Re-installation of Sky Power Solar Water Heating Systems by Insurance Contracted Plumbers
For many years we have taken pride in the quality, the reliability and high performance of our solar installation. We have earned the respect of our customers and won their confidence that we will always do an outstanding job at maintaining the efficiency and cost effectiveness of their systems.
In recent weeks we have become aware, after the fact, that some of our installations have had geysers changed by the customer’s “Insurance Company Contracted Plumbers”.
Unfortunately many insurance companies insist that they use their sub-contracted plumbers to carry out geyser changes in the event that the geyser has burst. The images below are examples of some of the work such sub-contractors have carried out.
Subsequent to the geyser being changed, some customers have contacted us to “Check Out”their systems as they “seem to have not been performing as well as they had previously”.
This is what a Typical Sky Power installation looks like…
It is neat and tidy. It provides for draw and return of water to and from the solar collector. It provides the necessary secondary temperature measuring port and continues to utilize the manufacture’s safety thermostat. On the hot side :- temperature is measured via an additional thermostat pocket which reaches into the geyser. It is safe, there is no danger of fire or risk to servicing personnel.
This is typical of what the some of our customers have after insurance approved plumbers had replaced their geyser having removed and discarded the solar conversion flange in favour of their own technique.
Thermostat Missing – therefore no safety cut out – allows element to boil the geyser.
Bare wires pushed into the element have caused them to burn and melt the Element insulator.
Notice the black smoke mark on the flange.
Pump has moved to cold water inlet, far from the T2 temperature sensor –
This will make the system ineffective as it will cause the pump to circulate without reference to accurate temperature readings.
The next two images show the hot side connections of the geyser.
Returning water via a T connector behind the TP valve renders the TP valve ineffective at the purpose for which it is intended, (potentially making the installation unsafe) and will in many cases open repeatedly when the geyser is up to temperature and the collector is stagnant.
T3 Solar Temp Sensor clamped to hot water pipe without any insulation.
This will falsely under-read and cause excessive use of heating element :–
Lack of the Thermostat will cause the geyser to boil.
This will prevent any solar benefit and will cause frequent discharge from TP valve.
Another example at a different site where the T3 sensor has been clamped to the hot water pipe almost half a meter away from the geyser outlet and again without any insulation.
This is the primary temperature measurement in such systems. Without this temperature reference no solar heating benefit will be derived. In fact it will cause additional losses causing the element to be on for
most of the time.
The retro fitting of solar panels to geysers is of course perfectly acceptable and commonplace but does require that accurate temperature measurement is provided and that circulation to and from the solar collector is handled correctly.
This was possible on many of the older geysers that used the Satchwell type of “screw in” element with a built in thermostat pocket and where there was also a separate thermostat pocket in the geyser.
Even the clamping of temperature probes to external pipework can be sufficient in certain circumstances, provided it it close to the output of the geyser and well insulated.
The problems occur when poorly trained staff expecting just to swap an electric geyser out are faced with a solar conversion.
Certain sub-contractors are transforming safe and highly efficient solar water heating systems to an ineffective collection of components that provides no benefit to it owner.
It has created the”appearance of a working system” but in reality “all heating is now being derived from electrical energy”.
Disclaimer: I have no idea which insurance companies or contractors have been involved in the provision of these services and am not pointing any fingers.
I do however encourage my customers to call us before contacting their insurance companies, We will happily assist in ensuring that your system is re-built as it should be and will continue to function as it was intended saving at least 85% on water heating costs.