Solar heating for a mobile home?

Are any mobile-home manufacturers now producing units with solar heating? What are the chances of converting a mobile home to solar heating? G. W. Pitser Golden, Colo.

At present no mobile-home company is building a unit with solar heating, according to Ron Stevenson of Solar Southwest, Odessa, Texas, a subsidiary of Star Adair Insulation.

However, this does not means that you cannot convert a coach to solar heat. Indeed you can, depending on the location, says Mr. Stevenson.

The most likely way, says Mr. Stevenson, is to place the collectors on the ground and then tie into the heating system under the home. "It's easy to get underneath a mobile home so you can work on the heating system," he says. "You can use either a liquid or hot-air system, depending on the circumstances."

I have the name of the Solar Energy Research Institute in my file and its located right there in Golden. Give it a call.

The placement of the coach is important. A mobile home that faces east and west will gain a lot of heat, reminds Mr. Stevenson.

And the cost? An active system can be expensive. The cost of adding full solar, including heating and hot water (plus storage), is about $5 per square foot, according to Mr. Stevenson. This applies to any type of unit -- a mobile home or conventional structure -- he adds.

"Whether it's a mobile home or a conventional structure, you have a certain amount of heat load -- and the heat load is what determines the cost," he reports.

Perhaps you could use some kind of passive system which would be less costly to install. You might scout around locally to find out what's available.

The Colorado Solar Energy Association could probably suggest an installer in your area. Also check with the University of Colorado in Boulder as well as the state energy conservation office in Denver.

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