Friday, October 22, 2010

Solar Trek featured in Ocala Style Magazine

Going green is nothing new for Solar Trek in Ocala. For nearly three decades, the popular local provider of top-quality renewable energy systems has been heating pools, cooling air conditioners, and powering whole homes by harnessing the sun's rays.

Lonnie Jerry never expected to see it, but early one February morning, the needles on his home’s electric meter were slowly spinning backward. As the first rays of the winter sun began to hit the panels of his new five-kilowatt photovoltaic system, the house began earning credit from the power company, and The Villages resident was thrilled.

“It felt great,” Jerry says with a chuckle. “I was generating more than I used. Your bill comes back with a negative on it, so the power company actually owes you money. When the hot season kicks in, they credit it to your bill.”

For Floridians, the notion of utilizing the sun’s intense rays to generate electricity for their homes sounds like a dream. Jerry made the notion a reality when he hired Solar Trek in Ocala to outfit his home with a solar electric system. After many months of research, Jerry settled on the 29-year-old company because of its solid reputation, unmatched expertise, and commitment to staying local. Solar Trek offers solar pool heating systems, Smartcool green technology to improve air conditioning/refrigeration systems’ energy efficiency, water-heating systems, and solar electric photovoltaic panels to power homes.

Though Jerry now has a digital meter without the proverbial needles, he’s still keenly aware of his savings. His air conditioner, for example, currently works 38 percent less than before he had Smartcool technology installed. He’s so pleased with Solar Trek, in fact, he’s having a pool heating system installed this month, which has the potential to increase the number of days he’ll be able to swim in his pool to over 290 per year.

Stories like Jerry’s are what drive Vince Biel after all these years. Walking through Solar Trek’s warehouse, the owner is surrounded by reminders of his long and gratifying career. A large photo of a young Biel working on one of the company’s first-ever solar systems hangs above a work station. A shadow-box frame in his office displays a solar panel repair tool he invented as well as a letter of commendation. A photo of Biel and other contractors atop the Georgia Tech Aquatic Center in Atlanta, where they installed 300 solar panels to heat the pools used during the 1996 Olympic Games, sits on a nearby shelf. In yet another photo, Biel is standing next to Governor Charlie Crist after helping install solar panels on the Governor’s Tallahassee mansion in 2007.

“Vince was green before green was cool,” says the company’s operations manager and Vince’s son-in-law, Patrick Altier. “We have patents on several products he’s developed. He recently invented a valve that we can retrofit onto existing hot water tanks to greatly reduce the cost of a solar hot water installation.”

Biel, however, is quick to gloss over his own personal accomplishments and cite customers’ satisfaction as the true indication of Solar Trek’s success. The company only works in solar and never subcontracts its work. Fully insured Solar Trek employees install each unit, and Biel and Altier are often on-site supervising the installation. Jerry was pleased when both men arrived at his home to supervise the one-day installation of his system.

“They’re first-class,” Jerry says, “and very, very knowledgeable. Any questions I had, they could answer them.”

To date, Solar Trek has installed some 7,000 systems in its four-county area of Marion, Sumter, Alachua, and Citrus. They have exclusive agreements on many of the products they sell, including Heliocol, Solene, Smartcool, and Kyocera.

“We only use what we consider to be the highest quality products at the best possible price,” says Altier, who adds that he and Biel also make a point to test every system on their own homes first. “If I won’t use it on my home, I won’t sell it to my customers.”

“Solar is for everyone, from retirees to large families to businesses,” Altier continues. The company is currently installing solar hot water systems at several Marion County Fire Rescue stations. “It used to be exclusive to those with the disposable income to afford it. Now we have so many vehicles to get people into solar, it really is for anyone who doesn’t want to rent their power.”

As for Biel, the thrill of harnessing the sun’s rays to power everyday life has yet to lose its appeal.

“It’s still the most amazing thing to put a panel in the sun, and without any moving parts, it creates electricity,” he says. “It’s still exciting after all these years.”

Solar Trek

202 SW 33rd Avenue, Ocala

(352) 351-1333


Michael Chung of Heliocol Solar to Speak at Seminar

Michael Chung, from Heliocol Solar, will be the main speaker at Carefree's "Going Green" seminar on Saturday, Oct. 30 from 10-11 a.m. at the new Carefree Firestation No. 1, 37401 N. Tom Darlington, Carefree AZ.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Victor Welcomes Dealers to SPI

Our sales team is busy working the aisles of Solar Power International 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  Our own Magnificent Seven, Remo, Bob Z. Greg G. Loren, Doug, Duane, and Greg H., are representing UMA Solar to the world. They are working hard to strengthen our relationship with existing customers and to develop new business leads.

Our trade show team is supported by many of our east and west coast dealers, including: Vince of Solar Trek, Bill G. of Solar Fit, Bob Ellis of Environmental Solar, Rick White of Cal Solar and Ron H. of Solaron.  I am sure many more of our dealers will join our team and make the UMA Solar booth #4001 their home away from home.

 Good luck guys,


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Heliocol Collectors to Heat Preston Center Pool

The swimming pool at WKU’s Raymond B. Preston Health & Activities Center may be indoors but it’ll soon be heated by the sun.

A solar thermal array of 88 Heliocol collectors installed on the Preston Center roof will use the sun’s radiant energy to heat the pool. Each collector contains 3.7 gallons of fluid that will transfer heat from the sun to the pool water in a heat exchanger, keeping the pool a consistent 80-83 degrees, according to Christian Ryan-Downing, WKU’s sustainability coordinator.

“WKU is guaranteed to save at least $10,963 annually by reducing the amount of natural gas required for heating as a result of this installation,” said Dale Dyer, plant operations manager for WKU Facilities Management. “With an initial project investment of $96,410, these annual savings result in a project payback of 8.8 years.”

The solar energy project is part of an Energy Savings Performance Contract with Johnson Controls under way at WKU that includes $9.7 million in energy-reducing and facility improvements across the campus.

“WKU is very pleased that Johnson Controls was able to include renewable energy (naturally replenished) elements in our energy project,” said John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities. “The solar panels will significantly reduce the energy needed to heat our swimming pool, which is good for our environment and beneficial for our energy budget.”

The solar thermal collectors are manufactured by Heliocol and are distributed and installed by SunQuest Energy LLC. The same collectors were used to heat the swimming pool facilities for the Summer Olympic Games in 1996 in Atlanta and 2004 in Athens.

“We are very excited about the solar project at the Preston Center,” said Brad Stinnett, assistant director for facilities in the Department of Intramural-Recreational Sports. “There are very few campus recreational sports facilities across the country that have taken advantage of this application. This innovative project will help make the facility even more sustainable and we are appreciative that it was included in WKU’s Energy Savings Performance Contract.”

Ben Johnson, assistant director of Planning, Design and Construction, said other highlights of WKU’s ESPC include the following:

*38 existing buildings (3.5 million square feet) will be impacted with water and lighting improvements, including 35,000 indoor light fixtures and 1,402 occupancy sensors (saving 7.8 million kilowatt hours annually or equal to 709 homes) and 2,114 water saving fixtures and three rainwater collection applications (saving 20.3 million gallons of water annually or enough to meet the needs of 62 families)

*The project will reduce WKU’s greenhouse gas emissions by 21,487 metric tons annually.

*The project has a 15-year payback period, with a guaranteed cost avoidance of more than $1 million in utilities annually.

*The project will create or impact more than 200 jobs for the Commonwealth.

James Lupien Anniversary

National Logistics Manager James Lupien recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary with UMA Solar! Congratulations, James!

Free Crating in October

 UMA Solar is offering FREE CRATING on all Solene products through October. Take advantage of this limited-time offer for BIG solar savings!

Hofstetter Appointment

UMA Solar is pleased to announce the appointment of Gregory J. Hofstetter as National Account Specialist. In this newly created position, Hofstetter will focus on national large-scale commercial and industrial projects as well as on national retailers of UMA Solar products.

“Hofstetter’s experience and expertise will be a tremendous asset to UMA Solar,” said Robert Zrallack, vice president of UMA Solar.

Hofstetter brings 28 years of proven performance in national market development from the golf and pool industries.

“I am very excited to join UMA Solar’s team,” Hofstetter said. “I particularly look forward to introducing the breakthrough advantages of our one-of-a-kind solar preheating solutions to large commercial and industrial organizatons.”