Dec 28, 2013

A Tour of Solar Home that Uses 10 Solar Principles located in "ski country", with NO furnace

"Located in the cooler central Utah climate at 6,000 foot elevation, the Allan's solar home integrates at least ten different forms of solar, including: trombe wall, solarium convection, photovoltaic cells, propylene-glycol heat exchange, eutectic salt chamber, berm insulation, black chimneys and under-ground intake for passive solar air conditioning, and dehydration of food."

Here's a photo from about 5 years ago of the David and Edna Allan solar home, which has no furnace, but has stayed adequately warm all winter for two decades now. Note the cross country ski poles in the foreground, which is how David (and Edna sometimes) stays fit when there is too much snow for him to go mountain biking. He typically goes around 7 miles / day, 4-5 times each week on his mountain bike, on a course that involves an 800 foot change in elevation, and that's not counting the intermediate ups and downs along the way. My son and nephew and I joined him yesterday for a short version of his trek, and were impressed both by the view, the rigor of the path, and his stamina.

Sterling D. AllanTwenty years ago, my parents began construction on one of the most amazing solar homes in the world in Fountain Green, Utah. I count nine solar principles involved, two of which are active, with the remainder being passive.

Located at an elevation of 6,000 feet, in what is commonly thought of as 
"ski country", with winter temperatures dipping as low as -20 ºF, the home does not have a furnace, but is heated by a combination of solar concepts compiled and designed by my Dad. He is an atomic clock physicist from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, Colorado, where I grew up. My mom is responsible for most of the vegetation, including the planting and knowledge of the use of herbs for health and healing. My dad said he doesn't remember a single time in which the home has gotten cooler than 50 ºF.

While many of the solar principles are in use widely elsewhere (photovoltaic and solar thermal system), there are some that are much more scarce (the Trombe wall, the passive solarium air cycling, and the berm insulation principle), and some that are nearly completely underappreciated (the eutectic salt chamber, and the solar air conditioner), from which entire industries could spring to provide the tools, resources, and design work for people to implement them. The geodesic dome greenhouse and the wood chip gardening also demonstrate forward thinking in the most ancient of solar technologies: gardening.

After two decades, yesterday, finally, I was given permission to shoot a video tour of the home. 

Here's a photo I took of my dad at the entry of the home, featuring the "TRUTH IS LIGHT" keystone, which came from a granite rock that the builder, Alan Wright, procured from a refurbishment of the Salt Lake temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon).

Since completing the home in 1992, they've had a continual stream of around 100 visitors a year, mostly friends and acquaintances wanting to check out the home. Not only do people enjoy the science, but they love the ambiance of the home and its beautiful surroundings, with mountains on three sides, including Mt. Nebo to the north. (The next town to the south is Jerusalem, consisting of maybe three homes and 5 turkey sheds.)

But until now, they have not agreed to do a video of the home. The reluctance over the years has come from several reasons, including wanting to stay under the radar, and privacy.

Last week, catching them right after they happened to have tidied up the home, my parents let me do a live web cam tour of the home as part of my "This Week in Free Energy" segment on the SmartScarecrow show. Unfortunately, the resolution on that was very poor. So yesterday, while I was visiting, my Dad agreed to do a video tour with me using a better camera. So now, thousands can benefit from their wisdom.

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