Smart Vent Tech Improves IAQ and Saves Money, Energy

By Jennifer Josey
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
February 22, 2018

How many times have you completed a system upgrade for a device only to find that it’s glitchy? No one wants to “upgrade” to downgrade, and we don’t like being inconvenienced as things get “smarter.” This is just as true for our homes. Reducing energy consumption (thereby saving money) is a key driver for smart, integrated tech (think smart thermostats); however, adoption is lower if an upgrade risks compromising resident comfort.

Whole-house, smart ventilation is one such up-and-coming “smart” technology. But before it takes off, there are a couple of hurdles to jump: integration with standard heating and cooling systems, and proving the risks are limited and the benefits are many. Researchers with the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®), in partnership with Washington State University, are tackling smart ventilation systems head on.

UCF/FSEC researchers Chuck Withers and Dave Chasar installing a mechanical ventilation control unit on a flexible duct.
UCF/FSEC researchers Chuck Withers and Dave Chasar installing a fan on a flexible duct to test an energy-efficient mechanical ventilation control design.

In a first-of-its-kind report, “Field and Laboratory Testing of Approaches to Smart Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation Control,” FSEC documented research on lab and field testing of smart ventilation control (SVC) systems. The report explains that whole-house mechanical ventilation is a critical component to a comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) strategy. In addition, these systems can help the residential sector more reliably design, install, and operate mechanical ventilation systems to achieve best-practice IAQ while saving energy and improving comfort, moisture, and peak load impacts.

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Installing Solar Electric (Photovoltaic) Systems – An Instructional Program for Contractors, Utilities, Engineers and Code Officials

Adults students in the Installing Photovoltaic Systems course receive hands-on instruction and install PV panels on mock residential roof systems.
Students participate in hands-on lab at FSEC’s Installing Photovoltaic Systems workshop.

The Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®) is offering its five-day course covering the design and installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems January 22-26, 2018, in Cocoa, Florida. This course is intended for technicians, electricians, engineers and other practitioners in the solar, construction, and electric utility sectors. The overall goal is to develop “system-knowledgeable” professionals to help ensure the safety and quality of PV system installations.

  • Hands-on – The course format includes a balance of classroom instruction and actual hands-on work with PV systems and equipment.’s
  • Student-interactive – Demonstration and lab exercises simulate the process of designing, installing and commissioning of residential and small commercial grid-connected PV systems.
  • State-of-the-Art – Emphasis is placed on code compliance and accepted state-of-the-art industry design and installation practice.

The course fee is $995 and registration can be completed online at the FSEC website: https://secure.fsec.ucf.edu/fsecstore/do/product/InstallPV. Each participant receives a copy of the textbook Photovoltaic Systems by Jim Dunlop as well as all instructional materials. Participants successfully completing the course will be awarded a certificate of completion from FSEC and will be eligible to take the North American Board of Certified Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic Associate Program examination (see below). This course is approved by the Florida Construction and Electrical Licensing Boards for 18 continuing education credits.

FSEC is an approved provider of the PV training that is a prerequisite for the NABCEP Photovoltaic Associate Program examination. Students may register for the Computer Based Test (CBT) after completing the FSEC Installing Photovoltaic Systems workshop. The examination fee is $150. Interested participants will be able to sign up for this exam within two years of completing the workshop. For further information on the NABCEP PV Associate Program, please visit http://www.nabcep.org/associate. FSEC has also achieved the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Continuing Education Provider Accreditation for the FSEC Installing Photovoltaic Systems course.

For questions or more information, please contact Colleen Kettles at 321-638-1004 or ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.

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Permit-Ready Solar System Certification Now Faster and Cheaper

GO SOLAR Florida. Express PV Certifiction System. Fast. Permit-Ready. Low-cost. https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/
Express PV Certification now FREE until the end of June.

COCOA, Fla., June 19, 2017— Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida. The output includes an electrical schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

Express system certification only costs $150—a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee. Tier 1 PV systems (10kW or less) are eligible for express processing.

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Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.
Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

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Permit-ready Solar System Certification Now Available Within Minutes

Close up view of photovoltaic panels
Express Photovoltaic System Certification Now Offered

COCOA, Fla., June 1, 2017—Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida, and produce an electrical three-line schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

In an effort to encourage licensed contractor and engineer feedback, a two-week introductory period will allow use of the new express system free of charge. Beginning June 16, each system certification will only cost $150, a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee.

Manual PV system design certification is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. The new express PV system certification process is expected to dramatically reduce the time and costs associated with permitting rooftop PV systems in Florida.

This new express online certification system results from a three-year program sponsored by Broward County with funding from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot program. FSEC was one of several team members of the Go SOLAR Florida initiative that was established to develop policies and procedures to standardize solar energy permitting and remove institutional barriers across the state of Florida, thereby reducing soft costs associated with rooftop PV system installation.

Access the Solar Certification Portal at https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/. For questions, contact pvsystem@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1457.

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PR17-04

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