One line of business for K.C. Larson Inc.
, a construction company in Williamsport, is installing solar panels on roofs. When rough winter weather strikes, it fields calls from customers asking how to remove snow and ice from those expensive energy generators.
So the company's president, Keevin Larson, got to work designing a defrosting or deicing system for rooftop solar panels. The idea he came up with was for a system that wouldn't just remove ice, but also heat a home's water.
Larson explains that the heat exchanger he and some of his employees have developed could be installed on the back of a standard photovoltaic solar panel, like you might have installed on your roof. It would generate energy to heat a home's hot water supply and also make the solar panels work better because they produce less heat in warmer weather. "By taking heat off the back of the panels, it cools them down so they create more energy," says Larson, who began a company called K.C. Larson Industries to focus on the system.
In wintry conditions, a homeowner can flip a switch and send warm water back up to the solar panels, melting any accumulated snow or ice.
Larson, his company's foreman Adam Moyer and VP Ken Shafer built a prototype in February 2011 and installed it at Larson's house for testing. Now scientists at Bucknell University
are studying how much energy the system generates. The Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania
are kicking in about $21,000 toward the project.
Source: Keevin Larson, K.C. Larson Industries
Writer: Rebecca VanderMeulen