Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BeauSoleil: PV Panel Update

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 And check out short film about the project here:

Report from the field: Last time I wrote we had just finished an 8’ by 13’ mockup of the roof. Last week we built a rack out of unistrut and installed the PV panels on the mockup. It went so smoothly it’s as if unistrut was made to be a PV rack system. We hope to begin testing the PV’s early next week at the latest. It always feels good to step away from the computer and build something. I can’t wait to see the system up and running.

We are testing two types of inverters: macro and micro. We are most excited about the micro inverters because they are new technology. Each PV has its own micro inverter that converts the DC power to AC right there at the panel. This is supposed to be more efficient and safer due to the elimination of long high voltage DC runs. Using the micro inverters would also free up some space in our 800 square foot house.

Our hot water mockup literally had a few kinks to iron out but we got it to work and we are confident the actual system will work as well. A mechanical engineering student will be helping us with the final design, as he is better with thermodynamics and fluid dynamics than the rest of us.

M and E Consulting, a local engineering firm, will be donating our dehumidifier, which we are thrilled about. Because the BeauSoleil Louisiana Solar Home is essentially a large ice chest we will need a dehumidifier to introduce outside air as well as remove humidity from the respiration of the occupants, washing dishes, etc. We are using a 2 ton mini-split ductless HVAC system for conditioning the air though we think it will not need to run very much due to the high R-values of our SIPS walls and roof and the fact that the system is oversized.

Plumbing and electrical are coming along and I am learning a lot. The next step is to identify a local company who can fabricate our underfloor storage tanks.

As the due date for our construction documents approaches we are all focusing on getting them done in time. They are just under 50% complete and we hope to be at 65% by the end of the week. In fact, I better get back to it. On behalf of TEAM BeauSoleil have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Scott Chappuis
TEAM BeauSoleil

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