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Published on February 6th, 2009 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Irish Company Creates World's Most Efficient Solar Hot Water Panel



An Irish company called Surface Power has launched what it claims is the world’s most efficient solar hot water panel. Certification by testing house TUV Rhineland has shown that the innovative product is up to 131% more efficient in morning and evening time and 76% more efficient at midday than other panels.

Surface Power also believes its product could reduce domestic and commercial hot water bills by up to 70%. While the company’s panel was designed specifically for the retrofit market, it is also suitable for new installations.

So far, the solar hot water panel is a big hit. ““We received over 400 inquiries from the US alone last month after the specifications were released during the Christmas period. We also expect the international home renovation market to be very strong during the next three years, as our collector is the only pre-packaged vacuum collector on the world market,” said John Quinn, the company’s founder.

Surface Power will create 20 new jobs over the next 12 months in anticipation of international distribution for its solar panel.

Photo CC-Licensed by Flickr user szczel

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • pac.man

    hi, i live in the west of ireland and have Surface power collectors installed since feburary last. I believe the claims put foward by Surface Power as i can see it first hand every day. I have friends and family that have installed diffrent solar products of the same size(appature area) and there is no comparison. I built my house 2 years ago and over insulated it installed the panels last feb and i only started to put my boiler on yesterday to heat my water. thats a nine months of free hot water. i only have a boiler season of 3 months. this adds up to a full tank of oil €450 saved in one year.pure class.

  • pac.man

    hi, i live in the west of ireland and have Surface power collectors installed since feburary last. I believe the claims put foward by Surface Power as i can see it first hand every day. I have friends and family that have installed diffrent solar products of the same size(appature area) and there is no comparison. I built my house 2 years ago and over insulated it installed the panels last feb and i only started to put my boiler on yesterday to heat my water. thats a nine months of free hot water. i only have a boiler season of 3 months. this adds up to a full tank of oil €450 saved in one year.pure class.

  • Stauncho

    I work as a consult engineer in Ireland. Their claims of it being the most efficient panel is outlandish, besides the fact that TUV Rheinland have never heard of there pannel Just plug in the values for the heat loss coefficients and the conversion factor and you can see that it in fact has quite a poor efficiency as the temperature delta increases, couple this with the fact that the aperture area is quite low compared to the gross area of the panel and it is an extremely poor performing/yielding panel. You do not need the TUV cert to see this, surely this is gross false advertising. Should they be allowed to mislead the general public in this way. I think crime proceeding should be brought aganist them

  • Stauncho

    I work as a consult engineer in Ireland. Their claims of it being the most efficient panel is outlandish, besides the fact that TUV Rheinland have never heard of there pannel Just plug in the values for the heat loss coefficients and the conversion factor and you can see that it in fact has quite a poor efficiency as the temperature delta increases, couple this with the fact that the aperture area is quite low compared to the gross area of the panel and it is an extremely poor performing/yielding panel. You do not need the TUV cert to see this, surely this is gross false advertising. Should they be allowed to mislead the general public in this way. I think crime proceeding should be brought aganist them

  • Pat

    I am an engineer working in Ireland. Be very wary of these Surface Power claims. The TUV certification number (16014082) given by Surface Power does not exist on the TUV Rheinland database. The product (SP501) is currently registed on the Irish SEI HARP database (http://www.sei.ie/Your_Building/BER/BER_Assessors/Technical/Harp_Database/Solar/Details/?ID=17) under the TUV cert no. but its authenticity is under investigation. Contact TUV or Sustainable Energy Irealnd (SEI) to confirm.

  • Pat

    I am an engineer working in Ireland. Be very wary of these Surface Power claims. The TUV certification number (16014082) given by Surface Power does not exist on the TUV Rheinland database. The product (SP501) is currently registed on the Irish SEI HARP database (http://www.sei.ie/Your_Building/BER/BER_Assessors/Technical/Harp_Database/Solar/Details/?ID=17) under the TUV cert no. but its authenticity is under investigation. Contact TUV or Sustainable Energy Irealnd (SEI) to confirm.

  • chris

    Surface Power sounds authentic to me. TUV Rheinland confirmed its claim in an independent test. Do you not trust TUV Rheinland???

    “Welcome to TUV Rheinland of North America, Inc.

    We observe and assure innovations in harmony with humanity, technology and the environment. As an international service group, we document the safety and quality of new and existing products, systems and services. Our interdisciplinary competence is neutral and independent. We orient ourselves to relevant standards and meaningful performance measures, and we participate in developing these worldwide.”

    http://www.tuv.com/us

  • chris

    Surface Power sounds authentic to me. TUV Rheinland confirmed its claim in an independent test. Do you not trust TUV Rheinland???

    “Welcome to TUV Rheinland of North America, Inc.

    We observe and assure innovations in harmony with humanity, technology and the environment. As an international service group, we document the safety and quality of new and existing products, systems and services. Our interdisciplinary competence is neutral and independent. We orient ourselves to relevant standards and meaningful performance measures, and we participate in developing these worldwide.”

    http://www.tuv.com/us

  • http://www.greenrootsdesign.co.uk Green Roots

    @rumplestiltskin

    I invited a solar sales person into my house – It was the worst experience ever… remember double glazing sales people from yesteryear… well it was like that but worse. I will blog about it some day soon.

    Basically I agree with rumplestiltskin (who I am sure is a very reputable solar installer). It makes it hard for educated consumers like me to buy these great products because we have to become “experts” ourselves in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • http://www.greenrootsdesign.co.uk Green Roots

    @rumplestiltskin

    I invited a solar sales person into my house – It was the worst experience ever… remember double glazing sales people from yesteryear… well it was like that but worse. I will blog about it some day soon.

    Basically I agree with rumplestiltskin (who I am sure is a very reputable solar installer). It makes it hard for educated consumers like me to buy these great products because we have to become “experts” ourselves in order to separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • http://www.myenergyfriends.com/ Alternative Energy

    How reliable are these evacuated tube systems? How often do they fail?

  • http://www.myenergyfriends.com/ Alternative Energy

    How reliable are these evacuated tube systems? How often do they fail?

  • rumplestiltskin

    I install solar for a living and its so boring hearing companies come out with ridiculous claims like this on a regular basis. and why does someone feel the need to reproduce a press release for the company without looking into it in more detail?

    what exactly does 131% more efficient mean? more efficient than a banana?

    this is basically a very standard looking evacuated tube system, and there is nothing that has been discovered in the last 10 years that will increase efficiency by the sort of levels being claimed here.

  • rumplestiltskin

    I install solar for a living and its so boring hearing companies come out with ridiculous claims like this on a regular basis. and why does someone feel the need to reproduce a press release for the company without looking into it in more detail?

    what exactly does 131% more efficient mean? more efficient than a banana?

    this is basically a very standard looking evacuated tube system, and there is nothing that has been discovered in the last 10 years that will increase efficiency by the sort of levels being claimed here.

  • Steve

    It probably is freeze proof. I would think it uses refrigerant and heats the water indirectly. I could be wrong.

  • Steve

    It probably is freeze proof. I would think it uses refrigerant and heats the water indirectly. I could be wrong.

  • http://www.myenergyfriends.com/ Alternative Energy

    Is this design freeze proof in colder climates?

  • http://www.myenergyfriends.com/ Alternative Energy

    Is this design freeze proof in colder climates?

  • Uncle B

    Just North of Toronto, Canada, and wonder if these tings would be practical in our climate? Big market for them all along the Canada/U.S. bp\order if the work here, especially with rising fuel and nuclear electricity prices!

  • Uncle B

    Just North of Toronto, Canada, and wonder if these tings would be practical in our climate? Big market for them all along the Canada/U.S. bporder if the work here, especially with rising fuel and nuclear electricity prices!

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