The annual Maine Solar Tour is set for Oct. 4 in dozens of locations across the state.

There are 70 buildings on the solar tour this year, including not only homes but also public buildings such as a new classroom building at the University of Southern Maine, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association headquarters in Unity, remote resorts and bed and breakfasts, Richard Komp Ph.D., of Jonesport, president of the Maine Solar Energy Association said.

“We all work together, but each tour organizer finds homes and other places in her (or) his part of Maine,” Komp said in an e-mail. “The solar tours are always held on the first Saturday in October – Oct. 4 this year.

“The Maine Solar Energy Association has been doing these tours for 18 years and this year is our biggest event.”

The Maine Solar Tour is a part of The American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour and The Northeast Sustainable Energy Association’s Green Building Open House.

Among the tour locations in central Maine is the home of Iver Lofving, at 32 Mount Pleasant Ave., Skowhegan.

Lofving has a little solar car he will show visitors. It holds two people, goes over 25 m.p.h. and travels about 30 miles on each charge – but unlike a gasoline car, when it runs out you park it in the sun and it recharges itself, Lofving said.

He also warms and illuminates his retrofitted home.

“We have two systems, one is a photovoltaic panel – a typical solar panel that collects sun rays and makes it into electricity,” Lofving said. “It goes through a charge controller and goes to batteries and then goes out through a fuse box and into a couple of little circuits. It runs LED lights in the house and little 12-volt plugs that can run anything.”

Other locations for the 2008 solar tour in central Maine include:

• In Unity at MOFGA – Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association – headquarters. Vernon LeCount, facilities coordinator, 294 Crosby Brook Road, Unity.

“On the MOFGA fairgrounds, we have two different solar heating projects – one is a hot-air collector that heats our sprinkler building during the winter. The water stored in the building acts as a heat sink for the collector,” LeCount said in a release. “This collector is so successful we have removed the propane heater from the building and are keeping the water from freezing only with solar heat.”

LeCount said the collector was built from scratch with locally available building materials. He added that this type of solar technology could be employed by homeowners and businesses to inject warmed air into basements or other parts of a structure in winter.

The second project at MOFGA is a 1500-gallon, ground-mounted hot water collector to heat the main building at MOFGA. This homemade design allows construction of a hot water collector for less than a manufactured system would cost, LeCount said.

• The second location in Unity, for the tour is open 12-5 p.m. The tour is hosted by John McIntire and Nancy Rosalie, 323 Crosby Brook Road, cross the road from MOFGA.

Organizers say this is an interesting example of making a small footprint on the planet. It is owner-built without debt. Measuring under 500-square-feet, it is a small but adequate off-the-grid electrical system for a composting outhouse and hand-carried water.

• Floyd Severn, 485 W. Mills Road, in Starks. Severn is a solar energy dealer and does installations, consulting, design education and training services, with 31 years of doing business in Maine.

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