Irish Firm Claims World’s Most Efficient Solar Heater

The World's Most Efficient Water Heater?

An Irish company, Surface Power, has launched what could be the most efficient solar hot water panel ever produced. The company says it plans to distribute its product internationally. The new solar panel was independently certified by TUV Rhineland. Their tests verified that when compared to other solar panels, Surface Power’s solar panel was in one case as much as 131% more efficient in the morning and evening, and 76% more efficient at midday.

Surface Power estimates that the product, which has undergone six years of development and testing, has the potential to reduce domestic and commercial hot water bills by up to 70% if insulation standards meet new building regulations.

“The market for the solar collector was worth in excess of one billion dollars  in 2008 and has grown by 300% since 1998. We received over 400 enquiries from the USA 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. This leads to quicker, simpler and cheaper installations,” said John Quinn, Surface’s founder.

Source: Renewable Energy World via Cleantechnica

Comments

  1. thomas says

    “Surface Power’s solar panel was in one case as much as 131% more efficient in the morning and evening, and 76% more efficient at midday.”

    Most likely compared against flat panel solar heaters. It would be interesting to see details of the comparison against evacuated tube solar heaters, which China has numerous manufacturers with many years of experience manufacturing on a massive scale. The biggest ones are using cutting edge automated manufacturing technology.

  2. says

    These panels are the same as all other Chinese vacuum flask systems. The reason they benefit over flatplate panels is because they passively track the sun. In fact, they work better in the morning and evening than they do during the daytime. This is known as “incidence angle modifier” and you can find this feature on any Chinese Panel test. For example, see test results here, where the panel is 40% more effective with the sun at an angle of 55 degrees http://www.solarenergy.ch/factsheets/scf885en.pdf

    Nice spin, but nothing new here I’m afraid. There are two thousand factories in China making this sort of panel (literally!). They work well…

  3. says

    How well do these systems work in really cold climates like Canada, where even in Toronto it can drop to -20C in February? I think many of the solar water heaters hear use antifreeze and a heat exchanger, which makes them more costly to install and less efficient to operate. I know that’s how the solar laundromat near my house heats their water, at least in winter.

  4. says

    Vacuum flask and tube systems work on daylight and are less affected by air temperature than flatplates are. This is because the heatloss through the glass in a flatplate is a lot greater – vacuum tubes have no air in them to convect the heat.

    So production in winter will depend on the levels of daylight. In Ireland where I live and work, we get mostly grey days, and not much daylight. If you want to optimise output in a sunny climate during the winter, you will need to change the tilt angle to optimise absorbtion from a sun that is lower in the sky.

    Anti-freeze is no problem. We use propylene glycol which as a standard solution is safe to -22 degrees. You can use a more concentrated mix. Its effect on performance is negligible.

    External heat exchangers are inefficient. Our standard system here is to use a cylinder with a second coil – usually in the bottom of a larger cylinder. Q

      • Anonymous says

        You need to ask the suppliers for their EN12975 certificates and do the comparison yourself. Some test bodies such as SPF publish the test certs (www.solarenergy.ch). Others don’t, but the supplier should be willing to supply them on request.

        You need to understand IAM and other factors to interpret the figures accurately. Also, many vacuum systems are tested with reflectors on, which work well on day 1, but diminish in output over time.

        But beware. There are fake certs out there. I don’t know how you prevent that from happening…

  5. Tomas says

    Hi guys

    Maybe this sounds a bit like a stupid question, but how long does water stays warm on these systems at night? I live in Mexico City and even as we have an inmense supply of sunlight most days of the year, nights here at an altitude of 2,200 metres can be a little chilly. My wife and I work days and most of the cleaning/bathing/dishwashing occurs after dark.

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