Are you sick of the waffle we get from solar hot water manufacturers and distributors.?
First published, UK, 20 August, 2011
Do you know someone with a solar hot water system who is guaranteed 100% happy ?
“A number of people are writing about their frustration over the lack of credible information about the performance of solar hot water systems, be they manufacturers or suppliers. The usual comments, it will do 70% of your annual hot water needs are at best philosophical as there is ZERO substance to back it up before a sale OR even after a sale. One solar hot water user, after 4 years has commented that he still has no idea as to what his system is doing after 4 years OR even if it is working efficiently and correctly. He also commented that it seems impossible to prove the 70% sales comment right or wrong due to this lack of information.”
“It seems strange in the year 2011, with all the technology which could show people who really has the best, most powerful solar hot water systems on the market, only one manufacturer, Surface Power, are the only ones opening up their data publicly on how their systems are performing so we can figure it out before we spend our money. Firstly, I commend that as a gutsy move, and the results are very impressive, but I think it says more about the rest of the industry. If other solar hot water system manufacturers are not the best or even are of questionable performance, or (and I hadn’t considered this until I heard a few horror stories) are installed in a way that the manufacturer or distributors don’t really care about (they just want sales, not quality installations), the result will not be great. I think every solar hot water system manufacturer should prove the performance of their systems instead of hiding behind fancy brochures and generic industry waffle.”
” I noted a comment from a Surface Power presentation at a London experts conference on the RHI and the speaker said that with their online systems, they can control and monitor every aspect of the supply chain including installation quality via their cost per kWhr metric. I got that translated afterwards and it basically means that every system design is controlled by them which means that all systems should perform in a certain way once installed. If they don’t perform correctly, they can see it anywhere in the world and take action. This was a light-bulb moment for me; as doing my research for the RHI, it was obvious that to get your RHI payments maximised, you need to make sure the system is 100% efficient ALL OF THE TIME or you could get a lower tariff payments. For Example; What happens if the pump starts to fail or the pressure in the system drops or a sensor starts to fail, it may be months before you know anything about it and you could be losing RHI tariff payments all the time.”
“At the Eco Show; I also asked another supplier representative why they could not show performance publicly and he told me “off the record” that if they were to start showing performance in real-time publicly, that it wouldn’t give you any valuable information. I pointed out to him, that I was currently using such data elsewhere and it was extremely valuable. He then offered me a brochure and I asked him if he would refund me if the system he sold me did not do the “”75%”" of annual hot water demand stated on his brochure.”
“This was the “piece de la resistance” or the “iceing on the cake”, whatever suits you, he said yes. So I asked him how he would prove the system did the 75% and he kindly told me that I would have to prove it didn’t and hence I end up right back where I started.”
“It is really just starting to dawn on me, that there will be huge comparison confusion between Solar PV feed-in-tariff payments and RHI payments. A Solar PV system just goes on your roof, connects to the house electrical system and it spins the meter, the only thing that can influence it is the weather. But what about RHI, it seems to me that if you install a solar hot water system to heat water, you need to be concerned about so many other factors. What if someone leaves the boiler control on by accident (for months) ? Will it heat the cylinder/pool, etc at night and in the morning the solar has less work to do and instead of getting the maximum RHI payment, you don’t and plus you used gas/oil or something else that you didn’t need to.”
“I think its time the manufacturers need to own up to their systems performance, its important as it means higher RHI payments. Passing the responsibility to installers is not credible. Using generic industry waffle is not credible anymore. Lets see more evidence, facts, figures and SUBSTANCE”.