“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” –Steve Jobs
The math is the math is the math. During the heating season, 2 therms per sq ft of heat is the most usable solar energy Seattle can expect in a good year. In the worst of years it's closer to 1.5. In Western WA natural gas prices have hovered around a $1.00 a therm for years. So a Sunreps solar space heating collectors produces about $1.85 sf per if it is facing true south.
Sunreps has been working with geotextile collectors since 2009. Sunreps started as a manufacturer's rep company selling a metal transpired solar collector (solar space heating collector) manufactured by ATAS’sInternational, Inc. Placing the metal non-glazed collectors on a builidng's southwall typically ran between $30-$40 a sq. ft. Their simple financial payback in years ranged between 20-27 years without incentives, in Seattle. That’s a tough sell. In 2011 Sunreps and ATAS discontinued the relationship.
Thinking outside-the-box of the known world of solar was now required if Sunreps was to continue working in solar in Western WA.
An old and little tested NREL "fabric- solar technology patent" was now the only avenue available to Sunreps because it was the only option where the math worked. The definition of making the math work in Seattle is: a collector has to cost less than half of any other known collector. It has to be lightweight, rugged, easy to work with and require no expensive soft-cost in labor or technical expertise to fabricate and install. The NREL patent for a "low-conductive transpired solar collector" had all the fundamental elements necessary to make the solar math work in Seattle. Thus Sunreps set its new course to produce the most cost-effective solar collector on the market and licensed the NREL patent.
Just as Solarwall, the original metal transpired solar collector had done 27 years earlier, Sunreps initiated an installation of its new fabric collector design in the poultry sector. Poultry barns are tailor-made for solar space heating collectors. Poultry barns need to keep their chicks at about 90 degrees for three weeks straight. Pre-heating the barn’s required fresh air saves both fossil fuel costs and improves the chicken’s living environment. Heating a poultry house is one of the major expenses in growing chickens.
Again, just like Solarwall, Sunreps spent a few years of trial and error to finally find a successful path to a cost-effective solar space heating collector system. Southwestern Sales Co of Rogers, AK a long time poultry sector manufacturer and supplier, saw the value of Sunreps’ collectors and partnered with Sunreps late in 2016 to fabricate, distribute and install collectors throughout the Western Hemisphere.