Tour of Solar Homes set for Oct. 2

From press release

What is it like to produce your own electricity from the wind and the sun? To live in an energy-efficient building? What does it cost? These and other questions will be answered during the National Tour of Solar Buildings.

Saturday, Oct. 2, buildings across the nation will be opened to interested visitors. The tour provides an opportunity to see, firsthand, energy systems that won’t run out of power, can’t have services cut off or withheld, that continue to function when neighbors lose power, and safeguard human health and protect the environment.

North-central Illinois residents will open their homes and buildings to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the annual tour. Visit one or all of them on your own schedule. Owners will be available to show their systems and answer questions.

Small wind generators such as those shown on the tour can generate electricity efficiently in many areas of Illinois. They are the most productive during the winter. Photovoltaic (solar electric) systems and solar hot water systems require full sunlight from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. They are the most productive during the summer. A hybrid system (which some sites have) combines the best productivity of both.

Other features, including geothermal systems and green roofs, offer energy efficiency at reasonable costs.

We hope you will take advantage of this interesting and informative event to see for yourself how solar energy works for real people in real places. Today’s visitors might be next year’s hosts.

Sites on the tour (listed from south to north) include the following:

→ Trudi Temple, 18317 Garden Valley Road, Marengo, Ill., (630-276-6530): Set of 11 trackers, 30.8 kW system.

→ Ron Marten, 102 Buena Vista, DeKalb, Ill., (815-756-3896): solar pv system and geothermal heating and cooling.

→ Bob and Sonia Vogl, 1230 E. Honey Creek Road, Oregon, Ill., (815-732-7332): Hybrid grid-connected photovoltaic and wind power system with battery back-up; stand-alone (cabin-type) photovoltaic installation. Also woods and prairie restorations.

→ Kickapoo Nature Center, 1919 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon, Ill., (815-732-1442): Super-insulated “1-watt” nature center built on German Passivhaus principles. Earth tube; innovative roof heats building in winter. Heating system is being tested by Oak Ridge National Lab.

→ David Merrill, 139 Perene, Byron, Ill., (815-234-2530): Hybrid photovoltaic and wind power system: battery back-up solar PV system; grid-tied solar system, wind turbine in the city; corn-burning stove for winter heating.

→ Byron Forest Preserve District, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815-234-8535): 5 kW Pv system on Jarrett Center building, which may be expanded to 10 kW; Keller Education Center with 3 kW PV, 3 kW wind and geothermal. Gold (moving toward platinum) LEED certification.

→ Keith and Mary Blackmore, 9024 W. Grove Road, Forreston, Ill., (815-3204): Ground-mounted photovoltaic system, super-insulated house, greenhouse.

→ Freedom Field, 3333 Kishwaukee Road, Building 9, Rockford, (815-387-7570): Integrates and tests new technologies, including solar PV, two wind generators, solar hot water air conditioning system; live data from solar air conditioning; green prairie roof. Winnebago County project.

School (outside viewing only):

→ Reagan Middle School, 620 Division St., Dixon, Ill.: Largest ground-mounted solar installation on a school in Illinois.

Outside viewing only (do not enter property):

→ Marlene Bertolozzi, 32960 Dawn Drive, Kingston, Ill.: hybrid photovoltaic and wind power system.

The national sponsor of the tour is the American Solar Energy Association. The host of the north-central Illinois tour is the Illinois Renewable Energy Association.

If you have a system that you would like to have included on the 2011 tour, contact or phone (815) 732-7332.

From the Sept. 22-28, 2010 issue

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