Types of Collectors for Solar Hot Water Heating
Glass to Glass systems contain tubes which are fused together. The inner tube is coated with a selective surface that absorbs solar energy well but inhibits radiated heat loss. A partial vacuum ("evacuated") is created in the space between the glass tubes to provide insulation, this reduces conductive and convective heat loss. Evacuated glass tubes perform well in overcast conditions as well as low temperatures. Because the tube is 100% glass, the problem with loss of vacuum due to a broken seal between differing materials is minimized. Heat transference from the glass tube structure is accomplished and conducted by heat pipe technology.
Glass to Metal tube systems consist of a glass tube. Inside the tube is an aluminium plate attached to a copper water pipe. The aluminium plate is generally coated with a special coating such as Tinox. This type of tube is efficient but can have problems after years of use due to loss of vacuum because the seal between glass and metal may fail.
Flat-Plate systems contain a dark absorber plate under one or more transparent or translucent covers. Water or conducting fluid passes through pipes located below the absorber plate. As the fluid flows through the pipes it is heated. This collector, although less efficient than evacuated tube collectors, is still the most common type of collector.
Concentrating collector systems are usually parabolic troughs which use mirrored surfaces to concentrate the sun's energy on a receiver (absorber tube) containing a heat-transfer fluid, or water. This type of solar collector compares poorly with evacuated tube solar collector efficiency.
The above mentioned collection systems are listed (in our opinion) in their order of efficiency starting with the best system at the top.
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