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CNY Solar touts benefits of solar hot-water systems

CANASTOTA — A Canastota firm is specializing in systems that harness the power of the sun to generate heat as well as hot water.

In addition to solar hot-water systems, CNY Solar, Inc. also provides solar-electrical systems and geothermal systems.

The firm, which operates at 2998 State Route 31 in Canastota, has installed the hot-water systems over the past few years, says Justin Williams, who is the founder, CEO, and sole owner of CNY Solar.


The young firm services both residential and commercial customers, he adds.

Altogether, CNY Solar has handled about 140 installations of both solar hot-water systems and solar panels to generate electricity since the company launched in 2009, according to Williams.

“This year, it was more residential [customers]. Last year, it was more commercial [customers],” he says.

In the two years it’s been installing solar hot-water systems, CNY Solar has installed 20 systems, according to Williams. The firm also has customer contracts for 15 more installations of such systems, according to Williams.

The website for CNY Solar includes a map indicating the locations for the firm’s installations so far, which includes several areas of Central New York stretching from Geneva to areas north of the Utica–Rome area.

When asked if the process of installing the solar hot-water systems in homes and commercial buildings is any different, Williams replied, “They’re pretty close.”

 Commercials buildings, he adds, are just on a “much bigger scale,” but it usually involves the same equipment, same piping, and a similar set up.

CNY Solar visits a potential customer for an on-site consultation to determine a customer’s current set up, what energy source (such as electricity, oil) they’re using and then recommend a system for installation with a price quote, Williams says.

If a customer is interested, the home owner or business owner/manager can fill out paperwork for a rebate from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Residential customers express more interest in these solar hot-water systems, but Williams contends they’re also beneficial for commercial clients as well.

“Dairy farms are huge for solar, [along with] laundromats, car washes, [college] dorms … anywhere that consumes a lot of hot water,” Williams says.

CNY Solar started installing the solar hot-water systems about two years ago after NYSERDA opened up a PON (program opportunity notice) and offered money to customers who had the systems installed, Williams says.

“They never used to give money away for solar hot water until a couple years ago, but as soon as [NYSERDA] started doing that, it became very beneficial and very cost effective for customers to install them,” Williams says.

Systems are capped at $4,000 per site/meter for residential systems and $25,000.00 per site/meter for nonresidential applications, according to the NYSERDA website.

Solar-thermal systems can supply between 50 and 80 percent a customer’s hot-water needs, NYSERDA says.

Williams believes an advantage to using a solar-heating system is the ability to generate hot water in the summer months without using electricity.

“…so that you know you’re consuming zero electric[ity] to heat that hot-water tank all summer long,” he says.

In the winter months that usually don’t include as much sunshine, the customer will have to turn their circuit breaker back on to generate electricity for the hot-water tank, Williams says.

But for the months with nicer weather, the solar hot-water system could provide “ease of mind” for someone to know “they’re taking a shower or doing the dishes and it costs them nothing,” Williams says.

Some commercial customers, he notes, use propane to heat their hot water, which he believes is “very costly.”

“It can cost a lot just for propane to keep that hot-water tank up to temperature. But if we install a solar-thermal system, all summer long, you may burn a minor amount of propane,” Williams says.

The firm’s suppliers for the hot-water kits include Greenwood, S.C.–based Velux America, Inc., which CNY Solar highlights on its website. Still, Williams considers Chesapeake, Va.–based Solar Panels Plus the firm’s “major supplier.”

Velux America is part of The Velux Group, which is based in Denmark.

The Velux name is derived from two words Ventilation and Lux, the Latin word for light, according to the veluxusa website.

CNY Solar employs nine full-time workers, including office staff and installers. One of the employees serves in both roles, Williams says.

He hopes to hire two more full-time installers before year’s end.

Williams declined to disclose CNY Solar’s revenue information, but said its 2012 revenue figure was up 25 percent compared to 2011.


Contact Reinhardt at



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