Kitting your house out with solar panels is all well and good, save for the fact that they may spend a good part of the day unable to make the most efficient use of the sun's rays. That is unless your house is inspired by the humble sunflower, which turns and tilts it head to track the movement of the sun.
This idea forms the basis of Casas em Movimento (meaning Moving Houses), a Portuguese firm spun-out from a project at the University of Porto. Its technology, developed in collaboration with the university's faculty of architecture, allows the main volume of houses to rotate and their roofs to tilt, maximizing the amount of solar energy that can be harvested.
The way in which flowers follow the path of the sun has been used to inform solar panel deployments elsewhere previously, such as for Rolf Disch's Heliotrope. Like the Heliotrope, Casas em Movimento homes offer two axes of movement.
Casas em Movimento tells Gizmag that the buildings themselves are formed of a metal structure with integrated mechanical articulations. This allows them to rotate up to 180 degrees. By default, the movement of a house is automatic and set to track the sun, taking 9-12 hours to turn. It's also possible for residents to control the system via a mobile interface, so as to choose their view, for example. A full turn can be done in as little as 12 minutes.
Casas em Movimento roofs, meanwhile, are able to pivot by up to 60 degrees. In addition to angling the roof-mounted solar panels for better solar exposure, this provides a means of shading windows in the summer and maximizing their exposure to sunlight in the winter.
Casas em Movimento says the combined rotation of the building and tilting of the roof makes its system able to produce 25,000 kWh of electricity per year. It says the electricity required to power the movement of the system for a day, meanwhile, is about the same as running six 60 W lights for an hour.
Elsewhere, Casas em Movimento houses do not require concrete foundations and so can be easily transported and deployed. Cabling and plumbing is routed through a static section inside the house, which for those with multiple stories is via the stairs.
The first Casas em Movimento prototype was shown off at Solar Decathlon Europe in 2012 and the second was built last year. The firm is now planning to commercialize the technology, with a demonstration showroom to be completed by May.
The video below shows the technology in action.
Source: Casas Em Movimento
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