Wednesday, October 29, 2008

TEAM BeauSoliel Assembles Roof and Solar Panel Mockups

Solar Decathlon Update: Every two years 20 university teams are chosen, based on proposals, to design an all-solar home and assemble it on the National Mall in Washington DC for public viewing and judging. Check back each Wednesday as the NAV Blog reports on the process of the design and construction of BeauSoleil, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's entry. For more info about the project, visit their website at


TEAM BeauSoleil has really made progress on our systems designs over the last few days. We completed a mockup of our solar hot water/skylight/shading device design on Monday. Now all we need to do is put it out in the sun and test it.

I probably should go into a little more detail about this hot water/skylight/shading device. The main area of our house will be a transitional porch that can either be exterior or interior space depending on different door configurations. When this porch is being used as an exterior space it will act as a breezeway and help ventilate the interior of the home. Because this is our most celebrated space it has a special translucent roof. Essentially, the entire roof section over the porch will be a skylight during the day and act as a lantern at night when the interior of the home is illuminated. On the south side this skylight will house a closed loop solar hot water heater that we have designed and will build. In order to present more surface area to the sun the collector tubes will have fins attached to them. These fins will double as shading devices in order to prevent heat gain into the house itself. Our design works on paper; the mockup will allow us to test it in the real world.

On Monday, we also finished an 8’ by 13’ mockup of the roof and installed it atop the engineering building. The next step is to attach photovoltaic panels to the metal standing seam and test their performance at different angles and with different inverters. It will also allow us to explore the best method of attaching the PV panels to the metal roof.

In other systems news our HVAC design is almost complete. Plumbing is coming along as well. For the purposes of the Solar Decathlon we have to store all of our own drinking water and wastewater for the length of the competition, which is nearly a month from start to finish. As a result of space restrictions, we will be accomplishing this with tanks that fit under the house and between the floor joists. In some cases these tanks will also be structural. This is a bit of a daunting task so we are still fine-tuning the tank design. We are still tweaking lighting and electrical though we are close to having those nailed down as well.

It has been very encouraging to have built two successful mockups because we can see the fruits of our labor. In addition to mockup testing, the next few weeks will be spent cranking out construction documents, which must be finished in 6 weeks. It is a very busy time for TEAM BeauSoleil right now, but it is a very exciting time as well.

---Scott Chappuis, TEAM BeauSoleil

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