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Solar Thermal

Vacuum Tube

Evacuated tubes

Solar thermal vacuum tubes (often called Evacuated Tubes) actually consist of two tubes in one. A vacuum is created between the inner and outer tube and acts as an insulator this allows heat from the sun to enter the inner tube. As the temperature of the inner tube rises it then heats a copper tip at the top of the tube that is passed over by a heat transfer fluid that transfers the heat from the collector and into the property to supply heat and hot water.

Advantages

  • Vacuum tubes are of flexible modular design with a range of panel sizes to suit applications from domestic housing through to large commercial installations, producing energy at the lowest cost per KW.
  • It is possible for vacuum tube collectors to convert up to 96% of the energy captured and operate at a working temperature of up to 250 Celsius. They are easy to install and maintain with a service life of at least 25-30 years.

Disadvantages

  • Low absorber area per metre.
  • Individual tube failure due to cracking at the joint between copper and glass

Glazed Flat Plate

A glazed flat plate panel has insulation at the back and sides, with glass on top and a black absorber plate inside. The glass allows the solar energy to enter the panel and working with the insulation keep the heat within the panel. The heat is then absorbed by the black absorber plate and transferred to a heat transfer fluid and removed from the plate into the building.

In the summer months, there is almost no difference in performance between the Vacuum Tube collectors and Glazed Flat Plate collectors. During winter, when days are colder, and the UK has lower light levels, the evacuated tubes will perform slightly better.

Advantages

  • Require little maintenance
  • Lower cost than Vacuum Tube collectors
  • Can be integrated into the roof for a more aesthetic look

Disadvantages

  • Lose more heat to the environment than vacuum tubes
  • Lower performance in winter months than Vacuum Tubes

Glazed flat plate

Unglazed Flat Plate

The unglazed collector is simplest form of flat-plate collector. Generally used for swimming pool heating, these collectors work quite well when the required output temperature is near to the ambient temperature.

These collectors consist of just an absorber made up from either polypropylene, EPDM rubber or silicone rubber with a manifold at each end for the heat transfer fluid to enter and leave the absorber.

Advantages

  • High efficiency for purpose, e.g. pool heating
  • Some can be rolled up and stored when not needed
  • Low cost due to less construction material required

Disadvantages

Not suitable for domestic hot water (DHW) or heating systems

Solar Thermal Tiles

Solar thermal tiles are made from toughened glass and affixed to timber battens in the same way conventional tiles are attached. Beneath the tiles a silicon rubber strip which acts as the absorber is placed. The strip is capped at both the bottom and the top of the roof by manifolds; cool fluid enters through the bottom manifold and passes through the absorber to the top manifold where it strips heat on route.

Advantages

  • Aesthetically pleasing look

Disadvantages

  • High cost with low efficiency

 

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