House:A brand new log cabin of about 2000 square feet. I don't recall the insulation used, although log cabins are not known for high insulation levels.
Electric System: 12 PV panels mounted on the barn, with a propane generator as backup.
I visited only one house this year, the Lord's in Kennebunkport, ME. This is probably the most famous solar house in Maine, and it is a showcase of what can be done. The house has 2900 square feet, and is stick built to R-38 walls.
Electric System: 16 ASE 4' x 6' PV Solar panels rated at 4200 watts. Providing an average of 4195 Megawatt-hours of electricity per year thorough a grid-intertie system.
Heating System: 1000 gallons of water heat storage, connected to 480 square feet of solar water panels.
A house for experimenting with, and displaying solar techniques. The owner is very active in promoting renewable technology, and she organizes the solar tour in this area.
House: The house is a large 3500 square foot owner built house.
Electrical system: 32 Seimens PV modules and a 1 kilowatt Bergey XL wind generator supply the batteries for this off grid system.
Heating system: 11 solar hot water panels placed beside the house generate heat into for hot water, the radiant floors, and a hot tub. This system suffered from being experimental, with troubles mixing between the two tanks, and unbalanced heat exchange.
In contrast, The third house I visited, was built in 1981 and had been solar the entire time. The owners built it themselves, farmed the surroundings all without ever encumbering themselves with a mortgage.Description: Kal & Linda began to use solar electricity to power their home in 1981. They built their passive solar home in 1977, later adding 2 additions. The electrical system provides power for a high efficiency refrigerator, a computer, & most of the comforts of a grid-connected home. The large battery bank gives them 10 days of backup power for extended cloudy periods; a propane generator is used a few times a year to recharge the batteries. Most of their home runs on 12 & 24 volt DC, but an inverter is used to pump water & run power tools & home appliances. They use a composting toilet to minimize water consumption. They grow most of their own food in their large garden, & use canning & a root cellar to keep their food year round.
Description: House 3,000 sq ft, located mile off the road, built in 2002/3 (still a work in progress). 2 KW solar system with 14 BP panels on the roof, 12 Rolls 5000 series Serette deep cycle batteries, Trace inverter. Automatic generator backup, no grid connection for power or phone.
Description: House a 2,000 sq. ft. hybrid timber frame salt-boxish, mostly straw bale outfill. Bale walls finished with earthen plaster, strapped & clapboarded over outside. Finished & moved in December 1999, used solar during building. Solar array: 2000W, 16 Astropower 120W roof mounted panels. Batteries: 4 Surette 6 cell. Inverter: Trace SW4024.5000W Honda generator for back up. House essentials: lights, water & heat pumps, on 24 DC. Inverter supplies AC non-essentials: (washing machine, vacuum) & wood shop. 5 roof solar panels for domestic hot water & radiant floor heat, with wood & gas back ups for winter.