The Solar Homestead is Appalachian State University's entry in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011. Inspired by the pioneer spirit of the early settlers in the mountain region of North Carolina, we have designed a self-sustaining zero energy home.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Solar Homestead Wins People's Choice Award!!!

We are so proud to announce that our team has won the People's Choice award at the U.S. Solar Decathlon 2011!! We could not be more excited to hear that the public choose the Solar Homestead as their favorite project!

Each and every home had so many innovative ideas and beautiful designs and we feel honored to be voted as the people's favorite.

The support of our community has been tremendous. We could not have come this far without the support of the Appalachian State University students, alumni, faculty and staff, and support of the entire UNC system and the state of North Carolina. Thank you so much for sharing in this great experience, we've learned so much from the collaboration!

But most of all, we could not have done this if we had not worked together.  The Solar Homestead is not just a team of students, we have truly become a family.  As we pack up and take our house back to Boone, our family we've built will be more important than ever to get through the 'Solar Decathlon hangover'.

"The team's passion and enthusiasm were contagious," said Terri Jones, Solar Decathlon Communications Contest Official.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Appalachian State University Places 2nd in Communications Contest!

Appalachian State University's The Solar Homestead has taken second place in the
Solar Decathlon 2011's Communications contest!! 

Dave Lee, Communication's Manager, giving a tour to a group of students at the Solar Decathlon 2011.

During the past two years, educating the public on the tremendous potential that solar power and renewable energy have, has been a key goal of The Solar Homestead team.  Knowing that we have reached out and raised awareness in such a way to be honored with this award is an incredible feeling.  Through many different disciplines, ranging from Anthropology, Sustainable Development, Physics, Broadcast Media and  Technical Photography, our Communications team has worked hard along with the help of the rest of the Homestead team to focus on this goal!

Members of the Solar Homestead's Communication Team after winning 2nd place!
This also would not have been possible without our dedicated community behind us. We spent weeks folding hats to get our takeaways ready for the Solar Decathlon. Hundreds of people came from Appalachian State University and the rest of the community to our folding partys, and we got to talk about Solar Decathlon, sustainability, and solar energy. Without your help this may not have been possible. Thank you!

We can't say it enough these days, it really is great to be a Mountaineer! :)

The Solar Homestead Thanks YOU!

We would like to take time out to recognize and thank all of the people who've supported Appalachian State University's The Solar Homestead!  We've gotten such a tremendous amount of support from our Appalachian family and all of your personal visits to our "home away from home" here in DC, notes, tweets, Facebook "shout outs" emails and calls have all meant so much to us!

The final results of the US Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon will be announced tomorrow, September 30st at 2:30pm.  You can find results at and well as following us at and on Facebook and Twitter.

ASU Chancellor Ken Peacock hanging out at The Solar Homestead with a couple decathletes
As we head into the final day of the contest, we are exhausted and excited, and we're riding the huge wave of the love and support from our Appalachian Family!  You have kept us going, and continue to do so here in the home stretch.

Today is the last day to vote for Appalachian's Solar Homestead in the People's Choice Awards - you can vote until 7pm tonight, so if you haven't voted, please consider doing so.  You can find the vote link at, and it takes only a few seconds!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Appalachian State Places 3rd Place in Architecture Contest!

We are pleased to announce that
 The Solar Homestead has placed 3rd in The Solar Decathlon 2011's architecture contest! 

We couldn't be more proud of our team for this amazing achievement. We overcame huge obstacles in order to excel in this contest, especially due to the fact that Appalachian State University does not have an accredited architecture program. Instead the students of our Building Science program, within the Department of Technology, along with help from the rest of our team, were given the opportunity to step up to the plate and truly shine.

It's great to be a Mountaineer!!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reflective Hat Takeaway

Wondering where can you get that hat?

The Solar Homestead designed a dual purpose educational takeaway for the Solar Decathlon 2011.  This takeaway is handed out as an origami reflective hat but it contains a wealth of information on the inside.

The unfolded hat gives in depth explanations to the technological innovations of our reinterpreted Trombe wall, concentrating solar thermal skylight, phase change material thermal storage, and bifacial photovoltaic solar canopy as well as our other house features (including our OMs and Flex space) of the Solar Homestead.

We decided to hand out this reflective hat to serve as an educational tool to better understand and connect with our bifacial solar canopy.

This new bifacial technology utilizes the back face of the double panel to generate electricity from ambient light reflected off the surrounding surfaces, and combines with power from the front face of the panel. This can result in 30% higher power generation, or more kWh,  per square foot.

We hope that everyone comes to Appalachian State University's Solar Homestead at the National Mall's West Potomac Park sometime from now until Oct 2nd.

Monday-Thurday: 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
Friday-Sunday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Friday, September 23, 2011

Competition and Public Exhibit Have Begun

The Solar Decathlon 2011 had its opening ceremony yesterday, and the Solar Homestead is so excited to have its first judged contests. To keep up with the competition standings go to Solar Decathlon’s website

The affordability contest is a brand new contest to the Solar Decathlon this year. The contest challenges the teams to build a solar powered house that costs somewhere between $250,000- $600,000, with points given out on a sliding scale. This is a great way to measure how residential construction can be zero energy as well as affordable. This is to display how solar technologies can be marketable to the average homeowner and display innovative ideas that can be integrated into the architecture.

The Solar Homestead has created OMs, or Out-building Modules that supply all of the electrical energy that is needed by the home. This feature allows anyone to add PV panels to an existing structure while also providing an outdoor covered space and detached conditioned space.

Our house is affordably marketed to a couple with moderate salaries in the Asheville, North Carolina region. We chose Asheville as our target market because the sustainability movement is well established and our model home fits into the growing trend of green neighborhoods in the region.  

Keep looking for continuous updates all this week on this blog. Also visit our social media sites to stay updated -


Bifacial PV solar Canopy

Our canopy crew has finished our bifacial PV solar canopy. They have been working tirelessly since the very first day of set up to make this feature absolutely beautiful.

Set in a natural white pine structure, our 8.2 kW solar array is architecturally integrated into the Great Porch of the Solar Homestead. Having this allows you to experience your solar energy intimately but still discreetly while you spend quality time with your family and friends on your 800ft2 porch.

Steel columns line the great porch as they lead you past the main house to the detached 120 ft2 flexible living space that also includes a half bath. This self-sufficient addition includes an outdoor shower and kitchen; showing the versatile nature of our modular Outbuilding Module concept. 

This Flex space, as we call it, is topped with an extensive green roof. This sustainable technique will improve the R-value in our roof while making it a more energy efficient building and extending the life of our roofing material.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Day Three Wrap Up

Craig Autry has installed all of the Solar Homestead plumbing 
Going Strong!

We wrapped up the third full day of construction on the Solar Homestead at the Solar Decathlon 2011, and the our team is working hard and on schedule.

Yesterday we got our house modules together and our house sealed up tight. Last night Craig worked on hooking up the plumbing and Joe worked on finishing the perforated corrugated metal detail on exterior of the bay window.
Joe Armstrong is working the details out
on the perforated corrugated exterior. Thanks Joe!
Last night we started to install our kitchen cabinets and unloaded our kitchen appliances from the overstuffed box truck.

Today our team has been working on many tasks all at once. This morning the U.S. Department of Energy installed their data logger to keep track of our energy production and consumption. This is critical to prove that we are truly a zero energy home.

One person per jack. All hands on deck to lower
the Solar Homestead!

All hands were on deck when we started on our next task. Slowly and steadily all ten pieces of the house and the great porch were leveled making sure that the threshold of the house is flush and level with its porch. This took considerable time but the job was done just as planned.

Moving into the interior, all appliances, besides our beautiful refrigerator, went into the kitchen today and we feel like our house is becoming a home again.

We are ramping up progress on our ADA accessible ramps! They are looking great and it seems to be all downhill from here. We expect to work through the night to get these finished up.

Dave Lee and Austin Crumpler work
simultaneously to bolt two ramp sections together

Although we have been working long, long hours we are far too excited to admit to our exhaustion just yet. Each and every one of us feel an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and pride for our work.

If you are looking for more pictures we have uploaded many more on Flickr. Follow this link

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Moving Together As One

three modules ready to meet
The Appalachian State University Mountaineers are going strong and representing well. The team is working like a well oiled machine and the house modules are together to make one home.

Here are the three house modules of the Solar Homestead that are coming together.

pushing our last module into place
Our team is one of the only teams not using a crane to set up, and the other teams are very interested in seeing how our house is coming together. By building our house directly on to steel trailers with jacks mounted on the bottom we can pull them together and level out on the jacks once pushed together on a special rolling system.

By using this roller system we can push the modules into place with the help of a few team members.

Our house is one so we can now start on the inside of our house to escape the on coming rain.

Check out our new picture album on Facebook at

Also check out more pictures on our Flickr account at

Check back we will be posting again tonight!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Packing Up and Shipping Out

waiting to check in our hotel
The Solar Homestead and team have arrived safely in D.C.

These Appalachian State University students have spent 2 years designing and constructing our modern concept the Solar Homestead, a zero energy home completely powered by harnessing the energy of the sun.

Jose wrapping our house for a safe trip
The Solar Homestead was sent off to Washington D.C. on Thursday afternoon, which was followed by the OMs, or Outbuilding Modules, on Friday along with a small team of construction crew. They arrived safely with the help of our transportation crew and ready to work before we moved on to the National Mall Tuesday night at 11:00 pm.

Starting last night our construction team of seven have been working around the clock putting together our OMs on to the National Mall and are ready to start moving the three house modules in the next 24 hours.

Dave Lee firing up the troops.
The second group of Solar Homestead team members arrived today around 7pm, and have jumped in to take over so that we lose no momentum. We are so excited to be here and we will continue to keep everyone updated.

Please dont forget starting on September 24th you will get the opportunity to vote for your favorite team for People's Choice Award. We will be posting this link when it comes out. 

We are through the roof with excitement and I hope you all are too. I know that many of you have been following us since the beginning and we just want to thank everyone for your support. Go Appalachian State University and go Solar Homestead!