Discover Copper Online

Winter 1998

Copper - Star Energy Saver

The original all-copper solar pool-heating system, which was installed on the roof of the guest house next to a private home in Pasadena, California. It has functioned continuously without failure for 25 years.

We can now celebrate the first 25 years of trouble-free operation for an all-copper prototype system for collecting solar energy to heat swimming pools. The system, which should last at least another 25 years and more, has been replicated around the world, especially in Mexico. Installed on the roof of a guest house next to a private home in Pasadena, California, in 1973, the system still functions without problems.

It collects enough solar energy to enable the homeowners to extend use of their pool an extra three months each year. Since the Pasadena system was installed, it's estimated to have saved the equivalent of 18,300 barrels of oil. Burning that much oil would have generated 125 tons of carbon dioxide plus other pollutants.

Competitive systems made of plastics might have failed after ten years and are hardly likely to have lasted 25 years, according to heat-transfer expert Francis de Winter, president, Altas Corp., Santa Cruz, California. Copper systems are also much more attractive than plastic units, according to the homeowners.

The system has been duplicated around the world because its design is detailed in a 46-page manual that was published and widely distributed in the USA and abroad by the Copper Development Association. The manual, How to Design and Build a Solar Swimming Pool Heater, is now available only from the American Solar Energy Society, 2400 Central Ave, G1, Boulder, Colorado 80301, for $5.

Over the years, major consumer publications such as Popular Mechanics, Popular Science and Sunset have given the system extensive coverage. Others in foreign lands know of the system, because shortly after it was installed, it was the subject of a paper presented at a UNESCO conference.

These solar-collection systems are another example of how copper plays a major role in conserving the world's non-replaceable energy resources. An important side benefit is reduced pollution from the burning of fossil fuels.

American Solar Energy Society: 303/443-3130

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