U.P. Truck Center has fabricated the molds and dies to custom press aluminum solar collector “absorbers”.
Many solar enthusiasts are building their own hot water solar collectors today, cutting the cost of a single panel by 70% to 80%, with efficiencies within 5% of commercial collectors. Factor in shipping cost for a commercial unit, and the savings are quite impressive. With several prospective “solar collector” builders working at our dealership, and a slow fabrication shop, we determined it was worth our time to fabricate the press, molds, dies, and coil delivery / shear table. We initially bought aluminum coils in 6,000 foot quantities (now in 20,000 foot orders), and process the absorbers during “slow time” in our fabrication shop, which allows us to set the labor portion of the product at just over cost. This results in a savings to the customer over what this specialized product would run from other commercial suppliers. Since the aluminum absorbers are one of the most difficult aspects of a solar collector in a home built unit, requiring extensive tooling and are quite labor intensive, our option makes a home built unit much more attractive.
Pricing on the pre-pressed absorber is close to that of aluminum soffet, a traditional source of aluminum for builders, before it’s cut and stamped into an absorber.