About Community Solar Thermal, LLC

What's that on Franklin's roof? A few dozen neighbors got together to create Community Solar Thermal, LLC (CST). Together we funded the installation of an array of eleven solar panels that uses the sun's energy to pre-heat hot water. Most houses don't need as much hot water as what even one of these panels can make, but a busy restaurant and brewpub needs plenty of hot water! So we've partnered with Franklin's Restaurant/Brewery/General Store in Hyattsville. 

Our panels are installed on Franklin's roof, and the hot water storage tanks are in the basement. As a result, the restaurant will use less natural gas for heating water, and over time, those savings will pay back the LLC's investment.  A community project like this is one more way to put the sun to good use and is something even folks who can't put panels on their own home can get involved in! So next time you're over Hyattsville way, take a peek at the array (there's a good view from the Alt Route 1 bridge) and then stop in at Franklin's for a brew or a meal that's more eco-friendly than it used to be!

So how did the whole installation process unfold?
 Well, first, we found a good location as well as a business 
The panels!owner willing to jump into the solar. As most know, Mike Franklin (who was the catalyst for change in Hyattsville) has been busy opening his new restaurant in College Park, and while he liked the idea of solar, putting in panels himself was a complication he didn't want to take on alone. This is where CST came in. We bought the panels and arranged for their installation. Franklin's then buys from us the energy the system produces. 

And how exactly do the savings come about?  First, our solar system heats water. The water is then fed into Franklin's natural gas heating system to bring the water to the temperature needed by the restaurant. Since the water entering the natural gas heater is already really hot, much less natural gas is needed to finish the heating process. As this is solar hot water and not electricity, we are generating clean BTU's that would otherwise be created by burning natural gas which results in the emission of CO2 and methane. (For those who need to know, a BTU, short for British Thermal Unit, is a basic measure of thermal (heat) energy. One BTU is the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit, measured at its heaviest point.)    See the tanks and photos of the install here.

Coming soon - check here to see how the panels are performing!

This site was created and edited by CST Members for educational purposes only. Please contact the site administrator by clicking here with any questions, comments or edits.