The Boulder region has one of the highest concentrations of solar thermal water heating systems in the country. Many of these systems were originally installed in the late 70s and early 80s and consisted of full packages and components manufactured by companies life Novan, SunCatcher, First American Solar, and other pioneering solar thermal companies. Largely, these systems are still in operation as a testament to quality manufacturing. The First American Solar and Novan systems utilized an oil as the heat transfer fluid. This oil, known as Brayco 888, was excellent for its heat transfer properties, but unfortunately was hard on rubber seals and expansion tank bladders. Periodically, we are needed to replace a failed expansion tank and recharge a system, but generally these systems were designed and built to last. The Suncatcher systems utilized a non-toxic silicone oil for its heat transfer fluid and in many neighborhoods from Heatherwood to the Table Mesa area you can see dozens of these still functioning solar thermal systems. Boulder is also home to multiple recreation centers such as the East Boulder Recreation Center, South Boulder Recreation Center and the North Boulder Recreation Center. Although some of these systems were poorly designed and unable to accommodate the hydronic expansion associated with (70+) stagnating solar thermal panels, it is still refreshing to see the technology employed on this scale.
The University of Colorado at Boulder has had countless engineering professors and alternative energy enthusiasts work there. We’re always grateful to have the opportunity to work on these local systems, whether to repair or upgrade their solar thermal domestic hot water (DHW) and/or home heating systems.
Learn more about the Solar Rebates and Solar Grant Programs that the City of Boulder has to offer to see if you are eligible.
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