Clean Power Solar Panels Plus introduces Thermos-style solar hot water heater

Published on February 28th, 2010 | by Tina Casey

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"Thermos Bottle" Technology Delivers Solar Hot Water in Cold Weather

February 28th, 2010 by  

Solar Panels Plus introduces Thermos-style solar hot water heater A lunch box staple is the core idea behind solar technology that could bring cost effective solar-heated hot water to cold climates.  Solar Panels Plus has come up with a solar hot water heater based on evacuated tubes similar to those popularized by Thermos.  Last year two of the company’s models were certified as eligible for Canada’s ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat program, but the real test will occur in southeastern Idaho, where Solar Panels Plus has installed a solar hot water system at the Homestead Family Restaurant in Blackfoot.

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If the installation keeps the solar hot water coming in cold weather, it’s another big step forward for the ability of solar energy to compete with fossil fuels.  Restaurants are hot water gobblers, and a low cost solar installation that works in cold weather would have a relatively short payback for high volume users — especially if it receives solar energy incentives from its utility, as was the case here.

Solar Panels Plus and Thermos-style Solar Energy

Like a Thermos bottle, Solar Panels Plus uses double-walled glass tubes to retain and concentrate heat, helped along by an optical coating.  The tubes passively track the sun due to their curved shape, which helps boost efficiency.  The five SPP-30 model solar collectors installed at Homestead each contain 30 of the tubes and the owner estimates a savings of $500 monthly on electricity bills for the 130-seat restaurant.  Though the solar collectors operate effectively under cloudy, cold or even freezing conditions, the company recommends that for maximum reliability and return on investment, the system should be used to marginalize the use of conventional fuels rather than replacing them completely.

Utilities, Incentives, and Clean Energy Champions

The Homestead system was installed under an incentive program offered by the local utility, Idaho Power Company.  It was the first commercial installation under the utility’s clean energy program and according to a recent press release it illustrates, “a commitment to energy efficiency and sustainability – something we champion.”  Well, join the party.  Utilities are emerging as the knights in shining armor of the clean energy scene by promoting clean energy innovation and pushing for small scale, on site installations.   A recent survey revealed that most utility companies believe that by 2050 small scale clean energy will become an important part of the national grid, and within that group 13% believe that the small scale clean energy “electranet” will actually surpass conventional centralized generation.

Nuclear Power and the Clean Energy Future

The clean energy juggernaut keeps rolling along, picking up investment power and the support of corporate giants including utility companies.  Even the nation’s top sports industries are on board the sustainability train, including golf, the ski industry, Major League Baseball and the National Football League.  If this keeps up the future doesn’t look good for the promotion of nuclear power as called for by the Obama administration’s current energy package.  The fact is that nuclear energy is neither clean nor sustainable, it is simply expedient.  It is rapidly becoming obsolete as a fuel for electrical generation, and if the utility industry survey cited above is any indication, its large scale centralized model is out of place in the electrical grid of the future.

Image:  Thermos type bottles by dichohecho on flickr.com.


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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Lou Gage

    OK Sounds great. Now it has been about a year. Has the company installed the solar system and is it working? Follow up to stories will show the success of “green energy” to the business community more than “fanfare” at the announcement. Just my thoughts from my side. Lou Gage

  • You would have to think, that such an idea as this would have been thought of before, but I guess smart thinking is starting to come around. 😉

  • It’s good to hear that small scale energy production is on the rise and will become a fairly sizable portion of U.S. energy production. As Bucky Fuller said “Small is Beautiful”.

  • Interesting technology. Do you know what is the output on these systems?

  • Interesting technology. Do you know what is the output on these systems?

  • Roger

    I worked on uranium exploration in the early 80’s so I’m not opposed to nuclear, but it seems to me that we could also use intermittent sources (wind/solar) to produce hydrogen and use that for baseload power. (The power plants that run on natural gas now could probably also burn hydrogen.) There aren’t many areas where the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

  • Roger

    I worked on uranium exploration in the early 80’s so I’m not opposed to nuclear, but it seems to me that we could also use intermittent sources (wind/solar) to produce hydrogen and use that for baseload power. (The power plants that run on natural gas now could probably also burn hydrogen.) There aren’t many areas where the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.

  • John

    > Kevin A Says:

    February 28th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    This story seems to imply that this technology is new, or that this company invented it, both of which could not be further from the truth.

    Kevin it doesn’t say that this company invented it or that it is new – but curiously, the owner, Mr. Koochekzadeh, does seems to have invented it while at his prior company. I found this info at http://www.solarpanelsplus.com/SPP-history/ it appears that their CEO’s former company did in fact invent the technology, in 1979. Interesting, and like you said, there are many companies using this technology today.

  • John

    > Kevin A Says:

    February 28th, 2010 at 9:16 am

    This story seems to imply that this technology is new, or that this company invented it, both of which could not be further from the truth.

    Kevin it doesn’t say that this company invented it or that it is new – but curiously, the owner, Mr. Koochekzadeh, does seems to have invented it while at his prior company. I found this info at http://www.solarpanelsplus.com/SPP-history/ it appears that their CEO’s former company did in fact invent the technology, in 1979. Interesting, and like you said, there are many companies using this technology today.

  • Usually I just skim through these blogs and only read ones that -jump- out at me and yours did. Thanks for it – it is actually a real good read! Do you have a subcribe area so I can link to it to read again another day? Let me know – thanks.

    Peter

    • Tina Casey

      Hi, that’s a good question, I believe there’s an rss but I’m not sure how to use it.

  • Usually I just skim through these blogs and only read ones that -jump- out at me and yours did. Thanks for it – it is actually a real good read! Do you have a subcribe area so I can link to it to read again another day? Let me know – thanks.

    Peter

  • Ian

    ”The fact is that nuclear energy is neither clean nor sustainable, it is simply expedient.”

    But it is a baseload technology, which we absolutely need immediately and contributes huge amounts of emissions, which on a LCA would have lower emissions/KWh than coal, gas, and hydro.

  • Ian

    ”The fact is that nuclear energy is neither clean nor sustainable, it is simply expedient.”

    But it is a baseload technology, which we absolutely need immediately and contributes huge amounts of emissions, which on a LCA would have lower emissions/KWh than coal, gas, and hydro.

  • Paul

    Evacuated solar tubes are shipping out of China by the boat load… not exactly new technology.

  • Paul

    Evacuated solar tubes are shipping out of China by the boat load… not exactly new technology.

  • Red Craig

    ————-“The fact is that nuclear energy is neither clean nor sustainable, it is simply expedient.”———-

    No, this is not a fact, it is a political posture. Not only does nuclear energy have a superlative safety record, better than the record for any renewable-energy source, it is the only non-polluting energy source that can supply electricity on demand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

    For real facts, please look at http://gwperplexed.niof.org/thecase.htm

    Thanks for allowing comments on your comments.

    Red

  • JD

    You obviously don’t live next to a uranium mine.

  • JD

    You obviously don’t live next to a uranium mine.

  • Kevin A

    This story seems to imply that this technology is new, or that this company invented it, both of which could not be further from the truth.

  • Kevin A

    This story seems to imply that this technology is new, or that this company invented it, both of which could not be further from the truth.

  • Red Craig

    ————-“The fact is that nuclear energy is neither clean nor sustainable, it is simply expedient.”———-

    No, this is not a fact, it is a political posture. Not only does nuclear energy have a superlative safety record, better than the record for any renewable-energy source, it is the only non-polluting energy source that can supply electricity on demand when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

    For real facts, please look at http://gwperplexed.niof.org/thecase.htm

    Thanks for allowing comments on your comments.

    Red

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