written by:
photos by:
March 17, 2012
Originally published in Light & Energy

Solar panels have a reputation as being unsightly, but this U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon show home sheds the stereotype that photovoltaic arrays are eyesores.

Energy Solar Decathlon show home solar panels
Porches are a beloved element of the Southern vernacular and lifestyle, traditionally serving as an extension of the indoors—a shady place to gather, socialize, or share a meal. So when the students of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, entered the Solar Decathlon, a biennial energy-efficient residential design competition, the iconic space figured prominently in their concept. Here, a canopy of bifacial solar panels covers the porch and provides energy for the home.
Photo by 
Courtesy of 
©Jim Tetro Photography
Energy Solar Decathlon show home solar panels
Porches are a beloved element of the Southern vernacular and lifestyle, traditionally serving as an extension of the indoors—a shady place to gather, socialize, or share a meal. So when the students of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, entered the Solar Decathlon, a biennial energy-efficient residential design competition, the iconic space figured prominently in their concept. Here, a canopy of bifacial solar panels covers the porch and provides energy for the home. Image courtesy of ©Jim Tetro Photography.
Project 
Solar Homestead

Porches are a beloved element of the Southern vernacular and lifestyle, traditionally serving as an extension of the indoors—a shady place to gather, socialize, or share a meal. So when the students of Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, entered the Solar Decathlon, a biennial energy-efficient residential design competition, the iconic space figured prominently in their concept. “We wanted to share the context of the region,” says Chad Everhart, an architect and the faculty advisor to the 30 students who worked on the project. But beyond simply paying homage to its traditional role, the Appalachian State students recast the porch as a power generator, integrating architecture and engineering in a surprising and elegant way.

“We didn’t want to just tack solar panels onto the house; we wanted to integrate them with the design,” says Chelsea Royall, a graduate student and the project’s design director. To that end, the team installed a canopy of 42 bifacial solar panels by Sanyo atop a white pine trellis. The flat panels, which collect energy from direct light above and reflected light below, maximize the amount of energy generated per square foot by the 8.2 kW array. “The porch wouldn’t be nearly as enjoyable if we used regular solar panels,” says Royall. “Light filters through these, and opens up the whole space. It’s a different way to use solar panels that shows how beautiful they can be.” Today, the house, which won the Decathlon’s coveted People’s Choice Award, stands on the university’s campus, a thoughtful marriage of technology and aesthetics.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
amaroso40040
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016