• Lennox Develops HVAC Industry's First Commercial Solar HVAC Unit

    Feb. 17, 2011
    How does 34 SEER sound?

    Lennox has developed the industry’s first commercial HVAC unit that integrates directly with a solar-energy system. The patent-pending SunSource® Commercial Energy System collects energy from the sun, feeds it directly into a solar-ready Energence® rooftop unit, and supplies any excess electricity to the rest of the building or to the power grid.

    Designed to reduce business energy spending and emissions, the SunSource system can effectively double the Energence rooftop unit’s already industry-leading efficiency rating – from 17.0 SEER to an effective efficiency level of 34 SEER* and beyond.

    In certain regions, adding additional solar modules can help the rooftop unit achieve net-zero energy status, as the SunSource system will generate more power than what the rooftop unit consumes. SunSource systems will be available in spring 2011 as a solar ready factory-installed option for 3- to 6-ton Energence rooftop units.

    “The SunSource system is just the latest example of Lennox’s commitment to introducing green technologies that will lower the environmental impact of HVAC equipment,” says Larry Wei, Lennox Product Manager for commercial rooftop units.

    “By pairing an Energence rooftop unit with a solar energy system, building operators can cut their energy bills, lower emissions, lessen their building’s dependence on the electricity grid and demonstrate their strong commitment to the environment,” Wei says.

    Easy to install on almost any size or shape roof, SunSource systems are also safer to operate than traditional solar energy systems because they eliminate the use of a high-DC-voltage line, Lennox sources report.

    Each microinverter’s output is limited to 50 volts; in the event of a power loss, the microinverters stop transmitting power to the rooftop unit and the main building panel. The system can also help buildings meet the ASHRAE Green Standard 189.1 requirement to be solar ready, and the LEED® EAC2 on-site renewable-energy credit.

    Installed at Arkansas Plant
    The first SunSource Commercial Energy System was installed this winter at Lennox’ manufacturing plant in Stuttgart, Arkansas. The Stuttgart installation pairs a solar-ready Energence rooftop unit with 18 solar modules that provide a peak output of 3.2 kW of electricity. The installation was completed in one day by Dallas, TX, contractor Standard Renewable Energy.

    The solar modules’ real-time energy production is recorded by a communications gateway, allowing Stuttgart engineers and managers to monitor the system’s performance from anywhere via an Internet connection. The SunSource system’s panels are expected to capture about 4,400kWh of clean energy per year, eliminating greenhouse-gas emissions equivalent to removing one car from the road for a year, or planting 106 trees. “We’re continually striving for ways to incorporate sustainable practices and reduce our carbon footprint,” Stuttgart Plant Manager Albert “Skip” King said. “The SunSource system aims to be a practical solution for building owners and managers engaged in environmental sustainability programs all across America.”