Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Imagine living in a home that's powered 100 percent by the sun. Imagine your savings if you do.

That's the goal of competition going on right now between 19 universities. It's happening in sunny California. Each team has to produce a home that is completely off the grid. With no battery storage for reserve power. If they fail to stay off the grid, they lose points.

One house is a bit unique as compared with the others. The one built by students at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey uses solar shingles, not panels. For ascetics because no one wants their house looking like the Starship Enterprise. "The shingles blend right in," says Team Stevens' Corey Favaloro.

OK, great, this works well in California. But what about areas of the nation - you know - like New Jersey where Stevens is located. Would it work there? Favaloro says yes. You can create energy and store the excess in a battery for use later. Or, if you're in a sunny area, you can actually sell energy back to the grid.

Favaloro says, yes, it's costly to retrofit a home with solar energy. But you can amortize the investment over the years. And the goal is to eventually bring the prices down to a more affordable level.

The Stevens house will be donated to a California university for further research after the competition ends this weekend.

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