A Newer Solar Thermal Technology Introduced to Asheville

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Evacuated tube solar hot water systems.

Evacuated tube solar hot water systems, which have previously dominated many European and Asian markets, are now being introduced to Western North Carolina, through an exclusive distributor and installer, SolarPlusGreen LLC. These systems are being offered at more competitive rates than the older and commonplace plat-plate solar hot water systems.

A large warehouse near I240 is stocked full of evacuated tube solar hot water system inventory in anticipation of a a total customer switch over to this more innovative, efficient, and affordable solar technology.

An evacuated solar tube consists of two glass tubes with a vacuum between forming an excellent thermos. The inner tube is coated with several layers of extremely efficient solar radiation absorption material, allowing conversion of up to 97% of solar radiation to heat, which is trapped inside the “thermos” and transferred to an extremely heat efficient copper pipe with special liquid inside.

The heat pipe transfers the heat to a closed-loop circulating fluid, which heats the water or space in a building. This newer technology has many advantages in terms of energy efficiency, reliability, and ease of installation and service. A detailed comparison of the evacuated tubes vs. flat-plate collectors can be viewed at http://www.SolarPlusGreen.com.

Harvesting solar energy with a solar hot water system does not look as sexy as converting solar radiation directly into electricity (a photovoltaic system), but is several times more efficient and cost effective. Some countries already require solar hot water systems for all new homes. Hawaii recently became the first state to require solar hot water systems for all new homes. California, North Carolina and other states may follow.

With about 60% of the Green Home Builders of the entire state (100 counties) being in Buncombe County and with Asheville’s outstanding green culture, installation of solar hot water systems in WNC will certainly lead the state and likely the country.

Better still, all levels of governments are strongly encouraging citizens and businesses to install solar hot water systems and are providing unprecedented subsidies: there is a 30% federal tax credit and 35% state tax credit for individuals (fed credit, NC credit) and businesses (fed credit, NC credit). Businesses have additional tax savings by claiming 100% depreciation of solar hot water systems within 5 years.

In addition, SolarPlusGreen offers 20-years loan with 0% interest rate, making installation of solar hot water systems virtually free to those citizens and businesses that pay more than a few thousand dollar taxes and thus can use tax credits provided by the federal and state governments.

Kevin Wei, PhD

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