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Lake Flower Apartments (Saranac Lake, New York, USA)

Credits: ©Nove Do It Yourself Solar

Lake Flower Apartments in Saranac Lake is a high rise apartment building (~9 stories tall) that provides housing to elderly people.

What is very cool about the building, is that they installed a 48 collector solar domestic hot water system in March of 1987. Why they did this is anyone’s guess, but it was certainly a great idea.


Lake Flower Apartments (Saranac Lake, New York, USA)

The building itself from across the lake, showing hot water collectors on the roof. ©Nove Do It Yourself Solar

The history of the system is a little fuzzy but essentially it was used to an unknown capacity from 1987 (when installed) until sometime in the late 90’s/early 2000’s. In 2006 the system was drained and refilled, and some maintenance was performed by another contracting company. This included replacing some insulation as well as rerouting some piping and installing a propane fired on demand water heater as a backup to the solar system. The solar array on the roof preheats cold water before being sent to the tankless propane fired water heater which will heat it up the rest of the way if needed. From here it goes to a series of three 100gallon storage tanks and then is distributed amongst the apartments in the building as needed. The building houses 78 residents and with staff, about 90 people total. Between the solar hot water system and the propane tankless water heater, 100% of hot water demands are met. The solar hot water collector array consists of 48 collectors in groups of 3-7 collectors each. Each group of collectors is connected in series, and the separate groups are then connected in parallel. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the building and the setup by the maintenance guys, which was coordinated through one of my college professors.