Skip navigation to main content. U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon | Powered by the Sun
Photo of interior of the Puerto Rico Solar Decathlon house.

Although the Washington, D.C., area received torrential downpours, the Solar Decathlon and solar village were open to the public and will be over the weekend. Here, members of the Puerto Rico team chat about their house and its solar technology with visitors.

Photo of a rooftop garden on the Rhode Island School of Design's Solar Decathlon house.

The rain provided needed water to the Rhode Island School of Design's rooftop garden.

Photo of the Canadian Solar decathlon house.

With its house complete, the Canadian team proudly hangs the Canadian flag.

Solar Decathlon 2005

Daily Journal — October 7, 2005

Rain, rain, and more rain. After a week of glorious sunny weather, the village is getting a thorough watering today. Actually, all the plants the teams have planted around their houses could use watering, so from that aspect the rain is good. Otherwise, we hope the rain stops soon.

You need sunlight to power these houses, but that doesn't mean they can't operate on cloudy days. Each house has batteries to store electricity, and water tanks, thermal mass or phase change materials to store heat and/or cooling. If it rains for two days, the houses will still be able to provide their energy needs. If it stays cloudy for longer periods, the teams would have to start reducing their load by turning off appliances or air conditioning. That is because these houses are "off-grid" and not connected to utility power of any kind. For the 99% of the homes in the United States connected to the grid, batteries and extensive storage systems would not be necessary.

Of all days during the 21-day event to have it rain, today is the day. Construction is finished and the competition starts tomorrow. Today was meant to be a slow day with public tours as the only activity occurring from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Teams are able to catch up on some much needed sleep and make sure everything is in prime working condition.

I made a status check at noon and 11 teams have their houses 100% completed. The seven others are 90 percent to 99 percent finished. Organizers are finishing up too. Data loggers and monitoring equipment have been installed in all the houses, with only a few sensors needing final adjustments.

Starting tomorrow morning, Saturday, at 8 a.m., the competition clock starts, and all teams must operate 100% from solar energy. No other source of energy is allowed to conduct any activity in or around their household. Then at 8:30 a.m., the Architecture, Dwelling, and House Tour juries will go to work. All the decathletes must be ready by then to explain their designs and give a tour to the jury members. More than 300 of the total 1,100 points are at stake, so a very crucial part of the competition is fast approaching. We wish all the teams good luck as the competition gets underway in earnest. May the best team win!

Reporting from the village,
Richard King, Department of Energy