June 10, 2011
Jim Duncan of North Texas Renewable Energy, Inc. (NTREI) invited us out to help install an 8-kW system in Justin, TX.
April 20, 2011
We once again traveled down to Austin, but this time the work was more substantial: forty systems for an apartment complex! Twenty systems needed to be installed ASAP, so we chipped in by helping to install sixty collectors and modifying and installing twenty drainback tanks.
Meanwhile, another electricity bill has come in. It's the lowest of all-time -- $129.05 -- thanks to solar hot water and a more efficient pool pump!
March 17, 2011
The bill for Feb-March 8th came in, and outside of the months in which the pool pump was broken (October & November of '10,) it was the lowest bill recorded since the start of available records (January 2006,) roughly 50% of the previous year's Feb-March 8th bill, and one of only four monthly bills below $200 in over five years. If the weather stays nice, the March-April 8th bill should be lower still.
Solar Coordinates also headed down to Round Rock, just North of Austin, to help install a solar hot water system. (Actually, we just helped lift the panels onto the roof and tightened a few nuts, but we picked up a few tips from a man who is probably the most-experienced solar hot water installer in Texas and, most importantly, we got some amazing buffalo jerky on the ride back home.)
March 8, 2011
Residential Hot Water Calculator. Highly accurate hot water generation/usage/cost calculator. It's pretty much completed, but it might get merged with the panel planner at some point down the line. I might also add detailed solar output calculations.
Industrial & Commercial Solar HW Calculator. Seen below, it essentially shows a time-lapse view of Solar Output (O[t]) and Hot Water Usage (U[t]) functions. Both functions can be manipulated by dragging their data points. Calculated off of the O(t) and U(t) functions are a "Delta" Storage function (i.e. O[t] - U[t]) and a "Storage" function that represents the amount of hot water in storage. Functions can be hidden and shown as desired, helping to keep the graph clutter-free. It's also possible to zoom in and out.
In time, the industrial/commercial solar hot water app will become more robust and accurate, making it possible to model the complex behavior of solar thermal systems.
February 20, 2011
I had some code laying around to do this, so this one came pretty quick: Panel Planner (beta). Here's a sample:
For now, it's just a silly little feature, but with a little work, it should be pretty neat. The goal is to make the background a custom image, make the panels scalable, and be able to rotate on all three axes. (Last one might be difficult.) This WILL NOT work in Internet Explorer, which does not support the <canvas> tag in any version except 9. IE9 only works with Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7, however, so if you're on XP, you'll have to get another browser.
Your favorite overworked webmaster,
February 19, 2011
New features include:
There's still a lot to do around here, but hopefully the next update will be a little more functional -- maybe some new content for the unfinished pages, a mobile phone -friendly theme, or, if I start feeling adventurous again, an interactive 3-d roof designer. Also on the docket are things like an RSS feed, on-site video, and other miscellaneous goodies. Come to think of it, I still haven't made business cards.
2/20/11 Update [bug fix]: Apparently the new design was not working in IE... oops! Should be fixed now. :)
January 21, 2011
The temperature dropped to 24 °F early this morning (BRRR!), and without solar input, collectors drop below ambient temperature. Below is a picture of the LED display, reading 14 °F. Thank goodness for drainback tanks!
January 19, 2011
The system's performing great! Despite only being 53 °F today, the water heater got up to 145 °F. (The electric elements are set to 115 °F.)
(For those who are familiar with the system or attentive enough to notice that the T1 reading is supposed to be attached to the panel, the T1 sensor, in this case, was placed in between the pipe insulation and the pipe on the potable hot water side for testing purposes.)