It’s time for Solar Tour 2016

By Sonia Vogl 

On October 1, the annual north central Illinois Solar Tour will be held. Six homes and buildings will be open for visitors who are interested in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Owners will be available to discuss their systems and answer questions for all but one system.

Buildings will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The tour is free and open to the public. No advance registration is required. Visitors simply stop at the homes that are of interest to them – one or all.

Sites on this year’s tour, from south to north, are:

  • Bob and Sonia Vogl, 1230 E. Honey Creek Road, Oregon, 815-732-7332: Hybrid grid connected photovoltaic and wind power system with battery backup; three separate PV installations; stand alone (cabin type) photovoltaic installation. Hoop house for winter greens. Wood heat using wood collected from the property. Woodland and prairie restorations. Tour organizers.
  • Kickapoo Nature Center, 1919 N. Limekiln Road, Oregon (cell only): Super insulated “one-watt” building built on German Passivhaus principles. Includes earth tube.
  • David Merrill, 139 Perene Ave., Byron, 815-234-2530: Two systems: hybrid photovoltaic and wind power system with battery backup and grid tied, east-west 6 kW solar system.
  • Bruce Roe, 5719 E. Skinner Road, Stillman Valley 815-234-8039: Photovoltaic system with two installations to test production in relation to time of use: one facing south; one facing east and west. Projects include eliminating wasted kWh, attempts to construct solar panels, and more.
  • Just Goods, Lee Schreiner, 201 7th St., Rockford, 815-965-8903: 8 kW Photovoltaic system; visitors can read what is currently being produced and what has been produced. No tour leader available.
  • Klaus and Teri Hoffman, 8232 Pueblo Dr., Rockford, 815-721-4490: Solar hot water using evacuated tubes, provides ~75 percent of hot water needs, since 2007. Photovoltaics providing more electricity than actually used, now gridtied, started as a backup system more than 10 years ago. Only efficient lighting (mostly LEDs). Added insulation and modern windows. Wood heat providing 50% of heating. Rainwater collection for plant watering.

The north central Illinois Solar Tour is hosted by the Illinois Renewable Energy Association as a public service. IREA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

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