Cool step for solar company
A Barbadian company has forged partnerships in the Caribbean enabling its introduction of solar air conditioning units here while putting it on the verge of supplying another regional island with the product.
Rhema Cooling Air Conditioning Services managing director Sean Carter told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY that his business formed a relationship with St Lucia company Solar Connections Inc. to source the units, which are made in China using American technology.
Carter said Rhema was also now being contracted by St Vincent solar power design and installation company Solife Energy to supply it with the solar air conditioners.
Concerning the Barbados market, he said the product was now available here and would allow individuals and businesses with air conditioning to reduce their electricity costs by 40 per cent.
“The system of itself is not a photovoltaic system; it’s solar thermal technology as opposed to photovoltaic technology. So the technology is quite similar to how the solar hot water systems work in Barbados. Basically, the condensers carry a smaller compressor than standard units and the reason for that is because they don’t need to work as hard,” he explained.
“The gas is actually compressed by the heat that is generated from the atmospheric temperature, so even if the units are in the shade as long as outside is hot they still absorb that heat. They don’t carry flat panels because even the hot systems now are coming with vacuum tubes, so it’s using the vacuum tube technology.”
Explaining the process further, he said, “The water that is in that storage tank is being heated and then that heat that is generated in the storage tank is actually the heat that compresses the gas before it goes into the compressor. So it is like a two-stage compression that is taking place; it’s compressed before it goes into the compressor so the compressor doesn’t really have to work that hard as in standard units.”
Carter also said that while the product was not “a hundred per cent solar” it was cost-effective when one considered that “before installation the cost of a hundred per cent solar system would be between $12 000 to $15 000 dollars just for a 12 000 btu [British thermal unit] system”.
The company head said: “The major difference between the [the conventional unit and the solar unit] is that this [solar] system is 40 per cent more efficient and pulls 40 per cent less electricity than a standard system”.
“Secondly, with a standard system, the hotter outside gets the more load your unit is working under. It is working harder to cool the inside because outside is hotter. With this system, the hotter outside gets the better this system works, the cooler inside gets,” he noted.