Case Study: Solar Transformation at Buggy Bath Car Wash, Bozeman, Montana


  • Project Name: Buggy Bath Car Wash
  • Location: Bozeman, Montana
  • Installed: 2009
  • Installer: Liquid Solar Systems

In the charming city of Bozeman, Montana, the Buggy Bath Car Wash embarked on a remarkable journey towards sustainability, driven by both cost-efficiency and the desire to attract environmentally-conscious customers. This case study delves into the extraordinary installation at the Buggy Bath Car Wash, where a solar water heating system not only lowers operational costs but also proudly showcases its commitment to sustainable practices.

Project Overview

Lynne Hubert, the owner of Buggy Bath Car Wash, made a visionary decision to implement a solar water heating system. Beyond saving money, the system was strategically used as a selling point to attract patrons. A sign outside the car wash proudly proclaims, "We Use Solar Heated Water," capturing the attention of conscientious customers. The solar water heating system features a straightforward drainback design, incorporating a 250-gallon, non-pressurized storage tank for solar-heated water. Operating year-round, the system impressively raises the water temperature from a frigid 39°F to nearly 100°F during Montana's chilly winter months. This energy-efficient system consistently saves hundreds of dollars each month, allowing Buggy Bath to keep its prices competitive and customer-friendly.

Lynne Hubert secured a $20,000 loan to finance the installation of the solar water heating system, which is powered by eight SunEarth solar hot water collectors prominently placed on the car wash's roof. The decision was driven by rising energy bills, which were threatening to necessitate price hikes.

On a bustling day, Buggy Bath's clientele uses approximately 500 gallons of water, all of which undergoes heating from 39°F to around 100°F, thanks to the Solar Hot Water System. Todd Hoitsma, owner of Liquid Solar Systems, the installation company behind the project, noted that sunny days, when customers frequent the car wash, align ideally with solar energy production, making car washes excellent sites for such systems.

This forward-thinking solar setup is projected to reduce Buggy Bath's heating expenses by 40 percent, with the accrued savings covering the system's cost in a mere 10 years, halfway through its estimated 20-year lifespan.

Key Project Details:

  • Location: Bozeman, Montana
  • Application: Car Wash
  • Solar Collectors: 8 Sun Earth Empire 4' x 10' (EC-40) Collectors
  • System Format: Solar pre-heated water
  • Rated Power Output: 21.286 kW
  • Yearly Energy Output (kWh): 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

Contact Information

For more information about SunEarth and their solar energy solutions, please visit SunEarth.

To learn more about Liquid Solar Systems, the installer responsible for this environmentally-conscious project, please visit their website at Liquid Solar Systems.

The Buggy Bath Car Wash project is a shining example of how solar energy can not only reduce operational costs but also enhance a business's appeal to eco-conscious customers. This case study highlights the seamless fusion of economic viability and sustainability, illustrating the enduring benefits of solar water heating systems in everyday businesses.


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