Tom Jackman


Video of the Researcher

Lab name




Full name

Tom Jackman


Designing and installing thermal solar heaters and photovoltaic systems to heat and power net-zero energy buildings

Type of researcher

Researcher (Professional)

Introduce yourself, your experience and your credentials

Following 25 years professional experience in engineering and executive management positions in the manufacturing sector, I am now an active supporter of solar energy to reduce our GHG emissions as part of our transition to a sustainable society. I hold a research position at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Alberta and have two patents in the field of solar heating. In addition to being President of Simple Solar Heating, I am Chairman of the Friends of Fish Creek Park, Vice-Chairman of the Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance and serve as a Director in other business and environmental organizations.

Describe your research

Describe your research: Thermal Solar Heater

I’m here in our solar thermal lab. We have a total of seven different solar thermal heaters installed on this little building. What’s a good variety of different technologies and approaches from off-grid systems to more conventional grid-connected solar heating systems.

We’ve also got an air-source heat pump that helps utilize solar heating for space heating. All the heat we’re gaining from all the different solar collector systems is being used to heat the lab. A lot of the plumbing on the back wall is actually for space heating not for solar heating.

The lab is complemented with the very extensive data collection system. We’re measuring all of the fluid flows and temperature changes to go to all the different systems and the heating of the building itself.

Describe your research: Solar Voltaic Panels

We have two branches of solar energy. One is solar thermal. Here’s an evacuated tube I brought over from the solar thermal lab and this type of hardware is used to make heat from the sun. The other branch is solar photovoltaic.

I’m in the solar photovoltaic lab now and behind me is a standard solar photovoltaic
panel. So these things take sunshine to make electricity and the tricky part is getting this electricity which would be direct current translated into AC electricity which will be used buildings. We use inverters for that.

On my wall on the left we’ve got a variety of different size string inverters and we also have different micro inverters that both use to take the DC electricity from solar panels and translate into the electricity we use in our homes and our buildings.

We’ve got four different sorts of photovoltaic systems operating in our solar lab at this time. We also get three or four more on the rest of our Green Building Technologies campus. These are all grid-connected solar photovoltaic systems that create electricity and apply to the electrical grid system. We also have a large off-grid solar photovoltaic system and I’m in a portable trailer.

Describe your research: Electric Vehicles Charging Stations

I’m over here in front of the SAIT Green Building Technologies lab. We complemented this site with a large solar carport that we complemented with electric vehicles stations. We’re able to provide electric car charging to up to four EVs in any one time. This one student gets free electricity while he’s studying.

Solar carports a really neat way that we’ve involved students and a lot of our work. The design is quite innovative. The whole thing is is front cantilever and we’ve integrated a tracking mechanism that runs through a drive mechanism that was designed by students in the electrical engineering technologies group and the mechanical engineering technology group.


Institution name

Southern Alberta Institute of Technology

Type of institution