The Solar Living Institute

The following pit stop is submitted by guest reviewer Barbara Zaragoza. Barbara blogs about off-beat adventures in California at California Notebook.

Everyone wants to save the earth these days, but do we really know how to do it? The Solar Living Institute in Hopland, California gives visitors a wealth of eco-living tips. A tour of their rustic property is free and plaques everywhere describe innovative technology that can save our planet.

solar living institute

The property boasts the largest number of solar panels in the state of California, hooked up to the deregulated electricity grid. They also have a hands-on display of a solar oven as well as a solar water pump that takes water from a pond to irrigate their organic farm.

Beyond solar energy, The Solar Living Institute makes sure that everything on the property is earth friendly. There’s a ‘Sun Frost’ refrigerator that uses Krypton gas. The parking lot has a biodiesel fueling station and electric vehicle charging stations. Several small buildings are made of cob: a mixture of straw bales, clay, and strew infill, which are considered low-impact materials that replace wood or concrete.

solar living institute

Kids will especially love this place thanks to the solar powered ferris wheel during the summer, the bamboo pyramid pruned in the shape of Egypt’s Cheops pyramid, a rotunda that touts a Mayan solar calendar, a tree house, and a sundial. Through some brush they’ll find 1950’s automobiles that have been turned into planters for large trees. Finally, kids can ride on the pedal power bike generators to see how much electricity they are able to generate through exercise.

The Solar Living Institute holds workshops throughout the year and, most importantly, takes any visitor into a world that is possible.

Closest interstate:

Highway 101

Cost of admission:


Hours of operation:

Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week for self-guided tours.

Driving directions:

The Solar Living Institute is located at 13771 S Highway 101, Hopland, CA.