Heating water is a huge expense for hotels, making solar hot water a smart way to save money. A solar hot water system is one of the least expensive renewable energy sources a business can invest in, and with a 30% Federal Tax Credit, California Solar Initiative State Rebates, 100% accelerated depreciation the 1st year, and other financial benefits, the cost of a solar hot water system can be reduced by 50%.
The best candidates for solar hot water are buildings with high and consistent water usage. Systems can efficiently be designed to deliver water up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. For commercial use, a solar hot water system will feasibly cover up to 60% of the energy load for heating the water. Typical applications are multi-family dwellings, hospitals, senior homes, restaurants, hotels, fitness centers, and food and beverage processing, to name a few.
A solar hot water system can easily be retrofitted to a building, but there are times when it’s more feasible than others. If the boiler or hot water system is due for replacement, installing solar hot water at the same time can eliminate thousands of dollars from the investment, by choosing a hot water tank and/or boiler compatible with solar. Integrating solar into new construction makes it even more advantageous, since installation is simpler.
HOW DOES SOLAR WATER HEATING WORK?
A solar water heating (SWH) system works in conjunction with your existing water heater or boiler to essentially preheat water before it enters the existing tank. Current systems can be used in conjunction with natural gas, electric or propane backup water heaters and boilers and even with tankless water heaters as long as the solar water heating system is compatible.
INSIDE SOLAR THERMAL SYSTEMS
- Solar collectors, typically mounted on your property’s roof, absorb the sun’s thermal energy.
- A pump circulates a heat transfer fluid from the collectors through a heat exchanger in your solar storage tank.
- The heat exchanger transfers the sun’s warmth to your water supply.
- Hot water flows to your existing water heater, which provides backup heating when the sun isn’t shining.