Welcome to onsunsolar.com
Greetings from Dr John Ledger and Gauteng Solar Solutions!
Introducing the On-Sun solar water heater – neat, functional, practical, freeze-resistant, made in South Africa by South Africans, using South African materials and skills. Strong and reliable in sun and snow for TWENTY FOUR YEARS – since 1990.
MUSIC TO OUR EARS
“To give you feedback, so far we are delighted. Water piping hot, the element has never been switched on so far, everything hunky dory and although early days, I do not anticipate any problems.”
Mike and Sue,
“The solar system is working fine – yesterday it went up to 72 degrees. I’ve switched the geyser on for only an hour this week.”
“By the way, after the first month of installation, my electricity bill was reduced by 50%”
RC, Garsfontein, PRETORIA
We know the On-Sun is freeze-resistant, and has been working in the icy regions of the Free State and Lesotho for 24 years, but now we can add another attribute to our proudly South African solar water heater – elephant-resistant! A problematic elephant bull in the Madikwe Game Reserve(near the Botswana border) attacked the On-Sun and flung it to the ground from its stand, causing extensive damage. The owner was convinced that he would have to buy a new On-Sun, but we persuaded him to bring it in and we sent it back to our factory, where it was named the ‘Elephant Toy’ by our amused workers. They straightened the bent pipes, fitted new fins and put the working parts into a new casing to make it as good as new again, at a fraction of the new cost. When we say the On-Sun is fully repairable, we mean it! The photo shows the On-Sun team with the innards of the unit before repainting the collector and putting everything inside the new casing
We sell and instal the South African designed, patented and manufactured On-Sun solar water heater in 100, 150 and 300 litre models. Our standard model is the 150 litre system.
Summary of current prices
Standard 150 litre is R11,975. Installation is R3,500 plus materials used. Average installed price is usually around R15,500 to R16,000 depending on the amount of plumbing material used.
We recommend and can supply a remote temperature display that tells you how hot the water is in your On-Sun, and this in turn informs you about how to manage your hot water system for the best economy. This display unit can be mounted next to your electricity distribution board, or anywhere else in the house that is convenient for you. The price (installed) is R400.
We recommend and can supply a South African manufactured CBI electronic timer to control when your hot water system might require boosting to ensure you always have hot water. The timer works in conjunction with the thermostat in your geyser or solar water heater, and helps reduce your electricity consumption for water heating to the minimum. It has a battery backup so keeps time during outages.
Our On-Sun solar water heater has been built by South Africans for 24 years, using local materials and components. It is a practical, strong, reliable, durable and, above all, proven solar water heater for South African conditions.
Why we are not registered with the Eskom subsidy scheme
The Eskom subsidy only applies to solar water heaters with the SABS MARK. As a very small business we simply cannot afford to pay the considerable fees charged by the SABS for their ‘MARK’. Big companies have the funds to pay the SABS to put the MARK on their products; this cost is built into every unit they sell, so the customers pay the SABS for having the MARK on their solar water heater.
I really don’t want to say this, but I will. A number of companies with SABS compliant products, the SABS Mark, and Eskom subsidies, have gone bankrupt and simply disappeared, leaving their clients with broken systems and no recourse. Be very careful before you buy a solar water heater. The Romans said Caveat emptor - it means ‘Buyer beware’. Still very good advice today!
The On-Sun has been built in a small factory with excellent quality control for 24 years, since 1990. We have full confidence in our product and believe that our track record is your assurance of quality and durability. We also undertake to remove our system and pay you back in full if you are not happy with our product, within three months of the installation.
The On-Sun 150 SWH was successfully tested at the SABS for compliance with the Eskom rebate scheme, but we never participated in the programme, and our prices have always been based on a fair, non-subsidized cost for a good, durable, locally made product. We will continue to do business on this basis.
Thank you for visiting this site. Please browse the information below – I hope you will find it interesting. Please call or e-mail me if you have any queries. I enjoy talking about solar water heating to interested people!
Updated 12 July 2014
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR LOCALLY DESIGNED AND MANUFACTURED SOLAR WATER HEATER
The On-Sun DIRECT solar water heater was first designed and built in 1990, and has now been in service for 24 years! DIRECT means that no heat exchange fluid is involved in this system, making it simpler and more efficient.
I am happy to offer you my experience and time to consult, discuss and conduct a free site visit to assess your solar water heating requirements, within reasonable distances around Gauteng. When you buy an On-Sun system from us, I will personally be on site with my team to install and commission it. When you buy our South African On-Sun solar water heating system, you own the system and you make the savings in electricity. Every year you save more as the cost of electricity goes up.
Most of our installations involve fitting the On-Sun 150 as a pre-heater in series with your existing electric geyser. Used correctly, this combination should reduce your geyser’s electricity consumption by around 70 – 80%. Please read our item below about the rationale of installing the On-Sun as a pre-heater to your existing geyser.
There is no such thing as FREE HOT WATER! You either have to pay for the solar equipment to harvest the energy from the sun, or you have to pay for the fuel to heat your water, in different proportions, according to the technology you employ. Remember that in life, as in nature there are NO FREE LUNCHES!
You can buy a cheap electric geyser and then pay for expensive electricity during the lifetime of the geyser. Or you can buy an expensive solar water heater and pay almost nothing for the solar energy it will employ to make hot water. But when there is no sun, you still need some kind of back-up for warming your water. You can make warm water by using electricity, gas, wood, coal or solar. Solar provides an elegant solution, and once your equipment is paid for, the recurrent costs of the solar energy are free. We always do a site visit before providing our clients with a written quotation, to make sure that we identify any problems beforehand and that our installation will go smoothly.
ABOUT GAUTENG SOLAR SOLUTIONS
We promote, market and instal On-Sun South African Solar Water Heaters in Gauteng Province, the vibrant business and economic hub of South Africa. I am a professional energy practitioner, Associate Professor of Energy Studies at the University of Johannesburg, and Visiting Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. I teach post-graduate courses in energy, notably the BSc Honours programme in Energy Studies at UJ and the energy module for the MSc programme in Environmental Science at Wits.
We are members of the Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa (SESSA) and of the Solar Water Heating Division (SWHD) of SESSA. Members of the SWHD sign a Code of Conduct which gives you the assurance that SESSA will act against a member who does unsatisfactory work or is responsible for complaints from customers. The SWHD has an Ombudsman who will intervene if a client is unhappy with one of its members. SESSA is a non-government, non-profit organization that represents the renewable energy sector in Southern Africa. SESSA has three active Divisions, namely the Solar Water Heating Division (SWHD), the Photo Voltaic Sales and Marketing Division (PVSM) and the renewable energy cooking division (AFRECA). Visit the SESSA website at http://www.sessa.org.za
FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE WE INCLUDE A LIST OF ON-SUN AGENTS FROM OTHER PARTS OF SOUTHERN AFRICA AT THE END OF THIS SITE. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THEM DIRECTLY IF YOU LIVE CLOSER TO THEIR LOCATIONS
ABOUT THE ON-SUN SOLAR WATER HEATER
We concentrate on one product , the remarkable On-Sun solar water heating system, designed by Willi Suremann twenty four years ago in 1990 and built by hand in his small factory in Ladybrand, in the Free State province of South Africa. We devote all our efforts to placing these ‘personal power stations’ on as many South African roofs as we can, to harvest the abundant energy of the African sun.
The On-Sun South African Solar Water Heater embodies all Willi Suremann’s experience and skills acquired over a lifetime of working with renewable energy. Thirty four years ago, in 1980, Willi established a business to instal photovoltaic systems and solar water heaters for farmers, schools, clinics, hospitals and mission stations in the Eastern Free State and Lesotho, where the high altitude, intense solar radiation and freezing winters resulted in a very high failure rate of the various water heating products that he bought from other suppliers. The only product that worked consistently well was the Van Leer direct system (no heat transfer fluid), manufactured with special machinery as a stainless steel ‘envelope’ that could withstand freezing by flexing to accommodate the increased volume of ice inside. There are still many Van Leer direct systems working in freezing conditions in South Africa.
Below is one that Willi installed in Ladybrand in 1980. In April 2007 he removed the system for refurbishing. Although the old fibreglass covers were almost completely opaque, the system was still working and making hot water. After cleaning the panels and fitting new toughened glass, the 34 year old system is now as good as new again!
Van Leer panels before refurbishing
Restored Van Leer system
You will hear and read a lot of propaganda from people who only market indirect systems about why direct systems cannot be used in areas that experience frost. The Van Leer collector is a direct system, many of which are still functioning in South Africa after more than 30 years. It is often said that ‘direct systems’ must not be installed in areas that get frost in winter – most direct systems cannot, but the On-Sun is another direct system that has been exposed to frost, ice and snow for 24 years!
The Dutch Van Leer company decided to withdraw from South Africa because of the country’s apartheid policies. The machines used by Van Leer to make their unique collectors were bought by a competitor who changed the design, resulting in collectors that failed on a massive scale during a particularly cold winter in the mid 1980s that saw temperatures in Johannesburg drop to -7 degrees C. This resulted in a setback to the solar water heating industry that has persisted for 30 years. It is only recently that rising electricity costs and reliable solar water heaters are creating the renaissance in harnessing the power of the sun once again.
Having lost his only supply of reliable, freeze resistant, direct solar water heaters, Willi then set about designing his own system that would work equally effectively in this very tough environment. His design challenge: how to build an efficient, durable, practical and aesthetically acceptable solar water heater that would operate at the extremes of very high solar radiation at high altitude, coupled with extremely high temperatures in summer, and freezing winter temperatures with ice and snow in winter? Add to that Willi’s philosophy that:
• the system had to be built by hand by unskilled but trained workers, to create jobs for poor people in an impoverished part of South Africa
• the factory must use hand-operated bending, pressing and cutting machinery to minimize the risk of injury to the workers
• it could be installed by any DIY enthusiast or competent handyman, and be easily repaired using ordinary tools
• it would incorporate standard water pressure and electrical components available throughout South Africa and neighbouring countries from plumbing and hardware outlets
• the system had to be resistant to both hail and freezing and be simple to instal and maintain.
• the system would have a clean and neat appearance when installed on the roof
• the system would have a reliable working life span of at least 20 years
The result: The On-Sun South African Solar Water Heater!
Today the On-Sun is the only freeze-tolerant, flat plate, direct system (no anti-freeze, pumps or valves) solar water heater made in South Africa!
What are the Advantages of the On-Sun system?
• Direct, freeze resistant On-Sun system is very efficient and reliable
• Fully compliant with all SABS tests required by Eskom
• On-Sun copper tank and piping has a virtually unlimited lifespan
• On-Sun has no pumps or valves to cause problems
• On-Sun will never boil – stagnation temperature is never above 80 degrees C
• No anti-freeze to worry about with On-Sun direct system
• No regular servicing required by On-Sun system – only fix when something fails – and that is very rare!
• On-Sun is fully South African built with locally available components
• On-Sun provides South Africans with employment and skills
• No import duties payable on the On-Sun system, made in South Africa
• On-Sun solar water heaters are easily repaired using local parts and skills
• On-Sun has a track record of 24 years of reliable service in Lesotho and the eastern Free State under extreme climatic conditions – a true test of quality!
• On-Sun is a unique product, unlike any other solar water heater on the market
Here is a system that was installed on the ablution block of the Sehlabathebe Farm Training Centre in Lesotho in April 1992, and that is still going strong 22 years later!
Lesotho has one of the harshest climates in Africa. The annual total solar radiation over the country is estimated to be between 5,700 MJ/sq m and 7,700 MJ/sq m. Temperatures are highly variable on diurnal, monthly and annual time scales. Normal monthly winter minimum temperatures range from -6.3 degrees C in the highlands to -5.1 degrees C in the lowlands. However, extremes of monthly mean winter minimum temperatures of -10.7 degrees C can be reached, and daily winter temperatures can drop as low as -21 degrees C. ( Source: Lesotho Meteorological Services: http://www.lesmet.org.ls).
The On-Sun system is available in 100 litre, 150 litre and 300 litre configurations, operating at water pressures of either 100 kPa or 200 kPa. The most popular model is the one-piece On-Sun 150 litre 200 kPa system. This is the only On-Sun system that has passed the SABS tests required for admission to the Eskom subsidy scheme. We generally have the 150 litre system in stock, whereas the 100 litre unit and other variants need to be ordered from the factory. Further variations include a 150 litre split system (the On-Sun 202 ) where the collector and tank are closely coupled by six standard Conex straight coupler connections. The benefit of this configuration lies in simpler transport, an aluminium collector tray, and better safety on high roofs for the installer.
The On-Sun systems are available in a variety of tank covers, ranging from our standard galvanised steel (very durable and long-lasting in the high interior of South Africa), to aluminium for coastal areas, to stainless steel (for smart appearance everywhere!), and to Chromadek coated steel.
Please note that special tank covers cost extra, and are made to order. Stainless steel and stucco aluminium tank covers are available on order for single units; coloured Chromadek tank covers are only made for special orders of ten units or more, and by arrangement with the factory.
The standard galvanised steel tank covers can be painted to match roof colours. Please see our gallery below for some examples of painted tanks. Computer-designed steel frames can be made up to provide the correct orientation on any roof slope.
Below is a system installed on the west-sloping roof of a house built by a Korean businessman in Ladybrand. As Willi Suremann says “This wise man from the East has installed a product designed and made locally for local conditions!”
The On-Sun for Institutional Water Heating
As noted above at the Sehlabathebe Farm Training Centre, the On-Sun can be installed as multiple systems to provide large amounts of hot water for institutions. The photo below shows one of Willi Suremann’s latest installations for a facility in Maseru, where a total of 10 x 150 litre units have been fitted to the roofs
On-Sun complies with all four SABS Tests for the South African National Solar Water Heater Standards required by Eskom SANS 1307 is the standard for exposure, rain penetration, hail resistance, freeze resistance, marking and the 250 000 pulsation test. SANS 6211 is the standard for thermal performance (Q factor) and heat loss. The Q factor for the On-Sun 150 is 16.412 Megajoules at 16 MJ. SANS 151 is the standard for fixed electric water storage heaters. SANS 60335-2-21 is the standard for the safety of household and similar electrical appliances. Part 2 covers the particular requirements for storage water heaters.
ON-SUN solar water heater fitted as a pre-heater to your existing geyser
If you have an existing electric geyser in good working condition, we recommend that you leave it in place, keep it insured under your household policy, and instal the On-Sun solar water heater in series to supply the geyser with water heated by the sun. Not only will this save you significant amounts of electricity, it also increases the total capacity of your hot water system.
In such an installation the heating element of the On-Sun is not connected to the mains. This has the advantage that no new electrical work is required and therefore no new Certificate of Compliance needs to be issued by an electrician, which saves you money on the installation.
On its own, an electric geyser of 150 litres with the thermostat set to 55 degrees C (recommended temperature for household sanitary hot water storage) will use 6.1 kilowatt hours (kWh) to heat the water from say 20º (the incoming temperature) to 55º. By the way, a comfortably hot shower is around 40 degrees C or a bit less!
Here is the calculation: 150 litres x 35º = 5 250 Kcal / 860 = 6.1 kWh
In winter the incoming water might only be at a cold 5ºC, in which case the geyser will use 8.7 kWh to reach 55ºC. That’s a lot of energy!
Here is the calculation: 150 litres x 50º = 7 500 Kcal / 860 = 8.7 kWh
But if the incoming water is at a warm 40ºC, the geyser will use only 2.6 kWh to warm it to 55º C
Here is the calculation: 150 litres x 15º = 2 250 Kcal / 860 = 2.6
So you can see that any warming of the water supplying your geyser always reduces the use of electricity. The warmer the incoming water, the less electricity required to raise the temperature to 55ºC
Once the incoming water is at 55º C or higher, the thermostat will not switch on at all.
This is how the On-Sun installed as a pre-heater works. On a sunny day hardly any electricity will be consumed by the geyser because the On-Sun will feed it with water above 60º. And even if it is cloudy the next day, there should still be some warm water in the solar water heater, so that the geyser element has to do less work to get the water temperature up to 55º C.
We always insulate the piping carrying hot water from the solar water heater to the electric geyser with foam rubber sleeves. We recommend that your electric geyser should be fitted with a suitable insulating blanket, and that the hot outlet pipe of the geyser be fitted with a 1 metre insulating sleeve to reduce thermal loss. If your electric geyser does not already have an insulating cover fitted, we will do this for you at no charge at the time of installation.
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THIS TYPE OF INSTALLATION WILL PERFORM OPTIMALLY IF YOU CONTROL WHEN THE ELECTRIC GEYSER ELEMENT IS ALLOWED TO SWITCH ITSELF ON!
We can offer you advice about the supply and installation of a suitable timer to control your geyser automatically. This way you can ‘fine tune’ your hot water system to ensure that the geyser only switches on for a limited time each day to ‘boost’ your hot water in case it has been overcast and there has been insufficient solar energy to get your solar system above 55 degrees. We recommend the South African CBI electronic timer with inbuilt battery backup, which will ensure that your timer keeps time during municipal or Eskom power failures.
SOME FEATURES OF THE ON-SUN SYSTEM
The On-Sun has a very clean and neat appearance, as all the water controls are contained within the tank cover. The standard tank cover is galvanised steel, which can be painted to match the roof colour if required. Tank covers are also available in stucco aluminium or stainless steel. This is a standard 150 litre model, fitted flat on a north-facing pitched roof.
This On-Sun 150 litre unit is mounted on a steel frame on a flat roof, to achieve the correct orientation (true north) and tilt (35 degrees from horizontal at a latitude of 25 degrees South). The unit can also be mounted on the ground if required.
On-Sun mounted on the ground in 300 litre configuration
Here we use a matched pair of standard 150 litre units that are closely connected in series. A cover over the connections makes for a very neat appearance, with no piping visible. Note the solar cooker in the background! We can supply these 2 square metre super solar cookers on request: our price is around R2 000 – very competitive and good value for money.
On-Sun 100 for low cost housing
The On-Sun 100 litre system is well suited for low cost housing, providing a quality product at an affordable price. This system was installed on an experimental RDP house on the campus of the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
I have been marketing and installing the On-Sun South African Patent Solar Water Heater in Gauteng, South Africa, for ten years now, and I have learnt to appreciate the very special qualities of this unique product. By the way, I also own four On-Sun 150 units that are in daily use at home and office, so I am a practicing On-Sun user who walks the talk every day! We have installed On-Sun systems in Greylingstad and Nelspruit in Mpumalanga, Ventersdorp, Klerksdorp and Lichtenburg in North West, Pretoria in the north, and Meyerton in the south of Gauteng. We prefer to work in Gauteng, but remember that the On-Sun is easily installed by any plumber or handyman, so you can always pick up a unit from us and DO IT YOURSELF!
SOME OF OUR ON-SUN SYSTEM INSTALLATIONS
When a satisfied client orders a second On-Sun because the performance of the first is so good, we really feel proud of our product! Mrs Kirsch installed an On-Sun 150 litre system for her kitchen, scullery and outbuilding. It worked so well that she ordered a second one for her bathroom. We installed an On-Sun 150 202 split system close to the first. This house is now harvesting a significant amount of thermal energy from the sun, and cutting electricity costs!
We installed three systems for a client in Houghton, Johannesburg. One standard 150 litre On-Sun was mounted on a frame on a horizontal concrete roof (left) as a stand-alone supply with electric backup to a flat (we removed the existing geyser). A 150 litre 202 split system (right) was installed on the main house as a pre-feed to the electric geyser.
A 100 litre system was fitted onto the roof of a patio next to the swimming pool, to supply hot water to an outdoor shower and a hand basin. The tank covers of the latter two systems were painted by the client’s handyman to match the terracotta colour of the tiled roofs. He did a really great job!
14 Roxburghe Road, Craighall Park, Johannesburg
Two On-Sun 150 units were installed, one on the main house and the other on the outbuilding. The main house system was mounted flat onto the slate roof, while the system for the outbuilding was mounted on a steel frame to get the best inclination for year-round performance.
Denton Place, Mondeor. Johannesburg
On-Sun 150 system installed on a steel frame on a back-sloping IBR roof with loose tiles on top.
17 Chamfuti Street, Sharonlea, Randburg
This On-Sun 150 has been painted to match the green tiled roof of the house. Water-based primer and roof paint from Prominent Paints was applied, after the tank cover and tray were thoroughly cleaned with galvanized steel cleaner and the fibreglass end-caps sanded with water paper. The paint is guaranteed for 7 years and the On-Sun can be touched up whenever the roof is repainted. The green solar water heater blends well with the roof, the awnings and the greenery of the garden. Because all the water controls, including the vacuum breakers, are housed inside the tank cover, we do not have unsightly pipes projecting above the system.
The On-Sun is the only flat-plate, freeze-resistant, direct solar water heater, without special pumps or valves, on the South African market. The SABS test for freeze tolerance requires the system to be cooled to minus 20 degrees C and held there for 14 hours. With its 24 year pedigree in the snow and ice of Lesotho, the On-Sun had no problem with that particular challenge!
If you are not satisfied with your On-Sun solar water heater, let us know within three months and we will remove the system, make good any structural impacts made by the installation, and refund your money in full. No arguments, no lawyers, no harsh words. That is just the way we want to do business with you!
With best wishes to all our readers and customers
26 July 2014
ON-SUN AGENTS IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
(in alphabetical order of location)
Bethlehem – SolarSafe Bethlehem – Johan Conradie – 058-303-2412
Bloemfontein – Radio SOS cc – Pieter & Christa Lategan – 051-436-2084
Gauteng – Gauteng Solar Solutions – Dr John Ledger – 083-650-1768
Ladybrand – Free State Utilities – Fanie Terblanche – 082-568-5387
Lesotho, Maseru – Kay-Bon – Bonang – 00266-62-000-197
Lesotho, Teyateyaneng – Seriti Phate – 00266-62-012-460
Potchefstroom – CD Plumbers – Christo Dempers – 082-960-0120
Welkom – SolarSafe, Welkom – Hannes du Plessis – 057-352-9776