The North Carolina Solar Center has become the fifth lab in the country approved to test solar hot water panels to the market standard.
The federal government requires home solar water heating systems to have Solar Rating and Certification Corporation—or SRCC—certification in order to be eligible for a 30-percent tax credit.
The Center has also been recently accredited to test efficiency and calibrate panels according to international standards.
Tommy Cleveland is administrator for the NC Solar Center's testing lab. He says there's plenty of solar technology that hasn't been evaluated and isn't as efficient as it should be.
“When somebody buys a solar thermal system, they really know what they're getting they have a very good understanding of how it's gonna perform. And it makes everybody better off in the end, when their expectations are correct,” Cleveland says.
The North Carolina Solar Center applied for these qualifications in response to a spike in demand by manufacturers making these panels—called solar thermal collectors. Cleveland says the testing backlog has since dissipated, but he adds that it's important to have enough qualified labs to meet manufacturer demand.
“The more labs we get, and the more the solar thermal industry grows, I think, the better for the use of solar. And adding another lab supports that,” he says. “It makes it easier for manufacturers to find a lab that's convenient to them and has testing availability right away, if they need to bring a collector to market quickly.”
The Solar Center is accepting requests from manufacturers for testing.