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Publication Title | A Match Made In Heaven

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Ben Mancini

& Ralph Pfleger

©1999BenManciiniiandRallphPflleger

Above: Eighteen PV panels run along the roof edge. A 4 by 12 foot hot water panel sits low in the foreground.

t isn’t often that customers walk into our central Arizona store who not only want to purchase a solar

electric system, but who also want to build a passive solar home. It’s even more unusual if they already know how much power the home is going to require.

The combination of passive solar design and PV is a perfect match. A passive solar home requires less energy for heating and cooling than a conventionally built home. If it is well designed, no electric lighting is used in the daytime. These three energy loads often account for a high percentage of the energy used in a conventional home.

Pieces Fall into Place

It wasn’t long after I met Kevin McKean and Jennifer Scott that the pieces started falling into place for their renewable energy home. The property that they found had a small solar-powered cabin on it, but the system wasn’t quite large enough for their needs. Instead of

upgrading that system, they decided to build a separate system for their new house. With the construction of the house, the old system has been dedicated to water pumping and pressurizing. It runs an AC submersible pump and an AC pressure pump.

As Kevin and Jennifer thought about the kind of house they wanted, it became apparent that their lifestyle was very well suited to living in an off-grid home. Their energy consumption was not large and they liked the aesthetics of passive solar homes. They contacted Michael Frerking, a local architect with extensive experience in passive solar home design using rammed earth and cast earth building materials.

Michael designed a home that was built with a new and innovative cast earth technology which uses concrete trucks to mix and deliver the material, and grout pumps to place it. The mixing and placing method can be up to eight times faster than traditional rammed earth building. The home design includes trombe walls, direct gain for the living room area, daylighting throughout the house, and thermal mass storage in walls and concrete slab. The northwest corner of the house is about three feet (1 m) below grade. The whole house has a very low profile from the road, and sits below the treetops.

8 Home Power #70 • April / May 1999

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