Tag: "solar decathlon"


  11:02:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 644 words  
Categories: Solar Decathlon - 2013

Solar Decathlon Update - Coming Together

We spent yesterday with the great group of folks from Team USC working to re-install their solar PV system. Here’s our update.

Although the Team had the house entirely complete for the Send-off Celebration, it had to be deconstructed into its three component pieces for the trip down to Irvine.  That meant cutting open drywall and unbolting sections from each other before the three sections could be loaded onto trucks.  But it also meant that the solar array, which actually consists of four branch circuits, had to be partially disassembled since three of the four cross section boundaries. Yesterday’s task was to restore those connections in a manner that was up to code - since these houses need to pass a rigorous inspection process before being hooked up to the local “micro-grid” - and help the Team stay on track.

While next weekend the Irvine competition site will be a solar village, right now it is very much a construction zone with massive cranes in all directions manipulating the different homes into place.  Here was the view to the North from atop fluxHome:

Cranes everywhere


The view to the South featured a similar display of activity - and the Great Park’s trademark orange sphere is there in the background:

Cranes to the south


With all of that activity going on, the competition organizers were taking no chances with safety - everyone entering the competition area was required to wear hard hats, eye protection and proper foot protection.  When working on the roof - where I spent the most of my day - harnesses and fall protection gear were mandatory.  In fact, if a team member is spotted without proper safety gear, the team is docked competition points.  A powerful incentive to follow the rules and maximize safety - always a good lesson to learn.

This image shows us fully decked out in all of our safety gear, working on restoring one of the branch circuit connections:

Velvet & Jim working on fluxHome


As you can probably tell, it was a beautiful day to be working on a solar project, particularly an inspiring gig like USC’s fluxHome.  Here’s a view of the roof yesterday:

Roof view from fluxHome at Solar Decathlon site


In the foreground you see the massive, automated skylight that forms the aperture for the “solar chimney” that is an integral part of the home’s systems.   Behind the skylight is a portion of the solar array.

Support Team USC

It is a privilege to be a part of the Solar Decathlon - but for the teams involved it is also a massive fund raising project and success, or failure, can be tied to that aspect as much as a great design.  In fact we learned yesterday that one of the teams from Virginia had to drop out of the contest because they couldn’t raise enough money to complete their design and then ship it to California.  So sad to think that two years worth of hard work went down the drain because they fell short on their fund raising.  (As they said in The Right Stuff, “No bucks, no Buck Rogers.")

While Team USC has not suffered such a depressing fate, they could still use your support.  So if you would be interested in contributing to the team, you can jump over to their Support page and make a donation.

A Little Help from Their Friends…

Finally, while we were taking a break on the ground, we came across a film team that was documenting the Team’s progress and they told us about this video that was shot while we were doing the initial installation.  The entire video is well worth watching as it documents the efforts of the four teams from California that are competing this year.  But we have to admit, we are partial to the section that begins around the 35 minute mark - and stick around for the happy conclusion after the break!

Best of luck to all the schools competing, and especially to Team USC - Fight On!



  07:25:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 323 words  
Categories: Residential Solar, Solar Decathlon - 2013

Solar Decathlon 2013 - Right Around the Corner

The 2013 Solar Decathlon is right around the corner with the Opening Weekend October 3-6 at Irvine’s Great Park.  As readers of this blog know, we have been assisting Team USC (Fight ON!) with the solar aspects of their entry and we will be going down to Irvine on Wednesday (tomorrow!) to assist in reconnecting the array.

On Monday, as teams from all across the country and around the world converged at the competition site, USC team member Evyn Larson and facutly coach Gary Paige, were interviewed by KQED for the California report.  Here’s the tape:

Just before the team took the house apart and shipped it to Irvine, they gathered with their supporters last week on the USC campus for a send-off celebration.  Here are some pics that we got of the crowds touring fluxHome…

Evyn & Jason


Team leaders Evyn Larson and Jason Kang share the stage before the start of the send-off celebration.


fluxHome interior looking toward the kitchen


Interior view of fluxHome looking toward the kitchen.  That is Gary on the left talking on the cell phone - no doubt trying to make sure that some still missing piece of equipment arrives in time.

Speaking of equipment, the equipment room certainly became a lot more crowded than it was when we were doing our install!

Crowded equipment room


Fortunately, the supremely-talented Velvet was able to route much of our conduit on the back side of that wall, leaving critical wall space for other components.  Good planning!

In-kind sponsors made it happen


There can be no doubt that no project like this can be completed without the help of many.  Above is a partial listing of in-kind sponsors and Run on Sun is proud to be featured prominently on that list.  (That’s us just to the right of Enphase - click the image to see the full list.)

And of course, no gig at USC would be complete without the Band…

The USC band sets the pace


I wonder if they can get them to take a road trip to Irvine - talk about a home field advantage!


  08:21:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 65 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Decathlon - 2013

fluxHome Final Walkthrough Video

Team USC has produced their final video walkthrough of fluxHome, their entry in the 2013 Solar Decathlon - check it out!

My favorite bit - that they managed to work in a shot of an Enphase microinverter on top of the solar panels.  Good that they had a spare!

Oh, and in case you want to see the very latest progress, check out the Live Feed.  Fight on!


  11:12:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 238 words  
Categories: Solar Decathlon - 2013

Solar Install at USC's fluxHome

Last Monday we joined the USC Solar Decathlon team to finish the solar power installation.  We installed 34 Enphase Energy M215 microinverters and 34 Bosch 265 Watt solar modules.  We got some pics and we wanted to share them with you.

The first challenge was to get the Bosch panels to the roof where the Enphase microinverters were waiting.  One fork lift later and that problem was solved:

going up via fork liftActually, as there were two pallets of solar panels, we got to repeat this particular exercise twice!

Once our panels were staged on the roof, we were ready to go:

Ready to installThe USC team benefited from kind donations of all of their solar equipment: modules from Bosch, racking from Unirac and the microinverters from Enphase.  In this photo you can see all three, ready for final installation.  Labor - from Run on Sun and other contractors - has also been donated, helping the Team make fluxHome a reality despite a tight budget.

Before actually installing a module, we always take time to test it:

testing a bosch solar module before installation Not surprisingly, all of our solar modules tested good and we could begin the methodical process of installing.

panel going inAfter several hours on the bright, white roof, the team of Chris, Allain and Tyler, was able to look over a good day’s work.

solar installation complete at USC's fluxHome

Next up - finishing the rest of the house and full system testing before dis-assembly in preparation for the trip down to Irvine in October.

Nice job, Team USC - Fight On!


  07:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 261 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Decathlon - 2013

fluxHome Sneak Peek!

Run on Sun is working with the USC Solar Decathlon Team as a solar advisor and we took our second trip to the construction site since the project got underway.  Here’s a quick update on their progress so far.

When we first visited the USC Team’s build site they had just held their kickoff celebration - complete with The Band.  But at that point the house only existed on paper and in elaborate models; at the site, nothing existed but an empty space where soon - hopefully - a house, known as fluxHome, would bloom.

Well now things are really moving along, as this picture of the construction site makes clear:

flexHome underway


Thanks to generous donations by Enphase Energy, Unirac and Bosch, the main solar components are all on hand. Still, one of the main points of complexity for the project is the need to break it down into three modules for transportation which can then be re-assembled into the working home at the competition site in Irvine.

As a general rule, solar power systems aren’t designed around a “dis-assembly needed” requirement!

In the weeks ahead we will be working with the team to advise them on mounting and flashing standoffs, assembling railing, mounting Enphase microinverters (including grounds that would satisfy LADWP), finishing the wiring and mounting the Bosch solar panels.  And we intend to be there when they take it apart and put it back together!

It is going to be an exciting summer for the Team and we are really looking forward to working with the them to make this happen.  Fight on!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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