Solar to the Max

Like most people, Catskill residents Bill and Lisa Fitzmaurice wanted to cut their fuel costs this winter, and they wanted to do it in an environmentally friendly way. But — again, like most people — they found it cost-prohibitive. “When I researched it for my own home, a photovoltaic energy system would have cost up to $20,000 with at least a 15-year return on investment,” says Bill, an investigator with the state police.

But a bit more research uncovered the Canadian company Cansolair, which markets a product called Solar Max. Unlike a PV system, which converts sunlight into electricity, the Solar Max uses sunlight to create hot air. The system consists of a four-by-seven-foot exterior panel, mounted on either the side of the house or the roof, and an interior, wall-mounted, low-power fan that blows hot air into the house. The Solar Max costs $2,695 retail, and homeowners can write off 25 percent of their total installation and operating costs come tax time.

Fitzmaurice says it uses about $10 in electricity a year, and saved his family about $700 in gas to heat his two-story, 3,000-square-foot, drafty old Colonial. “So payback is about three or four seasons,” he says.

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The Fitzmaurices like the unit so much, they became distributors through their new company, Upstate Solar LLC. For information, check out their Web site,, or visit


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