Thursday, June 6, 2013

New Solar Guide for HOA-Governed Neighborhoods

As part of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, The Solar Foundation (TSF) is pleased to announce the release of a new guide designed to educate homeowner association (HOA) boards and other leaders in planned communities on best practices for encouraging solar development while respecting community interests and maintaining local authority.

The guide, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: Encouraging Solar Development through Community Association Policies and Processes, helps HOA-governed communities overcome administrative roadblocks to pursuing solar energy. In a climate where the process for obtaining HOA approval for solar is too complex, or where restrictions present in architectural guidelines reduce or eliminate the economic benefit of investing in solar, the recommendations provided in TSF's guide can provide a clear path forward.

"Currently, approximately 13 million housing units in the United States are governed by homeowners associations," notes Philip Haddix, TSF Project Manager. "When architectural guidelines governing solar energy systems are unclear, when approval processes are overly complex, or when allowable restrictions reduce or eliminate the financial benefits of going solar, homeowners can be more reluctant to adopt solar. The recommendations presented in our guide provide HOA leaders with simple measures they can adopt to overcome these barriers to solar development."

TSF's guide provides examples of actual architectural guidelines in use across the nation today that have been developed to protect community interests (such as aesthetics, tree preservation and planting, and health & safety) while allowing for solar development to occur according to simply and effectively communicated design guidelines. In addition, and because HOAs are often permitted to place restrictions on solar development that may negatively impact system performance – and thus diminish the value of a homeowner's investment in solar – part of the guide is dedicated to helping community leaders understand the basic technical aspects of residential solar energy systems. Finally, because much of an HOA's ability to restrict solar development is dictated by any solar rights provisions on the books in a given state, a significant portion of the guide focuses on helping readers understand the nature of these provisions.

Ed Murray, President of Aztec Solar, Inc. in California, notes the importance of focusing on community education. "Many states have adopted solar rights provisions designed to prevent HOAs from prohibiting solar energy installations. Despite the existence of these laws, such as the California Solar Rights Act, there is still a widespread lack of understanding of what HOAs can or cannot control when it comes to solar."

The Solar Foundation is an independent national nonprofit working to demonstrate the global benefits of solar energy through public education & outreach efforts, high-level data collection, and innovative research. The guide was produced for the Department of Energy's Solar Outreach Partnership in support of the SunShot Initiative's goal to reduce the cost of solar energy in the U.S. by 75% by the year 2020. The Partnership works with local governments and their stakeholders to provide educational outreach and complimentary technical assistance, designed to help communities overcome specific local barriers to solar development.

SOURCE The Solar Foundation

Friday, May 31, 2013

Solar-Powered Father's Day Gifts 2013

Go green for Father's Day this year and surprise Dad with a fun (and useful) solar-powered gift!

The ultimate solar gift, of course, would be a complete household solar system. A solar pool heater, solar water heater or solar electric system is the gift that keeps on giving, reducing energy bills for years to come. But if you're looking for a great solar gift on a smaller budget, consider one of these innovative gadgets:

Solar BBQ

The COOKUP 200 Solar Grill
Is your dad the family grill-master? The COOKUP 200 uses the power of the sun to grill up delicious dinners with no smoke or CO2 emissions! The COOKUP 200 is designed and manufactured in France and reaches cooking temperatures close to 400 degrees F. The grill is quickly assembled, with no tools required, and conveniently collapses into a carry bag included with purchase. 

GPS Solar Watch

Seiko Astron
Seiko Astron GPS Solar Watch
Dads on the go will love the Seiko Astron, the world's first GPS solar watch. It recognizes all 39 times zones on earth and, using a low-energy consumption GPS receiver, it automatically identifies the time of day and time zone. The Astron is incredibly accurate, keeping time to one second every 100,000 years. Best of all, it takes all the energy it needs from light and never needs a battery.

Solar Radio/Flashlight/Cell Phone Charger

Microlink FR160
Eton Microlink FR160 Solar Radio
Like a Swiss Army knife, the Eton Microlink FR160 solar radio packs a lot of functionality into a small package. This self-powered radio can be charged using solar power or a hand crank, making it a convenient gadget for camping or emergencies. It receives AM and FM radio plus all 7 channels on the NOAA weatherband. Additional functions include an LED flashlight and a USB cell phone charger. Priced at just $30, the Microlink radio is budget-friendly, as well.

Solar Kettle

Sunrocket Solar Kettle and Thermos
Better than an ordinary thermos, the Sunrocket solar kettle boils water on the go, giving dad the ability to brew up hot drinks anywhere the sun shines. Using solar thermal technology the Sunrocket combines a vacuum tube with reflective panels to concentrate solar energy. It can heat 17 fluid ounces of liquid in 30 minutes and will retain heat for hours like a thermos. The hot water it produces can be used for drinking, washing, cooking or rehydrating foods. The heat treatment can also kill water borne bacteria.

Solar Hybrid Robotic Lawnmower

Husqvarna Automower
Husqvarna Automower Solar Hybrid Robotic Lawn Mower
Give Dad a rest from summer lawn care with the Husqvarna Automower Solar Hybrid. Similar to robotic household vacuum systems, the Automower cruises around the yard until the mowing is complete. It stays within underground boundary wires set by the homeowner and avoids any obstacles that are at least 6 inches tall. After an hour of mowing, the mower returns to its charging station for a boost before completing its job. A 12-watt solar panel on its back collects solar energy while an electric charging station provides additional power.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Solene - It's Not Your Grandpa's Solar Water Heater

The American solar water heating industry has experienced its share of ups and downs through the decades. While the benefits of solar water heating haven't changed much, the technology has. Early limitations that prevented solar water heating from reaching mass appeal have been eliminated, making modern day systems as convenient as traditional water heaters.

"We Put 'Em Up, Old Sol Does the Rest"

The first commercial solar water heater, the Climax, was introduced to California homeowners in the late 1800's. Patented by Clarence Kemp, the Climax sold for $25 and promised savings of about $9 per year in coal. An ad from the time, featuring a housewife in "Gibson Girl" attire and another family member in the bathtub, states, "We Put 'Em Up, Old Sol Does the Rest." 

Climax Solar Water Heater Ad Circa 1890
A circa 1890 advertisement for Climax Solar Water Heaters

The ad goes on to explain the benefits of solar hot water. "Hot Water…Without Fire, Without Cost, Without Inconvenience. Set on or set into (flush with) your roof will give you the luxury of hot water without the discomfort of maintaining a stove and heating the interior of your house."

But when cheap natural gas was discovered in southern California, the market for solar water heating systems in the area effectively dried up. In the following years, interest in solar hot water remained limited to warm, sunbelt states because the systems couldn't withstand freezing temperatures.

Carter Era Boon

Nearly a century later, a combination of generous government incentives and a rise in fuel prices brought about a renewed interest in solar water heating. By the early 1980's, it seemed as if every new house had a solar water heating system installed. DIY solar water heating plans were popular, as well, with Americans building systems from a wide array of materials.

This boon spawned a plethora of problems, however. While some manufacturers sold and installed high-quality systems still in existence today, other disreputable salesmen and poorly trained installers took advantage of homeowners. These non-professionals put systems on rooftops which failed to generate the expected energy performance or panels that leaked due to improper installations. A lot of these systems, and many of the DIY panels, suffered freeze damage making them even less desirable.

By 1986, tax rebates disappeared, oil prices plummeted and most solar manufacturers and contractors went out of business.

All the Convenience of Traditional Hot Water Systems

Following the "solar crash" of 1986, a handful of professional manufacturers continued to develop improved solar water heating technology. Solene solar hot water systems, for example, manufactured and distributed by UMA Solar, are at the forefront of today's solar water heating industry.

Solene systems feature all the convenience and reliability of traditional hot water systems combined with the substantial savings and environmentally-friendly benefits of solar water heating. 

Solene Aurora Solar Water Heater Collector
The Solene Aurora solar water heating collector combines efficiency with convenience.

Solene systems are the highest-rated in the industry and can be configured for all climates and weather conditions. With certifications including FSEC, SRCC, ISO 9001:2000, OG-100 and OG-300, Solene systems and collectors qualify for current federal, state and utility company rebates and incentives. These incentives, combined with significant monthly energy savings, make Solene solar water heating systems a great investment. Most Solene systems pay for themselves within 5 years. Because these systems typically last 20 years, homeowners can enjoy an additional 15 years of free hot water.

Today's eco-conscious consumers can appreciate solar water heating for more than the financial rewards, however. By investing in solar energy, consumers reduce their carbon footprint, reduce dependence on fossil fuels and leave a legacy of clean energy for generations to come.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Study Reveals Enormous Potential for Solar Thermal Technology

According to international energy experts, solar thermal technology could replace almost a sixth of the world’s low-temperature heating use by 2050.

Yesterday, Paolo Frankl of the International Energy Agency (IEA) presented a technology roadmap for solar heating and cooling at the International Conference on Solar Heating and Cooling in Buildings and Industry. The study found that a stable, long-term policy framework for solar heating and cooling should be a key task for governments in the coming decades.

The Paris-based IEA says solar energy has the potential to tackle climate change and strengthen global energy security, particularly when used in low-temperature heating and cooling applications. Clean, renewable solar power could replace fossil fuels used for heating and electricity for hot water and for heating buildings.

"The IEA's Solar Heating and Cooling Roadmap confirms the great opportunity that lies in using solar thermal to replace fossil fuels and electricity,” says Werner Weiss, chairman of the IEA Solar Heating and Cooling Programme, which provided important expertise to the roadmap. “It rightly identifies reliable long-term framework conditions as the key challenge for the coming years. And, it does not overlook the role of non-economic factors that currently hinder an even quicker adoption of solar thermal energy technologies.”

Heliocol solar panels are successfully used in industrial solar water preheating applications.
Solar water pre-heating successfully makes use of low-temperature solar thermal technology to 
reduce dependance on fossil fuels and electricity. This large-scale, industrial pre-heating system 
uses Heliocol solar collectors.

Without decisive action, energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide will more than double by 2050 and increased oil demand will heighten global concerns over the security of supplies, says IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven.

“We can and must change our current path, but this will take an energy revolution and low-carbon energy technologies will have a crucial role to play,” says van der Hoeven.

Among solar thermal applications, hot water production and space heating are the most important. By 2050, 213 Million Tons of Oil Equivalent (MTOE) could be covered by solar energy, the IEA finds. The nascent market for solar heat for industrial processes could be the second largest with 171 MTOE in 2050. Solar swimming pool heating and solar cooling could provide another 45 MTOE. 

The IEA says it is calling on all stakeholders to work toward realizing the vision outlined in the roadmap, with a specific call for governments to take a lead role in creating a favorable investment climate by creating a stable, long-term policy framework for solar heating and cooling.

Sudden changes in available financial support have proven detrimental to the development of a healthy solar thermal industry in many countries. Therefore, the IEA concludes, economic incentive schemes should be independent from state budgets to avoid "stop-and-go.” 

However, support policies should not only focus on economic aspects, the IEA says. In many regions of the world, solar thermal is already cost-competitive with conventional technologies, but barriers, such as higher upfront investment and lack of trained installers keep people from choosing solar heating and cooling.

According to the IEA, more research and development could jump-start the adoption of solar heating and cooling solutions in emerging areas, such as heat for industrial processes and cooling.

Governments should provide the necessary R&D funds to support these developments, the organization says.

"We can only underline the importance of research, demonstration and development,” says IEA SHC chairman Weiss. “Our program provides a very successful framework for international cooperation in the research on solar thermal and solar buildings. By working together, governments can help achieve our even more ambitious goal: to supply, by 2030, 50 percent of the low-temperature heat demand with solar energy.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Local Solar Company Educates San Luis Obispo County Residents on the Benefits of Heliocol Solar Pool Heating

Solarponics, a Heliocol solar pool heating dealer in California, is working to educate San Luis Obispo County residents about solar pool heating and how it can benefit the environment, pool usage and pocketbooks.

Solarponics is the longest continuously-owned and operated solar company in California. The company wants residents to understand that solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar and has the fastest return on investment.

“If you are heating your pool with gas the payback is usually around three years and if you are heating it with electricity then the payback is likely one year. After the payback period then its free heat for years and years. Its very similar to conventional heating methods except you are utilizing free energy,” said Kristian Emrich, Vice President of Solarponics.

A beautiful Heliocol solar pool heating installation on arbor roofs by Solarponics in California.
A beautiful Heliocol solar pool heating installation by Solarponics in California. The solar
collectors are installed on the pergola roofs for maximum efficiency and aesthetics.

The initial cost of solar pool heating is comparable with other popular pool heating methods, electric and gas, without the operating costs. Furthermore, solar pool heating systems keep your pool warm for months longer than typical heating methods. Solarponics clients reported being able to utilize their pool up to four months longer than before.

Solar pool heating panels heat the water by capturing heat from the sun and transferring it to the pool using solar collectors, or tubes, which are different from Photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. A pump circulates the water from the pool through a filter, then through the collectors to heat the water before returning it to the pool.

“Solar pool heating is a very simple concept. If the temperature of the panels is greater than the temperature of the pool water, the system turns on and starts pumping water through the collectors. Typically the system runs with your filtration schedule so that your energy bills do not increase, rather your pool pump multi-tasks,” said Emrich.

Solar pool heating systems are operated automatically, ensuring the pool stays the perfect temperature. Solarponics only uses Heliocol collectors, the same collectors utilized by the summer Olympic games.

Monday, June 18, 2012

UMA Solar Corporate Office Now Hiring in Central Florida

Are you ready for a career in solar? UMA Solar, manufacturer and distributor of the industry's highest-performing solar products for residential and commercial applications nationwide, is now hiring at the corporate office in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

The Solar Energy Industries Association predicts that by 2016, increased demand for residential and commercial solar installations will add hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs in research and development, manufacturing, construction, sales and marketing, and other fields. Have you considered joining the “green collar” workforce?

UMA Solar is seeking candidates for the following positions within the Marketing and Engineering departments:

Marketing and Communications Specialist

The Marketing Communications Specialist is responsible for content management, graphic design, research, and much more. This position is an integral part of the marketing department. The right candidate will be able to work independently, as well as collaboratively within a team. There is a lot of freedom of creativity with this position, but with that includes the responsibility of producing results. Below is only an overview of the position. Each day is different and brings with it new tasks and duties.

  • Press releases
  • Product bulletins
  • Company newsletters
  • Website content
  • Industry articles
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Literature content

  • Market research
  • Competitor research
  • Product research
  • Industry research

  • Write and update company blog
  • Regularly administer and update company presence on social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Research and identify new social media opportunities to further promote the company and its brands.
  • Assist with the production of company videos for YouTube and other web sites.

  • Write website content optimized for search engines containing keywords, backlinks, social share, etc.
  • General understanding of search engine marketing concepts including keyword research, metadata, and link building.
  • Utilize website analytic software to determine strengths and opportunities for improvement.

  • Respond to dealer correspondence
  • Create, prepare, and edit presentations
  • Update and maintain dealer contact database
  • Utilize Customer Relationship Management software
  • Coordinate with sales department to make sure projects are properly implemented
  • Administrative assistance and support for the Director of Marketing

  • Company meetings
  • Tradeshows
  • Dealer reward trips
  • Review and order necessary collateral and promotional items
  • Identify marketing opportunities within tradeshows
  • Inventory and organize tradeshow booths
  • Analyze and recommend new tradeshow opportunities

  • In need of the right candidate with a sense of urgency and project ownership to coordinate and support the Marketing Department's four goals:
1. Develop leads for the Sales Department and Company Dealers
2. Promote the company and its brands to the industry and general public
3. Maintain and strengthen established relationships with national network of dealers.
4. Ensure Company's business development initiatives are based on thoroughly researched market data.
  • Required proficiency in Microsoft Office including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook
  • Required proficiency in Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Premiere, After Effects) or comparable software.
  • Marketing, Public Relations, or Business degree preferred, but can be substituted with relevant experience and stable career history
  • Enjoys working for a results oriented company in a casual and modern work environment
  • Takes initiative
  • Coachable
  • Can work under the pressure of the occasional tight deadline
  • Reports directly to Director of Marketing

  • Full-time position
  • Compensation is salary
  • Full medical, dental, and vision benefits provided after 90-day probationary period.
  • Eligible for company sponsored retirement plan with company match after one full year of employment.
  • Paid Time Off (PTO).
  • Paid Holidays.
  • Typical work week is Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, but longer days and weekends are occasionally necessary based on project requirements.

Please reply with:

1. Copy of your resume and salary history
2. Cover letter detailing why you feel you are a great candidate for this position
3. Examples of previous work. This can include articles, press releases, interviews, graphics, print collateral, online collateral, videos or any other item you personally created in previous work experience.

Please submit to:
UMA Solar
950 Sunshine Lane, Altamonte Springs, Florida  32714

Engineering Assistant / Experienced Engineer

  •  Specific knowledge in:
    • Mechanical engineering
    • Thermodynamics of water systems
    • Modeling in programs with energy system profiles
    • Capable of solving complex engineering solutions
  • Familiarity with solar water heating a plus
  • Familiarity with AutoCad a plus
  • Familiarity with process of product certifications
  • Technical writing and communication skills

Salary negotiable with experience.
Part-time or Full time position

Please submit your resume to:
950 Sunshine Lane, Altamonte Springs, Florida  32714

UMA Solar manufactures and distributes the industry's highest-performing solar products for residential and commercial applications nationwide. UMA Solar features industry-leading products including Heliocol, the world's top solar pool heating systems; Solene Solar Water Heating Systems utilizing the industry's highest-rated domestic water heating systems with more than 100 OG-300 systems available; and, Heliolectric, photovoltaic (PV) solar electric equipment packages, individual components and complete systems. UMA Solar offers its products through its network of more than 700 dealers nationwide. Five distribution locations are strategically placed throughout the U.S. for convenient and continuous availability. For more information, call UMA Solar at 1-800-79-SOLAR or visit

Monday, June 4, 2012

UMA Solar to Display Advanced Solar Thermal Technology at Intersolar North America

UMA Solar will feature advanced solar thermal technology as the centerpiece of the company's exhibit at Intersolar North America, July 10-12, 2012 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Calif.

At booth #7916, visitors can obtain information on UMA Solar's products and services including SunStar and Heliocol solar pool heating systems and Aurora solar hot water collectors by Solene.

"We're proud to feature our flagship solar pool heating systems," said UMA Solar Director of Marketing Tod Ellington. "SunStar's unique technical features, including individual tube design, ultra-efficient operation, one-piece 'overmolded' construction and innovative, strap-free mounting system, make it an ideal collector for use in commercial and residential solar pool heating applications.

SunStar solar pool heating systems are ideal for both commercial and residential solar pool heating applications.
SunStar solar pool heating systems are ideal for both
commercial and residential solar pool heating applications.

"Heliocol is also designed for both commercial and residential use," Ellington added, "making it a favorite choice among the most exclusive clients in the industry since 1977."

A large Heliocol solar pool heating installation saves money while keeping the outdoor pool at UC San Diego warm and comfortable.
A large Heliocol commercial solar pool heating installation at UC San Diego.

Aurora solar panels, also to be displayed, generate more energy per square foot than any other collector, making it the best flat-plate collector on the market.

An impressive array of Aurora Solene solar water heating collectors at the exclusive Admiral's Cove yacht club in Florida.
An impressive array of Aurora Solene solar water heating collectors
at the exclusive Admiral's Cove yacht club in Florida.

"Aurora's durable design provides years of convenient, free energy with the convenience of traditional water heating systems," said Ellington.