system design, installation and integration.
After soliciting bids from several solar companies, Ron and I hired Sun Water Solar to remove
and replace our old system. Commissioned in
October 2009, the high-efficiency installation
utilizes 406 square feet (about 38 square meters)
of Schüco Premium LA collectors.
We wanted assurance that our system was
performing as intended and achieving maxi-
mum output and savings. We spend part of the
year abroad, so it’s important that we’re able to
monitor our system remotely and address any
performance issues promptly. The SunReports
Apollo1 monitoring device installed in just a few
minutes and provides us with performance and
energy savings data via the internet. From my
iPod Touch, I log onto the SunReports customer
portal to get the operating temperature of the
systems, the timing of pump activation and how
many British thermal units the system is produc-
ing. Our system installer has access to similar
system data through the SunReports installer
We gave 24-hour notice to tenants whenever the
hot water had to be shut off for short periods.
Author Linda Erkelens shows off some of the 14
Schüco collectors that provide 1,277 therms per
year at her 21-unit apartment building.
Copyright © 2010 by the American Solar Energy Society Inc. All rights reserved.
portal. Sun Water Solar was able to monitor solar
loop pump activity, as well as the temperature of
the solar loop and solar hot water tank, and make
minor adjustments to improve performance.
The installation went smoothly, with minimal
disruption of the building’s water system. I got
daily updates on the progress of the installation.
Solar Collectors: 14 Schüco Premium LA
collectors serve one of four Erkelens-Dion
properties, a 21-apartment building
System Collector Area: 406 sq. ft.
Solar Hot Water Storage: Four 120-gal-
lon U.S. Rheem solar hot water tanks
System Energy Production: 1,277
therms per year
Savings: Roughly $1,277 per year (based
on natural gas rate of $1 per therm)
Emissions Displacement: Equivalent to
1.2 cars driving for a year, or burning
14. 8 barrels of oil
The Erkelens’ smallest array, with four Schüco collectors and a single Phoenix storage tank, supplies
nine apartments in an older building.
A Sunreports sensor box collects data and sends
it out to a web portal for remote monitoring of
temperatures and pump status from anywhere
with internet access.
also qualify for a federal tax credit equivalent to 30
percent of the cost. Accelerated depreciation also
helps to offset the cost of the solar equipment.
In June, Ron and I showcased one of our
new solar water-heating systems during San
Francisco’s Solar Day environmental fair. Ron
and I, with our property manager Mindy Ker-shner, got to show off our solar collectors and
mechanical room to homeowners and others on
the tour. While Ron and Mindy welcomed visitors, I was up on the roof showing off the sleek
new collectors. The San Francisco Environment
Department, which organizes the annual Solar
Day event, is a strong supporter of solar water
heating, and we were excited to have the chance
to support them and talk about our own experience with solar thermal.
As we watch fossil fuel prices rise, utility bills
associated with water heating rise too. By installing solar technology today, business owners like
me can begin saving money immediately and
take a big step toward ensuring the future profitability of their buildings. The value of the solar
thermal investment is immense, unambiguous
and quantifiable. ST