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Case Study of the Month

Sola Cafe


The Sola Caf’e, located in Bozeman, recently added a solar hot water (thermal) system.  This system, designed and installed by Harvey’s Plumbing & Heating, produces 50 to 70 percent of the businesses annual hot water needs.  Customers who enjoy the Caf’e’s delicious food and drinks can further enjoy these products knowing that they are benefiting the environment by reducing carbon.  We highly recommend Solar Coffee which can only be enjoyed in Bozeman through the Sola Caf’e. 

The Sola Caf’e

The Sola Caf'e with its new Solar Pannels

The Sola Caf’e, established in April of 2008, offers a community gathering place with delicious food and coffee.  Located on Bozeman’s south side, on the corner of South 3rd & Kagey across from the Museum of the Rockies, the Sola Caf’e serves fine espresso drinks, smoothies, house baked goods, salads, soups, panini, and savory entree items.  The Sola Cafe also offers a healthy array of packaged foods and beverages including organic milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, snacks, and candies plus a selection of wines and micro-brews.  Their drive-through window, and online and text ordering enables convenient service for busy families to obtain quick take-home dinners or special treats for parties or gatherings.

The Caf’e’s Solar System Components

The solar thermal design installed on the Sola Caf’e is comparable to a system installed on a home with a family of six.   Three panels provide 75 square feet of collector space, two hot water tanks provide about 100 gallons of storage, and a unique double walled solar heat exchange system exceeds industry standards.  The "closed loop" system also provides protection for winter nights when temperatures drop below freezing.  Another interesting caveat is that the system’s unique controls with WEB access for viewing performance details.

Renewable Energy Federal Tax Credits and Grants

The Solar Thermal system installed in the Sola Caf’e enables the owner to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit currently available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  This credit, available to businesses as well as homeowners, reduces the cost of the system by 30% with no cap.  This opportunity is also available for businesses in the form of a federal grant.  The federal grant, however, requires data logging and performance reporting for a period of five years after a renewable energy system is placed in service.

(Reprinted with permission from Harvey’s Plumbing & Heating)