September 6, 2011 | 7 Comments
The MSRP is $2749.00 Canadian. One panel per 1000 square feet, more north than Maine’s northern tip. The basic collector is made using recycled soda pop cans.
Amazing. This thermal panel works astonishingly well. Note – don’t test the thermal conductivity of an aluminum can with a heat source that can burn skin – the cans conduct heat very quickly.
Jim Meaney of Colliers, Newfoundland, Canada first started experimenting with his solar panel idea back in 1977 more or less as a hobby until 1989. He tried different styles and prototypes until finally developing and testing the current Model RA 240 SOLAR MAX (RA240) with the assistance of Canada’s National Research Council. In 1992, Jim received an honorable mention from the Innovation Center in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
In 1994 Mr. Meaney formed Cansolair Inc. and continued further development of his prototype until receiving the safety and electrical certifications. In 2003, Jim received one of Canada’s Regional Innovation Awards for his contribution to the advancement to sustainable development. Cansolair’s solar heating panels have since achieved REDI Compliance (Renewable Energy Deployment Initiative), qualifying them for a 25% Commercial and Institutional rebate for Canadians.
So far as your humble writer can tell, Mr. Meaney was and is barely coming out from true home garage innovation and development. The design has been around awhile – but this is truly a self-reliant individualist story. The Cansolair (RA 240) has been on the market since 2001 with sales growing exponentially. Since 2003, Cansolair has continued to develop its network internationally and has sent its solar heating product to over ten countries.
At long last media coverage has increased the public’s awareness of the economic and environmental benefit of using solar energy to help heat homes and businesses. Cansolair expects to see increased demand for its product as more people decide to become a part of the solar solution and get free heating without pollution.
An RA240 is a forced convection solar heating – which means the air of the home is cycled into the solar panel – no energy lost warming something then warming the air. Another advantage is a dwelling of 1000 square feet would have a complete air change in one and half hours.
A quiet and powerful fan draws the relatively cooler and heavier air through a filter from near the floor at ninety cubic feet per minute. The filtered air is pumped through first check valve that keeps the air going only one way to the specially modified collector core, and then back into your living space through second check valve near the ceiling. The check valves stop convection, provide a barrier and allow a thermostat to control the introduction of heat into a living space.
Meaney has built a new product from the intense effort of the aluminum industry to answer the needs of the individual drink serving container business. Between aluminum, steel, plastic and glass, aluminum is a winner. It’s because the industry has learned to draw a very small amount of aluminum into a cup and attach a sealing lid a very low cost. That very thin wall allows near instant heat transfer and high efficiency.
Meany in his turn exploits that very thin aluminum can by making the tube after cutting out the ends and building up a tube with the remaining base of the can promoting turbulence and increasing the efficiency.
Manufacturing is a short list of processes. The result is a very light and strong thermal collector. The low costs of the now sophisticated recycled cans into solar to heat transfer allows Meaney to spend big on a long lived cover acting as a sophisticated lens, the manifolds at the ends of the tube array and to provide for air handling.
An RA240 has 15 vertical columns of cylindrical tubes built up from the cans, making the actual surface exposed to the sun in a dimension of a four by seven foot rectangle or 28 square feet, a bit more than 2.6 square meters. The columns are laid out under the lens cover with a convex shape promoting a longer period of high exposure. The tubes are coated with the most conductive black paint available for solar collectors.
Meaney is building using a lexan outer cover, which allows sunlight in and is resistant to the elements. Homeowner’s insurers will be pleased in the wind and hail zones. The frame is powder coated Galvalume and insulated. The manifolds or headers are also aluminum. The air is driven with a capacitor start motor with a backward curved impeller cage fan.
The RA240 has a quick response rate of 8 minutes from the appearance of sun to “cut-in” based on a 100º F output temperature. The Model RA 240 Solar Max uses a lexan outer cover, which allows sunlight in and is resistant to the elements. Check the website for a complete list of the features.
Solar heating has been considered too expensive and impractical, with too long a pay-back.
Keep in mind Meaney and his company are thinking from a “way up north” perspective. The Cansolair RA240 is only going to work better as locations more to the south are considered. A little venting to a heat sink could save some heat for overnight.
Shopping for lowering energy use, saving money, going ‘green’, first adopters – well about anyone looking for a great way to warm up a home or business has to put the Cansolair model on the research and shopping list.
It’s a company bound to take off. Dealer inquiries are on the site. Perhaps a manufacturing license can be negotiated.
Get the collector past the wind and hail insurance barrier and it’ll be a major success! $2,749C – Do you suppose that includes the install?