$330k NSERC Alliance Award secured for collaborative R&D Project with UBCO & City of Kelowna

Create Solar has received a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and Mitacs to participate in a large-scale research project led by UBC Okanagan in collaboration with the City of Kelowna.

The objective of the project is to assess the feasibility of implementing solar photovoltaic systems in Kelowna, with the aim of helping the city achieve its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of clean energy. This project includes the evaluation of the feasibility for solar energy in the region by analyzing socio-techno-economic barriers and regulatory barriers, using software and real-time operational data.

Create Solar’s team will be collaborating on this project by providing real-world operational data, contributing to the direction of the research, and contributing to the analysis of the findings.  In exchange we will have access to the wealth of important solar-related information being generated specific to the Kelowna area, as well as having the inside track on becoming the developer for the many future projects will likely result from the findings of this study.

Innovating Home Comfort: Introducing the “All-in-One Heat Pump Hot Water Heater”

Create Solar is proud to unveil the latest breakthrough in home water heating technology: the All-in-One Heat Pump Hot Water Heater. This revolutionary system combines cutting-edge engineering with advanced safety features to redefine the way we heat water in our homes.

Development Process: Our team at Create Solar embarked on a journey to develop a prototype system that reimagines the traditional heat pump water heater. Through meticulous research and development, we engineered a solution that integrates a heat exchanger middleware component, sensor technology, and sophisticated software communication layers. This integration allows for precise control of ambient air and water temperatures, ensuring optimal system performance and energy efficiency. We are currently in the process of collecting data to refine our algorithmic models for even greater system cooperativity.

Product Features: The All-in-One Heat Pump Hot Water Heater boasts a range of features designed to prioritize safety, efficiency, and convenience:

  1. Ability to connect 1 of 2 coils to external sources or loads, such as a solar thermal system, hot tub, in-floor heating, etc.
  2. Complete isolation between water and electricity eliminates the risk of electric shock.
  3. Absence of fuel tubes and storage minimizes potential hazards such as oil leakage, fire, and explosion.
  4. External condenser coil prevents cross-contamination, ensuring water safety and health.
  5. Stable and rapid water heating with a maximum outlet temperature of 60ºC, utilizing innovative heating methods.
  6. Flexible installation options facilitated by long air inlet and outlet ducts.
  7. Automatic start-up, shutdown, and defrosting for hassle-free operation.
  8. High thermal efficiency achieved through the absorption of heat from outdoor air.
  9. Reliable performance in a wide range of weather conditions, from -7ºC to 43ºC.

Final Stages of Approval: We are excited to announce that the All-in-One Heat Pump Hot Water Heater is currently in the final stages of CSA approval. This certification will further validate the safety, quality, and reliability of our innovative product, bringing us one step closer to revolutionizing home comfort for consumers worldwide.

Stay tuned for updates as we prepare to introduce the All-in-One Heat Pump Hot Water Heater to the market, offering a game-changing solution for efficient, safe, and reliable water heating in homes.

MITACS awards $90k grant to ‘Solar Village’ R&D project

Create Solar, in partnership with the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO), proudly announces the acquisition of a $90,000 research grant from MITACS, facilitating its innovative ‘Solar Village’ project.  This grant underscores Create Solar’s commitment to pioneering research and development (R&D) in renewable energy solutions.

The ‘Solar Village’ project represents Create Solar’s response to Canada’s housing crisis and the imperative to combat climate change through sustainable subdivision development. Spanning 266 acres, the project aims to transform land into 24 lots, each integrating cutting-edge renewable technologies and net-zero features.

Central to the project is Create Solar’s focus on advanced monitoring and data analytics to optimize net-zero subdivision development. By identifying and rectifying performance inefficiencies, the project drives continuous innovation in sustainable housing solutions.

The research grant will facilitate the integration of state-of-the-art technologies into ‘Solar Village’ homes, including high-performance windows, solar thermal panels, and energy-efficient appliances. Through rigorous experimentation, Create Solar aims to push the boundaries of sustainable living.

Collaboration with UBCO fosters knowledge exchange and interdisciplinary research, accelerating innovation in renewable energy solutions. By leveraging academic expertise, Create Solar enhances its R&D capabilities and fosters collaborative problem-solving.

Create Solar’s receipt of the MITACS research grant signifies a significant stride in its pursuit of innovation and sustainability. With the ‘Solar Village’ project poised to reshape subdivision development, Create Solar reaffirms its position as a leader in renewable energy R&D.

Revolutionizing the Future of Sustainable Living: Create Solar’s Timber Cabins – Part 1

In response to the escalating housing demand post-COVID, Create Solar is spearheading innovation in sustainable living with our latest Research and Development (R&D) project: off-grid net-zero timber cabins. Rooted in advanced solar technology, these cabins epitomize our commitment to pioneering eco-friendly solutions for modern living.  We are developing the following cutting-edge features into our future-friendly living solution:

  • 6” solid timber walls engineered for efficient heat storage, a product of rigorous R&D efforts.
  • Integration of the latest in insulation technology, achieving an impressive R12 rating for energy efficiency.
  • Groundbreaking Photovoltaic (BIPV) system developed in-house by our dedicated R&D team.
  • Collaboration with GSL ENERGY to implement state-of-the-art Solar Energy Storage Systems.
  • Utilization of our latest Heat Pump Hot Water Heater product, with advanced air cooling features, a result of ongoing R&D endeavors.
  • Implementation of Solar HVAC systems developed through collaborations with industry leaders OM and CHE.
Timber Fir
Half-finished cabin in the workshop
Solar Hot Water System with Heat Pump Hot Water Heater

Our timber cabins are not just structures; they are the culmination of extensive research and development efforts. Every aspect, from materials selection to energy systems integration, is being meticulously researched and engineered to push the boundaries of sustainable living.  Details of the aspects being explored are:

  • Mounting Skids: Engineered for stability during transportation and installation, a testament to our commitment to excellence in every aspect of our R&D endeavors.
  • Floor Insulation Chamber: Developed through rigorous R&D, utilizing Cell Graphite-enhanced insulation for optimal heat retention.
  • Experimental FastenMaster Style Timber Screws: Designed to prevent shifting and ensure structural integrity, a result of ongoing R&D-driven improvements.
  • Unique T&G Subfloor: Engineered for durability and strength, reflecting our dedication to research-backed design solutions.
  • Loft Space: A versatile addition derived from our ongoing R&D efforts to maximize living space while minimizing environmental impact.
Mounting skids
Floor Insulation Chamber: Cell Graphite-enhanced
Loft on top

Our R&D ethos extends beyond product design to manufacturing and logistics. Prefabricated in Create Solar’s cutting-edge workshop, our timber cabins represent the epitome of efficiency and precision manufacturing. This approach not only maximizes production efficiency but also minimizes waste.

At Create Solar, R&D isn’t just a department; it’s at the core of everything we do. Our timber cabins represent the pinnacle of innovation in sustainable living, driven by a passion for research and a commitment to shaping a greener, more sustainable future. Join us on our journey as we continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible through R&D-driven excellence.

Road Integrated PhotoVoltaics (RIPV) Demo Project – Part 3

At Create Solar’s ‘Living Lab’, the two RIPV demos are located 25m from each other, and serve different purposes.  One is at the bottom of the property, and functions as a section of the driveway for vehicles.  The other is at the top of the driveway, and functions as a human walkway.  Images of each are shown in previous posts .  After a winter of snow being effectively removed from both surfaces, it was decided to extend the thermal portion of the ‘solar walkway’ down to the end of the driveway.  This way, any excess thermal energy would be used to melt snow/ice on the path used for residents to walk up the driveway.  Images of the changes/upgrades are shown below.

The changes were implemented with perfect timing, since the following week Kelowna was treated with a late winter storm, resulting in several cm of snowfall overnight.  The following photos show the de-icing functions of the sidewalk & driveway:

After 30 minutes there was also a de-iced path between the two, as shown below:

After 45 minutes, it can be seen that the walkway is totally cleared:

Road Integrated Photovoltaics (RIPV) Demo Project – Part 2

Several days ago, the thermal portion of the RIPV Demo Project at the Create Solar Living Lab had all the final glycol loop connections made to the existing system, as shown in the diagram below:

This came at perfect timing, since the next day Kelowna was treated with a bit of an late winter storm, with several cm of snowfall overnight as shown in the following photo of the outside of the lab:

It was time to do our first real-world test on the de-icing portion of the system, and the appropriate valves were all turned on as shown in the new manifold below:

With the ambient outdoor temperature hovering around 0 degrees Celsius, and only 5 minutes after opening the thermal loops, evidence of snow removal can already be seen in the walkway (first image) and driveway (second image):


After 20 minutes:

After 35 minutes it can be seen that the walkway is totally cleared:

After 50 minutes the driveway is fully cleared as well, as shown below.  The additional time is due to a longer distance the glycol needs to travel from the thermal manifold.

Evidence of a successful real-world first test is great news for this innovative system developed by Create Solar!  Stay tuned for further updates as geothermal loops and electrical connections are made and tested.

BIPV Demo Project – Solar Thermal-Part 1

Based on the R&D roadmap created in 2018, we have constructed a complete BIPV solar home energy system. The solar thermal portion of the system is shown in the diagram below, and further described in the following sections and images.

Section 1.  Air based OM solar HVAC system:

  1. Able to heat/cool the house through thermal storage in 5,000 standard water bottles located between floors.
  2. Pre-heat solar thermal centre for efficient operation through OM solar heated water tank.
  3. Provide heat for de-icing the garage rooftop BIPV panels.
Winter Day with Sunshine: get both solar heat storage & hot water

Section 2.  Water based SUNRAIN solar glass tube collector system:

  1. Provide heat to domestic solar tank, the solar thermal centre of the house.
  2. Heat the pool in summer.
  3. Heat battery room during winter using the pool heat exchanger.

Section 3.  Create Solar thermal centre:

  1. Capture heat from air-based OM HVAC system through pre-heat tank.
  2. Capture heat from water-based Sunrain vacuum tube collectors.
  3. Distribute heat to OM solar water heater backup, in-floor heating, RIPV de-icing (solar driveway and walkways), 2 furnaces on separate floors, in-wall heated baseboards, and further R&D purposes.
  4. Energy distribution centre as shown in the manifold diagram and photo below:

Section 4.  RIPV thermal heat generation and de-icing

We have achieved thermal heat generation and de-icing for our solar driveway and sidewalk (RIPV), using the manifold system shown below. Further descriptions of this succesful project can be found in previous posts.

Successful launch of hybrid PV/microinverter/battery system

Due to present uncertainty in the world and the potential for issues surrounding electric power security, the team at Create Solar has been working on providing customers with solutions to increase the reliability of their electricity source.  In tandem with several exclusive hardware providers, we are now able to offer an all encompassing renewable energy solution.  Our novel system addresses each of a customer’s potential power requirements, including the following:

  • Battery backup for keeping essential loads operating in the event of a power outage, including options for all major battery chemistries
  • The ability to sell excess energy directly to the grid from the solar PV source
  • The option for storing power from the grid in the evenings when it may be cheaper to purchase, and selling it back to the grid during peak times when it may be worth more money
  • The ability to integrate into an existing solar PV installation and use existing microinverters in off-grid mode
  • The ability to prioritize the flow of power in every conceivable direction possible
  • Remote monitoring of the entire system through a smartphone app

The setup of the functionality test at Create Solar’s ‘Living Lab’ is shown in the image below:

A diagram showing the various connections and hardware setup of the entire system is laid out in the following drawing:

This new and unique technology was tested in a real-world situation at an existing Create Solar PV installation in Sicamous, BC, Canada.

An image of the retrofitted hardware is shown below.

Create Solar is pleased to be able to offer this exciting new technology, and looks forward to continuing to be a leader in unique PV solutions for the Western Canadian market.

Road Integrated Photovoltaics (RIPV) Demo Project – Part 1

Create Solar’s core R&D efforts are all centred around providing a full spectrum green energy solution for both residential and commercial clients in northern climates such as Canada.  As such, one of the latest developments we have been working on is an in-ground based solar thermal & electric system, which can be installed in locations such as driveways or footpaths.  When completed, this system will be the first of its kind in North America.  Its full functionality is as follows:

  1. Generate electricity for a net-metered grid connection or off-grid independent system
  2. Have the ability to de-ice the surface of the system in the winter using multiple different heat sources available, such as:
    • Vertical solar thermal evacuated tubes
    • Geothermal ground loops
    • Gas-fired boiler
    • Reverse electrical current from cleared solar electrical panels
  3. Provide individual monitoring and control of small sections of the array for research & development purposes
  4. Be able to cool the solar electric modules in the summer months to have them operate at a higher efficiency level, while at the same time dumping this excess heat into something useful such as the domestic hot water heater or the in-ground pool.

A diagram of this addition to the overall 727 Living Lab system is shown in the image below:

The physical portion of the system has already been installed and can be seen in progress in the following images:

Currently the team is working on making the physical connections to the control room, with next steps being the installation of all the electrical and thermal control circuitry and the geothermal loops.  Additional updates will be provided as the project progresses.  This is yet another piece of the net-zero home puzzle that Create Solar is aiming to provide for Canadian homeowners in order to alleviate climate change.

High temperature efficiency of microinverters operating with a BIPV roof system – Part 2

One of the core products Create Solar installs on residential and small commercial buildings is a Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) system.  The major technical parameters of this system are discussed in Part 1 of this post.  One of the issues arising from these parameters when using microinverters for the DC/AC power conversion, is the high temperatures which are seen by the inverters causing them to shutdown.  The previous post describes Create Solar’s first attempt at mitigating this problem by adding a venting channel snaking through the BIPV modules, and then blowing air through the channel on days when the attic temperature was above 30 degC.  This provided some relief, however more cooling was needed, and therefore the following two further possible solutions were explored:

  1. Three of the microinverters were moved from directly behind the modules to inside the attic of the roof as shown in the images below:

BIPV modification

BIPV attic modification

This modification of the microinverter location seemed to have solved the overheating problem.  The image below shows the six modules (2 per microinverter) not shutting down due to temperature overload, unlike the other modules in their vicinity.  This solution is continuously being monitored to ensure there are no further issues.

monitoring attic modification

2.  The second solution attempted was another type of forced venting like the initial modification discussed in the first post. However, the difference with this change was that it provided a venting path more inherent to how the BIPV combined solar electrical / solar thermal forced air system was originally designed to operate.  A basic schematic of this system is shown in the drawing below:

BIPV schematic

The microinverters were placed in air gap between the BIPV modules and the roof insulation.  This is the cavity were the air naturally gets forced through as it heats up between the modules and the roof.  Even though the air is warmed to the ambient temperature, there is a constant air flow which provides more effective heat transfer for the microinverters.  An image of the retrofit process is shown below:

BIPV retrofit

This solution also proved to be effective, as the 9 modules which were changed did not shutdown like the adjacent modules during the hot summer afternoon.  This can been seen from the image of monitoring system below:

BIPV monitoring