A unique solar-powered domestic geyser heating system on offer by Satchwell Controls, ACTOM’s Paarl-based heating element and temperature control specialists, is proving a winner, thanks to a host of advantages it has over conventional solar geyser heating systems.

Since it introduced the system, known as Rubystar, into the local market in 2017 in partnership with Stellenbosch-based Rubystar, developers of the system’s control unit, Satchwell has won contracts all over South Africa to supply it for installation in individual households and multi-storey residential developments.

Satchwell’s latest contract, completed in August 2020, was for Waterfall Ridge Estate, a new multi-storey residential complex in Midrand, Gauteng, comprising a total of 384 units.

“The Rubystar smart control unit is the crux of the whole system and incorporates all the features that make it unique. Satchwell, which supplies the solar photovoltaic (solar PV) panels that comprise the system’s other key component, has an exclusive agreement with Rubystar to market and sell the system in Southern Africa,” said Chanelle Keyser, Satchwell’s National Sales Manager. 

Pieter van Zyl, Managing Director of Rubystar, holds a main internal processor board of a Rubystar inverter. On the display board behind him is a Rubystar inverter, while a sample solar thermal flat plate collector is displayed on the right.

The Rubystar control unit overcomes many of the problems associated with conventional solar geyser heating systems, as it converts solar panel generated DC power to AC power to heat a standard mains-powered geyser element directly.

“This involves retrofitting a geyser that is normally powered by Eskom-power to enable the user to rely on low-cost solar power while continuing to have access to Eskom power as an alternative electricity source if and when needed,” Chanelle explained.

Rubystar is well-suited for use in multi-level residential complexes because it eliminates the need for solar-heated and piped water, as required in a conventional solar heating system. At the same time it is much less costly to install and maintain, as not only does it make use of the already existing geyser, but no piping is required and maintenance costs are minimal.

“Finally, Rubystar is also highly efficient, due to heating the element in the geyser directly, instead of having solar-heated water piped from the roof to the point of use, with resultant heat loss, as applies with a conventional system,” Chanelle remarked.

A major advantage, among others, of converting DC power to AC power, as Rubystar does, is that it overcomes the problem of electrolysis, which DC power causes when used for heating a geyser element. Electrolysis causes a gradual clogging up on the element of minerals and other impurities contained in the water, resulting in steadily reduced heating efficiency in the element over time. DC power also tends to shorten the life of the thermostat due to arcing, whereas with AC power this risk is avoided.

More info:           Chanelle Keyser on (021) 863 2035


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