   #5
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Bottom line is alternative energy is expensive and only those with disposable income will "consider" it. The key word here is consider. Few will actually do it.
Solar water appears to be very cost effective if you can DIY. 8-10K for a marginal hot water system installed by a (probably snooty) contractor is definitely not cost effective in my book. But you are 100% correct, either route requires a substantial cash outlay, and that scares people off before they even investigate the ROI.
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Old 11-12-2008, 08:41 PM   #6
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Solar water appears to be very cost effective if you can DIY. 8-10K for a marginal hot water system installed by a (probably snooty) contractor is definitely not cost effective in my book. But you are 100% correct, either route requires a substantial cash outlay, and that scares people off before they even investigate the ROI.
Solar hot water can also heat your home which really appeals to many these days especially with hydronic heating.

Then adding hydronic cooling to that since the piping is already there and it is a home run.
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Old 11-12-2008, 11:55 PM   #7
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Solar air conditioning has got to be the mother of all home runs. What could be more perfectly mated than that?

I had a fresh heat pump system installed this last spring, which is working great and I'm loath to mess with, or I'd be very interested in solar heating and cooling.

Marvin, do you know of any good dealers in your area? I'd be tempted to make the drive down that way if I could shake hands with a guy and actually see what I'm buying.
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:58 AM   #8
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Solar air conditioning has got to be the mother of all home runs. What could be more perfectly mated than that?

I had a fresh heat pump system installed this last spring, which is working great and I'm loath to mess with, or I'd be very interested in solar heating and cooling.

Marvin, do you know of any good dealers in your area? I'd be tempted to make the drive down that way if I could shake hands with a guy and actually see what I'm buying.
There is an installer in NE PDX but he is a jerk. (what is it with these greenie contractors and their attitudes?) I don't know if he is licensed in WA. Here is his web site. http://www.mrsunsolar.com/

Are you going to put this in yourself or get someone to do it for you? Or maybe a combination of both?
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Old 11-13-2008, 10:32 AM   #9
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Are you going to put this in yourself or get someone to do it for you? Or maybe a combination of both?
I'd like to have someone mount the collector for me, but I prefer to do all the rest of the work, including the design and permit work. I'm chicken when it comes to cutting into my roof
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Old 11-13-2008, 11:27 AM   #10
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I'd like to have someone mount the collector for me, but I prefer to do all the rest of the work, including the design and permit work. I'm chicken when it comes to cutting into my roof
Hey, this is a DIY site. We can help you get through it.
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:09 PM   #11
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Hey, this is a DIY site. We can help you get through it.
Touche
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by gp_wa View Post
Solar water appears to be very cost effective if you can DIY. 8-10K for a marginal hot water system installed by a (probably snooty) contractor is definitely not cost effective in my book. But you are 100% correct, either route requires a substantial cash outlay, and that scares people off before they even investigate the ROI.
The problem is many if not all rebates and government incentives require that a licensed professional do the installation.
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Old 11-13-2008, 12:36 PM   #13
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The problem is many if not all rebates and government incentives require that a licensed professional do the installation.
The federal does not require that. And federal tax credits starts again in 2009.

State and utility rebates do require a "licensed" contractor to do the work. But if you know a contractor that will sign off on it you can get it that way. I have done that for many people and just get a flat fee for checking out the system and making sure everything is up to speed.

Kind of like a building inspector on the take Chicago style...
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Old 11-13-2008, 01:38 PM   #14
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The federal does not require that. And federal tax credits starts again in 2009.
The solar rebates didn't stop, but in 2009 the $2000 rebate limit is removed

The only incentive I know of in WA applicable to solar heating is that sales tax doesn't apply to solar equipment and installation.

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