It's been a long road but my system is now up and running! I expect that a lot of people will ask how much energy my installation actually collects so I ended up taking the $600 Government of Canada Eco-Energy rebate for my high-efficiency boiler and bought a BTU meter (http://www.wsetech.com/btu.php) from the guys at WSE Technologies (http://www.wsetech.com/). So far the BTU meter is up to 84kwh which means I've collected (84 kwh * 3400 BTU/kwh =) 285,600 BTUs of heat. The temperature sensor at the _bottom_ of my storage tank didn't drop below 58 degrees C all week so I'm pretty sure that my boiler hasn't run since I completed the installation.
There are a few outstanding things I have to take care of: Insulation and cladding on a portion of the exterior runs and insulation on the piping in the house. Also, I've talked to IBC boilers and they don't yet have a controller module that integrates the boiler and the solar so I'll try and rig something up so that I can use the collectors to help heat my home. At 9:40 this morning (August 28, 2010) the outside temperature was 12 degrees C and I was suprised to hear the collector pump start. Despite the fact there was light cloud cover, the temperature sensor in the collectors was reading 68 degrees C.
Here are some pictures:
The view from the back yard.
The view from the street to the south west of the house.
The view from the street directly in front of (on the west side of) my house. My house is on a corner lot with a street on the west and north.
The view from the street on the north side.
The storage tank under my back entry. Note the BTU meter.
Here's a detailed picture of the solar meter from before the installation was complete.
As the temperature at the bottom of my tank reached 72 degrees C, I spent the extra money (approx $105) to buy an anti-scald valve to make sure none of my family would be hurt. Hot water comes in from the bottom, cold from the top and the mix comes out on the left. You can also see that I installed a thermometer in the line to check the temperature coming out of the water heater.
Here's a detailed picture of the layers of pipe insulation I used on the solar runs and the cladding I used on the exposed portions. Each layer of insulation is one inch thick which gives a total diameter for the fully insulated pipe of 4 7/8”. (The copper pipe is 3/4” inside diameter.) The insulation shown is therma-cel. The inside layer of insulation on the return piping from the collectors is K-Flex which has a higher temperature rating. Why the different types? Because I couldn't find a vendor that sold both K-Flex insulation and pipe cladding, I was tired of driving around Edmonton trying to find the supplies I needed and I REALLY wanted to get the installation completed so I could start collecting the benefits of my investment.