Aquatherm Industries, Inc., the largest manufacturer of solar pool heaters in the United States, has expanded its international distribution network by naming SOLTEC Solar Energy of Quito, Ecuador as an Exclusive Distributor of its Ecosun Solar Pool Heating System.
Founded in 1995 by Francisco Beckmann, SOLTEC quickly became a leader in the field of alternative energy in Ecuador. Mr. Beckmann, an engineer by trade, had his introduction into solar energy in Germany, where he was educated and also worked in the industry before bringing his knowledge and experience to Ecuador. Prior to being named a Distributor, SOLTEC had been an Ecosun Dealer for 20 years, and the first company to ever offer a polymer solar collector in Ecuador.
Mr. Beckmann’s primary motivation to grow his business from an installation model to distribution stems from a recent announcement by President Rafael Correa promising to eliminate government subsidies for LP gas by 2016.
A historically controversial and politically-charged topic, these subsidies reduce the cost of LP gas to Ecuadorian families by 89%, but cost the government approximately $700 million (USD) each year. President Correa’s plan is to redirect those funds toward improving the country’s electrical infrastructure by adding eight new and expanded hydroelectric plants.
Consumers will be encouraged to replace gas appliances with electric models. To ease the transition, the government says it will cover the first 60 kilowatts of household usage per month. A typical three-bedroom, two-bath home in Ecuador currently uses about 250 kilowatts a month, according to the census office.
Correa has long maintained that the subsidy benefits much of the population that doesn’t need it, asking “Why should the government pay for people in Quito and Cuenca to heat their swimming pools (with fossil fuels)?”
Mr. Beckmann says he expects the elimination of the subsidy to spur growth in the country’s renewable energy sector, as Ecuadorian families turn to alternative sources of fuel such as solar. “Right now, people are using propane to heat their pools because it is so inexpensive. Without the subsidy, heating a pool with propane would become a luxury most pool owners could no longer afford.”
Though he has seen glazed “flat-plate” solar collectors becoming more popular for domestic hot water purposes, Beckmann is confident an unglazed polymer collector like Ecosun is the best solution for swimming pool heating, adding “the climate here is perfectly suited for this type of solar collector, since year-round temperatures don’t ever fall below 9° C (48° F).”
Mr. Beckmann says SOLTEC will be a full-service distributor, offering sales and installation training to his Dealers as well as marketing and technical support.
The appointment of SOLTEC as Exclusive Distributor coincides with Ecosun having just received the highest performance rating ever awarded to an unglazed polymer solar pool heating collector by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), at 1,100 BTU’s per square foot per day.
An ISO 9001:2008 registered company, Aquatherm Industries, Inc. is the largest U.S. manufacturer of low-temperature, unglazed polymer solar collectors – primarily used for residential and commercial swimming pool heating as well as domestic hot water and process pre-heat applications.
Within the company’s “pellets to panels” approach, Aquatherm’s extrusion, welding, and injection molding processes have been awarded four U.S. and two International Patents for its technology. In addition, Aquatherm’s collectors were the first NSF-50 listed solar collectors in the world.
Aquatherm distributors currently serve Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, all of North, Central, and South America, France, Egypt, and Jordan.