Do you want to know how a flat plate solar collector works, Then let’s take you there!
A flat plate solar collector is composed of a long, curved sheet of metal that is divided into many parallel strips. A mirror is placed at the centre of the long plate, and a row of batteries is installed along the long sides to heat the plate up.
Due to its simple design, this type of solar panel is great for people who want to save money by mounting panels themselves. They are also great for people looking for non-electric water heating solutions because they can be used as passive panels or active panels (pumps).
Solar panels are rated on efficiency and power output under standard laboratory conditions. That’s why the United States Department of Solar Energy is funding research into better, tougher modules that can last longer and generate more electricity in less-than-ideal conditions.
The solar energy captured by these types of panels boils the water in the panel and passes it through a plastic pipe called an ‘in-line heat exchanger’ before sending it to your home’s hot water heater.
The most common flat plate collector in the market are copper, steel, and aluminium. Despite being called ‘plate’ collectors, they can be any shape as long as they can hold the water hot enough to boil it.
While these collectors are often referred to as ‘loop’ collectors because of their ‘ringed’ shape, manufacturers often use the term ‘flat plate collector.’
This post will cover the following topics:
The components that make up a flat plate collector and the different materials used in flat plate collectors.
Components of a Flat Plate Collector
In general, a flat plate collector will include five components: the absorber, the fluid side, an absorber protection sheet (APS), end caps, and an outlet line to evacuate excess heat.
The flat plate collector can be manufactured with the outlet pipe already welded to the collector. However, some collectors need to be purchased with this component separately.
1. The Absorber
The absorber is the part of the flat plate solar collector that absorbs solar energy. Most manufacturers use aluminium because it has high reflectivity and is an excellent conductor of heat. However, copper can be used as well.
The fluid side, which is also known as an ‘evacuation line’ or ‘outlet pipe,’ collects the hot water and transfers it to your home’s water heater for heating. This component is usually made of copper and aluminum.
2. The Absorber Protection Sheet(APS)
The absorber protection sheet(APS), which is found on the outside of the collector, protects the reflective surface of a flat plate collector from getting dirty. It helps to reduce heat loss as well.
Some collectors feature a white ‘shade’ on their absorber while others have a black or dark-coloured absorber. The colour is selected by the manufacturer because it reflects heat in the most efficient way possible. This part is usually made up of a type of foam.
3. The Outlet
The outlet itself is often referred to as an ‘outlet pipe,’ a ‘flue’ or a ‘stack.’ It connects the absorber and fluid side together and can be made of various materials including copper, plastic, steel, and even cast iron.
4. The Fluid Side
The fluid side, also known as an ‘evacuation line’ or ‘outlet pipe,’ collects the hot water. This evacuation line transfers the water to your home’s water heater for heating. This component is usually made of copper and aluminium.
5. The Endcaps
End caps are the protective covers on either end of the absorber where the fluid side meets it. To seal the pipe to the collector, most manufacturers use either a compression fitting or a weatherproof gasket. This part is important because it prevents the fluid side from overheating or sweating. They’re usually made of copper or aluminium.