Hungary's Odooproject prefab home produces twice the amount of energy it consumes


September 12, 2012

Budapest University students have created an innovative solar-powered prefab home for the 2012 European Solar Decathlon

Budapest University students have created an innovative solar-powered prefab home for the 2012 European Solar Decathlon

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On the eve of the opening of the European Solar Decathlon, a team from the Budapest University of Technology and Economics is ready to present its innovative solar-powered prefab home, which produces twice the amount of energy than it consumes. The decathlon is an international competition among universities which promotes research in the development of energy-effective and light-structured residential buildings that only use solar energy. This year the prestigious competition is being hosted in Madrid, Spain and will see a selection of university entries from across Europe, including Germany, Denmark, Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, The United Kingdom and Romania, and four more from China, Japan, Brazil and Egypt.

The Hungarian "Odooproject" team has created a modern home design that features an open central area, complete with a summer kitchen. This central zone creates a private terrace that allows its occupants to spend a large amount of their time in the open air, while also taking advantage of the sun’s energy. Drawing inspiration from traditional Hungarian folk architecture, the house features a darker outer shell, which forms a closed building that is suitable for its climatic conditions.

The prominent south-facing wall features a considerably large surface area that is entirely fitted with photovoltaic panels. During the summer months when the sun is high, solar energy is produced by the roof panels, while during the cooler months when the sun is lower, energy is produced by the south-facing wall. “Ultimately, owing to this system, the house generates twice as much energy in Hungarian conditions and three times as much in Madrid as the house itself spends,” the Odooproject team states. “This amount is able to serve two other house’s needs, or provide a 70-kilometer (43.5-mile) long travel distance – daily – for an electric car.”

By also incorporating a ceiling-integrated water cooling system, the home can maintain cool temperatures during the summer. This system cools the living area through the ceiling and is also able to channel out extra heat from the room. Because the house produces twice as much energy as it needs on a yearly scale, its heating can be addressed with only a slight electrical boost from the municipal grid during autumn and spring. However, for heating during the winter, the home relies entirely on grid-supplied electric energy.

The Hungarian team ultimately hopes that its Odooproject home is a viable and innovative prefabricated model that can be successfully sold within the marketplace. “It is our long time goal to penetrate the Hungarian market after participating at the contest with the help of supporters and sponsors,” says the team.

Source: Odooproject, Solar Decathlon Europe via Inhabitat

About the Author
Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

LOL so dumb. it would be nice if they got rid of the PV and hooked up a wind turbine.

Michael Mantion

I love how they always leave out how much a single unit will cost real world. These concepts are complete crap till they have to stand up to real world conditions. Theres a very very good reason we never see these "State of the art" structure actually built. You put building cost, material cost, maintenance together and you will see why these buildings will never see the sun. A sad waste of time really, it would be far more impressive to see an actual structure make headlines that will actually be put into action.

Garrett Ross

Great, an outdoor kitchen for European weather.

Nick Heidl

The house is great except that anybody that can afford it won't settle for such a pathetic little house.


I really like the wheelchair ramp/stair up to the patio...Other than that, this looks like a design that could be replicated with far less expense by mod-ing a shipping container.

Alan Belardinelli

All of these appear to be individual homes when what is needed is high volumes of relatively cheap apartments to cope with the universal housing shortage. Time to change the focus of this and similar competitions?

Brendan Dunphy

@ Brendan Dunphy,

Well, they've got to start somewhere. No car manufacturer goes straight from the drawing board to production without making prototypes and doing test work, and if the competition is designed to produce houses on a mass scale, then competitions like this, with one-off designs, should be built and evaluated- this is the value of such competitions.

Back in the 1960's in the UK there was widespread slum clearances which resulted in the need for fast-build prefabricated structures on a unprecidented scale, and so our social housing in our larger cities became dominated by pre-fab tower blocks, which were badly build, badly designed insulated, and ventilated, and soon they were virtually uninhabitable, with extreme damp, and cockroach infestations. Other projects, more 'low built' but still promising 'walkways in the skies' became extremely isolating, especially for vulnerable people, due to the ease by which criminal and antisocial elements could dominate the estates.

Individual homes is the way to go- indeed, many of the 1960's experiments have had to be rebuilt entirely, with individual homes preferred over mass housing projects. And competitions are needed so that the best designs are put forward- some won't work, others are more feasible, and the best features can be combined in 'real world' developments.

As for the housing shortage, in the UK there are thousands of building plots that have not been developed because the builders are waiting for the market to pick up- no point in building a house that nobody can get a mortgage for. Obviously social housing would be the answer, but the Conservative Government of Margaret Thatcher knocked that on the head, and now only small numbers of Housing Association homes can be built- not fulfilling demand.


Not everything technologically possible is economically reasonable and even practical, not to mention culturally unacceptable aspects for some nations. And this is essentially one-storied construction is a very ineffective use of the land. Even if its energy efficiency is proven, actual costs of building and of maintenance for a year at least, will judge. Nice try though.

Mike Akulov

Dang, humans are stupid. So, we can replace all of our houses with these, AND, then we still have to completely rebuild our transportation infrastructure to use the electricity thereby generated. And it will take how much fossil fuels to build all those houses, and build a whole new transport system?

Wake up idiots, two words: nuclear fission. Or die. Hello?

Randolph Lee

Mosquitoes must have designed this.

Mark A

re; bergamot69 After all the horrors of social housing that you just described you still think it's a good idea.


This, like many other solar decathlon projects, is a simplistic solution to the production of sustainable housing. Photovoltaic cells should be considered potential future pollutants (containing heavy metals and posing a landfill disposal problem) and therefore used as sparingly as possible. Rather than covering as much of the housing surface with them, the object ought to be to see how few solar cells are really required. A sustainable world requires self-regulation, and self-control, not an orgy of ever increasing stimulation from electrical appliances. If every appliance to be loaded on the photovoltaic cell array is scaled down to the least energy draw, then well under 10 cells max should be required on any single home. Small really is beautiful here. Choose the lowest power LED lights, the lowest-power computer, and steam cook your food in a little electric rice cooker. There is no way that is going to require roofs and walls to be covered with dozens of solar cells. Learn to live, as many of the Japanese do, in very small spaces. Most importantly, designers need to research the natural ventilation and thermal stabilizing capacity of passive structures. To much math and computer algorithm power is now wasted on making the solar electricity. Put the same design effort into creating passive structures that keep the inhabitants comfortable as seasons change, and you will be able to greatly reduce dependence on any kind of electricity Certainly, no one needs fusion power just to be comfortable in their house and cook their food!! Imagining that they need such obscene amounts of energy is a psychological disorder comparable to anorexia and dysmorphia.

Robert Monie

While I applaud the designs of engineers and students, this design is not functional. I love the man Jimmy Carter and his philanthropic work with Habitat for Humanity, but he didn't use his brain and think for a minute. All the thousand of families that couldn't afford to buy a house, now have one built by him and Habitat. Then over the years, houses require significant amounts of upkeep. Upkeep that the residents of these houses are not trained to do. In turn the house deteriorates and the occupants or bank is left with a structure worth less money.

Designers and engineers need to focus on condominium type structures with medium to low cost rent that are energy efficient and that can easily be maintained. Small communities of ultra efficient condominiums would be much better. They could be powered using wind, solar, natural gas micro-turbines, use minimal grid usage, use geothermal heating, solar water heating, concrete and styrofoam walls, and ultra efficient windows.

Funny how you never hear the words"conserve energy" anymore like you did back in the 70's. I remember as a child seeing the "turn the switches off" stickers on all the light switches.

I hope the cycle of useless , non-functional McMansions will break soon.


Garrett, these are proof of concept models. They are not finished products and I do not recall anything in the article stating otherwise.

NK Fro

Rocky Mountain Institute built a house in Davis, CA that did not need any heating or cooling. Davis gets in the 20s (winter) and triple digits for months. Passive solar super insulation energy efficiency is all it takes.


re; Robert Monie

High energy civilization is the part of the world were cleaning the environment is taken seriously as a good idea even by those of use that want to disband the EPA because of their anti-science political agenda.


Lets get this produces twice the amount of energy it consumes.

Oh except in the winter when it needs to be hooked up to the what was the point they were making?

Nick Rowney

Its a good start, but alot of these building need to be engineered wirth real world applications in mind. Like having 3 times the power needed sounds brilliant, until half way down it switches to fully "reliant on grid during autumn and winter"?! So when people are naturally out and about, and not indoors it produces 3 times the power as opposed to when people need to be indoors and relying on power?! This house would be great with a battery back up, and wind turbine, and grid tie in. It would help keep all costs down, in winter the turbine would help power things, and overall it would be applicable to houses worldwide. Hell throw in the PV windows everyones talking about and you've got another bit covered. If energy needs are a real concern, someone needs to start work on a concept similar to PV paint, something that can be applied to the entire exterior and doesnt subtract from the asthetics of the house its on.

Ray Burke


Single houses means sprawl Sprawl means cars Cars mean more sprawl More sprawl means more cars, More cars means more rivers of tarmac criss-crossing the countryside slashing it into tiny virtual islands which wildlife cannot cross. Sprawl is a disaster for humans, wildlife, and the environment. Think of the time wasted commuting, often more than 3 hrs a day..!

Density can and should be desirable - think of cruise ships, with population densities 100x that of sprawl cities. Does anyone complain about the the noise, the stress, the crime, the pollution, the crowds? That, in a nutshell, is what is needed if we are going to have any chance of reducing carbon emissions by the required 80% - self-contained, self-sufficient, off-grid car-free cities in which to live, work, and play.

So simple, so obvious, so why is nobody talking about this?

Anthony Rawdon

This house is a wate of time and effort. It only has meaning if it does not rely on the grid. to reach the 80% CO2 reduction nuclear power is the only green answer. The idea of free power is silly, people have been looking for perpetual energy for centuries. Every thing has a cost. Building a house out of solar panels is school boy stuf.

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