Project Name: Buggy Bath Car Wash
Location: Bozeman, MT
Installer: Liquid Solar Systems
The owner of Buggy Bath Car Wash decided to install a solar water heating system at the car wash not just to save money, but also to attract customers. In fact, the owner boasts the message “We Use Solar Heated Water” on a sign outside the car wash. The solar water heating system is a simple drainback design that uses a 250-gallon, non-pressurized storage tank for the solar heated water. The system functions year round; in fact, in the cold Montana winter months, the water is heated from a chilly 39˚F to nearly 100˚F for use. The solar water heating system saves hundreds of dollars each month, keeping prices low at the car wash and allowing the business to remain competitive.
Buggy Bath owner Lynne Hubert got a $20,000 loan to install a new water-heating system that’s powered by eight SunEarth solar hot water collectors on the car wash’s roof.
“My energy bill was getting so high that I was going to have to raise my prices,” said Hubert, who’s owned the do-it-yourself style car wash on East Main Street for 12 years.
On a busy day, Buggy Bath customers go through about 500 gallons of water, which is heated up from 39 degrees to around 100 degrees for use, said Todd Hoitsma owner of Liquid Solar Systems, which installed the car wash’s solar water heater.
“The busiest days are also the sunniest days,” Hoitsma said. “People wash their cars when it’s sunny out, not when it’s raining. So, a car wash is a pretty ideal place for solar systems.”
The solar system will cut Buggy Bath’s heating costs by 40 percent and the savings created will pay for the system in 10 years, half it’s estimated 20-year life, Hoitsma said.
Location: Bozeman MT
Application: Car Wash
Solar Collectors: 8 Sun Earth Empire 4' x 10' (EC-40) Collectors
System Format: Solar pre-heated water
Rated Power Output: ·327.2ft2 / 10.76 * 0.7 = 21.286 kW
Yearly Energy Output (kWh): 21.286*4.04*.44*365 = 13,811 kwh
Estimated annual carbon emissions displaced (metric tons CO2): 6.8
Total cost before incentives: $17,000
Total cost after incentives: $11,900
Estimated annual savings: $1,400
Estimated savings over the life of the system: $35,000
Estimated life of the system (years): 25
Estimated return on investment (years): 8.5
Heat energy generated on an annual basis (BTUs): 96.2 million