Maryland Management spends more $2 million heating hot
water for the tenants of Crain Court Apartments each
year. Company President Jim Clauson decided to do
something about it.
In what Clauson and others say could be the largest
project of its kind in the county, the firm is having
two different solar hot water heating systems installed
in two of its buildings in the complex off Crain Highway
in Glen Burnie.
Once Clauson has had sufficient time to see which
system works the best, he plans to install them in his
other complexes around the area - potentially providing
solar-heated water for up to 9,400 apartments.
John Love, owner of Severn-based Love's Heating &
Air, said this is the largest solar hot water system
he's ever installed.
"Our systems should give him no less than 50 percent
or better reduction on each building we do," he said.
"Our goal is 70 percent."
The two systems, which include 1,000 called solar
evacuated tubes instead of solar panels, went live on
The specially coated, glass tubes are installed in a
holding mechanism on the rooftop of the apartment
buildings. Sunlight hits the coating, which in turn
heats a copper rod inside the tube.
The rod sticks out of the end of the tube, touching a
copper pipe that runs to the hot water system. The pipe
contains a water/antifreeze solution, which transfers
the heat to water stored in tanks.
Both systems, which each have different design
elements, have two back up 120-gallon hot water tanks in
case the water needs to be heated more before it goes to
Clauson estimated the two-building pilot project at
Crain Court Apartments, which has 126 apartments, will
cost his company about $100,000.
With a 30 percent Federal tax credit and possible
state grants, Love said Clauson could expect to be earn
his expenses back within four years.
Normally, a management company would hire a
contractor like Love and that contractor would purchase
and install the solar tubes. In this case, Clauson
bought the tubes from two different manufacturers so he
could each out. Those suppliers referred him to Love.
"The tubes are much more efficient in what they
produce," Clauson said. "The biggest bang for the buck."
Nate Greenleaf, a technician from manufacturer Eos
Solar, is working as technical advisor on the project.
He said solar panels are simply outdated.
"In 60 degree or less weather, a flat panel will lose
its heat back to the cold ambient air," he said.
"Because a vacuum tube acts like a thermos bottle, the
energy isn't lost."
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