Thinking Tech

Yes you can live in an all-solar house

Yes you can live in an all-solar house

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Inside it's pretty small but the judges ranked it first in several areas, including home entertainment. This contest featured trials like a dinner party, hosting a movie night, and keeping the PC and TV running during specific times.

The Department of Energy is showing off the 20 entries in its Solar Decathlon competition this weekend on the National Mall, and it seems you can indeed live in an all-solar home.

Most of the entries were from U.S. universities and the winner, at right, was the home from the University of Illinois. (Go Illini!)

Let's take a look around, shall we?

The Gable Home (named for its gabled design, not the movie actor, who was from Ohio anyway) is a passive solar house, so many of its key features are hidden in the walls. The wood is laminated bamboo, with reclaimed barn board siding.

The energy capture systems are located in the "loft" (aka the attic), where the solar water heater is located. There is a solar panel array on the south side of the structure that can generate a peak power of 9,000 watts, angled at 45 degrees.

Inside it's pretty small -- just a bedroom, bath, kitchen/dining area and living room -- but the judges ranked it first in several areas, including home entertainment. This contest featured trials like a dinner party, hosting a movie night, and keeping the PC and TV running during specific times.

Over 200 people worked on the Illinois project. The home had to be disassembled, assembled within a designated period on-site, and still needs to be taken apart again next week for delivery to a lot near the campus, where someone will actually live in it.

If you don't like the Illinois house there are 19 others, on the Mall, through Sunday. A real street of dreams. I wonder if it has a fantasy room, where the contractor comes in to make repairs after the closing?

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure