The “Ask a Builder” series is dedicated to answering some of the many questions Fairbanks residents have about building, energy and the many other parts of home life.

FAIRBANKS — Solar can be a cost-effective technology, even with the cold winters and variable sunlight of Fairbanks, if you have the right conditions at your home.

CCHRC will be offering a class on applied solar thermal systems for Alaska homes on Monday, May 18. The class, which runs from 7-9 pm, will be taught by CCHRC’s research engineer Bruno Grunau, who currently manages the seasonal solar thermal storage system at the research center.

The two-hour class is an introduction to solar thermal systems in cold climates for both homeowners and builders. It will cover solar thermal system basics, how to judge when solar thermal systems are appropriate for your home, heat distribution options, and which systems can benefit from seasonal thermal storage. We will also discuss examples of solar thermal systems in Alaska, sample payback calculations and additional resources for those interested in installing a solar thermal system. Class participants will be able to view the different parts of the solar thermal system at CCHRC and its current performance data.

If you are unable to attend the class, but still interested in solar thermal systems, join us for one of our free monthly building tours. The tour covers the various heating systems in the building, including a solar thermal storage system that stores heat in a buried water tank in the summer for use in the winter (on our website at You’ll also learn about our wall systems, foundation technologies, wastewater treatment, research projects and prototype homes in Alaska communities. Tours are offered the second Thursday of the month at 2 p.m. Summer dates are May 14, June 11, July 9, and Aug. 13. We hope to see you here.


When: Monday, May 18, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Cold Climate Housing Research Center, located at 1000 Fairbanks St., off Geist Road

Cost: $20 per person, or $10 for CCHRC members (membership forms available at

Register with Sandee at or 457-3454.

Continuing education credits available for contractors. If you would like the CEUs, let Sandee know so we can have the certificate ready for you.

Ask a Builder articles promote home awareness for the Cold Climate Housing Research Center (CCHRC). If you have a question, contact us at or 457-3454.