Free Hot Water, a San Jose, Calif.-based solar thermal engineering firm, says it has designed a solar heating and hot water system for a San Francisco apartment complex that is cost competitive to traditional natural gas systems. The project is expected to go online later this month.
The client, Barak Jolish, a San Francisco building developer, received a total of five bids to install a new hydronic heating and hot water system for his three-story, 50-unit, 19,260 square-foot student housing complex renovation. His lowest conventional natural gas system bid was around $200,000. With Free Hot Water's proprietary solar thermal system design, Jolish received a complete solar thermal heating and hot water system at the same $200,000 cost, the company says.
When rebates and tax incentives are included, the net installed cost was under $114,000. Additionally, Free Hot Water's solar and energy efficiency solutions will reduce the apartment complex's operating costs by over 66% per year.
The project features storage tank solutions, 95% efficient boilers, an energy-efficient pump station design and a central controller that optimizes the heat and hot water flow of the building's entire energy system. Eighteen 4 x 10 U.S.-manufactured solar collectors will provide 750 gallons/day of solar hot water.
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.