The Florida Solar Energy Center is the main testing facility for solar collectors in the US. Powerstrip is tested and approved under test certificate number 00502

The SRCC (Solar Ratings and Certifications Corporation) certifies solar heating collectors for use in water heating applications. Powerstrip is "OG-100" approved under SRCC certification number 2011121A

but has yet to undergo an initial factory inspection so we have yet to produce an SRCC approved collector. Usually our collector systems are assembled (manufactured) right on the rooftop by the contractor meaning we don't fit the mold that programs like SRCC are designed for.

Performance curves of various solar heating types

High tech high temperature solar collectors

Boring old low temperature Powerstrips

If the water in the collector being heated and the air are close to the same temperature then insulation just gets in the way and reduces the solar energy collected. Of course it is true that insulation and glazing over the collector or a vacuum space between glass will improve the performance of the solar collector as we look at warmer water being heated and colder air but how much and how far can you go before one makes more sense over the other. One expert, Rob Baxter of Vancouver Renewable Energy , makes the technical case that up to about 47C water temperature, unglazed collectors outperform evacuated tubes in full sun summer conditions and that's not factoring in the cost difference.

Many in the US will look at FSEC's BTU/sq ft/day collector ratings and claim that Fafco is better than Heliocol and both are better than Powerstrip because their ratings are better. In some conditions they are. In ideal test conditions those polypropylene collectors can slightly outperform products like Powerstrip but what about real life? Why take just a few data points when we can now monitor our systems all the time in real time and on the internet for all to see all the data. We built a Powerstrip solar panel and mounted it right next to a Heliocol solar panel of the exact same size. Then we ran water through the two in series so the flow rate was identical. We ran tests with Heliocol first and with Powerstrip first. We calibrated sensors and logged the energy delivery over many days of Poway California weather. We used our SWIM PC technology to monitor the data online for all to see. What we showed was the Heliocol better in low wind conditions and the Powerstrip was better in windy conditions. In fact Powerstrip was at times 3 times as powerful. When we mimic installations where rigid collectors end up sitting off the roof we see dramatically better output from Powerstrips in any kind of non-ideal condition (real life). Our test report is here

In 2012 a Powerstrip dealer was awarded the contract to replace the Heliocol solar panels at the Hyatt in San Diego. Eco Solar replaced one system on one pool and put our web based control and monitoring system on both so we could directly compare the two systems at the same location. So far the Powerstrip system has outperformed the Heliocol system by a factor of 2:1. The data is accessible through our COMMERCIAL case studies section.

Testing approvals are useful in many industries for many products but they are way behind in where they should be when it comes to solar collectors and that's the fault of the solar industry. The industry is polluted with lobbyists instead of technology developers. The game is to extract free government money in the name of sustainable energy deployment instead of free market competition with fossil fuels. Unfortunately solar has been held back over the last 40 years because it was a sales game instead of a technology game. We went way off course on high temperature collector tangents without first recognizing that solar doesn't have to be high tech. Solar needs to compete with fossil fuels. Unglazed collectors can deliver viable cost effective solar thermal.

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