There are two ways to harness the sun's energy: either convert the energy into electricity or convert the energy into heat. Both have advantages and disadvantages and both can be "active" or "passive".
In California a new power plant uses heliostat mirrors to reflect the solar light onto a central tower. The water is evaporated and the steam turns a turbine, similar to a thermal (nuclear, coal) plant. LEAP offers something almost as good. Using technology known as heat pipes, LEAP's Solargenius transfers solar energy into a water supply.
LEAP's heat pipes are enclosed inside an evacuated tube with energy absorbing "fins" and are about 92% efficient. They are able to capture both "sensible heat" – which is the energy required to raise the temperature of a liquid to boiling – and "latent" heat which is the energy required to actually make it boil. Latent heat provides about five times the energy of sensible heat so it’s important to capture this in any heat-based system.
LEAP's Solargenius system uses solar tubes (from 20 to 60) to heat the water in a hot water cylinder. With a maximum input rate of 80 watts per tube combined with a good sunny day its possible to capture enough solar energy for a home's hot water heating needs (dependent on location and the number of tubes). As Solargenius relies on the warm heat in the air then energy recovery drops during the winter and peaks in the summer.
Solargenius can be retrofitted to any solar-ready hot water cylinder and can even be fitted to some older cylinders using LEAP's "pipe in pipe" technology. A 20-tube system installed with one of LEAP's specific enamel-lined cylinders gives the overall system a WaterMark.