I got a phone call one day from an elderly lady in the Blacksburg area of Virginia. She got my phone number off the company sticker on her solar tank. When I answered the phone, she introduced herself, said she was 80 years old and had one of my solar hot water systems, and it had quit working.
As a manufacturer, I didn’t have contact with most of the end users of my systems, so I have to establish some basic information to be able to help. I asked her how many collectors she had and she didn’t know. I asked her if she had just hot water or space heating as well. She said, “I heat my house with it and its not working”. I said, “OK, tell me how you know it is not working”.
She said, “I have a heat pump and when it runs by itself, the air coming out is not very warm. When the solar is working, the air coming out is much warmer. I haven’t felt that extra heat in a month and know the solar is not working”.
I called a friend who was a solar installer to go see her system. Sure enough, a control had gone bad and needed replacing. The lady was right!
There are several morals to this story. One is that there always must be a conventional heating system to carry the load when the solar system has run out of energy, or needs repair. This way, the owner always has hot water or space heating.
The second moral is about orphan systems. When the solar industry crashed in the late ’80s, there were many orphan systems with no support or maintenance. Many systems were removed when they quit working, even if a simple fix would get them going again.
Holocene Technologies is committed to full service on all Holocene Technologies solar systems. No more orphan systems!
– Dr. Ben