Easy Energy installed 600 solar hot water collectors on carports in the community along with significant hot water storage that will provide about 85 percent of the community’s residential need along with heating two of the complex’s five swimming pools.
There are four residential buildings with 600 units and about 650 residents.
“Multi-familiy projects like this are a really good fit for what we do,” said Easy Energy Vice President Holly Rodriguez. “It’s very cost-effective when you think about it. I mean there are 600 residences there. To put 600 systems on individual homes would be a huge undertaking.”
Rodriguez said Easy Energy has been installing commercial solar hot water systems in Arizona since 2007 and has had the most success with multi-family projects that have central boilers rather than individual hot water heaters in each unit.
“Multi-family housing is huge for us,” Rodriguez said. “There’s a constant hot water load.”
She said other common customers include hotels, but the hot water usage in hotels, especially during the summer in Arizona, is sporadic. And some of the advantage is lost because the water doesn’t get used.
Commercial solar hot water heaters are beginning to gain more traction among multi-family developers and owners, but it’s still not the first thing they consider, Rodriguez said.
“It’s not a technology they think about right away,” she said. “If they’re building a new facility, they’re thinking about boilers, not solar. And if they’re upgrading, they’re thinking about more efficient boilers.”
So, there is a lot of salesmanship involved. And it used to be an easy sell before gas prices fell so low.
“We really have to show them the long-term pay-off,” Rodriguez said.
And that is happening. Solar hot water systems like the one Easy Energy installed at Fellowship Square are usually a very good fit for multi-family developments.