Find answers to your frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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Virtually any business that uses hot water can save with solar water heating. Businesses or properties that use a great amount of hot water, such as those that use water for manufacturing, laundering, dishwashing or sanitization can substantially reduce costs. Additionally, solar water heating systems can be used for building heating and cooling, industrial and heat processes, swimming pool heating and other applications that require the heating of water.

Purchasing a solar water heating system is an investment. The expense typically occurs at the beginning of a project, and the savings can offset the cost over the system’s lifetime. The system’s cost and savings depend on several factors, including:

  • The amount of hot water used.
  • The type and size of the solar water heating system.
  • Your geographic location and ability to capture sunlight.
  • The price of natural gas.

Installing a solar water heater typically reduces your cost of heating water by 50-80 percent. The payback can occur in just a few years. To get a better sense of costs and savings, a local contractor can:

  • Help you assess your hot water needs.
  • Design a system.
  • Calculate your rebate, tax credit and return on investment (ROI).
  • Help determine financing options.

Yes, the California Solar Initiative Thermal program through PG&E provides incentives up to $800,000* to eligible business and multi-family customers who install a solar water heating system. **The incentive amount is based on the size and performance of the system, and how much natural gas is saved. The more water you heat with the sun, the larger your rebate. Your contractor typically determines the incentive amount and submits the rebate application.

You may also qualify for a 30 percent federal tax credit for the installed cost of the system. Consult your personal tax advisor for more info.

You can finance the installation of a solar water heating system in many ways, including:

  • Commercial bank and credit union loans
  • Property Assessed Clean Energy
  • Other third-party financing options such as Power Purchase Agreements

*The final rebate amount is based on the estimated savings as determined by your contractor.
**The system must heat water with a natural gas water heater or boiler. Customers who heat water with electricity or propane are not eligible.

Following are additional considerations:

  • Before installing a solar water heater, you can drive down the size and cost of the system by first reducing the overall hot water consumption of your business through energy-efficiency upgrades and measures.
  • You must ensure that your business has adequate roof space exposed to the sun and space for a separate solar storage tank near your existing water heater or boiler.
  • Solar water heating systems are reliable and can last up to 25 years. When properly installed, they require very little maintenance for smooth operation.

The first step is to use our contractor search tool. Visit Find a Solar Water Heating Contractor. We recommend getting at least two to three estimates from various contractors to compare costs, system types and savings.

There is no obligation. You can take advantage of our free information kit to help make an informed decision. Download Solar Water Heating for businesses (PDF, 1.16 MB).

You can verify that your contractor has an active A, B, C-10 or C-46 license by checking the Contractors State License Board website. Visit Contractors State License Board. Ask about experience and check references before signing the contract.

Get an informational guide, a contractor checklist and case studies that show how other businesses have saved. Download Solar Water Heating for businesses (PDF, 1.16 MB).

A solar water heating system can also be a great option for your residence, depending on the size of your home, number of occupants and other variables. Visit Solar Water Heating.

Use our search tool to find an experienced solar water heating contractor in your area who can provide a free estimate. Visit Find a Solar Water Heating Contractor.

Find the info you need to participate in the California Solar Initiative program. Visit Solar Water Heating Contractor Basics.