Jim Eardley of Target Sales, distributor of Caleffi Hydronic Solutions’ products, discusses the advantages of selling solar power with MIACCA members.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. - The energy crisis has turned a lot of eyes to solar power as a source of sustainable and renewable energy. That statement was made 40 years ago and is being made again today. But this time, people are paying attention.

That was part of the message delivered by Jim Eardley of Target Sales, Fenton, Mich., distributor of Caleffi Hydronic Solutions’ products, to contractors at the Michigan ACCA Chapter (MIACCA) meeting in early October. Eardley said when solar energy was first introduced in the ’70s, it suffered from “inferior quality and lack of government regulations.” He added that some of the components of solar systems were not capable of handling the higher temperatures of the system, an obvious design problem.

Eardley said the solar industry is closely scrutinized by the Solar Rating and Certification Corp. (SRCC), a non-profit organization that provides independent testing, rating, and certification of active solar collectors and solar domestic water heating systems. “Make sure the products you use have a SRCC certification on them,” he said.

Active solar collectors are more commonly known as flat plates or evacuated tubes. Although Caleffi only sells flat plate collectors, Eardley said each has its own purpose. “Each collector has its place in the market, based on the customer’s esthetic preferences, cost, climate zones, etc.,” he said.

Based on these costs, Eardley said that a solar system’s payback could be as little as five years. He noted that the industry average for payback is 8-10 years.

Some other features of solar systems, which Eardley described to MIACCA members include:

• Easily installed in one day with a two-person crew;

• Simple to set up with very low maintenance;

• Routine maintenance typically only involves checking system glycol, which can be monitored yearly or every other year;

• Strong support for solar by government in the form of rebates and credits.

“We are seeing a lot of demand for solar power for swimming pools and especially in laundromats, where the demand for energy is great and the costs are high,” Eardley said. “Water parks like the Wisconsin Dells use solar collectors to help heat the water.”

He noted that commercial solar systems are becoming popular and said business owners will often need to show how a system will save money before they can get financing for installation of a solar energy system.

Eardley said there are some helpful Websites that contractors can use if they want to learn more about solar and how to calculate its energy efficiencies. One is www.retscreen.net, which has downloadable software that can be used worldwide to evaluate the energy production and savings, costs, emission reductions, financial viability, and risk for various types of renewable-energy and energy-efficient technologies (RETs).

Another is www.dsire.org, a source of information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Eardley summed up his presentation by saying, “A lot of the things that killed solar in the 70s have now gone away.”

For more information, visit www.caleffi.us.

Publication date:11/03/2008