The solar heating design for this adobe church in Taos, New Mexico won Valverde Energy a national award for Simplicity of Design from the Radiant Panel Association (RPA). The RPA is an organization devoted to the improvement of radiant (floor heat) systems. Larry Mapes (CEO) has contributed to RPA publications.
The solar thermal system is very basic. Floor tubing is laid densely (6″ spacing) over insulation before the 6″ of concrete was poured. The concrete is the storage medium and the heat is provided by 3-4×8 flat plate collectors. The heat transfer fluid is pumped from the solar panels to the floor with a PV ( solar electric) powered pump, so this system is completely self sufficient and requires no infrastructure to deliver energy except the solar system. This type of solar heat system is a good choice for smaller applications and have proven very reliable. The back up for this system is a wood stove. The Chapel is well insulated and does not get below 60 degrees in the winter due to the massive storage of the concrete floor and our very high New Mexico solar resource, even when the back up is not being used. We call this type of solar energy storage “Point of Use Storage” TM. A favorite of ours. One moving part!