Parabolic solar dishes generally come in two sizes, the very small "solar oven" and the large, industrial scale solar furnace. But now, a Canadian company is making parabolic solar dishes for small commercial and even residential use.
The Solar Beam Solar Concentrator produces up to 13kW of heat per hour according to the company. That's far more hot water than most households would need, but could be practical for a home with hot water radiators or in-floor radiant heating.
Solar Beam uses a 15 foot (4.5 meter) diameter parabolic dish. A block of aluminum 10 x 10 inches (25.4 x 25.4 cm) absorbs the heat and transfers it to a glycol fluid which circulates the heat to the equipment where it is needed. The company also claims a much faster payback for the Solar Beam as compared to flat panel solar water heaters. "The SolarBeam is 262% more efficient that hot water panels and 98% more efficient than evacuated tube technology."
The Solar Beam uses a 2-axis controller to track the sun throughout the day, in order to increase efficiency of energy collection. Since just one dish has to be tracked, it is much easier to do this than it would be to have an array of flat panels tracking the sun. Since the collector can be ground mounted, it can be possible to use it for solar hot water in places where orientation or other factors do not make rooftop collectors practical. The smaller size also makes it possible to use the dish in places where there is not the space available for a large rooftop array or where it might be otherwise undesirable.
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