April 2006

Training Video on Solar Water Heaters Now Online

It might not have won an Oscar at last month’s Academy Awards, but a new FSEC video is winning lots of praise from code officials, contractors and consumers.

Screen shot of the solar water heater video“Inspection of Solar Water Heating Systems,” a training video tutorial on how the International Codes apply to solar domestic hot  water systems, has been written by Mark Thornbloom, Jim Huggins and  John Harrison of FSEC and produced by Nick Waters and other members of FSEC's Graphics Department to show building inspectors how solar systems work and how the  individual components function. It’s also been proven to be of  great interest to contractors and homeowners who want to know more  about their systems.

Huggins, interim director of the center’s Testing & Operations Division, explained that the project started about a year ago when Sandia National Laboratories asked FSEC for help in meeting the training needs of code inspectors around the country.  “Many code inspectors have limited experience working with residential solar systems,” he explained, “so they need some training in how the individual components as well as the complete system work.  Most of these offices hold monthly training programs, and Sandia felt that a video would be easiest for them to use in their training.  We put the complete hour-long program on our website and on the Solar Rating & Certification Corporation site so it’s easy to get to and easy to use.”

Huggins added that “Most places in the U.S. rely on the International Code Council (ICC) to set the codes, so we geared the video to mesh with them.  What’s really neat about the program is that a code official could sit and view the whole thing or could go right to an individual component section if he just needs some information on one thing.  The sections are relatively short and easy to navigate.”  For example, there is a 6-minute segment on materials, two minutes on insulation, one minute on multiple collectors and one minute on certification issues.

The program is organized into four sections.  The first provides an introduction to the video.  Then there is an overview of solar water heating systems, a look at the solar equipment that would be installed on the roof or other location outside of the home, and a final section on equipment installed indoors in the utility room, laundry, garage or basement. The video is provided in multiple sizes to work with different computer connection speeds.

If you’re curious about the workings of a solar water heating system, view our Solar Inspector Video.  You’ll note that you can even print out a transcript of the text used in the various sections of the video.

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