Honda’s experimental smart home is now open source

Updated on July 9, 2014 by Drew: After receiving thousands of requests from architects, builders, researchers, academics, policymakers, and enthusiastic members of the public, Honda has decided to make its experimental smart home completely open source. Starting today, all of the building plans, architectural and mechanical drawings, material specs, and raw 2D and 3D CAD data available to the public. In doing so, the company hopes that interested individuals across the globe will be able to use these plans as a starting point to build their own sustainable homes. To get your hands on these newly-available specs, just head over to HondaSmarthome.com and hit the downloads tab. There you’ll be able to access detailed info on everything from the home’s geothermal heating and cooling setup to its innovative energy management system.

Originally published 3-26-2014: In March, Japanese automobile manufacturer Honda held a Web conference to show off its latest experiment: a cutting-edge smart home designed from the ground up to showcase innovative technologies that enable zero net energy living and transportation. We tuned in to get a tour of the place, and liked what we saw.

The house, which resides in the West Village campus of the University of California, Davis, is capable of producing more energy on-site from renewable sources than it consumes annually, including enough energy to power a Honda Fit EV for daily commuting.

To make this possible, the house uses a combination of solar power, an intelligent energy management system, and a host of different low-energy appliances and fixtures. Due in part to the ultra-efficient design of the home, all of the energy needed for space heating, space cooling, ventilation, lighting, hot water, appliances — and even transportation energy for the Honda Fit EV — is supplied by a 9.5kW solar photovoltaic system mounted on the roof.

Screen Shot 2014-03-26 at 10.38.05 AMSolar panels are definitely the lynchpin of the home, but the various high-efficiency systems hidden inside the walls and floors are arguably its most impressive feature. Take the geothermal heating and cooling system for example. In the ground beneath the house, eight 20-foot deep boreholes allow a geothermal heat pump to harness the ground’s relatively stable thermal sink to heat and cool the home’s floors and ceiling throughout the year.

Then there’s the house’s light system. Not only are the lights around five times more energy efficient than those found in the average American household, they’re also designed to better support the health and wellbeing of the home’s occupants. Honda worked with researchers from the California Lighting Technology Center at UC Davis to develop a lighting system that mimics natural shifts in daylight that occur from morning to night, so as not to upset the your circadian rhythm. At night, the lights will take on more of an amber hue in order to minimize your exposure to blue light, which halts the production of melatonin and makes it harder to sleep. In the morning, the lights automatically put off more blue to help put your body in an alert and energetic state.

All this stuff is definitely cool, but the most groundbreaking feature of Honda’s smart home is the company’s proprietary home energy management system (HEMS) — a combined hardware and software system that monitors, controls and optimizes electrical generation and consumption throughout the home’s microgrid. The system basically consists of a 10kWh lithium-ion battery that can store energy collected by the home’s solar panels and intelligently dish it out whenever you need power later on. And if the house ever creates a surplus of energy, HEMS can even supply power back to the grid.

The home is just an experiment right now, but even so, it stands as a shining example of what super-efficient, zero-impact homes of the future might look like. Find out more here.

Article originally published on 03-26-2014 under the title “Honda’s experimental smart home is so efficient it actually creates surplus power.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

Google’s Gboard now uses A.I. to recommend GIFs based on your conversation

Google is bringing a new feature to Gboard that should make it better for those that regularly use GIFs and stickers. The feature essentially uses A.I. to recommend GIFs and stickers based on your conversation.
Deals

The best iRobot Roomba deals to make cleaning your home a breeze

Keep your home clean without lifting a finger using a robot vacuum cleaner. These nine iRobot Roomba deals not only help you keep your home tidy, but many also come with advanced features such as automatic scheduling and Wi-Fi connectivity.
Smart Home

This super-cool tiny home with a living wall lived at the UN this summer

This tiny home is a collaboration between Yale University and Gray Organschi Architecture that can potentially be produced for less than $50,000 and assembled on site within three days.
Smart Home

Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show

The Google Home Hub vs. Amazon Echo Show: which is better? Both are smart displays that control your smart home, but that's where the similarities end. We compare design, features, price and more to find out which is right for you.
Smart Home

Kitchen fires, viral turkeys, family knife fights, and more Thanksgiving fails

If you’re dreading small talk with nosy relatives or fearing you might burn down the house while cooking, we hate to say that your fears might not be unfounded. Here’s a roundup of some of the biggest Thanksgiving fails.
Product Review

Size matters, and Anova got it right with the Nano sous vide immersion circulator

Thinking about trying your hand at sous vide cooking? Anova recently came out with the smaller, more affordable Nano. The compact and easy-to-store precision sous vide immersion circulator is only $99. Here's our take on the device.
Smart Home

How to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner in an Instant Pot

We collected some of our favorite recipes and created an Instant Pot Thanksgiving dinner guide. Here’s how to ditch the oven and cook your entire Thanksgiving Dinner in an Instant Pot.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Smart Home

Hosting Thanksgiving but not sure where to begin? Try a Thanksgiving meal kit

Need a Thanksgiving meal, but short on time or expertise? Here are the best Thanksgiving meal kits to help you out. They either give you all the ingredients and instructions, or provide a full Thanksgiving meal that you just have to heat.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.
Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.