By Ben Fowler
The LHP Eco Center, a subsidiary of Lankan Hume Pipes (pvt) Ltd. opened its first Buffalo-brand solar water heater factory in Polgasovita, with an initial investment to the tune of 60 million Rupees and further technical assistance from China’s Hainang Ensum Solar Technology Company.
Lankan Hume Pipes has been offering services to construction, industrial, and engineering industries for the past 25 years, with over 150,000 customers. Hume pipes have been used in highways and expressways across the country, and they’ve gained acclaim for their septic tanks and underground water tanks.
The new plant will employ about 5,200 Sri Lankans, manufacturing not only Buffalo solar water heaters, but other eco-friendly products such as Buffalo Mosquito Trapsor Buffalo Eye-guard Welding Masks.
Unlike most water heaters on the market, Buffalo Solar Heaters eschew copper tubes for water-grade stainless steal and Pyrex vessels. Without the copper tubes, no oxide forms and the water remains drinkable. “This would be a great benefit for the consumer,” said Managing Director of LHP Jayantha Kumara, “When it comes to affordability vacuum-tube solar water heaters have a significant price difference compared to conventional systems.” Aside from households, there’s been a growing demand for the Buffalo brand water heaters from hotels, holiday resorts, restaurants, dairies, and even hospitals. “Our desire is to make solar water heaters available in every household at affordable prices.”
The water tank itself rests on top of a series of tubes that jut out at about a 45 degree angle in order to catch radiation from the sun. The heated water rises up through the tubes into the tank, forcing cold water to flow back down into the tubes. Weather permitting, the water in the tank can achieve temperatures of 60-100 degrees Celsius in a fraction of the time of conventional systems.
LHP has plans both home and abroad: though China is responsible for much of the distribution of solar water heaters, Sri Lanka has the advantageous position of belonging to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), of which it has free-trade agreements with the other seven nations.
According to General Manager of LHP Chamari Nilushika, aside from providing drinkable water, Buffalo water heaters can save about 50% on gas and water bills, substantially reduce carbon emissions, and have a lifespan of 10-20 years.
The tanks can be installed on any roof regardless of shape, and the LHP Eco Centre strives to make these Buffalo solar heaters available country-wide.