The Solar Rating and Certification corporation currently administers a certification, rating, and labeling program for solar collectors
and a similar program for complete solar water heating systems.
SRCC’s certification program operating guidelines, test methods and minimum standards, and rating methodologies require the
performance of nationally accepted equipment tests on solar equipment by independent laboratories which are accredited by
SRCC. The test results and product data are evaluated by SRCC to determine the product’s compliance with the minimum
standards for certification and to calculate the performance ratings.
Equipment which has been certified and rated by SRCC is required to bear the SRCC certification label which shows the
performance rating for that product.
In addition, each certified product is published by SRCC in a directory. Each product’s directory listing contains information on the
product’s material and specifications as well as the certified thermal performance rating.
The modern solar industry was founded in 1974, following the original oil embargo of the previous year. In the years which followed,
energy in all its forms became a national priority.
While commercial and residential solar systems were available on a limited regional basis, a mechanism had to be put in place
which would encourage consumers to purchase these relatively unknown products and new technology with confidence that the
technology was valid and that the products would perform in terms of energy and dollar savings.
States with potentially large solar markets, such as California and Florida, were the first entities to establish such a mechanism by
establishing state testing and rating programs for solar collectors. However, since there was little consistency between each state’s
testing requirements and approach to rating solar equipment, such programs soon became an impediment to manufacturers who
marketed in more than one state.
The need for a single national program which manufacturers could test their equipment to and which would benefit consumers by
providing a uniform, national approach for rating and comparing solar equipment soon became evident. In an unprecedented move,
the trade association for the solar energy industry and a national consortium of state energy offices and regulatory bodies joined
together to lay the groundwork for such a program which would soon lead to the founding of the Solar Rating and Certification
In 1980 the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) was incorporated as a non-profit organization whose primary purpose
is the development and implementation of certification programs and national rating standards for solar energy equipment.
The corporation is an independent third-party certification entity. It is unique in that it is the only national certification program
established solely for solar energy products. It is also the only national certification organization whose programs are the direct
result of combined efforts of state organizations involved in the administration of standards and an industry association.
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Solar equipment manufacturers benefit from SRCC certification and rating in three fundamental ways: the ability to have a product
certified only once; national recognition and/or reciprocity of the certification; and a reliable means for judging product durability and
performance on a relative standard basis.
The solar contractor benefits from the SRCC certification in three fundamental ways also: certification provides product credibility;
provides one with a standard of comparison to be used in sales literature; and provides a defense against unethical competition
and false claims.
The solar consumer also benefits from the SRCC programs. These benefits include obtaining a measurement of quality, a
measurement of performance, third-party independent corroboration, and a national standardized method to compare solar
equipment and thereby determine the best buy.
Finally the government and states benefit from SRCC’s programs in that certification provides a rational basis for tax credit qualifying
regulation as well as a basis for setting codes and standards. A variety of documents are provided for program managers who are
implementing solar energy programs.
SRCC Certification Program
Solar Collector Certification Program
In November of 1980 SRCC established its certification and rating program for solar collectors. The program provides a means for
evaluating the maintainability of solar collectors and a thermal performance rating characteristic of all-day energy output of a solar
collector under prescribed rating conditions.
The scope of the program includes swimming pool and recreational heating, space heating, cooling, and water heating. The
program is administered according to SRCC Document OG-100, "Operating Guidelines for Certifying Solar Collectors," and its
companion document, SRCC Standard 100, "Test Methods and Minimum Standards for Certifying Solar Collectors."
Program participation is voluntary and all manufacturers of applicable products are eligible to participate in the SRCC solar collector
In order for a collector model to be certified and rated by SRCC, the collector must first pass a series of tests performed on a sample
unit which has been randomly selected by SRCC from the manufacturer’s production. The series of tests are conducted according to
the methods specified in SRCC Standard 100 by an independent laboratory accredited by SRCC.
Testing is a combination of durability and performance with the test procedures for performance being specified by the American
Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE Standard 93, "Methods of Testing to Determine the
Thermal Performance of Solar Collectors," and ASHRAE Standard 96, "Methods to Testing to Determine the Thermal Performance of
Unglazed, Flat Plate, Liquid Solar Collectors.")
SRCC calculates collector ratings according to SRCC Document RM-1, "Methodology for Determining the Thermal Performance
Rating for Solar Collectors." This rating methodology utilizes the data from the ASHRAE test on the collector. The SRCC thermal
performance rating is an analytically derived set of number representing the characteristic all-day energy output of the solar collector
under prescribed rating conditions. It is valid only when either of the two ASHRAE standards sufficiently characterize the thermal
performance of the collector panel. The SRCC rating numbers are valid only for the fluid and flow rate used to generate the test data.
The ratings are only measures of performance under a specified set of conditions. Since the performance of a solar collector will vary
from minute to minute, depending upon the amount of sunshine, the air temperature, the collector’s tilt and orientation, etc., the
purpose of the rating is to show a consumer how two or more collectors would perform under an assumed set of conditions.
The SRCC collector performance ratings are, in some respects, analogous to energy efficiency ratings as applied to household
appliances and mileage ratings as applied to automobiles. The numbers contained on the SRCC label say to the solar user that
under standard conditions this collector will collect "x" number of Btus (British Thermal Units), which may or may not be as many as a
Solar System Certification Program
In response to its industry participants, SRCC developed a solar water heating system rating and certification program, short-titled
The purpose of this solar water heating system certification and rating program is to improve performance and reliability of solar
It integrates results of collector tests and system tests with evaluations against minimum standards of system durability, reliability,
safety and operation; as well as factors affecting total system design, installation, maintenance and service.
Giving suppliers the opportunity to submit their solar domestic hot water (SDHW) system designs to an open-ended review
encourages them to produce the best products possible.
Under the OG-300 system rating and certification program:
Systems must meet or exceed all criteria required to meet HUD Minimum Property Standards.
Rating includes a simple way for consumers to compare expected performance and energy savings.
Unique features of this certification program include:
Evaluation of system design, safety, installation procedures, operation and maintenance manuals and system performance.
Rating label that is comparable to the Energy Guide Label required by the Federal Trade Commission for most gas and electric hot
Process for rating and certifying systems
The process for rating and certifying solar water heating systems under the OG-300 protocol includes ten steps for each system.
The process is described below and illustrated in Table 1.
The "Supplier" of a solar water heating system is the entity responsible for the assembly and installation of the system. The first step
in the certification process is for the Supplier to decide which components are to be included in the system. These components
must be listed on an OG-300 application form
The solar collecting portion of the system must be tested. The testing to be done is determined by the system design:
a. The collectors which are part of the system must be tested and rated under the OG-100 protocol.
b. Passive systems in which the collector can not be tested separately must be rated and certified under a system test protocol.
A diagram must be prepared showing the relative location and interconnection of all system components.
Manuals must be written to describe installation, operation, and maintenance of the system. The manuals must include a copy of
the system diagram as well as all information required in section 6.6 of the OG-300 document.
Labels must be prepared in accordance with OG-300. A summary of the required labels is attached to the application form.
The application and all supporting documents are reviewed by SRCC staff and then forwarded to the SRCC Design Review Team
for review and discussion. Major system components, the contents of the manual delivered with the system, and the supplier’s
instructions for system installation must be approved by SRCC.
Data from the OG-100 collector test, the system test and review of design and installation guidelines are input to a computer
program called TRNSYS to calculate the performance rating.
When all reviews have been completed, SRCC will notify the applicant of any outstanding items to be submitted.
When the application is complete and all fees have been paid, SRCC will finalize the performance rating, prepare a new page for the
directory, and mail the program agreement and/or license(s) to the Supplier for signature.
Upon receipt of the signed document(s) SRCC will prepare a certification award and rating label artwork and will publish the
Major system components, the contents of the manual delivered with the system, and the supplier’s instructions for system
installation must be approved by SRCC.
Certification is based upon the determination by SRCC that the system successfully meets its minimum criteria for design, reliability
and durability, safety, operation and servicing, installation, and operation and maintenance manuals.
Cited from Solar Rating and Certification Corporation