University of Vermont

Students on the Lawn

Solar Thermal Calculations and Installation Certification

by Jack Lehrecke '12, CEF Summer Intern


         Over the last couple of weeks we have finally finished writing up the photovoltaic installation proposals for all university owned facilities and parking lots and have subsequently moved on to other technologies. I have finished my preliminary research on solar thermal hot water installations and I have begun to apply what I have learned to the feasibility study in the form of output calculations for various buildings. Additionally, we have started to investigate optimal installation locations for geothermal heating, wind turbines and an anaerobic digester. The Miller Farm installation is nearing completion as all the panels and inverters have been successfully installed and all that remains is trimming the racking system over the skylights.



          Additionally, I have begun researching the various requirements needed to obtain a certification to install PV projects. NABCEP is the organization that controls the certification process and they set the standards in the country needed to apply for a license. In order to qualify applicants must be 18 or older, attend a minimum of 10 hours of OSHA approvedconstruction safety training, and pass the NABCEP solar PV installer examination. The examination has its own prerequisites, which require candidates to meet a number of specifications presented in one of five categories. I plan to further investigate these sub requirements during the upcoming interview with the construction team involved in the Miller Farm installation.


Heliodyne System (Source:


         I was very excited to begin my work with writing output reports for our proposed solar thermal hot water installations as the technology is new to me. One of the constraints with solar water is summer time usage, as facilities will almost always use less waterin the summer months. Unfortunately all of the hot water generated via the solar collectors needs to be used unless heat dumps are installed with the system and these are expensive and not very cost effective. Therefore when the system size is considered it needs to be designed to meet all of the hot water demand for the building during the months of June and July, and may only generate from 50-75% of the winter demand. This is an issue for our particular study as the vast majority of residential buildings on campus are empty during the summer and even those that are used for summer courses are sparsely populated. Even with these restraints there are multiple facilities that could save a substantial amount of energy through hot water and I look forward to further investigating those possibilities.