Solar water heaters, Solar water heater testing


This report is concerned with the performance of solar hot water units for laboratory and field use. A solar unit is defined as a system consisting of a collector, storage tank, piping system and controls. Older unites typically employ the thermosyphon principle (gravity) while more recent models use a water pump to circulate the water. Basically, the collector absorbs solar radiation and transfers thermal energy to the water flowing in the collector tubing. From the collector, the fluid is pumped to the storage tank at which point the hot water is available for usage. A literature search revealed that very little information was available concerning test procedures. The National Bureau of Standards (NBS) has generated proposed test procedures for separate testing of the collector and storage tank, but they do not include testing of the total system. The only other suggested test procedure found was by Stotter and Robinson, these authors include a discussion of the total system. Stotter and Robinson along with (NBS) provided the starting point for this report. In the report it is shown that qualitative properties are equally as important as quantitative properties. Quantitative properties are defined as temperature, flowrate, solar radiation or insolation, wind velocity and direction. Qualitative properties are defined as shade, weather resistance, corrosion resistance, location and maintenance. To determine which solar unit properties would be useful in comparing performance values, test reports along with the other references on solar unit testing were studied. After a review of all the reference material the following performance parameters were obtained and are believed to be of use in comparing solar units. These parameters are discussed in detail in the text of the report. 1. nth, the practical thermal efficiency 2. pSTOR, the heat storage coefficient 3. Q, the solar unit capacity 4. Ceff, capacity efficiency. It was found from the error analysis that the recommended instrumentation and test procedure, presented herein, should result in less than ± 10% error in the calculation of performance parameters. Temperature measurement error was found to be the largest contributor to the overall error. It is recommended that the test procedure herein be used for Florida Technological University testing of laboratory and field solar units, and the future work be performed to develop a method of rating solar units.


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Graduation Date



Nimmo, Bruce


Master of Science (M.S.)


College of Engineering

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77 p.




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Masters Thesis (Open Access)




Solar water heaters, Solar water heaters -- Testing

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