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Climate Change

Eliosolar Awnings Cut A/C Use and Solar-Heat Water Too

Eliosolar takes advantage of the idea that if you need a pool, you are likely in a climate where you also need some shading devices for windows to reduce your AC needs as well.


This invention solves both problems at once. These exterior louvres act to shade the house, and make hot water. Exterior shading is far more energy efficient (and pleasant!) than simply pulling the curtains or lowering blinds on hot days.

Unlike solar electricity, solar hot water heating pipes actually do not need to be on the roof. They need to be exposed to sun, yes, but they can be vertically placed on the sun side of the house, and heat up just as much. They can heat up water just as effectively on a sunshade or awning – and leave you the space that you need on the roof for electricity farming.

The solar heat collectors are available in an enormous variety of configurations from Eliosolar. They simply connect to the plumbing system inside, taking the cold city water (55%) and heating it up in the pipes exposed to the sun outside, and then returning the sun-heated water within the pipes back into the building to feed into the hot water system.

The heating elements come in a variety of shapes and colors and sizes, but basically they are all aluminum pipes that carry water inside. Depending on a virtually limitless choice of configurations, (carports, pagodas, window awnings, railings) these architectural external shade structures can heat up as much as 80% of a home’s hot water needs, between hot water, pool heating and (if installed) radiant floor heating. They work in both summer sun and in winter sun.

The variables are the size, spacing, color and finish of the aluminum tubing used to make the structures, the linear feet of tubing of the solar collector as well as the geographical location, orientation and insulation of the installed structures.

While they are making hot water, these awnings can, like all exterior shading devices, cut the A/C use by as much as 30%. Again, depending on usage and on configuration. This is a huge advance in solar hot water heating.

Working for SunRun, I have seen more than my share of hideous and inefficient solar hot water heating systems here in Northern California, using up the entire roof space,  installed forever ago, making it impossible to find space for a solar electric power installation.

It seems that one style has taken over whole neighborhoods. Yet nobody I’ve spoken to is particularly impressed with the output. What’s worse: this type gives solar power in general a bad name. People confuse the two, and think it doesn’t get much done. They say, “Oh, I have solar!” Meaning this plumbing pipe and rubber tube contraption laying out all over their roof.

If you haven’t succumbed to that style of hot water heater for your pool, these exterior louvres-cum-solar hot water heaters are a real alternative that makes a whole lot more sense, both for their dual performance, their aesthetics, and by leaving valuable roof space for solar electricity production as well.

Solar electricity is finally hitting the tipping point, now that that is so cheap: try $0 down + cheaper monthly than your current bill.  So, in California and the eight other states so far that have allowed private companies to compete with utilities to offer power by the kilowatt hour (SunRun) or by leasing the panels (Solar City) or that have PACE programs still funded – you will need to reserve the space on your roof for solar electricity production.

These exterior shade structures do qualify as solar hot water heaters for the 30% Federal tax break for solar thermal, and you may be in a state or county or city with other solar thermal incentives and rebates, Check your state at DSIRE.

Image: Eliosolar

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writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.


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