April 9, 2000
For those of you who live in the Midwest, I cannot stress enough how fortunate we are to have the MREA (Midwest Renewable Energy Association) in our own backyard. I've been a member for four years now and I look forward to the Energy Fair each and every year. Besides the Energy Fair, the MREA also conducts workshops on various aspects of renewable energy.
This last weekend I attended their workshop on solar hot water and space heating. Hosted by Bob Ramlow, the workshop gave me the hands-on I was looking for prior to the installation of our own system. Besides the hands-on, the system installation that we performed was quite similar to the design of our own heating system. The installation was a bit of a retrofit for a passive solar building that now is home to the MREA. Radiant floor tubing had already been installed in the floors, but never connected. Our task was to get the hydronic solar collectors, mechanics and pipe installed, tested and operational by 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The system that we installed incorporated (14) 4' x 8' solar collectors that were ground mounted. Here's a photo of the frames for the collectors before they were installed:
On Saturday, half of the team worked on the pipe layout for the house, while the other half worked on raising the collectors. By the end of the day on Saturday, all of the panels were installed:
Sunday was spent finishing up the panels outside and sweating pipe on the inside. It took until Sunday at 5 .pm., but finally all of the connections were made to the system. Here's a photo of the "pump room". Typically, this would be located in close proximity to the floor manifolds, but the pump, controls and expansion tanks were brought up to the second floor for demonstration purposes.
Unfortunately, I had a four hour drive in front of me and I had to be at work at 7 a.m. the next morning so I couldn't get to see the system being filled. The experience was wonderful and we had an excellent crew to work with. Here's a group photo of the motley crew:
Special thanks to Bob and Doug for all of their expertise!