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Publication Title | With Solar Hot Air Collectors

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With Solar Hot Air Collectors

Ralf Seip ©1999 Ralf Seip


with solar-powered radios and battery chargers. Today, about 15 percent of the energy my family consumes is generated by a 240 watt photovoltaic system, with larger generating capability expected in the future. The latest addition to our solar energy system is a solar hot air collector.

For years I have been wanting to experiment with a solar heating system to reduce winter heating bills, and a solar hot air collector seemed the right place to start. These collectors are simple because air is the heat transfer medium. This means that the glycol loops, heat exchangers, valves, and pumps commonly found in liquid collector systems are not needed.

The application of solar hot air collectors is slightly different than liquid collectors. Air collectors are typically used for space heating, while liquid collectors are typically used for water heating. Through the proper use of heat exchangers, however, either system can be used to heat water or air.

The solar collector installed outside the basement workshop.

Collector Basics

Solar hot air collectors are simple and reliable. Cold air is drawn through the collector with a blower. It is heated as it comes in contact with an absorber plate exposed to the sun, and then returned as hot air for heating applications. The collector contains no moving parts, and is typically constructed of an aluminum frame, insulation on the back and sides, and tempered glass on the front. A black absorber plate is located between the glass and the back insulation.

Figure 1: Basic solar hot air collector and operation.

have been interested in alternative energy sources since about 1985. At that time, I was experimenting

Tempered glass Absorber

Aluminum enclosure Baffle

Cold air inlet

Dead air space

Back insulation


Hot air outlet

34 Home Power #72 • August / September 1999


Air flow path

Air flow path

Image | With Solar Hot Air Collectors

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