Framework for active solar collection systems
A framework that presents a new methodology for design-evaluation of active solar collection systems was developed. Although this methodology emphasizes the importance of detailed modeling for accurate prediction of building performance, it also presents a process through which the detailed modeling results can be reused in a simplified iterative procedure allowing the designer the flexibility of revising and improving the preliminary design. For demonstration purposes, the framework was used to design and evaluate two case studies located in Blacksburg (VA) and Minneapolis (MN). These locations were selected because they both represent a cold weather region; presenting a need for using solar energy for heating and hot water requirements. Moreover, the cold weather in Blacksburg is not as severe as in Minneapolis. Therefore, the two cases will result in different thermal loading structures enabling the framework validation process. The solar collection system supplying both case studies consisted of a low temperature flat plate solar collector and storage system.
Thermal performance of the case study located in Blacksburg was conducted using detailed modeling evaluation techniques; while thermal performance of the case study located in Minneapolis was conducted using a simplified modeling evaluation technique. In the first case study, hourly evaluation of the thermal performance of the solar collection system was accomplished using finite element (FE) analysis, while hourly evaluation of the building thermal performance was made using Energy Plus software. The results of the finite element analysis were used to develop a statistical predictive design equation. The energy consumption for the second case study was calculated using the heating design day method and the energy collection for that case study was calculated using the predictive design equation developed from the first case study results. Results showed that, in the case of the building located in Blacksburg, the solar collection system can supply an average of 85% of the building's heating and hot water requirements through out the year. In the case of the building located in Minneapolis, the solar collection system can supply an average of 56% of the building's heating and hot water requirements through out the year given no night time window insulation and using similar insulation thicknesses for both cases.