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Electronic filing now available for solar water heater variance


HONOLULU – The State of Hawaii has made several changes to the application process for a solar water heater variance, including a new electronic filing option and the addition of a $25 processing fee.

State law requires all new single-family dwellings in Hawaii to be built with a solar water heating system unless a variance is granted under limited circumstances. Until now, variance requests were submitted through the mail, via e-mail or fax, or hand delivered.

Gov. David Ige recently approved a Hawaii Administrative Rule that allows applicants to complete solar water heater variance applications electronically. Electronic filing will expedite processing, allow for payment of the fee via credit card or e-check, and permit online tracking of variance requests. Applications may be submitted electronically at

Applicants also may continue to file variances through the previous means. More information about the mandatory solar water heater law and variances can be found at:….

The new administrative rule also authorizes the addition of a $25 processing fee for each variance request. The Hawaii State Energy Office (HSEO), a division of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, solicited community input on the proposed changes to the administrative rule during a public hearing last fall.

Under Section 196-6.5 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, solar water heater variances can be accepted only if submitted by a licensed architect or mechanical engineer that can attest the application meets one of the four following conditions:

  • Installation is impracticable due to poor solar resource.
  • Installation is cost-prohibitive based upon a life cycle cost-benefit analysis that incorporates the average residential utility bill and the cost of the new solar water heater system with a life cycle that does not exceed 15 years.
  • A renewable energy technology system, as defined in HRS Section 235-12.5, is substituted for use as the primary energy source for heating water.
  • A demand water heater device approved by Underwriters Laboratories Inc. is installed, provided that a least one other gas appliance is installed in the dwelling. For the purposes of this paragraph, “demand water heater” means a gas-tankless instantaneous water heater that provides hot water only as it is needed.

HSEO created the new solar water heater variance permitting system in partnership with Hawaii Information Consortium LLC, the official internet portal manager of

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