Managing solar thermal systems and their distribution to optimize performance.
“Optimizing the whole solar thermal system, means optimizing the collectors, storage and the distribution, so managing both the supply and demand is critical. Efficiency curves show you that solar collectors work better at lower temperatures. If you use distribution methods that can satisfy the heating demand with lower temperatures by using high efficiency convectors and radiant floor or surfaces, you can reduce storage temperatures allowing collectors to operate more efficiently.
Monitoring needs to show both the big picture about how the whole system is operating along with the details of how energy moves through arrays of collectors, heat-exchangers and zones of the distribution system. Users want a range of views from “red light, green light, things are OK” for a building or homeowner, to a technicians needs to drill down into when and why a failure happened. Components eventually fail. Everything has a lifecycle. Monitoring is a tool to manage better by catching things when they failure or just before and help prevent loss of service and or damage.
When monitoring is included as part of a “package” or a pump-station for a solar system it provides a tool for the manufacturer to know it has been installer correctly and performing as expected. When sensors are added to collector arrays or other key points, collector efficiency and function can be assessed throughout the system life. When sensors are included to measure the distribution side, users can assess effectiveness and be proactive to what would otherwise be reactive operations and maintenance.
When buildings become complex and efficiency matters such as in Net Zero energy buildings or in systems where BTUs are generating revenue, better management, reduced down time and the bottom line gets a higher level of interest.
On the following pages/slide I will show examples of system monitoring of various sites including apartment buildings, restaurants, residences from the simple to a near Net Zero home, monitoring DHW, heating zones, backup consumption, and usage cycles along with collector production provides feedback for designers and building manager to operate more efficiently.
System designers, Installers, service personnel each have different knowledge and skill sets . Remote monitoring provides a common ground for them to communicate and collaborate. As monitoring has become a part of every system it is becoming more important that tools are useable all levels from the building manager to the electrician or plumber who may be called upon to perform mechanical services.
Each team member can see how their work is doing. Each team member shares in the responsibility and accountability. This will make each future product better.”