Molex and University of Illinois Support Etho Team in China Solar Decathlon 2013

Etho passive solar home design features geo-thermal mechanical system, solar PV arrays, Molex VLM lighting and a home automation system that monitors net-zero achievements developed by UIUC

LISLE, Ill.--Molex Incorporated and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL (UIUC) partnered to support the Etho Team in the China Solar Decathlon 2013, August 2-13, Datong, China.

The Solar Decathlon is a prestigious biennial competition that challenges intercollegiate teams from around the world to design and build energy efficient, fully solar powered homes. Twenty-one teams worldwide competed in China's first Solar Decathlon, which was hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy and National Energy Administration of China, and organized by UIUC's partner Peking University (PKU), Beijing, China.

"Sustainable and efficient homes are quickly becoming a necessity for many in China and the U.S., and technologies including Etho's photovoltaic (PV) array, LED lighting, and super insulated envelope are allowing for net-zero living to become an achievable reality," states Kevin Donovan, project manager, UIUC.

A collaboration between UIUC and PKU, the Etho team's 1,050 square foot passive solar powered design served as the showcase home for the entire event. This home was to set the standard from which other teams could be compared due to the experience and success that UIUC has experienced in past U.S. Solar Decathlon competitions. Other homes in the competition were judged on ten categories, including architecture, engineering, solar application and energy balance. Almost 200,000 visitors attended the public exhibition.

Blending tradition and technology, the Etho home promotes ‘green' living and provides a peaceful urban oasis. Constructed entirely of thick structural insulated panels, the home features direct southern orientation, optimized glazing areas and overhangs, PV skylights, triple glazed German windows with integrated motorized shading, and natural courtyards. The Etho team leveraged Molex's industry-leading interconnect and lighting expertise to design the home's LED lighting system. Molex specified custom and standard Versatile Light Module (VLM) fixtures and ceiling rails throughout the home.

An innovative approach to lighting, the VLM system provided a solderless connection to the LED array, without requiring conventional sockets or cables. While many traditional LED lighting fixtures require large heat sinks, the VLM system utilizes magnetic LED pucks that snap on a rail, which serves as the heat sink. The LED pucks can be easily removed and placed on any rail or fixture in the home. Pucks are extremely versatile and available in a wide range of color, beam angle, and intensity. The lighting system had multi-functional control by either wireless dimmable light switches or the home's automation system that was accessible via cell phone, computer, or iPad. The ability to customize the lighting in the home was one of the most successful and attractive features to visitors.

"As a company we recognize the important role technology plays in sustainable design," states Victor Zaderej, advanced engineering manager of SSL, Molex. "The Etho home lighting is truly revolutionary. The homeowner has the flexibility to rearrange lighting based on furniture placement, seasonal ambience or for a holiday celebration in their new net-zero energy efficient home."

For information please visit Visit the Etho team online or

About University of Illinois

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has long been ranked among the nation's most distinguished teaching and research institutions. Its diverse, world-class programs reflect the mission of a land-grant university. The largest public university in Illinois, the Urbana campus was chartered by the state in 1867 as the Illinois Industrial University and opened its doors to students in 1868. The University of Illinois website is

About Molex Incorporated

Providing more than connectors, Molex delivers complete interconnect solutions for a number of markets including: data communications, telecommunications, consumer electronics, industrial, automotive, commercial vehicle, aerospace and defense, medical, and lighting. Established in 1938, the company operates 45 manufacturing locations in 17 countries. The Molex website is Follow us at, watch our videos at, connect with us at and read our blog at

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