Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cheap Solar

Cost is an issue with solar energy. It always has been. Its not really that solar is so expensive, even PV and fancy hot water systems. The issue is really that energy is so inexpensive. To compete with natural gas at $1/therm we really have to pay attention to what we do to collect solar energy. This is why Hot Sun Industries has always believed in unglazed technology. You don't need all that insulation and glazing to deliver a large percentage of the solar gain to the load as long as the load is low temperature as in a swimming pool or in the first 2/3 of the ramp up from cold city water to hot water. Now within the category of unglazed solar collectors we have some significant variation. The market demands the lowest price and many have attempted to bring the cost of solar down and they have done so successfully simply by cutting out a lot of the middle men. Middle men like Hot Sun. To get cost down you cut out the resellers who implement the systems by marrying the mechanical systems of solar and pool together so that the investment actually works. There are also roofing issues and plumbing issues. Of course what happens is we at Hot Sun get calls every day from people who have purchased the lowest cost items available and then they have questions for our experts. We want to help but its totally unfair of us to provide the expertise while our bottom line minded competitors walk away with not just the profits but with the freedom from any liability associated with the advise their untrained support personnel might have not provided. Sorry for the venom in that last sentence. Our answer to this is to provide expertise on forums and blogs so today I've invited Eric O'Brien to tell everyone about his experience buying some 2x20 SunHeater solar panels and let's see if we can make the cheap stuff work at least for a little while until he's proven to himself that solar is a fabulous technology in terms of power capability. Once he and others reading this blog finish their experiments with the cheapest solar they can find they will naturally value the investment and realize it is worth spending a little more in the replacement phase in order to get something that is less problematic and can be fitted to the roof without making a mess of the home and the integrity of the roof membrane. So fire away Eric and anyone else who wants to get in on the discussion. Let's expose the internet solar industry for what it is. Lowballers selling the cheapest thing they can with minimal support. With no expertise you have no warranty recourse because nobody knows what is wrong. Eric's case is typical and it demonstrates the importance of understanding pressure issues. Nobody understands pressure so you really need to buy solar from someone who does because without that understanding things just plain fail and nobody knows why and it isn't the fault of the solar manufacturer.