Coast Mountain College Engineering and Physical Sciences Department Hosts Solar Home Competition

Jun 26, 2024
Attendees look at the different model homes during Solar Home Competition

Terrace, BC – On Saturday, June 8th, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Department at Coast Mountain College (CMTN) hosted a competition to see which model home design could retain the most solar heat over a period of time.

Projects were submitted by nine groups submitted projects, which included community members, Caledonia Secondary School physics students, and CMTN students and instructors. 

Each design was required to adhere to a specific set of parameters: 
  • The model home must be less than 35 cm in any dimension (length, width, and height). The entire apparatus must fit in a 35 x 35 x 35 cm box. 
  • The maximum allowed wall thickness is 5 cm.
  • At least 60% of the interior volume must be open air space.
  • Any materials that are not dangerous may be used.
  • No internal sources of energy are allowed.
  • A small solar panel and circuits/motors may be used.
  • See full criteria here. 

The homes underwent 45 minutes exposed to the sun, followed by 30 minutes hidden from the sun. Temperature probes inside the homes measured the temperature changes over this cool-down period. The results were as follows: 

  • 1st place: Finn Russell, Caledonia Secondary School, with a temperature retention of 12.9°C over time.
  • 2nd place: Andrew Deelstra, community member, with a temperature retention of 5.7°C over time.
  • 3rd place (most innovative design): Kelsey Rivard, community member, used a parabolic reflector focusing light onto a clear tube containing water that was circulated through the home by a solar panel powering a small pump.

Regan Sibbald, CMTN Physics instructor and event organizer says, “It was great to see the participants coming from all over, including Caledonia Secondary School, the College, local industry, and even from as far away as Victoria. The projects all had very interesting designs and I’m sure the participants learned much about capturing and utilizing solar energy through designing, building, testing their projects, and sharing their design concepts with each other. 

“Throughout the event we had great conversations about solar energy. Visitors enjoyed discussing the physics demonstrations while savouring the food and refreshments provided by the College. We look forward to seeing what people come up with next year!” 

Thank-you to the judges of this event: Dave Wolfe, P.Eng., Senior Civil Engineer at Tetra Tech; Meredith Wolfe, Uplands Elementary Teacher; Jared MacInnis, P. Eng., General Manager of Monster Industries, Vice President of Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce. 

Jared MacInnis shares his thoughts on the success of the event: 

“Our region is notorious for its problem solving and innovation out of necessity. It’s wonderful that there’s a local post-secondary institution in Coast Mountain College that has recognized this and is supporting its students to apply forward-looking ideas and explore technology to leverage our advancement for generations to come. I’m proud to support activities like the recent Solar Home Competition and know that there is value created through Coast Mountain College’s engagement with local businesses. Ongoing events like this will augment the local community’s ability to lead and contribute to its development in addition to supporting the needs of new industrial projects and operations.”

Event organizers would like to extend a thank you also to the CMTN Foundation for donating the prizes for this event. 


Media Contact:

Heather Bastin
Executive Director, External Relations
250.653.6511 ext. 5494