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Green Smart Magazine : GreenSmart 2010
Its construction contains no moving parts and is built almost entirely from two recyclable materials with a slimline design -- steel and polycarbonate plastic. The polycarbonate plastic sheet can be recycled therefore reducing the need for landfill of the material, and it doesn't contain any halogens, softeners, stabilisers, plasticisers or emit any toxins. 'SolaMate is actually manufactured in Alphington [an inner-eastern Melbourne suburb], rather than being shipped in from overseas. It's good to make sustainable products, but we use sustainable practices too,' Dave says. Costwise, Dave says the return on the investment period ranges between three and seven years. Depending on the size of the application -- a three-bedroom house would typically require two SolaMate panels -- the complete SolaMate/HRV ducted system starts from $5200 fully installed. Some of its competitors start at $3000 not including installation, and only heat one room, not an entire house. 'The HIA GreenSmart Product of the Year Award immediately gives us credibility that Australia's building industry recognises that we've made a significant development,' Dave says. Starting in residential and with later plans to tap into the commercial market, the sky's the limit for SolaMate. For more information, call 1800 287 685, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.sola-mate.com. gs Essentially, SolaMate is a solar panel that is an 'add-on' to the HRV whole home ventilation system. It doesn't operate on its own, but works as a 'super-charger' that boosts the existing system. 'It makes the peaks higher and the troughs lower,' Dave explains. However, Dave stresses that SolaMate will not provide a complete solution to reducing energy emissions. 'It's not the silver bullet, but it will make a huge reduction and we are so excited that we can educate lots of people on solar air technology,' he says. Fundamental to the design is its ease of installation. SolaMate is lightweight, strong, easy to transport and doesn't require maintenance. To install it, there are just three steps: the roof tiles need to be removed (or a hole cut in a metal roof ), the mounting rails and weather flashing are put in place on the roof, and then the panel is secured. 'Two SolaMate panels can be installed on a tile roof by two certified plumbers in just two hours,' Dave says. The panel has a large collector area and a highly efficient collector design. It needed to be large enough to harvest significant radiation, while efficient, lightweight and able to be manufactured in high volume. This sets it apart from typical solar air panels, which are either very heavy thus expensive to install, and not cost effective as they don't scale up in size easily. The core technology is a simple plastic extrusion with a honeycomb cross section. Its use is threefold: it allows sunlight to penetrate the outer plastic surface, which then heats the collector core, and finally remains trapped by the triple glazing. Individual channels for the air can then transfer the heat across the surface of the panel, where the heated air is fanned through a medical grade filter and ducted throughout the house. Another benefit is that the system works well at night during summer. The panel captures the cooler air as the sun goes down and replaces the hot indoor air by continuously delivering it into the house throughout the night. HRV's clever set-and-forget thermostat controller automatically detects when cooler or warmer temperatures are reached, and then simply turns the system on or off. 'TWO PANELS CAN BE INSTALLED ON A TILE ROOF BY TWO CERTIFIED PLUMBERS IN JUST TWO HOURS' greensmart 2010 47 BELOW: SolaMate can be retrofitted to existing homes. Australia comprises more than eight million homes, most built within the past 150 years. Instead of buying a new house, why not green-up your own? Research from Murdoch University shows that solar air heating and cooling can reduce greenhouse gases by about one tonne per household a year -- that's a possible eight million tonne saving, achieved using existing, cheap, retrofitted technology. While SolaMate can be applied to the new home market, a huge benefit is that it can be retrofitted to existing homes. As Dave Kennedy, director of HRV explains, 'It's pretty common knowledge that the home improvement market is a multi-billion dollar industry, and SolaMate can help make an immediate impact on these older homes.' ideas everyone can use