09 Apr Solar Panels on Cafe’s Roof
Irregardless has ten Thermal Solar panels on the Cafe’s roof. This system was installed in January of 2012 to heat the 1500 gallons of hot water that the Cafe uses each day to wash and sterilize all the dishes, as well as maintain the needs of the dining room and kitchen. By harnessing the heating energy of the sun, the Cafe is able to limit it’s dependency on non-renewable energy sources and pass on these savings to its patrons.
Looking at the solar system in early April, 2016, the dials on the 500 gallon tank showed the temperature in tank to be at 147 degrees Fahrenheit and that 1,348,672 gallons of water had been processed through the system since it was installed. This flow of solar heated water represents more than 2 million BTU’s of energy or 293,100 watts of energy generated by the sun!
The Cafe’s Solar Thermal system was installed by our friends at Yes, Solar Solutions. Their consultants assisted Irregardless in obtaining Federal support as well as State tax credits.
The ten thermal solar panels heat water in a closed loop – which cycle to the 500 gallon hot water tank in the Cafe’s basement. Water to be used in the Cafe is pre-heated by the cycling thermal solar panel water. Once this water is pre-heated – at 147 degrees in early April – it is sent to the Cafe’s gas hot water heaters that bring the temperature of this water up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To meet health code for sterilizing dishes, an additional gas booster heater brings the dishwasher temperature up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
Being sustainable is nothing new for Irregardless. The Cafe has always purchased locally from the Farmers Market, it recycled glass, metal, plastic, printer cartridges decades before being mandated. It’s pre-consumer kitchen scrapes are composted at it’s Well Fed Community Garden and used to fertilize the fields. Water is conserved by low flush toilets. Over the years, the Cafe has been awarded numerous Sustainability Awards including the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Lifetime Sustainability, the Triangle Business Journal’s Green Business Leader of the Year Award, the City of Raleigh’s Environmental Award for Market Transformation, and the ‘Green Plus’ Business Leader of the Year Award. “It’s not a trend, it’s an institution.”