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Practice makes perfect

Practice makes perfect

In their latest blog entry, the First Light team tell us why they’re assembling their solar bach on Wellington’s waterfront in the lead-up to the US Solar Decathlon competition. And just exactly how much Wellington wind will the bach be able to withstand? 

The designs for the First Light house are almost complete and the plans are now with the council for final revisions. After over a year of hard work we are just about ready to bring our designs to life with the construction of our solar bach. 

The First Light house is broken up into prefabricated components with the core of the structure made up of five modules, allowing for quick and easy onsite assembly.

Construction begins in January in a warehouse supplied by Wellington Airport, in Lyall Bay.  We will have both builders and students working together to build the prefabricated modules before the end of March.  

That’s when the really exciting part starts. The constructed modules will be transported by truck to Frank Kitts Park (see picture below) on the Wellington waterfront where we will assemble the house in less than seven days. This assembly includes the installation of appliances, landscaping and services to create a fully functioning house in just a week. We have set ourselves this tight deadline as seven days is the time allocated by competition organisers in the Solar Decathlon competition.  

This assembly will act as a practice run for the competition which takes place a few months later in Washington DC. It will give us a chance to perfect the assembly sequence and to ensure there won’t be any nasty surprises during the competition. As we are coming from the other side of the planet we need to know exactly what’s needed to put this house together—right down to how many screws and washers we need to take. We will also take a week to test the house to make sure everything is performing the way it’s designed to.  

After assembly and testing the house will finally get its first visitors. The First Light house will be open to the public for 2-3 weeks. During this time Wellingtonians and visitors to the city can come and see solar energy technologies in action. As a large part of the competition in the US involves guiding a huge number of visitors through the house, we’ll use our time in Wellington to practice our tour guide skills. 

We want people to enjoy their visit to the house and to come away with an understanding of solar energy and the importance of using renewable technologies. 

We had always hoped to install the house for public display here in Wellington before the competition, and for it to begin a second life back in New Zealand at the conclusion of the competition. This means the house needs to be able to stand up to the windiest of days on the Wellington waterfront, something Wellingtonians know is no easy feat. The fastest recorded wind speed in Wellington reached 169.2 km/h. With this in mind, the house has been designed to withstand up to 180 km/h. 

Check out the other blog entries from First Light

New Zealand natives in Washington DC

An actively passive house

What’s in a name? 

A team explosion (of size)

Showcasing Kiwi lifestyle to the world

How do you ship a house from Wellington to Washington?