Four decades of local passive solar and food security -The story of SunCatcher
About SunCatcher: Cutting-edge greenhouse technology
Our family owned, western North Carolina design business has spent years helping local growers and communities have year round growing space with our greenhouse designs. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Boone, NC, SunCatcher Passive Solar Greenhouses is dedicated to helping you take advantage of the cutting edge design and development of greenhouse technology.
The beginning of our story
We built our first SunCatcher in 2001, but our story starts much earlier. Dr. Terry Carroll’s first experience with passive solar design came in the late 1970’s, when he lived in the Four Corners region of the American Southwest; a hotbed for solar design and construction activity. He became certified as an Arizona Energy Auditor in the process. Returning to his home state of North Carolina, Dr. Carroll taught passive solar design courses at Forsyth Technical Community College and Appalachian State University in the 80’s and 90’s, and began doing his own research.
The first SunCatcher passive solar greenhouse was built at Parkway Elementary School, where sons Joshua and Jonathan both studied. This was a collaborative effort with organizing, labor and funding from the broader community, the school, and Carroll’s family. This model provided crucial data to demonstrate the effectiveness of the SunCatcher design and continued to improve our engineering. Today in 2018, it continues to provide a warm year round educational, research, and food growing space at Parkway partnering with organizations like Lettuce Learn and Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture (with Shannon Carroll).
Design & experimentation
Throughout the 2000’s, SunCatcher continued to experiment and iterate on design features like ventilation, thermal mass, different sizes and ratios, materials, and automation. Throughout the process we have frequently partnered with community groups and education centers to provide learning and growing spaces for all. Dr. Carroll retired from Appalachian State in 2009 to devote his full time to SunCatcher.
All the learning from our successes and failures over this time have gone into our latest design, which was granted a US patent in 2017. You can view some of these models that we’ve built over the years here.
The culmination of our work
Our design and experimentation work culminated in 2015 with completion of our “Carolina Mountain” greenhouse outside Asheville, NC. The Carolina Mountain outlasts and outperforms other greenhouse designs we have found available to the public and includes innovation in construction, materials, thermal mass, automation and remote control, and all the data and engineering lessons from the prior 40 years. It served as the template and validation for our “Carolina” and “Durango” Eco Panels Kits which are available now!
Time and again in the past 15 years, we have heard people like you ask for a smaller model that better fits into modern or urban life, and smaller budgets. Partnering with Bowen, another family owned, western NC manufacturer, we have finally made just the thing: the “SunCatcher” small scale model perfect for your yard or porch. This product distills four decades of high end passive solar engineering and science into a compact, common sense, high quality product tailored to your limited space. With SunCatcher, a few square feet of south-facing space is all you need to sustainably grow your own food year round for the next two decades. Order yours today!
Dr. Terry Carroll
Physicist, Founder, Designer and CEO
Terry has been involved with solar energy research and design for nearly four decades and…
Director of Strategy and Digital
Joshua has a decade of experience envisioning, building, and managing products and…
Sustainable Architecture and Design
Andrew is applying passive solar design principles to draft existing and new construction…
Gardener and Administrative Assistant
Shannon has 30+ years of experience providing leadership and support for…
Grow Space Design and Operation
Danielle specializes in optimizing the growing conditions in passive solar greenhouses…
Eco-Panels manufactures the most advanced and integrated panelized building solution on the market today, and we are helping clients all over the world build some of the strongest and most energy efficient homes on the planet. With continuously insulated single-piece corner panels and a quick-connect cam-lock joining solution, the Eco-Panels building system eliminates many of the opportunities for error associated with traditional methods of construction.
Bowen Machine Company
Bowen Machine Company have supplied customers in a broad range of industries with high quality service and products from their Western North Carolina headquarters since 1978. They are our design and manufacturing partner for the “SunCatcher” porch and yard product.
How passive solar engineering actually works and why it’s so effectively harnessed in the SunCatcher
How it’s Made
Your SunCatcher will be manufactured with love at family-owned Bowen Machine Company
You will love the unique features of your SunCatcher that help you grow your own food year round
We love having our SunCatcher on our deck. It is inspiring to look out and see green growing plants in the middle of winter. The warmth of this small passive solar greenhouse inspires our hopes for spring and motivates our desire to plant in our garden.
Shelton, SunCatcher owner in Deep Gap, NC
I really enjoy being able to harvest and enjoy fresh lettuce, kale, carrots, broccoli and more from my SunCatcher during the winter months.
Shannon, SunCatcher owner in Boone, NC
Get in Touch
We are here to answer any questions you may have about the SunCatcher passive solar greenhouse. Let us know what's on your mind.