Solar energy is plentiful, renewable, and capable of powering anything that requires electricity. It’s the ultimate form of sustainable power, and many multifamily operators have been tempted by state and federal tax credits to install solar panels, also known as photovoltaic (PV) panels, to power their properties.
Going solar, however, requires a fair amount of homework. A number of products are needed to make PV panels operational, and PV panels aren’t the only solar products appropriate for installation at multifamily properties, says John Casey, CEO of Phoenix-based Green Fuel Technologies. The company, which offers green building solutions including in-house design and engineering, recently partnered with the City of Phoenix and Premier Mechanical Corp., also of Phoenix, to add energy-efficient solar technology at Paradise Village, a 62-unit affordable housing complex in the city.
With the goal of reducing energy costs for the property’s low- to middle-income residents, Green Fuel Technologies installed solar hot water panels, PV roof panels, and solar exterior lighting. The solar products have decreased summer utility bills from $200 to $30, Casey says.
Green Fuel Technologies chose SX 3200 PV panels from Frederick, Md.-based BP, which were attached with the RoofTrac system from Oxnard, Calif.-based Professional Solar Products. The solar energy generated from the PV panels is converted into electricity and fed into the public grid with grid-tied inverters from Brighton, Mich.-based Fronius. Residents get their hot water from solar hot water collectors/tanks from Fontana, Calif.-based Sunearth.
“All of these solar products are scalable; they can be installed at very large projects,” Casey says. “The larger the installations, the bigger the savings for owners and residents.”
Power Play: The Solé Power Tile from SRS Energy is the first curved building integrated photovoltaic roofing product designed for clay Mission-style roofing systems. The roof tile integrates with US Tile’s Mission-style roofing products, blending seamlessly to allow for the collection of solar energy without sacrificing aesthetics. The tiles provide 500 watts per 100 square feet. For more information, call SRS Energy at 267-515-5895 or visit www.srsenergy.com.
Gridlocked: Fronius IG grid-tied inverters for PV systems are the lightest grid-connected inverter products on the market, weighing in at just 42 pounds. They feature the MIXTM concept, which allows a PV system to output more energy under part-load conditions. The product offers an LCD display that tracks more than 20 critical system performance parameters. For more information, call Fronius at 810-220-4414 or visit www.fronius.com.
Installment Plan: Professional Solar Products offers a PV installation system for both tile and shingle roofs. The RoofTrac “Top-Down” system allows installers to clamp PV modules from the top using the company’s Fast Jack attachment method when flashing is desired, or the TileTrac attachment method for tile roofs. For more information, call Professional Solar Products at 805-486-4700 or visit www.prosolar.com.
Highly Efficient: The SX 3200 solar photovoltaic panel from BP uses silicon nitride multi-crystalline silicon cells, which are among the most efficient solar cells on the market. The SX 3200 can generate 200 watts per photovoltaic module. The panels have a 25-year warranty. For more information, call BP at 866-277-6527 or visit www.bp.com.
Air Flow: InSpire wall panels from ATAS International act as a transpired solar collector and fresh air heating system. Panels are mounted inches from a building’s outer wall, and perforations in the wall panels allow solar-heated outside air to travel through the panel and into the building’s ventilation system. The panels convert up to 80 percent of solar energy and lower heating costs by $3 to $5 per square foot (per panel, annually). For more information, call ATAS International at 800-468-1441 or visit www.atas.com.
Sunburned: Solar hot water collectors/tanks from Sunearth do not use any kind of electricity—not even electricity generated through PV panels—to heat water. Instead, the water is heated directly by the sun. The tanks are available in 80- and 120-gallon models and are appropriate for installation in any multifamily unit that requires a single-installation hot water heater. For more information, call Sunearth at 909-434-3100 or visit www.sunearthinc.com.