New rooftop solar collectors at SUNY Canton making hot water cheaper
Wednesday, September 29, 2010 - 9:16 am

CANTON -- SUNY Canton alternative and renewable energy systems students have made hot water cheaper and greener at the college's Blanche K. Woodcock Alumni House.

A class of solar utilization students installed two rooftop heat collectors to learn about solar thermal systems and to benefit the home.

Students were involved in the process from start to finish, gaining experience in discussing the benefits of renewable energy, technical training in determining material needs, costs, scheduling and layout. They made two presentations to the College Foundation and facilities personnel to garner support for the project.

The students then installed the two solar collectors on the roof of the house and made plumbing connections to the existing hot water system. The roof-mounted collectors utilize solar energy to warm antifreeze, which in turn warms water for showers, cooking, laundry, and other uses throughout the house. Much like conventional hot water heating, the newly installed system stores the water in a tank for later use.

“A solar thermal system is one of the most cost effective ways to reduce fossil fuel energy consumption for residential applications,” said Matthew D. Bullwinkel, associate professor of engineering technology who taught the course. “The students did an excellent job adapting the new technology to the existing structure.”

Throughout the summer, the system produced storage tank temperatures well over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the minimum recommended temperature setting for hot water tanks.

“The system performed well,” Bullwinkel noted. “Many people don't think there is enough sun in Northern New York to use the solar collectors. We actually have enough sunlight to produce more hot water than is currently used at the house.”

SUNY Canton students will continue to maintain the system and use it as learning tool. The system will also be used for research into solar hot water performance in the area.

“Being able to collect data from an actual residential setting versus what we would get from simulating one in a lab has been great,” Bullwinkel added. “We're appreciative of the overwhelming support we received from Dr. Kennedy, the College Foundation, the Canino School of Engineering Technology, and our facilities department.”