Lighting Up Diablo Canyon, Arizona

According an article by Cindy Yurth in the Navajo Times (22 Dec 2011):

[Paula] Curtis is the first beneficiary of the Plateau Solar Project, a partnership between Navajo nonprofit IINA Solutions, Mark Snyder Electric and Global Solar Water Power Systems.

The partners share the ambitious goal of supplying electricity and an indoor bathroom to all 20,000 homes on the Navajo Nation that don’t yet have those things.

Her new unit won’t completely heat the 300-square-foot hogan her father built, but it will make her wood supply last longer.

Solar thermal panels on the building will arm water will run into pipes in the new bathroom, with any residual heat siphoned into a wall-mounted unit inside the existing house.

A tracking solar panel, meanwhile, will supply two kilowatts of electricity to the house–about half what the average American household uses, but enough for lights and a few small energy-efficient appliances.

The well insulated prefab buiilding (8’x20′) houses batteries to store solar energy received during the day for nighttime uses.  On the other end is a small but fully equipped bathroom: composting toilet, shower and sink.

[Mark} Snyder set about designing an enclosed system so the batteries would be protected.  But, he reasoned, as long as he was building a building, why not make it multi-functional?

“The building is actually a solar device in itself,” he explained.  The solar-thermal panel on the ceiling heat not only the water pipes but also the air space inside the ultra-insulated structure, transferring heat to the adjacent house when it warms to a certain temperature.

And, since there was already going to be a heated building, Snyder thought, why not make it into a bathroom too?

“Since these are still in the experimental phase, they’ll be monitoring it back in San Diego,” [Rick] Yoerg explained, “to make sure the family is able to follow the instructions and reset the system.”

[Elsa] Johnson, who currently lives in Scottsdale AZ, but who grew up in a traditional household in Forest Lake Chapter, said she’s seen a lot of well-intentioned projects fall by the wayside.  She believes this one is different.

From an article by the Grand Canyon Trust (19 Jan 2011):

. . . we created a very air tight building that has hot air panels on the outside.  They heat the building up to a temperature of 80 to 85 degrees,” said [Mark] Snyder.  “We modified the water tank so it remains half full.  It hets up the water at night.  The new solar device heats the house, reducing the need for fire wood.  It is also capable of cooling the house during the summertime.

Contact Information:

Elsa Johnson, Director/ IINA Solutions (602) 524-9464;

This entry was posted in "Green" Homes, Engineers Without Borders, Navajoland, Technology. Bookmark the permalink.

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