The performance of four solar thermal collectors (flat plate, evacuated tube, unglazed with rear insulation and unglazed without rear insulation) was experimentally measured and simulated for temperatures below ambient. The influence of several parameters (e.g. collector inlet temperature, air temperature, condensation) is investigated under different operating conditions (day and night). Under some conditions condensation might occur and heat gains could represent up to 55% of the total unglazed collector energy by night. Two TRNSYS collector models including condensation heat gains are also evaluated and results compared to experimental measurements. A mathematical model is also under development to include, in addition to the condensation phenomena, the frost, the rain and the long-wave radiation gains/losses on the rear of the solar collector. While the potential gain from rain was estimated to be around 2%, frost heat gains were measured to be up to 40% per day, under specific conditions. Overall, results have shown that unglazed collectors are more efficient than flat plate or evacuated tube collectors at low operation temperatures or for night conditions, making them more suitable for heat pump applications.
Solar collectors; Heat pump; Condensation heat gains; Measurements; Simulations models