Monday, September 12, 2016

Solar Domestic Hot Water Monitoring Project

© Richard Legner
We included a domestic solar hot water (DSHW) system when we built our SuperGreen Laneway house back in 2014.  There is no known real-world performance data on these systems in the Yukon.  In partnership with City of Whitehorse, Energy Solutions Centre and Yukon Housing Corp we have installed a monitoring project to establish actual energy savings of the system.  The data is near real-time (updates ever two minutes - refresh your browser).

The monitoring system was commissioned on September 1, 2016.  You can view the data at:

Good documentation of the various data fields is found at:

Two summary monitoring reports will be prepared as part of this project: one in March 2017 and a second at the end of 2017.

Background & Project Objectives

Solar domestic hot-water (SDHW) heating is a building-scale renewable energy opportunity that has had limited application in Yukon to date.  It is an established and reliable technology that has the potential to further reduce the environmental footprint of Yukon buildings; in particular, residential buildings.  However, there is no known actual real-world performance data for this technology in Yukon.  This monitoring system is the first to systematically monitor the actual performance of the existing new SDHW system at 704B Wood St. in downtown Whitehorse. 

Photovoltaic (solar electric) technology has as relatively good uptake in the marketplace and PV performance is relatively easy to monitor.  Conversely solar-thermal technology has had much lower installation rates in spite of its relatively higher efficiency of conversion of solar energy to heat.   This lower rate of uptake is thought to be due to four factors: 
  1. lack of demonstrated performance of the systems in the Yukon environment; 
  2. perception of higher capital costs relative to PV; 
  3. lack of skilled trades and contractors supplying and installing the systems; and 
  4. limitations created by ability to utilize the energy based on building hot-water demands. 
The project looks to address the first barrier to uptake:  demonstration of performance.  
It is believed that there is place for solar-thermal in the increasing energy efficiency of Yukon homes and buildings because of the technology’s relatively higher efficiency for generating thermal energy and the 5 kW installed capacity cap on PV created by the Yukon’s Micro-generation program (solar thermal can be installed in addition to PV).

Existing System

© Richard Legner
The SDHW system at 704B Wood St. is a single flat-plate collector system installed in late 2013.  The system is a Thermo Dynamics CSA-certified“Solar Boiler” hot water heater installed on a two-bedroom single detached home.  A unique feature of this home is the basement is heated by an in-floor hydronic system supplied from the home’s hot water system.  The purpose of this configuration is potentially increase the solar fraction provided by the SDHW by using the basement concrete slab as thermal storage of solar-derived heat.