News : Solar-Powered Greenhouse Showcases Alternative Energy

Jun 23, 2015

Originally Published in Foster's Daily Democrat.

By Crystal A. Weyers

With some help, Micum Davis has installed a geodesic dome greenhouse, 26-feet in diameter, in his own backyard.

Functioning with the aid of a few small solar panels and some very innovative tactics, the greenhouse was able prevent several of Davis’ herbs and vegetables from dying during the long, cold winter.

“The snow sheds right off of it and the wind cruises around it,” he said during a solar solstice celebration sponsored by Seacoast Area Renewable Energy Initiative (SEAREI) at his home on Saturday.

Although held on the day before the actual solstice, when the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky, SEAREI Program Director Doug Bogen said solar panels actually work best in the winter.

“The colder weather lets the electrons move faster,” he said.

Davis’ dome utilizes solar panels to power an exhaust fan, an undersoil heating system and a water-circulating feature. The greenhouse itself is heated directly from the sun and then self-monitors its interior temperature.

“It’s designed to keep the coldest nighttime temperature 30-degrees warmer than the outside temperature,” said Davis, a SEAREI board member. “It always has a direct line with the sun because it’s round and it operates without any fossil fuels.”

During the celebratory event, Davis was planning to install a simple solar-powered waterfall in the dome’s 1,200 gallon tank, which helps cool or heat the interior depending on the season.

“I’ve always been interested in doing things efficiently,” he said. “It seems like there’s a lot of waste in a fossil fuel-based economy. It’s a no-brainer to harness the energy of the sun now, when it hits the earth, rather than waiting millions of years.”

The dome, which Davis refers to as his “hot house,” came as a kit from a Colorado-based company called Growing Spaces and cost $16,000.

“I think it’s only a matter of time,” said Davis’ wife Jennifer Wilhelm of the need to convert to more renewable energy sources. “We can either change our energy sources by choice or be forced to do it.”

With a convoy of Toyota Priuses lining the driveway, others in attendance were like-minded.

Read the whole story on Foster' Daily Democrat.