There is still a lot of time left for this year’s Solar Decathlon competition to begin, but news from university groups all over the world has already started pouring in. The most recent news regarding the next-gen solar powered home for the competition came from Stanford University, where a team has already prepared their design for a solar-powered home, they call the Start.Home. To be created by a team of Stanford’s engineering students, the Start.Home solar-powered modular dwelling is based on a revolutionary design that integrated most of the infrastructure required for a home in a centralized utility unit.
The Start.Home features the Start.Core – a compact module that contains the home’s primary mechanical, electrical, networking and plumbing systems. Basically the core is a 12x15x10 foot box which has the bathroom on one side, kitchen and appliances on the other and it also allows easy access to the mechanical systems that include a hot water heater and electrical panels. Most importantly, the design allows for rapid scaling of the solar home construction and the cores are designed to fit on any standard truck trailer so that they can easily be transported to any part of the world.
According to standards set by the DOE for Solar Decathlon entrants, the house will have to cost less than $250,000 including raw materials and labor. Team Stanford’s Start.Home will make use of a 7kW photovoltaic array that will be sufficient to provide up to 30kWh of electricity each day, meaning that the house will have no need to source grid electricity even during overcast days.
Apart from generating electricity, the house also makes use of several passive systems to conserve the amount of energy it consumes. The house has been designed in a way that allows for maximum utilization of natural ventilation and natural lighting while minimizing high temperatures due to direct sunlight. Moreover, Start.Home will not include any energy storage systems, including batteries, as the house is to be viewed as a micro-grid component as it will feed excess energy into established centralized grid. These savings would be credited to the household’s account and would be debited when the house isn’t generating any energy, something that will happen after dark or during overcast conditions.