We own 35 acres of land in
the Ghost Mine Ranch
subdivision on the west side of the San Luis Valley, 8 miles north of
Del Norte. The climate of the San Luis
Valley is cold but very sunny, making it suitable for a solar heated
house. The current weather is
measured by our weather station. Essentially all of the electricity
used by the house is generated with a photovoltaic system. A solar hot water system provides nearly all
of the hot water heating for the house.
Our manufactured house is set on a basement of passive solar design, which collects sunlight and
stores energy to heat the house. It is off the utility grid except for
propane delivery and wireless communications.
The Guerdon manufactured house was built with R45 insulation in the
ceiling, but otherwise it is little different from other mobile
homes built to HUD construction standards. Its windows are not
optimized for solar gain, and are not particularly numerous on the south
side. However, the south side of the basement is covered with windows
which collect solar energy that is stored in concrete basement walls and
gravel under the slab. Heat from the basement is circulated into the
house through a system of vents and a computer-controlled fan.
We have measured the solar heating
performance of the design. During the 2011-2012 heating season the
backup furnace ran for less than 5 hours.
A poster (0.9 MB PDF) presented
at the Joint CU/NREL Energy Symposium (October 3, 2006) describes the
solar design and performance of the system. A slide
presentation (1.3 MB PDF) given at the University of Colorado Civil
Engineering building systems seminar (February 8, 2007) describes the
design process, efficiency, and cost effectiveness.