Revolutionary home wins inaugural SMUD Tiny House Competition

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The Revolve House gets all its power from a roof-based solar panel array(Credit: Joanne H. Lee)

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The brand new SMUD Tiny House Competition recently took place in Sacramento, California. Inspired by the Solar Decathlon, it aims to promote green construction and sustainable living, writ small. Santa Clara University won out of a total of 10 competing California-based college teams with its novel solar-powered home that automatically rotates to follow the sun.

The Revolve House was constructed using SIPs (structural insulated panels) and comprises a total floorspace of 238 sq ft (22 sq m). This is split between a kitchen and dining area with pull-down table, a wet-room style bathroom, and a lounge/bedroom with murphy-style bed. In addition, a roof deck seats six and is accessed by an exterior staircase.

It gets its power from a roof-based solar array made up of eight 330 W panels. This is hooked-up to environmentally-friendly saltwater batteries and provides all necessary electricity for running the home.

In order to boost the solar array's efficiency, the Revolve House is based on a trailer, which in turn sits atop a Colossun sun tracking ring that rotates the home to ensure the solar panels receive the most rays possible. We wondered if the power required by the electric motor that moves the home might negate any juice gained, but the Revolve House team says that the system improves the home's solar efficiency by an impressive 30 percent.

Heating is provided by an efficient HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) unit. This, in addition to a skylight, and the lighting, are all controlled by a touchscreen system. A filter recycles greywater for later re-use.

The house is designed to be used by disabled veterans and its doorways, showers and appliances are described as wheelchair-accessible. However, besides lack of disabled access to the deck, there's a significant step up to the lounge area too – perhaps a ramp is going to be inserted here later. The step in question can also be pulled back to reveal storage space.

No doubt such concerns will be sorted out, as Revolve House will soon be donated to Operation Freedom Paws, an organization dedicated to teaching veterans and others with disabilities to train their own service dogs.

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