Design and development of an all polymeric solar water heating system
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One of the major barriers to the uptake of solar water heating is the initial cost of these systems. The use of polymers, as an alternative to the commonly used metal and glass structure, could lead to significant reductions in the cost of solar water heating systems. In addition to polymer material costs being less than traditional materials another key factor in reducing overall system cost is the reduction in manufacture and assembly costs. An all polymer solar water heater would use significantly less parts and therefore be easier to assemble and dis-assemble after its useful life. Another barrier is the aesthetic appeal of water heaters. Traditional solar water heaters are not deemed aesthetically pleasing on the rooftops. Any new design would need to have a lower profile to be attractive to the market. This work evaluates a number of possible concepts for the design of a new low cost all polymer solar water heating system with a low profile that will meet the existing standard and exhibit similar thermal efficiencies to traditional solar water heaters. This required a thorough detailed comparison of performances, possible materials and production methods. Comparative efficiencies of traditional v polymer systems were reviewed by way of a developed computer model and also by experimental results including testing of a design prototype. Although traditional systems exhibited slightly higher thermal efficiencies than those of the less expensive polymer systems, the all polymer solar water heater fully satisfied all the design specifications and at a significantly lower cost.