P17484: Solar Water Heater

Preliminary Detailed Design

Table of Contents

Important Updates

Important to Know


Team Vision for Preliminary Detailed Design Phase

Summarize: For this phase our major team objectives were to:
  1. Decide which solar-thermal collector technology (Evacuated Tube or Flat Plate) would be used in our system.
  2. Create preliminary system designs.
  3. Create a bill of materials for our scale model build.

During this phase, our team accomplished all of our expected goals.

Prototyping, Engineering Analysis, Simulation


This is a use case of the team using the model and the water getting too hot and the resulting steps that follow.

Feasibility: Prototyping, Analysis, Simulation

Efficiency Model

To determine what collector type would be best suited for our application, we simulated how an evacuated tube and flat plate collector would preform over a typical meteorological year (TMY). A TMY is a weather data set for a specific region generated from a data bank spanning decades. The data included in the set is selected so that the data represents weather phenomena at the specific region, yet still provides accurate long term averages.

The simulation takes the inputs from the TMY (temperature, direct normal radiation, diffuse horizontal radiation) along with each collector's heat removal parameters, to predict the hourly efficiency of each collector type over the course of a year. This information is then used to calculated how much useful solar energy will be collected.




From the model simulation, it is clear that from the two collectors compared under the same conditions, the flat plate collector will collect more useful energy over the course of a year than the evacuated tube collector. This is the rationale between our choice of flat plate collector.

In reality the Apricus model tubular collector has a greater gross area resulting in a more heat being collected. The area parameter was chosen to be the same when comparing the annual heat gained in order to get a better understanding of the intrinsic capability of collecting heat.

The Solar Rating Certification Corporation (SRCC) spec sheets for each of the collectors can be found here:

Apricus ETC-30 (Evacuated Tube)

Sunmaxx TitanPower-ALDH29 (Flat Plate)

Heat Data


Unit Explanation


Drawings, Schematics, Flow Charts, Simulations

System Collector Stand


Preliminary drawing of our proposed mounting stand. We intend to use this stand to mount our solar collector and all other required equipment on to this one stand.


The above image shows our proposed stand with a mock solar collector mounted.



Preliminary plumbing diagram for our proposed system. Tin is the inlet water temperature to the system. Q is the flow rate of the water. Tout is the outlet water temperature to the system.


Solar Collector


Bill of Material (BOM)


The total adds up to be $1256.15, which is over budget but many of the materials were overestimated. The team also did not take into account materials such as nails and PVC piping that may be used from MSD or other sources for free. A sun shield was also added to the BOM, but it is not a necessity and will be added if enough time and money are available after critical systems are completed. The Bill of Materials live document can be accessed here.

Test Plans

Below are a list of tests that could be used to evaluate our systems performance. The list is not exhaustive and the tests detailed are not yet correlated to evaluating any specific ERs. In the final phase of MSD I, test plans will be created in detail, with the purpose of evaluating specific ERs. All of the potential test plans below can be implemented in several weather conditions.

Potential Test Plans

  1. Single Reservoir: Water will be supplied, and discharged from the same reservoir, and will be circulated through the system.
  2. Single Pass: Water will be supplied from one reservoir and discharged in a second reservoir. The water will be passed through the system a single time.
  3. Multiple Reservoir: Water will be supplied from one reservoir and discharged in a second reservoir. The water will be passed through the system multiple times.

Things to be Tested

Below is a table showing system performance metric we anticipate testing, why testing these metrics is required, and how we expect to test these characteristics.


Risk Assessment

public/Systems%20Design%20Documents/Risk.png?rev=0 public/Systems%20Design%20Documents/RiskResource3.png?rev=0 public/Systems%20Design%20Documents/RiskRest3.png?rev=0

The green highlighted cells are new risks that have been added to our risk assessment. Some risks have also been lowered, such as "Not adequate funding", because we now have more funding. Another risk that was added that is significant is what we are going to do with the model once the project is complete. Our team will have to find a reasonable place for storage once the project is complete in May 2017. The risk assessment live document can be accessed here here.

Issues and Concerns

Differences Between Model and Gene Polisseni Center


Design Review Materials


The presentation live document can be accessed here here.

Notes From Presentation



The schedule for the next phase is left very high level, so we have flexibility in doing what has to be done more individually. The orange task are tasks that are added. We added talk to Dr. DeBartolo to discuss our budget.

Updated schedule based on Phase III for Phase IV.

Plans for Next Phase

Team Individual Three Week Plans






List of Designs That Will Take Place Next Phase

Main Phase IV Team Goals

The main goals for the team in phase IV include:


Home | Planning & Execution | Imagine RIT

Problem Definition | Systems Design | Preliminary Detailed Design | Detailed Design

Build & Test Prep | Subsystem Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test | Integrated System Build & Test with Customer Demo | Customer Handoff & Final Project Documentation