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Solar Hot Water (SHW) Systems



The demand for solar energy to heat water is growing, driven by the rising cost of fossil fuel and the urgent need to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.

The sun’s energy is clean and renewable, and with a state-of-the-art SHW system, the sun’s energy can heat the water for showers and baths, dishwashers and laundry machines – even indoor swimming pools.

But can an SHW system work in a co-op or condo? The answer is yes, especially if your building has 13 or fewer floors and is not shadowed by taller buildings.

How does a SHW system work?

Solar collectors – either evacuated tubes or large, flat panels – are typically installed on a roof and use sunlight to heat Propylene Glycol fluid (antifreeze), which travels through pipes from the collectors to an external heat exchanger and ultimately heats water in hot-water storage tanks. The tanks are usually installed in a building’s basement but, in a new building, are capable of being installed on the roof itself.

How does a SHW system perform in the Northeast’s temperate climate?

A crane lifts solar panels to the roof of a building. Most installations are done on roofs that are eights stories or shorter.

In the Northeast, solar collectors are usually installed at a 40-degree angle on a roof, facing South for optimal absorption of sunlight year-round. There are days, however, when enough sunlight may not be available to heat the fluid in the collectors. For that reason, SHW systems “preheat” water and hold it in storage tanks.  A building’s conventional method of heating water can also be used to provide a back-up system.

The cost-benefits of a SHW system

30% of the money Americans spend on utilities goes to heating water. A SHW system can save 50% to 80% of that cost.

Community Environmental Center: a Leader in Solar Hot Water installations in the New York Metropolitan Area

Community Environmental Center is a NYSERDA Solar Thermal Eligible Installer, and our SHW installers are certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI).

Community Environmental Center is committed to providing the highest level of system performance, and we partner with the most experienced and also the most innovative SHW system designers in the New York Metropolitan Area.

CEC’s team works closely with developers and architects to ensure that a new or existing building receives the state-of-the-art SHW system appropriate for that building’s needs and the desired ROI.

CEC’s SHW system team provides:

  • A site evaluation
  • Engineering
  • Processing of permits
  • System installation
  • Financial analysis and information about incentives and rebates and processing
  • Post-installation monitoring and support

To discuss this service with someone at CEC, please contact Sarah Gaddis.