Barak Jolish, a San Francisco building developer, took five bids for a hydronic heating and hot water system for a 3-story, 19,260-sq.-ft. student housing complex renovation. Jolish pitted conventional natural-gas systems against solar hot water. One type of system came out on top.
While the lowest bidder for each technology came to about $200,000, rebates and tax incentive meant the net installed cost of solar hot water was under $114,000.
Free Hot Water, a San Jose-based solar thermal engineering firm, designed the victorious solar hot water system. In addition to significant savings over natural gas, Free Hot Water says its energy efficient systems will reduce the apartment complex’s operating costs by over 66% per year.
That California apartment developers can now go solar at the same cost as natural gas came as a surprise to Free Hot Water.
“This is groundbreaking news,” says Gal Moyal, CEO and Chief Engineer at Free Hot Water. “We had no idea that our solar thermal design was so cost competitive with conventional gas heating systems until Mr Jolish revealed his other bids to us. This means that from now on – even without incentives – apartment building owners can choose a solar thermal system and save money on the building’s operating costs.”
Free Hot Water’s unique solar thermal design reduced the installed costs through several factors, including Free Hot Water’s storage tank solutions, 95% efficient boilers, energy efficient pump station design, quality solar thermal collectors and a central controller that optimizes the heat and hot water flow of the building’s entire energy system.
Eighteen 4×10 made-in-USA solar collectors will provide 750 gal/day of solar hot water for tenant showers, laundry and dishwashing. The hydronic raditor heating system, also tied to the solar system, will provide 75% of the heat needed by the building for San Francisco’s chilly climate.
Free Hot Water’s design also included energy efficient lighting and a 4.5-kW solar photovoltaic system, which will offset a portion of the building’s lighting costs.
To tie together the various solar heating and energy systems, a cutting-edge control panel will enable building managers to monitor the solar PV, solar radiant heat, and the solar hot water system from a single web-based dashboard, allowing managers to view all solar operations on-the-go and quickly address any problems.
Once completed in April 2013, developer Barak Jolish estimates that the building’s three solar systems and energy efficiencies will cut his operating energy costs by 66%.
“That has a huge impact on my net operating expenses for the building,” Jolish says. “We own 17 other buildings in San Francisco, mostly in the Mission district. We’ll definitely consider this for future renovations.”
Project Size: 18 Solar Collectors and a 4.5-KW PV System
Contractor: Free Hot Water engineering and design, SEUSACA installation
Completion Date: April 2013
Crew Size: One project manager, 1 plumber and 2 labor
- Thermal System: Free Hot Water Omni Rack (can accommodate almost any 4 X 8 or 4 X 10 collectors)
- PV System: DynoRaxx ballast racks
- Thermal Collectors: Solene SLAR-40 (4X10) with BTU output of 42,400 BTU/Day each
- PV Collectors: Talesun Solar TP660-250 with nominal output of 250W
About Free Hot Water:
Free Hot Water, based in San Jose, California, offers affordable, high-quality hot water systems for commercial applications. Our recommended products and systems are clearly distinguished by their integrated design, quality, affordability, and ease of installation. The in-house engineering department specializes in designing solar thermal systems for a variety of large-scale commercial applications.