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Solar greenhouse designed for a cloudy climate.

Can even the cloudy Williamette Valley allow passive solar heating? Absolutely. This greenhouse near Eugene is proof, providing 40 percent of the original house's heat from October through April. If solar heat can work there, it can also be effective in many other not-so-sunny climates throughout the West.

Designed by Oregon Appropriate Technology for Kathy and Louise Seither, this south-facing 12- by 14-foot greenhouse extends into the east yard. (Because the house's south end abuts the property line, no addition could go there.)

A skylighted solarium enclosing a small former deck connects the greenhouse with the house and provides a fine place to sit. Heat wafts directly into the adjoining kitchen; more important, a fan-fed attic duct delivers heat to main living areas of the house.

To reflect light evenly onto the plants, the north wall is lined with the type of white baked-enamel hardboard usually used in showers. A planting bay is in front; a potting bed, supported by heat-storing black metal drums of water, spans the middle of the greenhouse. More drums line the north wall.

At night a bifold shutter of aluminum-framed rigid insulation closes to retain heat. The small winch that operates the shutter has a single cable that branches to both sides of the door to prevent jamming when it's pulled shut. Wheels on the door's upper corners roll along garage-door tracks on each side of the glass wall. To prevent heat buildup in summer, the shutter can be closed and exterior vents located high in the side walls can be opened to release heat.

The $6,250 cost of the greenhouse brought back $2,500 in federal and state tax credits in 1981; heat savings should pay for the balance in about eight more years.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:May 1, 1985
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