Camphill solar hot water installation

Solar thermal system adding to culture of renewal at Camphill Village Minnesota in Sauk Centre

Camphill Village Minnesota is located on a 500-acre biodynamic farm ten miles north of Sauk Centre in West Central Minnesota. The mission of Camphill Village Minnesota is to create and sustain a community where people with and without disabilities live, work, and care for each other to foster social, spiritual, cultural, and agricultural renewal.

Camphill Village Minnesota turned to John Duevel and his business Three Seasons And More to explore installing a solar thermal hot water system.

“John had worked with us on smaller efficiency projects and showed a real enthusiasm for solar energy not to mention he felt aligned with the overall philosophy of our Camphill community,” says Camphill staffer Kristin Wilson. “The result of his work, a four panel system on one of our homes (Nicholas Coleman House) is a fully functioning solar system providing the bulk of the domestic hot water with room for expansion. It also serves as a way for us to explain to visitors to the community our overall approach to farming, house construction and daily living because the panels serve as a real conversation starter and statement.”

With panels from Alexandria-based Solar Skies and a WC CERT Seed Grant to help with labor costs, the project has been a big success. Kristin notes, “The only challenges we faced were weather. John needed to be able to do roof work and we had a decent spell of bad weather and ice that kept him from working up there.”

“Our community gets a lot of visitors, people coming to see about our program or farm. All of the visitors have been curious about our solar implementation and have wanted to know more about it. In this part of the country the abundant sunshine and wide open horizons make that sort of project very appealing. I think that given our ongoing public exposure this will give projects like this a lot more attention.”

A snapshot of project details:

  • Technology: Four 4 feet by 8 feet Solar Skies solar hot water collectors
  • Savings: The solar collectors offset 4,279 kWh of electricity each year because they are now heating water with solar thermal instead of an electric water heater. This equates to 14.6 million BTUs.
  • Exposure: 1,141 people were told about the project in the first year, and 350 people a year visit Camphill and get to see the solar thermal, clearly visible on the property’s roof.
  • Money: A $3,500 grant from WC CERT covered labor costs, and they leveraged $6,760 from other sources to help pay for the project, too.


Want to learn how your community can get a CERTs Seed Grant to advance your work? Applications for the next round of grants are available and due October 26th. To get started, visit the Seed Grant page and see other awarded projects from past years.

More on solar thermal:
Learn more about the Made-In-Minnesota Solar Thermal Rebate >>
See more solar thermal blog posts from CERTs >>

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