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samschaperow

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Reply with quote  #1 
Hi.  I looked at their $1500 model and figure that it would take 25-35 years for it to pay itself back.  Its peak output isn't really that high, and I expect most of the time it'll not be too near peak. 

But, has anyone more knowledgeable looked into it?  I live in CT and am not in a good position to make myself one, though I could potentially hire someone to make me one.

-Sam

gbwillson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Hi Sam, and welcome!

It's very easy to get discouraged when you see how much a solar manufactured heater costs and the projected ROI timeframe. The SolarSheet, Cansolair, and others are quality units, but when the payback is so long, how is it going to save you money, especially in the short term? $1500 will go a long way towards turning up the thermostat a couple of degrees!

That is why so many of us build our own. Depending on your needs and expectations, a solar heater can be built with a payback of less than a year! Most of the units are easy to build, and with this being a DIY site, you would have plenty of information and help available, should you need it. Only the most basic of DIY skills and tools are needed for the most part, but every build and install is different. And should you have a unique situation, we share ideas and most of the time a solution can be discovered.

Should you not have the basic skills nor the space to build your own solar heater, perhaps someone near to you from this site could assist with your project. Could you tell us what your needs and expectations are from a solar heater?

Greg in MN[wave]
Rick H Parker

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Reply with quote  #3 
The best ROI is Solar Domestic Hot Water (SDHW). It does not take much of an investment if you go DIY and Domestic Hot Water is estimated to be 15 percent to 20 percent of a typical household's energy outlay. I suggest beginners start with SDHW. SDHW lets the beginner gain experience without much of a financial risk and the frustration of a more complex system.

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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
Electronics Engineering Technologist
gbwillson

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Rick-

Sam lives in a cold climate(Connecticut), where heating his home can be 70% of his annual gas budget. A larger, older house, can have an even higher percentage of their budget used for heating. That is why I asked him for a bit more information. He may only be looking to warm a room or two, where an inexpensive air heater would suffice. His utility company should be able to supply him with the specific percentage he spends each year for heating his home versus water heating. 

Greg in MN


Rick H Parker

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Greg

Over 80% of homes that rely on heating oil for space heating are located in the Northeast. Heating oil cost about 3.5 times as much as gas. If he is one of on heating oil, his is ROI for going Solar Thermal Space Heating in any capacity looks real sweet.

Come to think of it, there is one thing that has a better ROI then SDHW, conservation of energy. Tighten up the home's thermal envelope.

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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
Electronics Engineering Technologist
samschaperow

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Reply with quote  #6 
We have oil, but I don't think it is anywhere near 3.5 times the cost of natural gas.  The efficiency is in the 80s (let's say 86%, if memory serves from the oil company's last analysis).  The cost per gallon is about $2.20.  There was a time when it was nearly $4/gallon.  Perhaps at that time, and if my boiler was 70% efficient, the 3.5 times would be closer.

Our hot water is a heat pump water heater.  We spend about $150/yr on its electricity, and save a lot each year on dehumidification (it dehumidifies). 

I'm interested in solar air heating to decrease our use of oil or electricity to heat the home, and ultimately to save $.  I have to figure out if I'd want it wall or roof mounted, w/the latter adding to installation cost.  If no one from this site is in my area who'd build me one, I'm considering hiring a handyman.  Some such people will charge $20/hr. to make it, + materials.  I don't know how long it takes to make it.  The person would then be able to install it as well.  Are there any concerns I should have about that route, like if many such handymen won't put it together w/enough precision to make it work efficiently?

BTW, does anyone know, beyond simply speculating, why there aren't lots more companies making these?  If there were many, there could be low prices from mass-market made ones.  It seems like solar thermal water heating is made in much mass. 
Rick H Parker

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"There was a time when it was nearly $4/gallon.  Perhaps at that time, and if my boiler was 70% efficient, the 3.5 times would be closer."

Grabbed newer numbers. I don't stay on top of this, the only oil burning for space heating in my parts is waste oil burners.


These are national averages as of January 2017.

Burner fuel oil (No. 2 oil) 140,000 BTUs/gallon $2.71 per gallon.  = $19.38 per million BTUs.
Natural gas 1,000,000 BTUs /thousand cu.ft. $9.38 per thousand cu.ft. = $9.38  per million BTUs. typical efficiency 85% net price for energy
19.38/9.38 = 2.06:1 energy cost. Assuming 85% a burn efficiency for both types ... what goes up the flue does not count.

"I have to figure out if I'd want it wall or roof mounted, w/the latter adding to installation cost."

With the snow you get in CT, I suggest you keep it low toward the ground, where you can knock the snow off without risking your neck.

"
Are there any concerns I should have about that route, like if many such handymen won't put it together w/enough precision to make it work efficiently?"

Precision not the issue for efficiency, design and materials are. Construction methods are within the skill set of a handyman. 

"BTW, does anyone know, beyond simply speculating, why there aren't lots more companies making these?  If there were many, there could be low prices from mass-market made ones.  It seems like solar thermal water heating is made in much mass."

Commercial Solar Energy has cycles of boom and bust that follow the cost of established energy sources. The biggest seller of commercially produced residential systems is bill shock and worrying if one can make the payment on the BMW or Volvo. Then there are odd people that watch their finances and/or impact on the world all the time. We are kind of an odd collection of individuals here, just so you know what your stepping into. [wink]

Commercial Solar and wind electric has broken out of that cycle to some extent, they are now competitive with established energy sources.

Solar thermal made a huge advance in the 70s, but screwed it up by using copper-aluminum collectors by the 90s they where in the scrap pile due to galvanic corrosion. This time around I have seen moves toward more compatible materials as well as moves away from metals to plastics. Today's plastics are not your father's plastics.




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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
Electronics Engineering Technologist
samschaperow

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Reply with quote  #8 
Those prices are high sounding.  CT isn't known for low prices, though it is possible.  I looked at what they are right now, and I see:
http://www.cashheatingoil.com/oilpricesinct shows about $1.89/gallon here.

Ty, & wouldn't it be if installed vertically, it wouldn't collect snow on its surface (perhaps a little on top, but it would melt off easily as it heats when it is sunny, no?).  If so, vertical is the way to go, but how high wouldn't matter much if I'm not removing snow.
The other thing w/keeping it low is shade.  When the sun is low on the horizon, I'd get some shade to much of the lower floor of my house from some pine trees at the back of our yard.  Unfortunately, I don't know where on our house those won't affect us, so I guess I must wait until mid-winter to find out before I can proceed w/this project.

So, I should be able to hire most low-priced handymen to construct it after giving them good directions to print from the internet, if I understand you correctly. 
Rick H Parker

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Reply with quote  #9 
"I looked at what they are right now, and I see: http://www.cashheatingoil.com/oilpricesinct shows about $1.89/gallon here."

Prices drop at the end of the heating season, that is why I used January prices. A heating season average would be better then either of our prices.


Snow does not always fall vertically. Vertical mount will get the best energy transfer. Best energy transfer is when the collector is perpendicular to the sun. Like shooting pool, one can do a 100% energy transfer with a center to center shot but angle shots always transfer only part of the energy. The greater the angle, the less the energy transfer.

So, I should be able to hire most low-priced handymen to construct it after giving them good directions to print from the internet, if I understand you correctly.

In a different era, one could of made it a shop class project or a series of shop class projects for high school students. Just beware of the "handyman" that failed shop class.







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Rick H Parker
Kansas, USA
Electronics Engineering Technologist
stmbtwle

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Reply with quote  #10 
It does seem expensive. By the time yo get it installed you may be down nearly 2k. And according to my figures it'll save you about 7c an hour in fuel. Maybe 40c a day?



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Solar is like the wind. It may be free, but putting it to work isn't!
Willie, Tampa Bay
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