Solar air heating system at UNH lauded for efficiency, cost-savings
University of New Hampshire Campus Energy Manager Matt O'Keefe checks out the newly installed solar air heating system on the roof of Kingsbury Hall in Durham. The project is expected to save the university between $8,000 and $15,000 each year in energy costs to heat the south wing of the building, which houses laboratories with high ventilation needs. (GRETYL MACALASTER PHOTO)
Kingsbury Hall's south wing houses a number of laboratories with significant ventilation needs.
"Essentially we had all the right things we needed for a good test application," he said.
A Canadian-made system called the Lubi solar air system was applied over the existing roof wall, creating about 2,400-square feet of perforated plastic panels backed by a dark solar absorber, with a gap in between. During the heating season, the system is turned on and heated air collects in the pocket, and is sucked in through new duct work to the existing ventilation system.
This past fall, the university installed an air sampling system to constantly monitor air quality throughout Kingsbury, allowing them to significantly reduce ventilation demands.
The installation was not complete by the end of the last heating season, so testing will begin this winter to see how effective the system actually is.
O'Keefe said the technology has been around for decades, but is not widely used, and he is not sure why. He said it is really a "no-brainer" based on payback, efficiency, ease of installation, and low maintenance.
More information about the technology is available at shiftnrg.com.
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