CMTN Engineering and Physical Sciences Department Invites Submissions for Solar Home Competition

Apr 15, 2024

Terrace, BC -- Coast Mountain College's Engineering and Physical Sciences department is hosting a model solar home competition, open to everyone! Please register by emailing Regan Sibbald at


Objective: Design a model home that will absorb the heat from the sun and retain it as much as possible. Learn about effective use of solar radiation in our region.

  • The contest will be held at the Terrace campus of Coast Mountain College on Saturday, June 8th at 1:15 p.m.
  • The model home must be less than 35 cm in any dimension of 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.
  • You may decorate your model home.
  • Make sure you put your group name on the project.
  • You may work as individuals or in groups (maximum 4 people per group recommended).
  • Groups must be registered as there are limited spots. Email Regan Sibbald at with your group name and the names of each member in your group.
  • If you have any questions, please email Regan Sibbald at
Suggestions for success:
  • Determine the angle of elevation of the sun on that day and time and build your home to suit that angle.
  • Investigate solar home design, solar mass, solar heat collection, and heat capacity.
  • Learn about transmissions of different types of glass and effective use of window coverings.
  • Design, test, adjust; Use a heat lamp to pre-test your home.

  • The home must have a hole drilled in it with a minimum diameter of 4.0 mm for insertion of a temperature probe. Placement of the hole is your choice, but it cannot be in the direct path of the light from the lamp. The temperature probe is 10.5 cm long and must be in a shaded region of the home measuring the temperature of the air inside the model.
  • If the conditions are not suitable for outside testing, heat lamps will be used.
  • The homes will be heating for 45 minutes and then the source (sun or lamp) will be blocked for 30 minutes.
  • The temperature inside the home will be monitored for the entire time by a temperature probe and data analysis software. Groups will receive a graph of temperature versus time for the model home after the testing is completed.
  • No manual adjustments during the testing are allowed. Any changes to the system must be automated.
Prizes will be awarded for the following achievements:
  1. $800: The solar home that has the highest internal temperature at the end of the testing.
  2. $600: The solar home that has the second highest internal temperature at the end of the testing.
  3. $400: The solar home that has the most interesting or innovative design.