Our prairie friends like to say that Atlantic winters are nothing to complain about. Nope – those February days that leave you pulling your shoulders up around your ears to stay warm, or checking the office thermostat over and over to confirm the temperature – word is they’re nothing compared to a Manitoba winter. Hard to believe when you look at your heating bill, I know.
I might debate it and while they’ll generally concede that a damp cold has it’s own particular bite, there is no denying that -40°C weather leaves them with quite a nasty heating bill.
The Parks Canada team at Lower Fort Gary in Manitoba were tasked with reducing the heating expense for their facilities. Part of their solution was to install a SolarWall collector.
Buildings need a lot of fresh air and when that fresh air is so very cold, bringing it inside means burning lots of gas to heat it up. This solar heating system uses energy from the sun to pre-heat the ventilation air being pulled into the building. The coldest winter days are typically the sunniest so there is a great synergy between energy need and available energy.
Retrofitting the transpired solar heater on this complex was a straightforward installation. A two-stage framing system is installed directly on top of existing siding to create an air cavity. Installed on the face of that framing are metal panels with thousands of tiny perforations. Instead of drawing fresh air directly from outside, air is pulled through the perforations in the SolarWall panels, drawing solar heat off the metal at the same time. No additional HVAC units were required – the SolarWall simply connected to an existing air handler via rooftop ducting.
Facilities staff were pleased with the system performance, with the SolarWall raising temperatures 20-30° celcius above the frigid -40 outdoor temperatures. For shoulder months like October-November they found no additional heat was required – the solar collector raised the temperature to what was comfortable inside.
Check out this video to hear what staff have to say about the installation. It was produced by Ekos TV in association with Parks Canada long before the advent of HD production equipment. I hope you’ll find the information is valuable enough to forgive the digital grain.
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~ Heather MacAulay