Sunnovations, a Virginia-based start-up, is seeing more and more interest in its unique solar thermal technology and just closed a Series A round of financing led by Two Seven Ventures. That technology is explained in the attached images, and it may just make solar water heating a no-brainer for every home in the country. The system is relatively affordable, easy to install, and simple to maintain, according to the company.
Sunnovations’ system is similar to other solar systems on the market in that it uses glazed, flat-plate collectors, a heat exchanger, and backup water heating. Glycol is heated, but instead of using an electrical pump, Sunnovations uses a proprietary “geyser pump” to naturally circulate the fluid.
The geyser pump, or bubble pump, shown in this video, eliminates the need for electromechanical components or maintenance of these components. The fluid begins to circulate as soon as it is warmed in the collectors.
Sunnovations uses PEX tubing for an easy, one-day installation that makes the investment more affordable to the homeowner. Depending on the situation, a solar water heater should help reduce water heating bills by 50-80%, according to the Department of Energy.
Update 3/19/2011: as it relates to pricing, Sunnovations told me the installed cost varies by region. It is influenced by the cost of labor, competition, shipping cost, configuration of the home, permitting costs, and distributor pricing, etc. That said, if you contact Sunnovations, the company can provide a ballpark. You can also calculate a simple payback estimate.