Solar Meatloaf a Crowd Pleaser in DC

An Update on Purdue University’s Solar Decathlon Efforts


Matt Nighswander, Photon-Magazine.com


Matt Nighswander, Photon-Magazine.com

In an update to a story in our last issue, first-time entrant PurdueUniversitysurprised many with their strong second-place finish in the 2011 U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon. Employing SunPower panels and Third Sun Solar support, the Purdue team snared a second-place finish overall, with a perfect score in Energy Balance. Their entry, called INhome, was described by one observer as “a refreshingly pragmatic and affordable energy marvel.”

The Purdue University Solar Decathlon house, “INhome,” built with support from SunPower Corporation and Third Sun Solar.

According to a story in the forthcoming December issue of Photon Magazine, the Purdue team scored points in the Home Entertainment contest, in which they had to host 2 dinner parties for members of the other 18 collegiate teams from around the world. Purdue’s choice of entrée—good-old-middle-American-meatloaf—was enjoyed by all.

“When it came right down to it…the Purdue team was more swayed by good old-fashioned Indiana hospitality than the chance to save a bit of energy by serving a cold meal—though they did use a convection oven, which requires less power than an ordinary one. ‘We didn’t want to sacrifice a good Midwestern dinner for energy efficiency,’ says Jordan Wallpe, a tall and athletic-looking team member. But the very fact that Wallpe displays the sort of unvarnished enthusiasm that is as stereotypically Midwest as, well, meatloaf—and that his teammates even considered the energy required to cook a meal shows just how competitive and serious this year’s teams were about winning.”

“You’ll be interested to know that the PV system was one of the keys to our successful finish,” said Bill Hutzel of Purdue’s Engineering Department. “The weather was overcast during the entire competition and our solar panels gave us a distinct advantage. Many of the contending teams did not produce enough solar electricity to complete the contest, even though they had large arrays, microinverters, and spent more money than we did. I think it was a combination of the SunPower panels, proper mounting angles, and quality balance of system components.”

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon is an award-winning program that challenges collegiate teams to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive. The winner of the competition is the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

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