This web site was created
with solar and wind power alone
(last revision: April 27, 2012)

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straw bale house - adobe and lime plastering - greenhouse - hot-water radiant floor heating - building a privacy wall with corn-stalk bales (video) - retrofitting an old tin shed into a guest house - how to retrofit a moblie home - polyurethane roofing - staining lime plaster and concrete with ferrous/iron sulfate - starter-straw bale house plans


solar electric system - rain water harvesting - wind generator - solar cooking - solar hot water and heating system


overall costs - costs of individual building projects and systems


good books and magazines and important web sites - saving energy - inspiring quotes - global climate change films - "Achieving Self-sufficiecy" - NEW/IMPORTANT: "Why Use Renewable Energy?" (small PDF file to download)


Jim's recorder music listening page - Sonoran Desert wildlife
raising African Pygmy Goats - Ghost Cat's very own web page
listen to our "theme song" - articles by Jim Phypers-


a little about us - picture gallery of our volunteers -
comments in the media about Solar Haven - a personal

statement from our hearts
- getting in touch with us

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"The Phypers Family"

("Ty" -- Jim and Mindy -- "Ghost")

Here's how it all happened...

First we purchased four acres in the Sonoran Desert foothills west of Tucson, Arizona.
There was no house and also no road or water or power, but incomparable
natural beauty and peacefulness.

"On a clear day you can see forever..."


The first steps were to grade in a road, dig a septic system, and move in a mobile home as a temporary residence. Then we began working toward converting the mobile home into an energy efficient, attractive, and comfortable place to live.

We added...

- extra insulation to all the outside walls, the roof, and underneath the floors.
then we had the place completely stuccoed.
- we also built a front deck, carport, and storage shed...

- details of the insulating and stuccoing project -

- the polyurethane roofing project -

At the same time...
we worked toward independence from conventional utilities...
(err... it would have been better had we not tried to do these projects all at the same time),

Solar Electric (PV) System

Wind Generator

Rain Water Harvesting


Solar Hot Water and Hydronic Heating System

"Yikes, here comes a bunch of materials to build a

("Who planned all these projects anyway?!")

A grand greenhouse emerges from the desert...
("It didn't look that big in the drawing...")

After two years of...
- blood
(the usual cuts and scratches),
- sweat (golly gee, it really does get hot in the desert),
- and tears (of exhaustion and frustration and of joy),
we begin construction on a new and permanent home.

Built of bales of straw...

Click HERE for pictures of all phases of construction including:

- design details
- floor plan diagram
- a complete budget of what the house has cost


Perhaps the best part of all ...
was the remarkable beauty of our
Sonoran Desert home.

- killer views -

So many interesting neighbors

introduced themselves.

- Sonoran Desert wildlife -

(how it all lays out on the ground)

PHASE 1: research - planning - buying land
PHASE 2: building our house - working toward energy independence
PHASE 3: organic gardening - raising animals
(for eggs and perhaps for milk, for the valuable manure to use in the garden, and for companionship but not to kill and eat)


Here are some very special

that have been a great inspiration to us...

Please let us tell you about three recent films on
that have opened our eyes... and point the need more then ever
to live sustainably and treat our planet with great care.

Straw bale builder and folk singer, Frank Meyers
has written a most inpiring song called
"Straw and Clay"



      1 - Generates electricity to light our house and run its many gadgets
      (stereo, computer, fans, microwave, power tools, etc.)

      2 -
      Powers our S.L.C.D.D. ("Solar Linear Clothes Drying Device" -- patent pending)

      3 - Keeps the air warm in our greenhouse to grow vegetables and herbs year round

      4 - Heats water in our "Thermomax" Hot Water Heating Unit to provide all the domestic hot water we need and also all the water needed for the radiant heating system in the floors to heat our house

      5 - Cooks our food using a "solar box cooker"

      6 - Heats water in the portable "solar shower"

      7 - Our friend the Sun also saves us a lot of money each month as we have no electric bills or gas bills.


      8 - And the sun makes us happy!

Post script...

"For 22 years now we have been enjoying cooking our dinners
with the power of the sun...

Visit Mindy's solar cooking web site:

" Sun Ovens Are Wonderful"

At the end of the day, and in the morning too,
the Arizona desert puts on a show
like nothing we have ever seen.

- enlarge -

Monsoon rain storms
during July and August can be awesome.

- enlarge -

- write to us anytime -

To the special folks who have helped with Solar Haven:

Ann and Ron Serandos, Joanie McNiece, Rick Frazier, Warren Luzon at "Northern Arizona Wind and Sun", Rod Hyatt at "In Hot Water and Heating", John, Marilyn, Jason, Art and Katherine, Dennis Williams, Tina Monaghan, Rette and Rick, Lyndol, Shay, Christine, Ben and Maria, Kristen and Shannon, Paula Young, Manadeva, Mike McWilliams, Zack and Liz, Yoshi, Marsha and Sarina, Paul Huddy, Michael, Tom, Janna, and Annette, Loreen, Wil and Mai, Clay Springer, Jan and Dee, Kara, Sam and Cassandra, Ajay and Bev Sutton, Amber, Steve, Ken, Owen, Penelope, Charlie, Trish, Jordan, Josee, Dan, and Simon

- pictures of our voluteers -



For reasons primarily related to Jim's health but also for financial reasons, Jim and Mindy Phypers have moved permanently to Veracruz, Mexico. The first Solar Haven in Arizona has been sold. Jim's health has improved and plans are underway to develop as sustainable and simple a life-style as possible in the tropics of southern Mexico. Solar Haven 2 is taking shape...

We have made several videos of our life in the small town in rural Mexico where we have been living. We are the first Amercians to have lived here. We have adopted five dogs (or rather they adopted us). Learning a new culture and language has been a big undertaking but very rich and exciting. Photo-ops appear everywhere we turn. Have a look on our "solarhaven2" channel on YouTube:


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© 2000-2012 by Jim Phypers