Annual Tour of Solar Homes set for Oct. 2

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-ky7Jv1olzy.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘PV panels can be located almost anywhere—on the ground, on a house roof, even on an old corn crib, as this system is. Owners are Bob and Sonia Vogl of Oregon, Ill., who will be profiled in the Oct. 2 Tour of Solar Homes.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-6rKEMenxeg.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘One of the units installed by Bruce and Joyce Papiech of Sublette, Ill., which will be profiled in the Oct. 2 Tour of Solar Homes.’);
StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//img-u9BEvQ9jwt.jpg’, ‘Photo by Sonia Vogl’, ‘Bob Vogl with his system’s inverter and solar disconnect (indoors) in Oregon, Ill.’);

Since 1996, the National Solar Energy Society has set aside a day in October for people with solar power on their homes to share their experiences with others who are interested in learning more about it. The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) and the Illinois Renewable Energy Association (IREA) co-sponsor tours throughout this state. For the fourth consecutive year, the IREA is hosting the event for north central Illinois, including Winnebago, Ogle and Lee counties. Eight area families will open their homes and buildings to the public for the annual Tour of Solar Places on Oct. 2 (unless otherwise noted).

Most installations will be open to the public between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The Blackmore and Woodford installations will be open from 10 a.m. until noon. Owners will be available to talk with visitors and answer questions such as: What’s it like to produce your own electricity from the sun and the wind? To live with an independent energy system? Do you need to change your lifestyle? Will the system change the appearance of your home, or can it be blended into the design of your building? What does it cost? How much upkeep is needed?

Each year, more homes are added to the tour. Visitors can learn how solar power can be used directly for heating homes and water or converted into electricity by either photovoltaic panels or wind generators. Both passive (heating) and active (generating electricity) systems can be viewed this year.

Sites open, from south to north:

Bruce and Joyce Papiech, south side of Sublette Road between Sublette and Dry Gulch Road (south of Amboy): The largest residential grid-connected solar photovoltaic installation in the state of Illinois: 50 kilowatt commercial, privately owned system.

Jim Koehlert, 7834 Hoosier Rd., Ashton: Both a 4.9 kilowatt photovoltaic system and two wind generators: a 1.0 kilowatt Bergey and a 1.0 kilowatt Whisper mounted on a recycled water pumping tower. Also outdoor wood burning furnace.

Bob & Sonia Vogl, 1230 E. Honey Creek Rd., Oregon: Two photovoltaic installations: One is a grid-connected combination of a 1.6 kilowatt amorphous cell system and a 1.6 kilowatt polycrystalline system with battery backup. The second is a small stand-alone system, suitable for cabin installation, which provides power to a small outbuilding.

Kent and Kathy Lawrence, 1919 N. Limekiln Rd., Oregon: New “green” home built with renewable energy as a major consideration. It includes solar PV and a wind generator, passive solar heating, energy efficient windows, flooring composed of renewable or recycled resources, and many ecologically friendly materials used in construction.

Bob Akers, 7460 Rt. 64 West, Mt. Morris: Solar PV; wind; solar hot water; corn stove that heats the house (all small installations).

Keith and Mary Blackmore, 9024 W. Grove Rd., Forreston: Two kilowatt ground mounted PV system; super insulated house with attached greenhouse (10 a.m. to noon only).

Dan Woodford, 2412 Lindbergh Drive, Rockford: 2.8 kilowatts of solar PV installed on a garage demonstrates that it can be done in a big city. Woodford installed most of his system himself, inventing techniques as he progressed (10 a.m. to noon only).

Everyone is invited to view these energy saving installations, part of the American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour.

Local tour coordinators are Bob and Sonia Vogl, Oregon, Ill. (815-732-7332). The IREA Web site is

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