Whether we install your system, or you hire another Contractor, it is very important to design the solar system so the SolarBeam is used efficiency. For example, it would not make sense to invest $30,000 for one complete SolarBeam installation just to heat domestic hot water for a single family residence, when you can accomplish this with a much less sophisticated system for maybe $10,000. Conversely, if you have a large heating demand, it would not make sense to purchase 20 flat panel collectors when only one SolarBeam will handle all your heating needs, at less cost and a faster rate of return. Calculating the amount of storage of the hot water you make and integration into your existing system is also a major consideration, which only a trained solar designer can adequately do. We have a solar designer on staff.
We always recommend that all solar systems have a back up system in place, in the event, especially in New England, there are multiple cloudy days when little or no solar heat is being generated. Under these conditions, it is very likely you will run out of hot water storage, and you will need to use your back up source for heating. Your back up system could be your current system, whether is it a geothermal, heatpumps, oil, gas, or electric. Though it is possible to design a solar system that has no backup, the storage cost would be so expensive, making such a system design inefficient. We want your system to pay for itself within 3 to 8 years.
The SolarBeam will require exposure to the southern horizon for 85% of the day to get the most efficiency. If your area is shady, or has large trees, buildings, or hills, that block the sun, your site may not be suitable for a SolarBeam. If you have questions about this, we have a tool used to determine your available solar exposure. Basically, from the location of the SolarBeam, you want to be able to see the sun, without restrictions, from an hour after sunrise to two hours before sunset. Do remember the sun’s angle of incidence changes throughout the seasons.
For residential use, you will hopefully have radiant heat installed. Radiant heat requires a much lower working temperature (90-120 degrees F) which is perfect for solar. If you don’t have radiant heat, it is still possible to add radiant heat with new low temperature baseboard, or a floor radiant system, if you have access to the area underneath your flooring. The SolarBeam can also be used for air conditioning, through the use of an absorption chillers or heat pumps, or can be used for heating hot air through an air exchanger.
The most advantageous use will be commercial large hot water needs. Calculating the number of SolarBeams needed will require engineering, and way beyond the scope of discussion here.
What is best about solar energy is that it is free energy, it has the least moving parts, much lower maintenance than other systems, it creates no noise, and has no visual site impact, as compared to a Wind Turbine with a large 150 foot or higher tower. This is why we choose to promote the SolarBeam, as it is currently the most powerful solar collector in the world, for it’s size. And no one has ever complained about a solar collector, as compared to current litigation over noisy wind turbines and tall towers.
In 2012, the PV Electric photo voltaic collector will be incorporated into the SolarBeam, which will allow the SolarBeam to simultaneously produce up to 4kw of electricity at the same time it is producing hot water. This will be a simple conversion, and we will make sure you add the proper electrical supply line to your electric meter for this future power source. Because of the dual function, the SolarBeam’s production of hot water will be somewhat reduced, if you elect to produce electricity.