Solar heating systems are primarily used to heat domestic hot water (DHW). For certain types of new solar-insulated homes, it can also be used for primary space heating. Systems are composed of flat plate or evacuated tube collectors which use the sun to heat a heat transfer fluid, and move that fluid back to exchange that heat with water in a storage tank.
Contact us today to get more information about these solar heating systems and how a solar heating system might work for your business, university, non-profit, or municipality. We proudly assist customers through The Finger Lakes including Webster, Lansing, Fairport, Auburn, Cortland, Canandaigua, Pittsford, and more!
Businesses in NY vary significantly in their DHW use, depending on their type, size, and scope of activity. Usage can range from 50,000 BTU or 0.5 Therm/day for a small office to millions of BTU/day for a large manufacturing facility. If you can provide our staff with the last month to year of your utility bills (depending on your situation) and a preliminary list of your hot water loads, we can assist you in determining your average current DHW usage. Once this usage is known, possible system sizes can be determined that would meet 30%-90% of your DHW needs, depending on available space, budget, and preference. If your business's usage is in the upper end of the NY range for its type, we always recommend efficiency measures simultaneous to system design and installation.
Solar heating systems are best located on a relatively unshaded south-facing roof surface, ground location, or as part of a building awning. Unlike solar electric systems, which are typically mounted flush to a pitched roof surface or at an average of 35° for flat roofs and ground-mounts, solar heating collectors are mounted at steeper tilts if possible to maximize winter production and reduce extra summer heating. If the system is designed to satisfy only part of the DHW load of the building, however, it can be mounted flush to a suitable roof surface, and this can provide better aesthetics and integration with the building. Please note that for ground-mounted systems, pipes must be buried from the collectors to the building, and thus systems can usually be located at a maximum of 200-300 ft from the building.
These systems are affordable, and are good investments that provide a hedge against future energy prices and excellent returns after the short to medium-term. In fact, solar heating systems can be more economic and offer a better payback than even solar electric systems. This is primarily because solar heating collector is close to 80% efficient, while a solar electric module is around 18% efficient (please note that because of the physics of the photoelectric effect, the maximum efficiency presently of silicon solar electric cell is 26%).
A typical solar heating collector is about the same price as a solar electric module. Thus, for heating applications the solar heating collector produces more BTU per dollar spent. This also means that solar electric modules should just be used for loads that truly require electricity. The economic advantages solar heating systems offer can be examined through cost per gallon of propane or Therm equivalent, and payback analysis.
Solar DHW heating systems always retain a boiler, separate tank, or tankless unit as back-up heating source. Depending on the exact system design and size, this back-up source is typically used only on some winter days or days when the weather is particularly cloudy.
There is currently no New York State Solar Heating Incentive Program through NYSERDA. These systems are, however, eligible for federal tax credits. These tax credits are reductions to your tax liability for the year. Presently, the Federal Business Investment Tax Credit is 30% of the system cost to the customer with no cap.
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