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Prairie Dog 3 Passive Solar by Sun Plans, Grid Tied PV w/ Battery Backup in VT

October 1 @ 12:00 am - 11:59 pm - January 15, 2023 @ 12:00 am - 11:59 pm

The Prairie Dog 3 featured in Mother Earth News is a passive solar home designed with a south-facing roof to also receive PV. Ruth and Doug have recently reroofed, added 2 PV panels for a total of 24 panels, and enlarged the battery backup to a 260-lb SolarEdge battery. A SolarEdge app allows them to monitor production and usage hourly from anywhere. As of June 17th, they tested the power outage and it all works. They can be off the grid when needed. No problem if they lose electricity (and well water) during future power outages.

Other recent changes were to remove the backup propane fireplace heater since it was never used and to install a mini-split cold climate heat pump. Hopefully, this will allow them to transition away from the oil furnace installed over 15 years ago for domestic hot water and baseboard heat. They are considering a change to a heat pump for hot water. With the tight building envelope (and HRV system), auxiliary heat is normally only needed in mid-winter months when it can be cloudy for several days and outside temps single digits. The downstairs walkout daylight basement is comfortable year-round with the extra inherent basement thermal mass.

The HERS score was 54 in 2007 when the house was built. They installed an HRV for fresh air. The addition of honey-comb style shades gives added comfort (winter and summer).

The central breakfast nook visually connects to the living areas and boasts an expansive view from the eastern to western horizons – capturing passive solar gain all day long. “…We absolutely LOVE the design and the siting! On Dec. 20th the sun fell less than 24 inches from the center “backbone” wall at 11:30 AM. Needless to say, the whole room was in the bright sun..”

“Passive solar is a fantastic benefit. Lots of natural light! The siting gives us beautiful views daily. All the energy efficiencies are built in (tight shell, highly rated windows, HRV system.) We like the efficient use of square footage as designed; there is not a lot of “wasted space.”

Ruth and Doug have been net zero on an annual basis since they installed the PV in 2010!

Floor plans and other photos can be found here.

They highly recommended PV installer

Photo Tour


October 1
January 15, 2023


Debbie Coleman


Sustainable Features
Battery Storage, Energy Efficiency Upgrades, Energy Monitoring, Heat Pump(s), HERS Rated Certification, Net zero, Passive Solar, Solar PV - Rooftop, Sustainable Living
System Size (in kW):
5.86 kW
Solar Site Type
HERS rating
Sun Plans Inc.


Priarie Dog 3
New Haven, VT 05472 United States + Google Map

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