More than 50 solar-powered homes along with 20-plus electric and hybrid vehicles will be showcased at the DFW Solar Home Tour this year. Above, Rick Bollar's Tesla will be on display at his Southlake home. Photos courtesy of the North Texas Renewable Energy Group.
Sept. 29, 2014
By Julie Thibodeaux
Every October, North Texans can see solar installations on homes across the Metroplex at the DFW Solar Home Tour, hosted by the North Texas Renewable Energy Group.
Right, The Westbrook home in Fairview includes other green features such as a geothermal ground source pump and a rainwater catchment system.
This year, in addition to the more than 50 homes showcased during the fifth annual event on Oct. 4, there will be 20-plus electric vehicles and hybrids on display.
“Having an electric car is one of most fun ways you can use your solar array,” said Rick Bollar, one of the tour’s organizers. “We found in the past, that for a lot of folks, this is first time they’ll get to see them.”
Left, Solar Trees track the sun and rotate throughout the day at Kohl’s Customer Services Operations Center in Dallas.
With help from the North Texas Electric Auto Association and DFW Clean Cities/Electric Vehicles North Texas, event-goers can check out a range of vehicles including Leafs, Volts, Teslas and a Volkswagen Golf that’s been converted to an EV.
You can even get behind the wheel of a Model S Tesla from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Preregistration is required.
Bollar, whose Tesla will be featured on the tour, said he loves his EV.
Left, Event-goers can tour the AMP Power Shed in Cleburne, an option for those without roof access.
“Every morning I start out with 200 miles of range and I can go everywhere I want to go,” he said. “I can't tell you how many gas stations I have not been to,” Bollar joked.
As for the solar displays, tour-goers can preview the sites on the website and read comments from the homeowners who will be available to answer questions.
“[Solar] is intimidating because it’s a large purchase,” said Bob Litwins, one of the tour organizers. “The benefit of the tour is really being able to talk to somebody who's been through the process.”
The majority of the locations will showcase roof-mounted systems with a few featuring ground mounted equipment. Many of the homes feature additional renewable energy such geothermal systems, rain water collection and wind turbines. The home in Weatherford has been off-grid for two years.
Left, the LEED platinum Environmental Education Center in Plano features a wind turbine and a rainwater catchment system. Below, the Renner home in Weatherford operates off the grid.
In addition, several commercial sites are on the map, including the LEED Platinum Environmental Education Center in Plano, Kohl’s customer service center in Dallas and the 1SolTech manufacturing facility in Farmers Branch.
Litwins, whose home is on the tour, will be among those advocating the financial and environmental benefits of going solar.
Five years ago, he added solar panels to his 2,100-square-foot home. He said his highest electric bill this year was $60. Now he’s planning to add to his system.
“Next year, I may not have bills,” he said.
The DFW Solar Home Tour hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. but check individual sites for exceptions. The event is free.
Julie Thibodeaux is the Managing Editor for Green Source DFW. Previously, she worked as an editor and writer at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Contact her at Julie@greensourcedfw.org.
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