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Denver, Colorado
October 5-15, 2017

Solar Decathlon Data Demystification

Thursday, September 29, 2011

By Alexis Powers

How do you identify the measured contest captain on each U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon team? Listen for words such as datalogger, monitored performance subcontest, and database-driven scoring application.

These students focus on maximizing the points their teams earn in the five measured contests:

  • Comfort Zone
  • Hot Water
  • Appliances
  • Home Entertainment
  • Energy Balance.

To be successful in measured contests, the decathletes must strategize. For some measured contests, they must complete tasks such as washing a load of towels and operating a home entertainment system for a set time. A group of observers keeps detailed logs on their task performance that are later translated into scores. For other measured contests, the competition houses are equipped with sensors that measure factors such as humidity and temperature. An instrument called a datalogger keeps track of the data points and sends this information to a central database every 15 minutes.

Photo of a circuit panel section labeled “datalogger.”

The datalogger in Team New Zealand’s house is competition-ready. (Credit: Alexis Powers/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)

“The equations in the rules define how we take information from the dataloggers and observer logs and calculate a score,” says Mike Wassmer, the scorekeeper and assistant competition manager of Solar Decathlon 2011. These algorithms translate a sea of data into a final score for each measured contest.

To follow your favorite team’s progress in the measured contests, visit the scoring pages on the Solar Decathlon website. Then tell all friends about it—and make sure to spice up your conversation with words such as observer logs and central scoring database.

Alexis Powers is a member of the Solar Decathlon communications team.

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