Devon – Wall Cladding Integrated Solar Water Heating Panels

Devon – Wall Cladding Integrated Solar Water Heating Panels

We installed solar water heating panels at Birks Hall of Residence at Exeter University, Devon. Plenty of panels have been installed at Universities in many countries, but what makes the installation at Exeter unusual is that the solar panels are not mounted in or on the roof, but have been built into the walls of the building, as the picture shows.

As you can see the building is in a modern style and the solar water heating panels add to the architectural unity of the design of the building. In case you cannot spot the panels, I should explain that the panels are mounted in the wall either side of the central windows. Two panels are mounted together making a black square of solar thermal framed by windows on either side.

Overall, the addition of panels to the structure is entirely within the building frame. It is an economical and aesthetically pleasing solution to fitting renewable energy technology to a new building.

John Turner of Celtic Renewable Energy writes ” The new building at Birks Grange is part of a multi million pound expansion plan by the University of Exeter, and is to be used for student accommodation. The main contractors are Cowlin Construction, with Mitie Ltd doing the M & E work.

The 16 Award Winning TS330M solar water heating panels are split into two banks of 8 (left and right). The pipework from the panels travels some 35 metres to the basement of the building to feed two 700 litre unvented preheat cylinders, each having its own pump station and controlled by one controller which is able to run the pumps independently of each other depending on whichever cylinder is calling for heat.

The main feature of this project is the TS330M Solar Thermal panels. Prior to any work starting there are always meetings. At these meetings it was made very clear that the panels were required to ‘blend in’ so that the end result would be pleasing to the eye and not look as though the panels were an after thought. A plus factor in having a company like Hot Solar Water as your main supplier is that you can call upon their expertise, and with over forty years in the industry you know they aren’t going to let you down, which is particularly important on a high profile project such as this.

The technicians in Germany set about designing a completely new housing for the Horizontal solar panels to give them a “picture frame” appearance, which would be mounted on the vertical wall next to the south facing windows of the building. Once the design work had been sorted it was also important to make sure the paint colour (Ral number) matched that of the windows and the rest of the cladding used on the building. Panels and frames were duly put in place without any problems, and the overall effect is very satisfying both in aesthetics and functionality.”