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Monthly Archives: April 2011

SunMaxx Solar’s CEO Adam Farrell Speaks in Summit at Cornell University

Ithaca, NY March 31, 2011 SunMaxx Solar’s CEO Adam Farrell participated in the We Live NY Summit held at Cornell University’s Statler Hotel from March 24-26, 2011. Attracting the bright entrepreneurial minds of Cornell University, the summit aimed to foster an environment where successful NY business leaders could impart their wisdom and experiences of establishing their companies to the next generation of entrepreneurs. In this harsh economic environment, many students are looking to make their own opportunities. Armed with questions from how to find funding to how to utilize community resources, these young entrepreneurs eagerly listened to the experiences the […]

SunMaxx Solar Flat Plates Successfully Installed at the Legendary Harvard Yard

Cambridge, MA USA (March 17, 2011) – SunMaxx Solar is proud to announce the successful installation of SunMaxx TitanPower Plus-SU2 flat plate collectors at Harvard University’s Harvard Yard. The solar system was built atop the Canaday Hall building as part of a larger system that provides hot water to all of the buildings within Harvard Yard. Installed,engineered and designed by the SunMaxx Solar authorized installer LittleFoot Energy Corporation, who served as the prime contractor on the project, the collector array will provide approximately 773 MMBTU/year, which is an estimated 30% solar fraction. The more than 3,200 square feet of SunMaxx […]

SunMaxx Solar Collectors Installed at First Solar Powered Brewery in New Hampshire

New London, NH March 10, 2011 SunMaxx Solar is proud to announce the successful installation of twenty-five SunMaxx TitanPower Plus-SU2 solar flat plate collectors at the Flying Goose Brew and Pub as it becomes the first solar powered brewery in New Hampshire. In an ongoing effort to become a more energy efficient business, Flying Goose recently upgraded to a solar thermal system which uses a non-pressurized 806 gallon tank to preheat water for the restaurant and brew cycles. Installed by the SunMaxx authorized installer Clean Resolutions, the system consists of 500 square feet of SunMaxx TitanPower Plus-SU2 flat plates, which […]

Hosting US Solar Thermal Tour

An acclaimed solar thermal manufacturer and distributor is launching the “High Efficiency Revolution” tour across major chunks of Texas in April and May 2011. The solar thermal tour will begin on April 26, 2011 and conclude on May 9th 2011.  The tour will make stops in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, College Station and other smaller cities throughout the two-week stretch.

What is the best angle to position my collectors?

This answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish. For simple Domestic Hot Water systems you should try and position you collectors at the same angle as your latitude. For systems that are tied into the home heating system, as in a combisystem, you should position you collectors 15 degrees higher than your latitude. For summertime use only systems, as in a pool system, you should position your collectors at your latitude minus 15 degrees. For systems that have a high solar fraction, i.e. 75% or greater, you should increase the angle of incline in order to decrease your […]

What is the best way to secure my collectors to the roof?

There are many ways that you can mount you collectors to the roof. Whether you choose a flush mount or tilt mount design you should consider using a rail system. A rail system allows you to take advantage of the rafters while not interfering with the exact location of the collectors. First, you should decide where you would like the collectors positioned and then begin by installation you roof hooks or brackets, upon which the rail will mount. Once you have secured your roof hook in place you can then install the remaining hooks. Be sure that you do not […]

How can I learn more about the financial assistance available for solar thermal

In order to educate your clients about the benefits of going solar, it is important to understand the financial opportunities. There are lots of incentives currently available for solar hot water systems. Most systems will qualify for a 30-50% incentive! Figuring out which incentives are available in your area and navigating the bureaucratic process to apply for them can be confusing. The most comprehensive resource on the internet for federal, state, and local incentive programs is the Database for State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (click here to go to link) (

How do I properly size my storage tank for the collector area?

The rule of thumb of 1-3 gallons of storage per ft2 of collector will only get you so far, so it is best to try being creative with your storage. As your load increases in the winter and production decreases, you should adjust your storage capacity accordingly. Even slight changes from day to day in your production vs. consumption, can dramatically affect total system performance. Tank prioritization allows you to maintain a target temperature in one tank while still charging another. Better yet, you may be able to run directly from your solar field to your heat load and bypass […]

What is more important, postioning the collectors for maximum aesthetic appeal or maximum solar gain?

Do you want to make this system perform to its highest ability or should it look nice and fit the architecture of the house? We have all seen those albatrosses on the roof that are cantilevered at a compound angle to get a few extra BTU’s at the cost of aesthetic appeal. Here are some guidelines to consider when deciding what is most important in determining collector orientation and inclination. For most collectors, tubes or flat plates, the angle of inclination has a 30 degree window of variation and the performance will still be within 95% of the expected maximum. […]

Can I connect my pool to my solar hot water heating system?

Yes you sure can. Using the pool as a heat dump in the summer is very easy to do and very beneficial, not only to your wallet but a warm pool makes a happy wife. We have many clients that are doing this very thing with their “extra” energy from the solar loop, especially for solar combi-systems.  Here is how you do it: You will need a stainless steel shell and tube heat exchanger, a motorized, three port valve and some extra piping. Ask you sales rep for a schematic to help you. Using the three-port valve on the hot […]

What can I do with excess energy in the summer?

Three choices- Steam, Drain or Dump.  For most places in the US, there will be more solar gain in the summer than in the winter. This occurs during a time when your load is lowest, so that means EXCESS HEAT. You must deal with this if you are to design and/build a solar thermal system that stands the test of time. Steamback system- this system design will allow for the steaming of your heat transfer fluid during times when the pump is off. Normally this is somethin you try and avoid, but if designed properly you can use the steam […]

Is it possible to melt snow off of my collectors?

Yes it is. Depending on your type of collector, you can program your controller to manually activate the circulator which will bring heat from your storage vessel and into the collectors, which will radiate that heat back out thus melting the snow. This method only works for FLAT PLATES however and will usually take as much energy as it makes. When the sun is out in full force, the rays passing through thge snow are typically enough to create substantial heat that in turn, melts the snow on flat plates. For Evacuated tubes however, there is very little you can […]

How do I know which type of storage tank that I need?

Well, there are really two main options here; pressurized tank or non-pressure tank. The pressure tank will come with heat exchange coils on the inside (2 or 3 depending on style) that will be tied into a closed solar loop and open DHW loop. The additional coil (s) can be used for space heating or auxiliary heating. The drwaback to large pressurized tanks is that they require larger doors when you exceed 200 gallons or so. The Non-pressure tanks are basically custom built, insulated tubs that can be brought in through the smallest of doors and assembled on location to a volume […]

How do I know which size of storage tank I need?

There are many answers to this question but it really boils down to this…you need the one that best suits your application, your solar collector field, your budget and your available space. If you use a Heliomaxx kits from Sunmaxx, we have sized the storage vessels relative to the size of the collector field. For sizing, we generally consider first the temperature requirement of the tank. For instance, if you need your solar tank to be a cetain temperature before it ties into your home heating sytem then we would likely reduce the storage capacity but if you are using […]

How long does it usually take to install a typical Solar Hot Water System?

Well, this all depends on many things. But for an average home with average difficulty level and experienced installer shouldnt take much more than two full days. I have seen some that were installed by two men in one full day and others that take a week. If you are using a pre-packaged system, such as the Heliomaxx Kits from Sunmaxx, they are designed to be assembled and commissioned with the utmost efficiency. A DIY’er can take on an installation by him/herself as long as they are comfortable with a little roofing and some minor plumbing. For homeowners, it is […]

How long does it usually take to install a prepackaged DHW kit?

Well, that all depends but usually 2 workers can install a simple DHW kit and have it fully commissioned within 3 days. There are some cases where only 2 days is required and some days more. Our Heliomaxx kits are designed for simplicity and we expect that you shouldn’t really need more than 48 total hours for a job and could be as low as 32.

Do I have to run the piping through the roof?

No, you do not have to. You can, and should, use flexible stainless steel piping which allows you to direct the piping anywhere you want with very little trouble. Many installers will choose to send the piping the ;ong way around just to avoid a roof penetration. While this works well for ensuring that there is no leakage, it does however waste a bit of solar energy. But if you can avoid going through your roof, then do it! Click here to view our flexible stainless steel piping

Do I need any experience in electricity to install a solar water heater?

No, you do not. In fact, if you purchase a pre-packaged kit from Sunmaxx, the pump station (which is has the controller and pump  built in) simply has a 3-prong plug that you insert right into a 110v wall outlet. The only thing that you would need to do is to insert the sensor wire into the appropriate location on the controller. Luckily the sensor wire is non-polar so you can’t mess it up (knock on wood).

How do I know if my system is performing the way it should be?

First of all, your system performance will be measured by BTU’S produced, NOT by temperature achieved. The simplest way to accomplish this is by following this method: 1- Record your solar tank temperature first thing in the morning, before the solar pump turns on. 2- be sure that no one uses hot water during this day. 3-Record your solar tank temperature at the end of the “solar” day 4-Perform this calculation to determine total btu’s produced Change in tank temp Deg F x Total gallons in tank x 8.3 = total btu prod/day 5-View the SRCC certificate for estimated performance […]

What is NABCEP and why is it important?

The North American Board of Certified energy Practitioners is a standard of excellence for Solar Installers. Anyone who meets the criteria for NABCEP certification meets the most rigorous demands for competency in the US. Being NABCEP certified allow you to gain eligibility to a broader market through incentive based-programs that require NABCEP certification. It will also allow you mobility to move from state to state. Please view the following link to learn about NABCEP certification.

How do I decide between Flat plate and Evacuated tube?

This will be a debate well in to the future. For an more in-depth review please watch this Click here to watch this 1/2 hour webinar. Your decision should be based primarily on the following considerations: 1- Temperature demand– What is you existing application? EVT’s will outperform FP’s at higher temp load. 2- Climate location- In a general sense, flat plates have more value than evacuated tubes in warmer climates and EVT’s will do better in cold, cloudy climates. 3-Aesthetics appeal– This is where there is no “right” answer. Instead, each person has their own personal view. We recommend that […]

How do I size a solar hot water system for my household?

Typically, an american average consumption of 20 gallons of hot water per day per person can be used to size systems. There are some variations in that however so we need to be careful about just using rules of thumb. For most of the Sunmaxx TitanPower Flat plates and Thermopower Evacuated tubes will yield about 2 gallons of hot water per FT2 of collector. Therefore, we can say that for a family of 3, we would recommend about 30 ft of collector. This estimate will vary depending on the part of the world you are from. If you live in […]

Will i need to make any changes to my existing system for a Solar Thermal upgrade?

No- there are no required changes to your existing system. However, if you have a backflow preventer installed in your house then you will need an expansion tank in the dhw loop. Without this installed, the solar loop will be rasing the temperature of your existing tank and subesquently raise the pressure. Typically this pressure is absorbed by the line pressure from the municipal supply or well pressure but with a backflow preventer this cannot happen so you will need an expansion tank.

How do I attach solar panels to my shingle roof without causing leaks?

Our ConnectMaxx roof hooks are designed for any roof. We suggest that each be attached directly into a rafter using two Simpson Strong-Drive screws. Roof caulk can be used to seal these penetrations. (One installer we know used butyl rubber.) Our concave X-mount flashing then fits securely over the roof hook and under the shingles for a weatherproof connection. All of our collectors can be mounted using these roof hooks.

How well will my collectors perform if they are not positioned perfectly?

Fortunately, solar thermal collectors are not nearly as sensitive to light conditions as PV collectors. As for performance, you have roughly a 60 degree window of opportunity to mount the collectors toward south before you begin losing a small bit of total production. In other words, your house can be situated 30 to the east of true south or 30 degrees to the west of true south and your performance will still be at or above 95%. As far as tilt angle goes, this window opportunity is slightly smaller but still you can have a roof pitched about 20 degrees […]

Can I tie a solar thermal system into my existing system?

Yes, you sure can. There are very few systems in the US that will not accept a solar thermal upgrade, The only exception would be a steam system. Whether you have forced hot air, boiler with baseboard, sub-floor radiant, in-floor radiant or wall heaters you can very easily integrate a solar thermal system upgrade. We have systems that are designed for every possible option for you, the only question is- are you ready to start saving money and lower your carbon footprint?

Simulating Performance of Solar Thermal Systems

Solar thermal systems will behave differently depending on a few variables such as, the obvious, location but also angle of tilt (slope off horizon), orientation angle, temperature of inlet fluid and also daily ambient temperature. We can calculate the efficiency of collectors for various times throughout the day but given the dynamic nature of production vs. consumption, it is better to use simulation software to accomplish this. At Sunmaxx, we use Polysun Simulation Software . By using this software, we can very easily ascertain the estimated performance during the course of the year. If you are looking to get some […]

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