The Irving West Library is one of nine Learning Centers on the DFW Solar Tour this year. Photos courtesy of DFW Solar Tour.

Oct. 1, 2019

There’s nothing new under the sun, or so the proverb goes, but the old technology that turns sunlight into electricity just keeps renewing itself in better and cheaper ways. 

As a result, many folks are ready to make the leap to solar - to power their home or perhaps juice up their electric car. For them, a wealth of information – and confusion – awaits online. 

UNT Zero Energy LabThe UNT Zero Energy Lab in Denton.

Thankfully a group of local solar advocates join forces every year to shed some light on renewables without the pressure of a sales pitch.

“We really can help educate somebody interested in renewable or solar beyond what’s out there on the web,” said Robert Litwins, committee chair of the DFW Solar Tour. “We can provide information that’s not always readily available, and we can make sure people understand what to watch out for.” 

Renner Off-Grid HouseThe Renner's off-grid house in Weatherford.

Now in its 10th year, the free, self-guided tour hosted by the North Texas Renewable Energy Group takes place at sites across the Metroplex on Saturday, Oct. 5. It is the biggest event of its kind in Texas, and among the largest in the U.S. This year’s tour comprises 30 locations – up from fewer than 10 when the DFW Solar Tour debuted in 2009.

Far from just a platform to promote solar energy alone, the tour will highlight how homeowners and businesses can use solar and wind energy, energy-efficient products and other sustainable technologies to reduce utility bills and consume fewer natural resources. Tour participants can see actual operating installations, talk to homeowners about their experiences and speak with company representatives about renewable-energy equipment. 

Solar Lunch BoSee a solar lunch box at Owenwood Farm & Neighborhood Space.

Activities and displays include Solar 101 talks (Watch here); solar cooking demonstrations; tours of LEED-certified buildings; an off-grid house powered solely by renewable energy; and solar cars designed by local high school students. You can also learn how to make a portable “solar lunchbox” to recharge your phone or tablet and check out a camper that was converted to solar.

The workshops and demos will take place at nine Learning Centers. See links for activities at each Center:

Solar CamperSee the solar camper at the da Vinci School.

Cedar Hill Government Center
IKEA Frisco
Irving West Library 
My Possibilities
North Garland High School
Owenwood Farm & Neighborhood Space
Tarrant County College South Campus
The da Vinci School 
UNT Zero Energy Lab 

Most sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can visit the tour’s Locations page and follow the links for each host site to see maps, directions and specific visiting hours. 

Schwartz homeThe Schwartz home in Grapevine.

Litwins said some of the biggest changes in the tour’s 10-year history include the sharp drop in the cost of solar-power systems and a much broader selection of equipment available to the public. 

“When I bought solar panels back then I paid more than $7 per watt of rated panel output. Now it’s down to around $3 per watt,” he said. “And the availability of panels that are of higher efficiency has improved.” 

Litwins said it typically takes about 10 years to recoup a solar-system investment, but some installers now claim the break-even point can come in as few as five years.

2019 DFW Solar Tour

About: 10th annual tour hosted by the The North Texas Renewable Energy Group, a local chapter of the Texas Solar Energy Society. (TSES is the state chapter of the American Solar Energy Society.) The self-guided tour features 30 locations, including homes, businesses, schools and municipal buildings featuring solar and other sustainable features. There are nine Learning Centers with activities and workshops include solar demos, solar tours and solar cars. See details on website.

When: Saturday, Oct. 5, 10 a.m. 4 p.m. Hours vary by location. Check each location for hours.

Cost: Free


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