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Flat Plate Solar Collector

If you want to find out more about flat plate solar collectors, it’s likely because they’re the most common type of solar collector used for space, water, or pool heating in the home. These collectors heat air or liquid at temperatures below 180 degrees F and are usually located on the residential roofs. Flat plate collectors are one of three main types of solar collectors. The other two are evacuated tube collectors and integral collector-storage systems.

Flat plate collectors consist of large, flat metal boxes. The sides and bottom of the boxes are insulated to minimize heat loss. The absorber plate, which collects and transfers the sun’s heat, is made from metal, plastic, or other materials, depending on whether the collector is used to heat water or air. Flat plate water heaters usually contain an absorber plate made from copper or aluminum, with a glass or plastic glazing on top. Pipes or adjacent tubes are attached to the absorber plate. Cold water passes through these tubes to become heated. The collectors usually heat common household water, which flows back into the house.

Where swimming pools are concerned, the flat plate water collectors are typically unglazed. This is because swimming pools are often located in areas that don’t reach freezing temperatures, so the collector will not require the extra protection. The absorber plates are generally made of rubber or plastic and treated with a UV light inhibitor to extend the length of life.

Flat plate space heaters are frequently made from cheaper metal or plastic material. They don’t require the glazing, or covering, as liquid collectors do because they are not made to withstand high temperatures. Air is heated by these collectors as it passes through the absorber, either by natural convection or through the persuasion of a fan. Because heat passes through air less readily than it does water, flat plate air heaters are typically less efficient than liquid collectors.

For installation questions and free estimates consult one of our certified solar contractors.

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