Solar, Thermal, Energy
This paper documents the performance of three different active flat plate solar thermal air collectors that were designed, built, and installed on the roof of a university building. The three collectors circulate air and use small fans for capturing and delivering supplemental heat for the building. These collectors are part of a larger solar energy installation used in a university setting for teaching and research about renewable energy. Each collector has a different configuration to illustrate how a solar collector’s design impacts its ability to capture thermal energy. A web-based building automation system provides real time data on solar collector performance that can be used by students and researchers. The three new collectors achieved 20% to 25% energy conversion efficiency when analyzed according to ASHRAE Standard 93 “Methods Of Testing To Determine The Thermal Performance Of Solar Collectors”. Testing also showed that the amount of air flowing through the collectors had a significant impact on overall performance. The solar collectors also achieved an energy factor (the ratio of heat collected to fan power) of approximately 5, effectively demonstrating the viability of solar thermal technologies.