Solar Retrofit to a mid-1960's bungalow - Part 2

Well, since my first posting about doing a solar thermal retrofit to my house back on May 10th, I'm sorry to day it's been pretty much a nightmare.  When the collectors arrived on March 14th, they looked like they'd been shipped through a war zone.

Words cannot express how much I wish I had refused to accept the shipment and instead returned everything to Taylor Munro.  Instead, I called them and they reassured me they would address all the problems.  Now they claim that only the worst of the damaged collector will be replaced as that is the only one that the shipping company will pay to replace.  Even though Taylor Munro arranged the shippng, it is suddenly my responsibility now that there's a problem. 

I questioned whether Taylor Munro would stand behind their other collectors that also show lesser damage and I was told that "the manufacturer would be the one to honour the warranty".  Nice.  There's only one problem:  There is absolutely no manufacturers information anywhere on the collectors.  Apparently they are made in China in large batches and shipped to Taylor Munro which means that there is effectively no warranty on these things.  Note: the made in China" comment was from a Taylor Munro staff member who used it as an excuse for how long it would take to get a replacement collector to me.

While the shipping company is ultimately responsible for the damage, Taylor Munro shares a large part of the responsibility for so poorly packaging the collectors for shipment.


So the delivery of the collectors was on March 14th.  Since then, Taylor Munro shipped me the solar storage tank which arrived on June 23rd.  Luckily, the tank arrived without damage and has since been installed in the mechanical room in the basement.

So here I sit - It is now September, 9 months since I signed the contract and almost 6 months since the delivery of the damaged collectors, and I am still waiting for the replacement collector.  Taylor Munro has not returned my calls or e-mails for over 5 weeks and I'm starting to get seriously worried.  I understand that there must be a HUGE demand for their services and that they must be very, very busy but I find this situation pretty ridiculous.  Taylor Munro has the engineers to design some impressive systems (they did the solar thermal portion of the Riverdale Net Zero house) but their management appears to have absolutely no interest in providing decent customer service.

Funny, I just re-read my original post where I said "... I thought there would be other people like myself who would be interested in my experience - both good and bad...".  I was expecting the "bad" part would come from tearing open walls to run the pipes to the collectors - I never imagined that I would have so many difficulties just getting the equipment.  I hate to say it but right now, I think active solar thermal systems should be avoided.  Maybe things will change in a few year but for now, I would encourage anyone who is interested in active solar thermal systems to design or renovate for a future addition then wait for the industry to mature.

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Wow, what a terrible experience. I haven't heard a kind word yet about Taylor Munro. You're the third customer of theirs that I know who is very unhappy.

Maybe we could give the rest of the industry the benefit of the doubt though? I understand that Trimline Designs ( manufactures solar hot water heaters right here in the city. Anyone have experience with them yet?

I heard back from Taylor Munro today - no word on when they'll get me the replacement collector but at least they acknowledged my e-mail.

Regarding Trimline: What I wanted was an active solar system that could help heat the house as well as provide domestic hot water.  I talked to Harold at Trimline and he had nothing that could could do what I wanted so I began to work with Taylor Munro.  Interestingly, I stopped by Cronkhite Supply in north Edmonton recently and found that they have started carrying Viessmann flat plate and evacuated tube colletors.  In discussions with the staff there, I learned that some of them are taking training on various solar thermal systems so that will (eventually) be a resource for people in Edmonton.


Which just goes to show that your original comment about the industry maturing has merit. In some ways, it doesn't seem to be quite there yet.

Ken, I've heard that things have turned around 180 degrees at Taylor Munro since a new manager came on board. Has the situation been resolved?

Yes, the new manager at TMES is Anthony Halcovitch and he has been very helpful in resolving the outstanding issues.  The have shipped a replacement collector (a couple of months ago already) for the one that was wrecked during the initial shipment.  I've posted this picture as part of a different comment but I'll add it in here too.  As you can see, the packaging of the replacement collector is considerably different compared to the original collectors which are underneath.

My original contract did not include "Pipe, pipe insulation and jacketing, sensor wire, and other miscellaneous fittings".  You can imagine my surprise when I found out that TMES originally considered the pinch clips for the collectors to be some of the miscellaneous fittings that were not included.  Once Anthony took charge he shipped me the needed collectors as well as a handful or extras (just in case).

Also, the original contract relied on the engineers at IBC (the boiler manufacturer) to develop a controller that would interface with the boiler and the solar.  As it turns out, this controller is probably still a few months away.  Rather than leave me waiting, Anthony shipped two differential controllers so that I could get the system running.

Overall,  I've been impressed with Anthony and his handling of my problem and consider the issue resolved.  Having said that, I would caution against working with someone from another city/province/timezone - any issues that arise are magnified by the communication difficulties that are introduced by distance.


I recently tried to contact Taylor Munro Energy Systems with some questions regarding my system and received the message "the number you have reached is not in service".  Some e-mail inquiries lead me to believe that the company is now in receivership although I can't find any confirmation on that via Google searches.  

If you're in Edmonton, I'd recommend contacting Threshold Energies Corporation (  Even though I haven't bought anything from them, they've been very helpful.


I live in Vancouver and had a system installed by TMES last year using components from Zen Renewables (integrated drainback tank & panels). The tank started leaking sometime this year (hard to tell exactly when; a sludge of rust in the collection pan effectively hid the leak from me for a while). After the same experiences being unable to contact anyone there, I actually drove by the TMES office a couple of weeks back, and can confirm that the place is completely vacated and up for lease. Not only that, but none of the numbers or email for Zen in Belgium (or elsewhere in Europe) are active. Am currently trying to fix the tank myself, or at least open it up enough that I don't have to pay a plumber $$/hr in order to hack through rivets and foam insulation to get at where the leak seems to be originating.

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