Project Director

Margraves, Charles

Department Examiner

Elliott, Trevor


Dept. of Mechanical Engineering


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The goal of this project was to create an accurate representation of a zero + energy home both for physical experimentation and for numerical modeling. This means that the home does not rely on power from the grid, but only on alternative energy sources such as solar. The project consists of two major subcategories. The electrical portion of the project consists of implementing the energy source and control system, and the mechanical portion of the project consists of thermal analysis, thermal flow simulations, and physical construction. A 50 W solar panel was chosen as an energy source, which directs power to a 12 V battery or directly to a load when the battery is fully charged by means of a charge controller. Two 20 Watt heating elements wired in parallel inside the house serve as the load and are controlled by an Intel ® Edison micro-controller. This divides the amount of power going into the house between the two heaters. The data representing this power input along with internal and external temperatures uploads to Ubidots every five seconds. Upon startup, the house is able to reach the set point temperature in under two minutes from a cold start, which is a great improvement over the previous thermal study project, which took over 6 hours to heat. The success of the project is determined by tracking the energy within 15% for the experimental model, using the numerical model as a baseline. The time required to heat the physical model was 160 seconds in comparison to the numerical model, which only took 95.5 seconds. This results in a 67.5% error for the experimental model, assuming that the two tests did not accurately capture the experiment. This results in an unsuccessful project, but further iterations and additional testing could improve the error. The majority of this work should focus on the physical model, minimizing all energy loss and maximizing sensor accuracy.


B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.




Dwellings -- Heating and ventilation; Architecture and energy conservation; Buildings -- Environmental engineering.


Alternative energy; Mechanical engineering; Solar; Zero + energy; Energy tracking


Mechanical Engineering

Document Type



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