Colorado Dome Home – from Astronaut’s Dream House to Educational Facility

From on 03/26/2013 in Category Solar Spotlight with 5 Comments
Photo Credit: Iron Edison

Nestled in the foothills just west of Denver in Conifer, Colorado is a home unlike any other in this predominately suburban neighborhood. The 4,049 square foot “Dome Home” was originally built in 1996 by Bilby Wallace, a former astronaut, and sits on 38 beautiful acres at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 

Ground mounted PV panels installed into the side of a mountain by Southard Solar.

From a Home to a Classroom

The home’s newest owners recently purchased the property to serve as an experiential learning center for a new educational nonprofit. The “Dome Home” will serve as a classroom showcasing the benefits of a renewable energy lifestyle. The passive solar design of the home uses the mountain’s edge and the precise locations of all doors, walls and windows to maximize efficiency. This keeps the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

Homeowners recently updated the 9 kW PV system to a 15 kW PV system, looking to demonstrate the feasibility of total power independence. The home is completely off-grid and has the ability to fully charge the owners’ two electric vehicles.

Photo Credit: Iron Edison

System Details

The new 15 kW PV system was commissioned by Sunny PRO Club member Southard Solar, a solar expert with more than 20 years’ experience. Southard Solar installed four 3 kW pole mounts, one 3 kW ground mount,  five SMA Sunny Boy 3000-US inverters, two SMA Sunny Island 5048-US inverters, and a 48 V 1000Ah Nickel Iron battery bank by Iron Edison. The expected life of the 25-year Iron Edison nickel-iron battery system is the most environmentally sensitive choice for off-grid and renewable energy storage applications.

 

Exterior of the Dome Home – built into the ledge of the Colorado Rockies.

Monitoring Energy Consumption

The constant monitoring of the home’s energy consumption allows students to learn about managing power use and reducing waste.  A PowerWise energy monitoring system was installed, which enables the homeowner to track exactly where power is being wasted. SMA Sunny Portal sends the homeowner a daily report that details PV production and battery voltage.

Showcasing environmentally-friendly living and conservation were key factors for the owners when purchasing the famous Colorado “Dome Home.” The new owners are looking forward to teaching students young and old that living off-grid is within reach of everyone.

Solar Spotlight aims to highlight SMA inverters in real-world situations. Email us with information about your SMA-powered PV projects at SocialMedia@SMA-America.com 

Colorado Dome Home – from Astronaut’s Dream House to Educational Facility
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5 Comments

  • avatar

    Hank wahl

    03/26/2013 at 2:59 pm

    It would help to know the cost of these components and more details of operation

    Reply »
  • avatar

    Kelby Balson

    03/26/2013 at 3:49 pm

    Wow! What an amazing example of what can be done to minimize ones carbon footprint. I’m especially impressed with the use of the Nickel Iron battery for energy storage – with a 25 year lifespan, its hard to believe that more solar installations aren’t using these. Lead acid batteries last something like 5 years – who wants to replace 500 lbs of batteries every 5 years?!

    I also like how the doors are perfectly located for heat/cool based on the season. Good stuff!

    Reply »
  • avatar

    Vin Nadaskay

    04/26/2013 at 8:40 am

    How can I find the name of the builder/contractor/construction company that built this dome home?

    Reply »
    • avatar

      Melissa Womack

      04/26/2013 at 1:41 pm

      Hello Vin,

      The “Dome Home” in was hand-crafted by master builder John Zimmerman. Unfortunately I do not have any contact information for him.

      Best Regards,
      Melissa

      Reply »
      • avatar

        Dominick Aven

        08/04/2013 at 9:48 pm

        Try this web page. They are the original monolithic dome company.

        http://www.monolithic.com/

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