Team Germany Wins Solar Decathlon

Team Germany’s surPLUShome won this year’s Solar Decathlon, making it their second victory in a row. With a façade covered almost entirely in solar panels, the house created twice the amount of energy it needs, even through 3 days of rain…

The team took top honors in the Comfort Zone and Net Metering categories, producing more energy than it consumed throughout the contest. The extra energy the house produced was pumped into the utility grid on the National Mall.

Germany's surPLUShome is a two-story building covered with an 11.1-kW photovoltaic (PV) system made of 40 single-crystal silicon panels on the roof and about 250 thin-film copper indium gallium diselenide (CIGS) panels on the sides. According to the team the CIGS panels are slightly less efficient than the silicon but will perform better in cloudy weather. The structure includes custom vacuum insulation panels plus phase-change material in the drywall, which help maintain comfortable temperatures. Additionally automated louver-covered windows block unwanted solar heat.

The interior is a single multifunctional space with kitchen, living and dining on the first floor and a bedroom loft at the upper story. The multi-purpose furniture can fold away for additional free space.

The construction costs were estimated to be between $650,000-850,000, making it one of the most expensive houses of the Decathlon. Find out more details on the house at Team Germany's website.

(Images: Flickr member Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon licensed for use under Creative Commons)