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Solar Water Heating in Schools

 Two elementary schools were recently constructed with identical architectural design and size.  One incorporates solar energy systems, while the other does not, so that energy use differences between the two schools can be assessed.  The solar water heating system on one school uses eight collectors by Heliodyne, model Gobi 410 for a total collector area of 320 square feet (Fig. 1) . A propylene glycol-based antifreeze mix transports the heat to a solar tanks located in the school’s basement adjacent to existing hot water tanks. The four 48-gallon solar storage tanks (Fig. 2) were manufactured by Heliodyne, Helio-Pax 32 (192 gallons total capacity).  An external double-walled copper heat exchanger is located on top of each tank.  A differential controller automatically starts both a collector and a storage side pump when the collector outlet temperature exceeds the tank temperature by 18o F.  The tanks are interconnected and piped through a mixing valve to the school’s hot water tanks.  All of the system components are certified and meet standards established by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC). Evaluation of the performance of these two schools is in progress.

Active solar collector array atop the Churchill Park school in Louisville, KY.              Image of storage tanks for the solar water heating system.

Figure 1. Solar collectors.   

                                                                                                                      Figure 2. Solar storage tanks.


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