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West Washington School Solar Hot Water System

A drain back solar thermal system was installed at West Washington School in Campbellsburg, Indiana.  The solar hot water system is the first of its kind to be installed at an Indiana public school. The system features a two-panel and a three-panel system located at opposite ends of the building to supply hot water to each end of the school. The solar hot water systems will provide up to 70% of the hot water needed by the school over the course of the year, saving tons of greenhouse gases linked to climate change and saving thousands of taxpayer dollars in energy savings over its projected 30 year life span.

  • West Washington High School receives $25,000
    LtoR: Tim Barksdale-Board Member, Jim Brown-Secretary, Brian Farmer-Board Member, Bill VanCleave-Board Member, Leslie Batt-Vice President, Rick Roberts-President, Jed Wheatley-General Manager Jackson County REMC, Gerald Jackson-Superintendent, Dave Sandefur-V.P. Power Supply Hoosier Energy.
  • Heath Norrick of Hoosier Energy
    Heath Norrick-Manager of the Renewable Energy Department at Hoosier Energy explains how the solar hot water system works, including its 100% carbon offset and its energy and economic savings.
  • Superintendent Gerald Jackson
    Superintendent Gerald Jackson cuts the ribbon to unveil the innovative solar hot water system at West Washington School in Campbellsburg, IN.
  • Solar Panels
    Solar hot water panels on the roof of West Washington School in Campbellsburg, Indiana.
  • Solar Hot Water and Electric Backup Tanks
    The solar hot water tank (left) and the electric backup tank (right) look like your ordinary water heaters. These tanks replaced the original tank that was in excess of 600 gallons.
Click to see full-size images

The school received a $25,000 grant from Jackson County REMC to be applied towards the solar system.  Jackson County REMC, along with 17 other member systems, was offered a one-time $25,000 grant from Hoosier Energy’s Renewable Energy Grant Program.  This grant money could be applied towards any renewable energy system of their choice and at a location of their choice.  Jackson County REMC donated their grant to West Washington School for a solar hot water system.  The school is not only expected to see a return on their investment within a few years, the system has a 100% carbon offset when in use. 

The unveiling of the new system was celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony hosted by West Washington School.  Representatives from Hoosier Energy, Mann Plumbing and Jackson County REMC said a few words in commemoration of the event.  The story was featured in the Bedford Times-Mail and Indiana Renewable Energy Association’s website.

The design consists of two separate re-circulating loops located at opposite ends of the school each with their own set of solar panels.  This “smart design” of the two-loop system was based on the school’s demand and load which will drastically increase energy efficiency and conservation.  The initial design had one set of panels and one re-circulating loop that would have traveled from one end of the building and back again.  This would not have been efficient or cost effective. Thanks to the innovative thinking of the facilities manager and the creative system design by Mann Plumbing, the two loop system was installed which will be more energy efficient with a higher cost savings.

This drain back solar thermal system can offset 50-70% of the school’s hot water energy expense throughout the course of the year. The system only operates if the sun is shining and if there is a demand for heat from the storage tanks.  The system will not overheat or experience glycol stagnation in the summertime (when there is no call for hot water) because it uses no glycol – the water is pumped through the panels. Freezing in cold weather is not a worry because the panels and piping are sloped to allow the water to drain back. This system is 90% efficient in energy conversion and is virtually maintenance free – once it is up and running you will be able to harvest energy from the sun for 30 years or more!  The solar collectors won OG-300 certification from the SRCC and are rated as best in their class at energy production and come with a warranty.

Mann Plumbing, Inc.