This past weekend marked the launch of the European Solar Decathlon in Madrid, and with the competition halfway through one of our favorite solar-powered residences is the by the University of Applied Sciences in Rosenheim, Germany. Characterized by a stunning shading system, superb energy efficiency and a large solar system capable of generating more than four times the power needed for the home, its no wonder that IKAROS is one of the top ranking houses right now, weighing in at 6th place out of 17. The team from Bavaria is charming princes and the hearts of visitors with their solar home and their charming traditional Bavarian costumes.

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The IKAROS House generates more solar power than is needed to run the home and is designed to accommodate four persons. Super tight insulation provided by vacuum insulation panels, energy efficient design and efficient mechanical systems ensures that the home uses very little energy — in fact excess energy from the home’s systems is used for heating during the cooler months. Heating is the least of their worries in Madrid right now though, and natural ventilation is optimized to keep the house cool, and excess heat from the cooling system (a heat pump) is used to make hot water.

The home is modular in construction and is most notably characterized by its zig-zag facade, which functions to shade the home and optimizes the use of sunlight as it changes during the day and throughout the seasons. Prefabricated from wood, IKAROS House is estimated to cost around 275,000 €, but has the potential to sell back renewable energy to the grid for an annual gain of 4,600 €, which means the house could be a money maker, not a bank breaker.