Innovative Plastic All-in-One Solar Thermal with Suncache
Eric Lee, president of Harpiris Energy tells us about their Suncache product which is a passive solar water heating system made out of plastic. The Suncache is cheaper and lighter than conventional solar thermal units because the Suncache is made out of plastic. The unit is sent in one big box with all the elements needed to install it. After many years in development and with the assistance of $2M in grant funding from the Department of Energy, Harpiris Energy completed development of their Suncache product and it is now available. The units have been shipping for about a year.
The Suncache is a passive system where there is no electricity being generating. The cold city water enters the collector when someone turns on the faucet and moves through the copper piping. Subsequently, it extracts heat from the 50 gallons that are held in the unit. Finally, the water enters whatever kind of heating system one uses in their home whether it is a tankless or a conventional water heater. Harpiris Energy just finished installation in two apartment complexes in Sacramento, and they are looking forward to another project in Hanford.
There was a bill passed in California not too long ago to incentivize solar water heaters; the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) just released a draft proposal that is $275M dollars over the next 8 years, includes $35M for marketing. There may potentially be rebates for those installing solar water heaters.
Cost savings: Versus a natural gas system, one can expect to save $150 dollars a year. Compared electric water heaters, one may save $1000 dollars a year. The Suncache costs $2,000 dollars, and with installation, it is about $3,500.
At Harpiris they expect that the solar water heating market is expected to grow tremendously in the next few years due to new incentives in states like California. They are currently looking to recruit new dealers to help them handle the increased demand.