Solar Water Heater

Project Outline

This proposed project is to design and build a solar collector plate to rotate about two axi in order to track the daily and annual path of the sun. The collector will be connected to a water heater via a pump and piping to transfer thermal energy to water in order to provide domestic hot water. The project will be able to accurately track the sun, provide hot water under both optimal and non-optimal conditions, prevent water line freezing via a bypass loop, and prevent scalding with an accurately controlled mixing valve.

Defined Objectives

  • Design flat panel solar collector in conjunction with a standard electric water heater to transfer solar energy into water for domestic use
  • Design controlled mechanisms to track the daily and annual relative location of the sun to the earth so that the surface of the solar collector is always positioned normal to direct sunlight. Tracking system will be fully operable at any location on earth without additional programming
  • Design scald preventing piping sequence using a three-way modulating valve to mix hot water exiting the tank with municipal water to reduce the output temperature to no greater than 110 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Control water heater's electric element in order to supply thermal energy to the water in the storage tank during the night or cloudy periods
  • Size and select a pump to circulate water through the solar collector and storage tank
  • Control water pump so that it does not run during the night or cloudy periods when there is not significant thermal gain to be collected
  • Provide emergency freeze protection by means of a by-pass loop activated by the temperature of the collector plate
  • Size and select an expansion tank to accommodate the thermal expansion of the water in the system



Schematic Drawing


Solar Collector Drawing


Piping Layout


Photos show steps in the building, testing and final stages of the project. Click on thumbnail photo for a larger view of the photo.

Student Team Members

  • Josh Green
  • Daniel Haire
  • Jeffrey Rice
  • Ryan Robbins
  • Matt Whaley
Department Links
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