Lennox recently announced a HVAC system that integrates solar power with one of the company’s commercial units. Dubbed SunSource, the system combines solar panels that augment traditional electrical power on the company’s Energence rooftop units — an interesting development for a commercial market flush with energy efficient products.
The system distributes excess solar energy to other systems in the building or back into the power grid. According to Lennox, the SunSource system is capable of doubling the efficiency of the already efficient Energence units. In some climates, the company predicts that the solar plug-ins will collect more energy than is required to run the unit, equating to cost savings and possibly utility credits for commercial consumers.
So far, the only commercial SunSource system in use has been installed on Lennox’s manufacturing plant in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The system will be rolled out in Spring 2011 as a factory option for commercial HVAC systems. The solar-electric hybrid systems will help businesses qualify for energy efficiency tax credits and LEED certification.
Lennox released a SunSource system for residential applications in early 2010 that’s capable of reducing home heating and cooling costs by 50 to 60 percent. The residential SunSource systems, similar to the soon-to-be-released commercial units, supplement electrical power when the units are running. When the HVAC unit is not in use, the system either diverts energy to other appliances in the home or sends the excess energy back to the power grid.