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Photo of the University of North Carolina house.

UNCC used "Kalwalls," insulating panels that keep out the sun's heat while allowing in the sun's light.

Click drawing to view a larger image.

Floor plan drawing of the University of North Carolina house.

Solar Decathlon 2002

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Final Overall Points: 251.958
Final Overall Standing: 14

The house will be a permanent educational component of the university — a classroom that serves both architectural and engineering students and displays the evolving technologies of the living and building environment.
—Dale Brentrup, faculty advisor

About the Home

We typically associate a yacht with wealth, luxury, and seagoing comfort. Most of us, though, would never have thought of using features found on a yacht in a house on land. But that's exactly what the University of North Carolina students did.

Faculty advisor Dale Brentrup says, "The choice of appliances has been an interesting experience for our electrical engineering and design students. The students evaluated where to get appliances that would reduce the overall load on the house. We wanted to stay away from 220 volt and minimize our conversion issues from PV's direct current to the alternating current needed for home appliances. We contacted and involved Equator, a marine supplier, in the project. We're using a front-loading washer and dryer and a compact dishwasher—all 120 volt. The stove, a small, 120-volt, three-burner model fits nicely into the island. The 120-volt convection oven comes from Seaward, another marine manufacturer."

About the Team

A small but very dedicated team of architects built this house. Student Erik Boyd summed up the experience by saying, "I was surprised at how detailed the drawings must be. The whole process was intellectually stimulating. I'm a fourth-year student, and I had never seen anything like this—continuing the process beyond the simple design."

Key Home Features

Item Specifics
PV kilowatts (standard test condition rating) 4.80
PV modules 16 ASE 300
Charge controllers 2 Trace C60
Inverters Trace SW4024
Battery bank 800 ampere-hour, 24 volt
Battery type 16 MK BA4D sealed absorbed glass mat
Water heating 3 ft x 6 ft (0.9 m x 11.8 m) flat plate collector; 15-ton water source heat pump; 140-gal (530-L) storage tank
Construction Structural insulated panels (SIPs); walls = R19 (RSI 3), roof = R40 (RSI 7)
Space heating Passive solar
Space cooling Water source heat pump, passive ventilation

Manufacturers' Web Sites

  • Kalwall Corporation
  • RWE Schott Solar Systems (formerly ASE Americas; ASE modules)
  • Xantrex (formerly Trace; Trace charge controllers)
  • MK Battery

Source: These details have been adapted with permission from Home Power #94, April/May 2003