Solar Water Heater Variance

Effective September 4, 2018

New Solar Water Heater Variance Procedures and Online Application

All new single-family dwellings built in the State of Hawaii are required to have a solar water heater (Hawaii Revised Statutes §196-6.5). If a solar water heater will not be installed, a “variance” (exemption) from this state law must be requested and approved for building plans to be accepted. “Single-family dwelling” includes Accessory Dwelling Units and similar single-family dwellings.

Online Application for Submitting Solar Water Heater Variances is Now Active. This online application will help expedite the submittal of requests for variance from the Solar Water Heater mandate.

Architects and Mechanical Engineers: Please use this online application to submit solar water heater variance requests. Pursuant to HRS §196-6.5, only architects and mechanical engineers licensed to do business in the State of Hawaii may submit a request for a solar water heater variance.

Solar Water Heater Variance Request Online Application


Required Processing Fee of $25 for Every Variance Request. Each request for a solar water heater variance submitted through the online application requires a $25 payment by credit card or eCheck.

Requests submitted via e-mail, fax, U.S. Postal Service, and hand-delivery also require a $25 per request processing fee. For these offline requests, a check in the amount of $25 per request payable to “State of Hawaii-DBEDT” must accompany the variance request or be sent to: DBEDT Energy Division, SWH Variance, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804-2359. A check can also be hand-delivered to the Hawaii State Energy Office at 235 South Beretania Street, Room 506, Honolulu, HI 96813.

Write the Tax Map Key(s) (TMK) on the check.

Note: A cashier’s check can be processed 2-4 weeks faster than a personal check. If a check is not received within 10 business days of the receipt of the request or if the check does not clear within 29 business days of receipt of the request, the request shall be denied.

There are no refunds for denied requests.


Submitting Requests Using Offline Application

The online application allows for easier fee payment and tracking of your variance request. However, if you prefer to complete a variance request using the manual process, see the section below for instructions and links for submitting a request via e-mail, fax, U.S. mail, or hand-delivery.

Submitting requests using the offline application still require a processing fee of $25 per request. The variance request form has been revised to reflect the new payment requirements.

All solar water heater variance requests must use the latest form below. The use of older forms will cause the request to be denied.

There are no refunds for denied requests.


Offline Request Form for a Solar Water Heater Variance

Click on the link below for a Microsoft Word version of the Request for Variance form. Use this form if submitting a variance via e-mail, fax, U.S. mail, or hand-delivery. All requests received on or after September 4, 2018, must use this form. Use of older forms will not be accepted and will cause the request to be denied. There are no refunds for denied requests.

Solar Water Heater Variance Request Form 9_17_2018

Follow the instructions on the form. Incorrect or incomplete forms shall cause the variance request to be denied.

Offline Variance submittal information:

  • E-mail:
  • Fax: 808-586-2536
  • U.S. Postal Service: DBEDT Energy Division, SWH Variance, P.O. Box 2359, Honolulu, HI 96804-2359
  • Hand-delivery: DBEDT Energy Division, 235 South Beretania Street, 5th Floor, Room 506, Honolulu, HI 96813. Office hours are Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed on state and federal holidays.

If needed, please submit the Life Cycle Cost Comparison (LCCC) worksheet with a variance request. Instructions to complete the LCCC and an explanation of the LCCC can be found in the links below. Requests and LCCC worksheets must be signed and stamped by a Hawaii licensed architect or mechanical engineer and sent using the submittal information listed above. If submitting by email, please note “SWH Variance” in subject box.

The Excel spreadsheet used to calculate life cycle costs for solar and other methods of water heating contains formulae which cannot be read unless you use the Excel software. The “Explanation of Life Cycle Cost Comparison” (PDF) provides information about the formulae and lists the calculations for people completing the spreadsheet form manually. If completing the form manually, all source data must be identified if deviating from the source data in the excel sheet.

SWH Life Cycle Cost Comparison (Excel)

Explanation of LCCC Calculations (PDF)

The chart below summarizes all the requests for a variance from the solar water heater mandate processed by DBEDT. It is updated regularly as requests are received and as variances are approved or denied.

Summary Chart of Solar Water Heater Variance Requests-Oct_15_2018 (PDF)



All NEW single-family dwellings built in the State of Hawaii are required to have a solar water heater (HRS §196-6.5). A request for a variance from this state law can be submitted to DBEDT if it meets the criteria for variance as attested (and submitted) by an architect or mechanical engineer licensed to do business in the State of Hawaii. As stated in Act 204 (June 26, 2008), the legislation creating HRS §196-6.5, “the purpose of this Act is to increase the use of renewable energy to protect our environment, reduce pollution, make housing more affordable, and enhance Hawaii’s local economy.” HRS §196-6.5 also allows for the creation of administrative rules and the assessment of fees.

Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 15, Chapter 37, “Solar Water Heater Variance,” was adopted on August 27, 2018. The purpose of this administrative rule is to provide an online application to automate solar water heater variance requests. A response to the variance request will be automatically e-mailed to the submitter when a decision is made. This rule also allows the State to charge a processing fee for each variance request.

A public hearing on the administrative rule was conducted on November 1, 2017, Leiopapa A Kamehameha building, 235 South Beretania Street, 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. Also, public notice about the administrative rule and the hearing was posted on this website and at all four county building permit offices prior to the public hearing.

More background and supporting information can be found on the Frequently Asked Questions:
FAQ: Solar Water Heater Variance (PDF)