Student group builds solar home - Purdue Exponent: Campus

Student group builds solar home

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Posted: Friday, April 29, 2011 10:20 am

Purdue is on its way to building its first solar home, which will enter the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon in September, according to a Purdue graduate student.

Kevin Rodgers, a graduate student in technology, is excited about the unveiling of Purdue's solar-powered energy home today at 4 p.m. on McCutcheon Drive near Purdue West.

The solar-powered home, which Rodgers and his colleagues deem efficient, essential and practical, will contain all the elements of a fully functional home once its construction concludes.

"It's a real house on the inside," Rodgers said.

The competition that will take place in September will comprise 19 other universities around the world, including universities from China, Belgium, New Zealand and Canada.

It will stipulate that participants be able to accomplish menial tasks such as washing the dishes and doing laundry in the home, while also providing inhabitants of the home with comfort and the same basic necessities that non-solar powered homes provide.

The solar home is powered by "net-zero" energy. The idea of it is to consume only as much energy as is produces. The home will be built with solar panels that can absorb sunlight and convert it to energy. Homes cannot produce as much energy during the winter months, but will compensate for that during the summer months when sunlight is plentiful. This will, in effect, allow for net-zero energy, Rodgers said.

Solar homes are more expensive than non-solar powered homes, he also said. However, one way that households can benefit in the long run is by not having to pay utility bills. The net-zero energy home concept will assure that only energy that is produced is consumed.

Mc Kenna Regan, a senior of Krannert School of Management, works beside Rodgers and thinks this project will escalate Purdue to the next level of academic achievement.

This project is essential for an ever-growing population that is consuming and depleting non-renewable resources at a higher rate, she said.

"This is a unique project for Purdue," Regan said. "This is another way that Purdue sets itself apart from others."

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