A cozy bungalow in the Wildwood community of Calgary has complemented energy saving renovations with solar thermal and solar photovoltaic systems.
The solar thermal system uses five evacuated tube collectors mounted at the top of the south facing roof to produce heat from sunshine. The heat is transferred to a storage tank that heats water for domestic uses (showers, cleaning, laundry) and to heat the home using hydronic baseboards. The Freedom Won solar heater will produce 10,000 kWh of heat per year using our patented technology that ensures reliable operation and no regular maintenance.
The home was renovated for energy efficiency with additional insulation, upgrade windows and a high efficiency furnace. These improvements along with the solar thermal system will reduce the natural gas demand by 90%.
The solar photovoltaic system located directly below the thermal collectors generates electricity that is connected into the home's electrical system. The system is comprised of 13 panels with DC-to-AC micro-inverters that will produce 5,000 kWh per year. Around 80% of the annual consumption.
The homeowners are active in their community and value the environment. Their distinctive home proudly reflects their values and their minimal carbon footprint represents an example for other to follow.
Congratulations to the Ramsay Net-Zero Secondary Suite for winning the City of Calgary's Mayor's Urban Design Award 2015 in the Green City category. Simple Solar provided both solar heating and photovoltaic energy systems for this "net positive energy" home and we are proud to partner with such progressive and economically savvy individuals on projects such as this one. For more information on the Ramsay Net-Zero Secondary Suite check out our press release on the project.
The runner up for the Green City award was the Solar Flair project. It featured solar photovoltaic energy on multi-residential buildings by Sarina Homes. The Simple Solar team were involved in this project through our membership with the SAIT Polytechnic community and aided in the design and installation of the system.
Our innovative solar solutions continue to set the pace!
Solar thermal systems convert sunlight into thermal energy (heat) through the use of solar thermal collectors. At its most basic a solar thermal system consists of three parts. A solar thermal collector to convert sunlight into heat, a heat storage medium to store the heat, and a heat transfer fluid to transport the heat from the solar thermal collectors to the heat storage medium. Once the heat is collected and stored it can be used for space heating, hot water, pool heating, or other applications requiring heat.
Solar thermal collectors are the workhorses of your solar thermal system, they convert sunlight into heat and come in flat plate and evacuated tube varieties. Flat plate collectors are, as the name implies, large flat glass plates, several of which can be connected together to increase the amount of heat produced.
Here at Simple Solar, however, we recommend evacuated tube collectors for most solar thermal systems. Evacuated tube collectors are manifolds which generally hold between 20 and 30 evacuated tubes. Several of these manifolds can be connected together to increase the amount of heat produced. The evacuated tubes themselves are cylindrical glass pipes with a copper heat pipe at the centre. This copper heat pipe is surrounded by an insulating vacuum, hence the name evacuated tube; all the air inside has been evacuated. This copper heat pipe absorbs the heat from the sun and concentrates it at the top of the manifold where it is collected by the heat transfer fluid and taken to where it is stored and used.
The heat transfer fluid is what’s used to transport heat from where it’s captured (the solar thermal collectors) to where it’s stored for use (the heat storage medium which is usually a hot water tank). The fluid is predominantly water however depending on the region a certain amount of non-toxic anti-freeze is mixed in as well. Standard plumbing fixtures, either copper pipping or PEX tubing, are used to move the fluid between the solar thermal collectors and the storage medium. A pump is also required to circulate the fluid. Our Freedom Won systems use an automated PV powered pump so you never have to worry about powering your system or turning it on and off.
Finally there's the heat storage medium. This is simply somewhere the heat produced by your solar thermal system can be stored until it’s used. It’s usually a hot water tank designed for use with solar heating containing a coil inside to transfer the solar heat into the water in the tank. The heat collected by the solar thermal collectors is transported by the heat transfer fluid into the hot water tank’s heating coil where it heats up the water stored in the tank. This water can then be used just like hot water produced by a conventional electric or gas hot water tank, the difference being that this water was heated for free and in an environmentally friendly manner.
Solar electric systems, also known as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, convert sunlight into electricity through the use of PV panels. At its most basic a solar electric system consists of PV panels to convert sunlight into electricity, racking to mount the PV panels, and an inverter to convert the electricity from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). This electricity can then be used just like the electricity that you get from a utility company.
PV panels are the workhorses of your solar electric system. They convert sunlight into electricity via the photovoltaic effect. The electrical output of a PV panel is given in watts and PV panels are generally grouped together into an array of connected panels. This means solar electric systems have the flexibility to provide whatever amount of electricity you require. To determine how much electricity an array generates you simply add the wattage of all the panels in the array together. For example, this 5.0 kW system sold by Simple Solar consists of 20 250 watt modules. Add up all 20 modules and you end up with 5,000 watts or 5.0 kW.
The mounting hardware for PV panels is called racking and allows you to mount your panels on the ground, on a wall, or on a roof. Because PV panels only function with sunlight they should be mounted so that they face south and have an unobstructed view of the sun year round.
Inverters convert the DC electricity generated by your PV panels into AC electricity which is useable by your business or household. At Simple Solar we prefer the use of micro-inverters which attach to each individual PV panel. This simplifies installation, enhances safety, and saves on labor and material costs.
Most solar electric systems are tied to the utility company’s electricity grid and this allows the landowner to sell any excess electricity back to the utility company. Connecting your solar electric system to your utility company is easy. Once your system is installed there are no other technical requirements, however there may be regulations that you will need to follow in order for your utility company to allow you to generate your own electricity. The Canadian Electrical Code has safety standards that need to be met in order for you to generate your own electricity and to feed any excess back into the utility's electricity grid. Rest assured though, all solar electric equipment sold by Simple Solar meets the safety standards of the Canadian Electrical Code.
Solar energy is energy gathered from the light and heat of the sun. Our planet receives plenty of energy from the sun through its rays and this energy can be harnessed through two types of technology: solar thermal (heating water and/or air) or solar electric, also known as photovoltaics or PV (converting light to electricity). It is an important source of renewable energy and its abundance makes it a very appealing source of energy for your home or business.
Harnessing the power of the sun will increase your energy security through reliance on a local, inexhaustible, energy source that enhances sustainability, reduces pollution, mitigates the effects of climate change, and insulates you from rising fossil fuel prices. The easiest way to make use of solar energy is to install solar thermal collectors and/or photovoltaic (PV) panels on your property.