Solar Water Heater Variance

Public hearing was held on a new solar water heater variance administrative rule

A public hearing on a new administrative rule was conducted on November 1, 2017 at Leiopapa A Kamehameha building, 235 South Beretania Street, Conference Room 204, Honolulu, Hawaii.  Prior notification of the public hearing was publicized in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Hawaii Tribune-Herald, West Hawaii Today, The Maui News, and The Garden Island, on September 29, 2017.

The public hearing was conducted at the stated date, time, and place.  The Hawaii State Energy Office of the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) is currently considering the testimony and will decide on the next steps.

Please visit this website for updates on the solar water heater variance administrative rule and variance request website.


The Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) is proposing the following addition to the Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 15, Chapter 37 (new chapter), entitled, “Solar Water Heater Variance

PURPOSE OF THIS NEW ADMINISTRATIVE RULE:  The main purpose of this new administrative rule is for DBEDT to provide a website for solar water heater (SWH) variance request submissions.  This will enhance the process of applying for and reviewing a SWH variance request by automating many of the tasks now done manually.  The website will provide architects and mechanical engineers a more efficient method of applying for the variance.  When a variance request is approved, it will be automatically e-mailed to the submitter.

This rule also allows the State to charge a processing fee for each variance request.

GOAL OF THE MANDATORY SOLAR WATER HEATER LAW:  It is the goal of the State of Hawaii to achieve 100 percent clean energy by the Year 2045.  A significant part of the process to achieve this goal is for home owners to make their homes as energy efficient as possible.  A solar water heater is one of the best ways that a homeowner can save energy (and money) in Hawaii.

Information and forms to apply for exemption from solar water heater mandate

As of January 1, 2010, all NEW single-family dwellings built in the State of Hawaii are required to have a solar water heater (Act 204, June 26, 2008, now HRS 196-6.5).

Click on the link below for a Microsoft Word version of the Variance Request form.  Requests should be printed on the letterhead of a licensed architect or mechanical engineer.

Requests and Life Cycle Cost Comparison (LCCC) worksheets must be signed and stamped by a licensed architect or mechanical engineer and sent using the information listed below (please put “SWH Variance” in subject box).

  • E-mail:
  • Fax: 808-586-2536
  • U.S. Postal Service: DBEDT Energy Division; SWH Variance; PO Box 2359; Honolulu, HI 96804-2359
  • Hand delivery: DBEDT Energy Division, 235 South Beretania Street, 5th Floor, Room 506, Honolulu, HI 96813

Click on the link below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding variances to the State of Hawaii’s mandatory solar water heater law. To read the PDFs, you will need appropriate software such as Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader.

Depending on the reason for your variance request, you may also need to complete the “Water Heating Life Cycle Cost Comparison” spreadsheet, below.

The Excel spreadsheet used to calculate life cycle costs for solar and other methods of water heating contains formulae which can’t be read unless you use the Excel software. This explanation provides information about the formulae and lists the calculations for people completing the spreadsheet form manually.

A chart summarizing requests for a variance from the solar water heater mandate received by DBEDT will be updated here regularly, as requests are received and as variances are approved or denied.

If you cannot find an Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL)-certified gas, tankless water heater, install a gas tankless water heater that has some kind of North American safety certification, such as CSA or other Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) member.  A list of UL-certified instantaneous gas water heater manufacturers is available at Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.  On the UL Online Certification Directory:

  1. Type LUVK into the “UL Category Code” box
  2. Click on the “Search” button

The next UL “Online Certifications Directory” page lists companies that make UL-certified instantaneous gas water heaters (8 companies are listed).  The names are linked to lists of the UL-certified gas tankless water heaters.  Please note some water heaters are “commercial.”