Right now 20 solar-powered homes are competing for bragging rights at the Solar Decathlon in Washington, D.C.  With a few more contests left and the final results this Friday, Team California is edging ahead of the pack.  They’ve won both the architectural and communications contests and scored third in the market viability contest.  That said, both Team Germany and Cornell are doing some incredible things, and anything can happen.  We’ll have to wait and see whether the Refract House can hold on to first.

The Refract House features a bent rectangle design that incorporates the patio area to create a larger living space than the 800 square-feet under roof (weather permitting).  Usable natural light is swallowed up and floods the interior.  Outside, a greywater pond nourishes the landscape.

This home has an 8.1 kW PV system, a solar thermal absorption chiller that operates radiant cooling panels, and a solar hot water system that recycles waste heat from the chiller to preheat potable water.  In addition, passive solar gain nearly eliminates the need for heating equipment.

Using an iPhone, Team California monitors the home’s performance and controls temperature and lighting elements.  Feel free to learn more about the Refract House at:

[+] Team California Refract House.





Photo credits: Stefano Paltera/DOE (top); Team California (rest).