Solar Thermal Installation with Viega Fittings Provides Huge Savings

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Viega fittings and solar thermal heating – it’s a combination that for AET Solar has proven to be a perfect match.

AET Solar, one of the oldest solar manufacturers in the United States, worked on the largest solar thermal project in the country at the time in 2018. Viega played an integral part. The project was in Hawaii at the U.S. Army’s Schofield Barracks. AET installed solar water heaters to provide hot water for a portion of the barracks.

There are eight buildings with a total of 560 solar collectors and seven mechanical rooms with custom skid-mounted pumping stations. The installations were done exclusively with Viega ProPress, copper and stainless, and AET was pleased with its choice of Viega.

“For us, it has been phenomenal to use the Viega components,” said Carlos Fernandez-Aballi, Ph.D. and Engineer with AET. “It’s a natural fit between a press fitting and the huge challenge of collecting the energy that the sun provides. Using Viega reduced our installation time and cost significantly.”

AET’s Executive Vice President, Andrew East, was aware of Viega prior to the Schofield Barracks job, and the company was looking for a more secure and labor-savings connection for its collectors.

“There are two attractive things about Viega for us,” Dr. Fernandez-Aballi said. “Once you set it up, there’s a huge savings in labor – thousands and thousands of dollars in savings in labor on a project of this scale. For a big solar collection system like this, you need large flow rates, which means using large-diameter tubing. When you’re talking about sweating large-diameter tubes on the roof in the sun and the wind and everything else, it’s very cumbersome, so a press solution is the ideal way to go.”

Using solar energy for the barracks will provide the Army enormous financial savings. Dr. Fernandez-Aballi explained that solar thermal solutions can provide 70- to 100-percent of water heating, creating huge energy savings over a traditional system. Solar collectors are seven times more efficient than photovoltaic panels and are the most economical alternative to water heating. In a location the size of a military base, the savings are phenomenal. 

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