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Tour Super Interesting Solar Homes!

April 16, 2016 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

This is a DIY tour. NOT AT TEK PARK! Hope you can check out some of these great places!

MAREA has made arrangement with 10 amazingly cool solar homes in Berks & Lehigh County to open their doors to interested visitors THIS SATURDAY. Drop by anytime between 10 & 3. Visit sites that range from solar trackers, to a do-it-yourself solar hot water heater installation to a passive solar home that is 100% off-the-grid! Here are details–


     1.    Name:    HAPPY ACRES – Kurt & Joanne Reinhart

         Address:    715 Schappell Rd., Hamburg, PA 19526   

         Description:    2,500 sq. ft. ranch home with 8.4 kW rooftop Photovoltaic system. Home is super-insulated, airtight, with heat recovery ventilation, all electric. HVAC via Mitsubishi mini-splits, standing seam steel roof, 4,000 gal rainwater catchment system used for toilets, cold water laundry & exterior hoses, heat pump for domestic hot water, approaching Net Zero (structure produces as much energy as it consumes). Note: Recently added 13 rooftop panels to increase system from 5.1 kW to 8.4 kW.    

     2.    Name:    Solar Trackers

         Address:    44 Gabriel Lane, Bernville, 19606    

         Description:    The tour site is located near Tulpehocken High School in Berks County and consists of two-AllEarth Renewables solar trackers set in a field behind the house. Each tracker contains 24 modules and a 5kW grid-tied inverter. The system is sized at 13.68kW and is designed to offset 100 percent of the homeowners’ annual electrical use. Bill Hennessy of Berks Solar (and MAREA) will be on hand to answer questions.    

     3.    Name:    Shawn Soeder

         Address:    457 Hill Church Road, Bechtelsville, PA 19505

         Description:    Please note: This home is still under construction with limited parking and you may need to walk up the driveway (on the steeper side)!

Your reward for the walk is a tour of an unusual “Passive House” home and an overview of the energy features. The two-story home is being built to net-zero ready energy standards with European triple pane windows, passive solar design, air tight enclosure with continuous ventilation, and double wall construction with extremely high levels of insulation.    

     4.    Name:    BULLFROG FILMS John Hoskyns-Abrahall & Winnie Scherrer

         Address:    372 Dautrich Road, Reading, PA 19606 (Exeter Township)   

         Description:    This installation was featured in the MAREA dvd Saving Sunshine–Keeping the Lights On with Batteries and Solar Power.

The seven kilowatt system consists of 30 pole-mounted modules that are connected to the grid and an independent battery backup system. The solar modules provide clean, renewable electricity for the everyday needs for the office of this environmental film distributor, while the solar modules and batteries provide backup power for lights, heat, phones and computers in the event of a power failure. System installer and star of the dvd, Bruce Hankins, will be at the site to discuss the details of the ac-coupled system with its multiple inverters and manintenace-free Deka batteries.    

     5.    Name:    Bob Elwell

         Address:    314 Kulps Road, Barto, PA 19504   

         Description:    Describing himself as “a guy interested in net zero building,” Bob is constructing a 2100 square foot, three-bedroom rancher supported by nine-foot tall Superior Walls in the basement. The house has flash and batt R-35 insulation for the 2×6 walls above grade, R-60 flash and batts in the ceiling and R-20 insulation on the basement walls. There is a 7.6 kW roof-mounted PV system with 27 modules and SolarEdge optimizers. The mechanicals include a geothermal heat pump for heating and cooling and energy recovery ventilation. The house design is based on home plans from a magazine that Bob enhanced with energy saving and sustainable features. The house is under construction.    


     1.    Name:    Matt & Shawn Keller

         Address:    10952 Folk Road, Breinigsville, PA 18031   

         Description:    3.2 kW solar array on the workshop roof, grid tied, installed January 2010. 25 Megawatt Hours to date. The solar array, inverter, and meter are located in or on workshop alongside the driveway for easy access.

BONUS: In addition to my solar system, enjoy speaking about Chevy Volt and WVO diesel Volvos.    

         Directions:    From route 222, turn South on Folk road at Premise Maid Candies. Take 1st left – country lane about ⅓ mile from 222 and drive to workshop.


     1.    Name:    Wes & Linda Loder

         Address:    1394 Greene Hill Court, Kutztown, PA 19530   

         Description:    Self-designed timber-frame home (1,375 Sq Ft) with passive-solar design heat (300 ton heat sink), off-grid home. Solar alone is enough to heat the house until December. Back up masonry heater at center of home heats into March with less than two cords of wood/season typical). Electric power from 1.2 KW of photovoltaic panels except for well water supply (has own panels and a 2000 gallon, gravity fed tank). Backup generator used only twice in the five years they’ve lived here. Power stored in four six-volt batteries. An inverter changes the DC to conventional household AC current. Hot water comes from a solar panel with a tank and heat exchanger. Have an on-demand, propane-powered backup heater but almost never use it.    

         Directions:    The house is at the end of a long driveway that passes through woods off the end of Greene Hill Court, Kutztown-located in southwestern Weisenberg Township, Lehigh County.

FROM the north, west or east:

Take Interstate 78 (Route 22) to Exit 45 (New Smithville). Turn south, cross Old 22 and continue south up a rise on State Route 863 (Independent Road). The road bears left down into a valley, but you will head straight onto Siegfriedale Road. Continue for less than a mile, then turn left onto Helffrich Road. Take second right onto Greene Hill Court and follow to its end and through the red gate. There is parking by the house and along the driveway.

FROM the south:

Take Route 222 to where it intersects Route 863. Turn north on 863 and cross Schantz Road. In 1.6 miles you will enter a wooded valley. Turn left onto Helffrich Road and proceed up a steep road that rises to the turn for Greene Hill Court on the left. Follow to the end as per instructions above.

     2.    Name:    Bob Hintze

         Address:    2826 Winding Way, Bethlehem, PA 18017

         Description:    Self-installed solar hot water system:

A solar hot water Heliodyne do-it-yourself system comprised of two-4X8 solar panels installed in 2007. It is a closed external loop, counter-flow, glycol system that preheats an 80 gal storage tank that is plumbed in series with a 50 gallon, GE heat pump tank that was recently installed (old 13 yr. standard electric unit began to leak). On a bright sunny day in August, the solar system preheats the water to 140 +/- degrees and requires tempering. In January it increases the water temp only 10-15 degrees. At our previous home, we had a similar Grumman system installed in 1981 with PA incentive funds. That system ran without any maintenance or issues through 2007 when we moved to present home.    

         Directions:    Home is on corner with Buckingham Street and is visible from Center (Route 512).


April 16, 2016
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Event Category:


TEK Park
9999 Hamilton Blvd.
Breinigsville, PA 18031 us


Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Association (eastern PA)