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FAFCO’s CoolPV Lets You Heat Water and Produce Electricity Using the Same Roof Space!

by | Apr 17, 2017 | Energy

Alright, my fellow solar enthusiasts—this one’s for you. For too long we’ve had to settle for anticlimactic solar headlines relating to marginal improvements in solar panel efficiencies. For too long the names “Shockley” and “Queissier” have taunted researchers around the world who are looking for that next big efficiency breakthrough.

But no more!

Today there’s a new option in the home solar space that promises up to four times more energy than traditional solar electric systems, and you better believe those aren’t just laboratory numbers. No, the aptly named CoolPV enhanced solar electric system is the first commercially viable residential PV solution capable of generating electricity and heating water using the same panel on the same roof space. 

So what does this mean for the average homeowner who’s still on the fence about going solar? It means pool season just got longer, my friend. That and you stand to save a lot more on your monthly electric bill with CoolPV as opposed to a regular solar electric system.

Of course, you’ll need a pool or a similarly powerful need for hot water in order to realize the added benefits of CoolPV, but provided you’re one of the 14 million residential pool or spa owners in the U.S., this solar hybrid solution is the means of generating power in a cleaner, more efficient, more economical manner.

How does it work? Well, to understand that we first ought to talk about the folks behind CoolPV—the pioneering solar thermal manufacturer FAFCO, Inc. Founded in 1969—and well before there was anything that even resembled the modern U.S. Solar industry—FAFCO pioneered the use of engineered polymers in solar thermal solutions which replaced a costly, difficult-to-install copper technology in use at the time.

Almost half a century and two million sold heat exchangers later, FAFCO successfully developed CoolPV after a collaboration with the U.S. Navy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

“After more than ten years of development, we were finally able to combine a PV module with one of our engineered polymer heat exchangers and create a commercially viable combined solar thermal and solar electric panel,” said Freeman Ford, Founder and Chairman of FAFCO. “In addition to heating their pools, the electric power generated by the solar panels in CoolPV can reduce a customer’s electrical bill by 50% or more.”

The genius of CoolPV is that it tackles the fundamental problem that has plagued researchers for decades—namely that while solar panels naturally need sunlight to operate, the higher temperatures that accompany greater exposure result in a lower energy conversion. In a nutshell, the hotter a solar panel gets, the less efficient it becomes. 

CoolPV remedies this problem by cooling the solar electric panel via the polymer heat exchangers embedded underneath. Cool water from a pool is fed into the heat exchangers which wick away the heat from the solar electric panel. This results in increased electrical outputs and hot water for your home or pool.

With over twenty U.S. patents and a celebrated history spanning over four decades, FAFCO is now looking once again to leaving their mark in the solar history books with CoolPV. While the solar hybrid system is ideal for residential applications (particularly if you own a pool), FAFCO is also taking aim at commercial and industrial applications including laundromats, food processing, and commercial pools (like you’d find at gyms or a hotel)—basically any place that would have a need for hot water and lower electric costs.

To further develop their solar hybrid solution, the manufacturer recently launched a crowdfunding campaign in order to raise funds for additional growth. Already the campaign has garnered substantial investor attention right out of the gate with hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment. With a successful capital raise, FAFCO plans to ramp up production of CoolPV to meet the growing demand in its ever-expanding dealer network. There is also the matter of CoolPV’s inevitable launch into international markets which promises to further increase demand.

About The Author

Reed Crossley

A self-proclaimed 'solar evangelist,' Reed Crossley spent several years in the solar industry before embracing his inner (green)techie and starting CleanFortunes. When he isn't playing editor-in-chief and reading/writing about innovation in sustainability tech, Reed is usually out gallivanting around Austin in his Oru Kayak and/or championing global climate action. He's also definitely NOT wearing a fake mustache to impress his beloved readers.

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