A solar panel on the roof of the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies

Friday, October 5, 2018

With the aid of a $20,000 grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and a $34,840 contribution by the NEIU Student Green Fee Fund, Northeastern Illinois University has installed a solar hot water system at the Jacob H. Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies. The four-month project was completed in September.

With steady hot water demand, the solar system is capable of delivering more than 250 gallons of hot water daily to the building located in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago.

The solar tank serves as a pre-heater to the backup gas water heater, so the building will always have hot water—even on days without sufficient sunshine. Most of the time the solar tank will be the primary source of hot water for the Carruthers Center. Because the solar tank will do most of the water heating, the conventional gas water heater’s life expectancy will be extended and the need for maintenance will be reduced, offering added cost savings in addition to the energy cost savings.

Designed and installed by Solar Service Inc., the system consists of 200 square feet of solar thermal collectors (five 4-by-10-foot solar panels) manufactured by Alternate Energy Technologies of Green Cove Springs, Fla., and a 120-gallon Lochinvar commercial storage tank connected in series to the Center’s conventional gas water heater. Two stainless steel heat exchangers transfer the heat from the solar panels to the storage tank. Three self-lubricating, energy-efficient Grundfos pumps operate to collect thermal energy when the solar control determines there is solar heat to be gained.

The Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation is an independent foundation with a $225 million endowment provided by Commonwealth Edison. Its mission is to improve energy efficiency, advance the development and use of renewable energy resources, and protect natural areas and wildlife habitat in Illinois.

The NEIU Student Green Fee Fund provides financial resources for the implementation of clean and renewable energy technologies and improvement of campus energy efficiency at Northeastern.