The exceptional operational safety and ease of use are important criteria for the installation on Star Island, because technical support here usually is not available at short notice.

SECUSOL Caught the Island Fever: Solar Hot Water by Wagner Solar on Star Island

Stefan Thiesen | Wagner & Co Solartechnik GmbH


New England is famous for the Indian summer, renowned universities such as Harvard and MIT and stylish quiet little towns with a more leisurely lifestyle. Generally this rather cool corner of North America does not convey images of solar energy supply. However, thanks to the latest solar technology from Wagner Solar Inc. this is about to change. Through the tireless efforts of managing director Joerg Gaebler and his team of the German solar pioneer’s Boston based subsidiary, the advantages of solar energy are gradually taking a foothold even here, in the northeastern United States.

Since 1915, the non-profit corporation Star Island operates a family retreat and conference center with a spiritual, artistic and socio-ecological orientation, stressing the harmony between man and nature. Sustainable water and energy are important aspects of the green initiatives spearheaded by this award-winning retreat off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire. Electricity is generated on site, and the required fresh water comes from a rainwater cistern and a sophisticated reverse osmosis plant for seawater desalination.

Star Island from above  (© Star Island Corporation, with permission)

Until recently, there was no central hot water supply on Star Island - this has now changed with the installation of a Wagner & Co solar SECUSOL system that will provide hot water for the guests. SECUSOL is a very compact and efficient solar thermal system that won several awards for its reliability, efficiency and ease of use without compromise, including the respected European OTTI Innovation Award. The development engineers achieved the creation of something special when designing and optimizing the SECUSOL drainback system. Thanks to the drainback mechanism the system is compact, powerful and characterized both by very simple installation and operation, as well as extraordinary reliability. When not in operation, the frost-resistant solar liquid is automatically drained from the collectors and led into a unique reservoir integrated within the heat exchanger in the solar storage tank. Whether overheating in hot weather is imminent or freezing winter frost falls: SECUSOL remains unfazed and always ready for operation, controlled by the long established intelligent controllers of the Wagner & Co Solar SUNGO family. 

Star Island Hotel (© Star ISland Corporation, with permission)

The exceptional operational safety and ease of use are also important criteria for the installation on Star Island, because technical support here usually is not available at short notice. Even the installation of the system was a little adventure for regional Wagner & Co distributor Jack Bingham and his colleagues. After all it isn't common that prior to installing a hot water system, collectors and storage tank initially have to embark with the workers on a sea voyage to get to the installation site. Thanks to a calm sea, however, the boat trip to the island went smooth, and it showed another advantage of the SECUSOL concept: There is a tremendous simplification of the complete system that does without many additional components found in other contemporary setups, such as an external pump station, an expansion vessel or a separate retention tank for the drained back solar fluid. Even a filling pump is unnecessary, therefore transport and assembly once again get a lot easier.

For the present application as a hot water system in a holiday village with seasonal peaks, the collector area for the summer months was deliberately oversized, using robust L42 collectors that have been developed for more southerly climates. With this trick Bingham achieved a very high efficiency for the summer months, while significantly reducing water heating in the winter months, when far less capacity is needed. Even when the sun does not provide enough heat, the showers don't stay cold. A thermostat controlled built-in electric backup heating element assures hot water supply whenever it is desired. SECUSOL presents itself as simple, safe and adaptable. The ideal solar technology - not just for lonely islands!

Typical SECUSOL setup with electrical immersion backup heater (© Wagner Solar Inc.)

For more details of the SECUSOL system here is another article.


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