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?
These — and other — questions will be answered by home and building owners with solar PV and other renewable energy installations during the Tour of Solar Places in north central Illinois.
The free event, sponsored by the Illinois Renewable Energy Association, will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 1.
Solar tour participants, from south to north, are as follows:
• Victor and Polly Zaderej, 3588 S. Daysville Road, Oregon, Ill.: Super-insulated “1-watt” house built on German Passivhaus principles; solar PV; earth tube.
• Bob and Sonia Vogl, 1230 E. Honey Creek Road, Oregon, Ill., (815-732-7332): Hybrid grid-connected photovoltaic and wind power system with battery backup; stand-alone (cabin-type) photovoltaic installation; solar greenhouse; hoop house.
• Kickapoo Nature Center, 1919 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon, Ill.: Super-insulated “1-watt” building built on German Passivhaus principles; earth tube; heating from roof monitored by Oak Ridge Lab.
• David Merrill, 139 Perene, Byron, Ill. (815-234-2530): Hybrid photovoltaic and wind power system with battery backup.
• Tom Snodgrass, 6618 W. Apple Road, Mt. Morris, Ill. (815-734-4307) has an earth tube, an ingenious culvert that cools his large work shed in the summer and warms it in the winter so he can work year-round without the need for a furnace or air conditioning. (About 7 miles out of Mt. Morris). Also, movable solar heater for calf barn.
• Keith and Mary Blackmore, 9024 W. Grove Road, Forreston, Ill. (815-938-3204): Ground-mounted photovoltaic system, super-insulated house, greenhouse.
• Freedom Field, run by Winnebago County, 3333 S. Kishwaukee St., Rockford: Nonprofit organization formed to facilitate the development and operation of renewable energy center. Integrated systems including solar heating and cooling, solar PV, vertical and horizontal wind generators, green prairie roof and training/experiment stations.
• Lantow Lofts, 502 Seventh St., Rockford (815-964-8280): Complete renovation of century-old building, solar thermal panels used to heat water for domestic use; the largest geothermal heating/cooling system in Winnebago County; many recycled materials used in construction.
From the Sept. 28-Oct. 4, 2011, issue