P17484: Solar Water Heater

Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo

Table of Contents

Team Vision for System Level Demo with Customer

Test Results Summary

public/Systems%20Design%20Documents/3_29.jpg public/Systems%20Design%20Documents/4_29(2).jpg

Above can be seen two sets of sample data we have collected since the last review. First, there is a complete set of data collected on 3/29/17. This data includes temperatures at our system inlet and outlet, difference in temperature, solar flux, and calculated efficiency. Second, an incomplete data set can be seen. Here, only temperature data is displayed. This is because on the day of testing pyrometer (solar flux sensor) was unavailable. As a result, we do not have data for solar flux, and therefore could not calculate efficiency. However, based on previous testing days, we would estimate the average solar flux for 4/9/17 to be at least 1000 [W/m2]. In the future, the team plans to collect a complete set of data during similar conditions to the 4/9 test day.

The weight of the system was measured to be roughly 350lbs, which is above what we had for an engineering requirement. The engineering requirement was made assuming that the system would be placed on a roof. With the team's change in customers, however, the system now only has to be movable.

Flow Rate Testing

In each case below, ~5 gallons of water was heated from ~70F to ~130F on the same day. For each trial, a different flow rate was chosen, and the time to heat the water was recorded

During this trial, we did not have access to solar flux data, therefore we cannot determine if these results are a effect of the flow rate, or varying solar flux. However, assuming a relatively consistent solar flux, this data implies that the recommend flow rate of ~0.5GPM is the most efficient. This data may also be unreliable due to the small sample size.

System and Schematic Updates

This section contains updated pictures and schematics for the stand and plate system. The piping was updated and installed to address a previous iteration leak as well as to make the system solidly mounted together in its final configuration.


The diaphragm pump was mounted next to the centrifugal pump and attached to the inlet and outlet tubing through a pair of unions. These unions allow for the ease of change between pumps for testing of different parameters and flow conditions. For example, the centrifugal pump requires much less power than the diaphragm pump but it is harder to prime. The centrifugal pump is arguably the better pump to use as it is rated to 100 degrees C at the maximum input temperature. There is some tradeoff between hard to prime (get started) and longevity of use (max temperature that can be handled).

A filter was also installed in the inlet line along with two valves to keep water in the line to allow for easier priming of the pumps.


The updated plumbing diagram of the whole system including the filter and unions.

public/More Plumbing

The whole plumbing system viewed from underneath the plate with final pump location and approximate reservoir location.

In addition to the new pump, the team was gifted 3 15W solar panels that can be used to run the centrifugal pump. While the team will likely not explore the solar panels during the actual data collection and testing, if the weather permits on the day of Imagine RIT the team would like to use the panels to run the pump.

The benefits to the solar panels are two fold. First, they eliminate the need for any energy input-making the system a carbon neutral one. Second, it is its own control system. When the sun goes down or behind significant clouds the pump will automatically shut off due to insufficient power coming from the solar panels. This self contained control system for automatic pump shutdown was a customer requirement, so testing to see its functionality is a goal.

Risk and Problem Tracking

Problem Tracking


Risk Management


BOM Updated



Above is our updated BOM for this phase. To see the full live BOM click here.

Plans for next phase

Gantt Chart


The yellow on the chart indicates test plans that are going to be done in the next phase of works. There is an overarching "Test Plans" task with the yellow tasks being incorporated in this. During the tests plans we will also be working on the paper and also the poster design. The Gantt chart is listed above, and the whole Gantt chart can be accessed here.

Three-Week Plans






Notes From Presentation

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