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Mar 1, 2013 - Building

Competing In A Decathlon Against The Sun – The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 assumes center stage in RWTH Aachen´s "Counter Entropy House"

The ingredients: WAGO’s modular control technology, a hearty serving of good ideas, a large dollop of creativity, some technical skills, fresh university knowledge, and a lot of endurance. The results: One of the highest awards at the “Solar Decathlon Europe 2012” goes to the “Counter Entropy House” built by the team from the RWTH Aachen. This “decathlon of endurance” took place in Madrid for the second time, with 20 groups competing this year. Visitors experienced life in the future under the Spanish sun.

“There was nothing here. The house was created in an empty facility at the Jülich Research Centre,” Julian Kremeyer narrates the project’s history while observing the construction process on the frame house, designed for occupancy by two people, with a certain tension. If anything is missing, it has to be ordered. There is no small parts storage here for screws, connectors, or tools in order to facilitate the work. Pioneers have always had to do more with less. Julian Kremeyer studied engineering at the RWTH Aachen, not far from the Jülich Centre, and is the team member responsible for ensuring that the building automation truly does deliver what was promised during planning.

The “Counter Entropy House” is visually dominated by the overhanging, rectangular roof. With almost 150 square meters of surface, it optimally uses the maximum buildable area, as determined by the competition rules, and serves as a solar energy collector in addition to its usual role as protection from sun and rain. The actual living spaces evolve from the space defined by the roof, and extend for a total dwelling area of 72 square meters.

Total Regenerative Package

The use of completely new methods for heat dissipation, dehumidification supported by sorption, as well as classic water storage improved by phase change materials, form the foundation for the actual energy concept. In order to configure the solar energy inputs to be as efficient and sustainable as possible, solar thermal modules were used in addition to thin-layer photovoltaic cells. A regenerative heat recovery system and intelligent controlling devices help to keep the heat losses in the house to a minimum and to round out the energy efficient design.

For WAGO, all of these appeared as good reasons for supporting the project with technology and applications support, in collaboration with on-site system partners.

What they created in an old brick building at the Jülich Research Center will become, after its completion, a positive energy building, with a sustainable, energy-optimized life cycle at its core. Specifically, this means that the production of the components, their transport to the site, and their eventual disposal, were all considered individually, and as a whole.

Control Taps Savings Potentials

Against this background, the complete building automation is designed such that it taps the energy savings potentials to the greatest extent possible and thereby simultaneously offers the maximum living and operating comfort. A central role was assigned to the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750. First, all of the conventional signals – from the ventilation system through the air conditioning up to heating and hot water – were collected using standard I/O modules. Then, the PLC was directly connected to the KNX network. Finally, the whole was designed so that the entirety of the technology could be comfortably controlled using an iPad. For the WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750, it made sense to bring all of the functions and technical systems into one communication track, in this case, ETHERNET. One of the engineering students explains, “In our house, building automation morphs into the home office and flows into entertainment, including sound control.”

iPad Operation

During their project, the students determined that customers specifically search for modern solutions; for instance, they keep watch for iPad apps for building automation. By this means, light, sound, blinds, temperature, ventilation, and heating can be controlled in a way that is simple, cost-efficient, requires no additional wiring, and is visually much more stylish. The alternatives would have involved separate room operating devices, switches or buttons, which would have then required holes or slits in the walls for their installation.

The WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM 750 also offers a web-supported visualization interface for more ease of use. “We’re only using this for the house commissioning,” according to Kremeyer, “the residents will use applications specially adapted as apps.” Aside from a purely operational function, the WAGO solution is assigned the task of collecting data from the sensors in order to eventually centrally evaluate it. In the end, the “Counter Entropy House’s” level of energy efficiency can only be proven using numbers and graphs.


  • Maximum degree of freedom for communication interfaces
  • WAGO-I/O-SYSTEM scores with its integrated Web-based display
  • Programming that is configured so flexibly that continuous adaptation is possible.

Text: Thomas Schaaf, WAGO
Photo: Tobias Schell, Kai Kasugai, WAGO

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