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Solar System Fits Existing Water Heaters
Heating water with solar energy is fast and practical with the Solar Wand, a closed loop hot water heating system that fits most existing hot water heaters. Antifreeze heated in a rooftop solar panel is pumped through a double-walled heat exchanger inserted into the top of the water tank.
  First tested in 1986, the Solar Wand sat on the shelf during low energy prices in the late 1980's and 1990's. Only a few prototypes remained in use, including one in a commercial laundry.
"The laundry owner called me up to tell me that after 10 years his water heater had failed and asked what to do with the Solar Wand," recalls Barry Butler, owner, Butler Sun Solutions. "I suggested he try to remove it. After brushing it off, it looked as good as new and worked fine. He said, you gotta start selling these things.'"
So Butler began producing the Solar Wands again. As energy prices have climbed, so have sales. The unit includes a 40 sq. ft. collector panel, solar cell-powered pump, and a heat exchanger "wand," which is screwed into a hole drilled into the top of the water tank. An anti-scald valve is included as the solar heated water can reach 180 degrees.
Priced at $2,700, Butler says the system will pay for itself in 3 to 4 years if you use a propane water heater, 4 to 5 if electric and in 6 to 7 years if your water is heated with natural gas.
"What other appliance actually pays for itself?" asks Butler, adding that the existing water heating components still function normally so you don't have to worry about running out of hot water if the sun's not shining.
The unit is marketed in the U.S. with the flat plate solar collector coming direct from Butler Sun Solutions or through a growing network of installers. In Canada, it is marketed with vacuum tube collection systems by Thermomax Industries.
"Our flat plate system takes about a day to install and it takes a day to charge the system, getting everything going," says Butler. "The longest part of installation is connecting the roof panel to the hot water heater. We've had about 40 installed by owners."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Barry Butler, Butler Sun Solutions, P.O. Box 1666, Solana Beach, Calif. 92075 (ph 858 259-8895; email: butlersunsolutions@adelphia.net; website: www.butlersunsolutions.com).
In Canada: Patrick Spearing, Thermomax Ind., Ltd., 3181 Kingsley Street, Victoria, B.C., Canada V8P 4J5 (ph 250 721-4360 or 888 923-9443; email: patrick@solarThermal.com).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #4