ree hot water body


San Jose, Calif.-based Free Hot Water, a solar thermal engineering, procurement, and manufacturing company, won the 2013 Intersolar North American Project Award for its 50-unit apartment building project in San Francisco.

A panel of solar industry judges chose Free Hot Water for its innovative and cost-effective design of a solar hydronic heating, hot water and photovoltaic system that was shown to be cost-competitive with a natural gas system.

“Receiving this Intersolar award is significant because it recognizes that solar hot water and solar heating can now stand on its own as a cost-competitive energy choice,” said Gal Moyal, CEO and chief engineer of Free Hot Water. “As a result, apartment building developers and architects no longer have to decide between clean solar energy and natural gas.”

For the same price as a conventional gas system before any incentives, Free Hot Water’s 15th St solar thermal and PV project included solar water heating, solar hydronic radiant heating and 95% efficient gas boilers as a backup system. A “smart” pump station and a centralized mobile dashboard allows building managers to monitor and adjust all three energy systems from any laptop or mobile device.

Additionally, a 4.5kW solar PV system offsets the building’s energy-efficient lighting and the solar thermal’s pump station. 

“We’re very grateful to the Intersolar judges for recognizing Free Hot Water’s innovative engineering,” said Paul Burrowes, COO of Free Hot Water. “We’d also like to thank Barack Jolish, the building’s developer, for the opportunity and for making a sustainable choice.”

As a result of Free Hot Water’s design, Jolish estimates that his building will save about 66% on his annual operating costs. He is working with Free Hot Water to design solar systems for his other buildings.

“I would certainly urge other building owners to use solar thermal technologies for their renovation and new construction projects,” he said.