The Copper Crickets sitting on saw horses in my front yard are a constant reminder to me that I need to get them back on the roof and hooked up. I left the solar industry in 1996 after being fired from my post as president at Sage Advance Corporation. Honestly, it took awhile for the pain of that experience to melt away and let me appreciate the wonderful and enlightening 13 years I spent until that point leading the development of the Copper Cricket and its marketing.
Several people over the past few years have contacted me about the Copper Cricket. Some were interested in starting up another manufacturing company; some have Crickets and just wanted to tell me how well they’re working. Some have obtained abandoned Crickets and want to know how to make them work on their homes.
When it was in production, the Copper Cricket had little competition for the best solar water heater in the world. It was made to last in excess of 50 years without more than an annual flushing of the storage tank and heat-exchanger. It had no pumps, controllers, electronics, or moving parts. It was a little more expensive, and the installation required attention to detail and perfect plumbing connections. In a word, it was cool.
Today, there are more choices for solar water heaters, and the electronics are much more reliable. PV pumped systems, using a small photovoltaic panel and an inexpensive pump seem to be the optimum solution. Even the current systems have their problems. Solar water heating remains unsexy in marketing parlance. It’s just not as flashy as creating electricity for battery-powered cars. People don’t think much about the cost of heating water in their homes, and even the most efficient solar water heaters won’t produce 100% of demand except in a few southern climes. There are still people who want solar water heaters. There are some niche markets where the Copper Cricket is by far the best choice.
My hope is that I can make all of the technical and anecdotal information about the Copper Cricket available on this site, so that those who want to build new or fix existing systems will have a good place to start.