What are Solar collectors? How do they Work?

Solar thermal energy is the technology used for harnessing solar energy for thermal
energy (heat).

A solar thermal collector captures the radiant energy from the Sun and converts it into heat.

A solar thermal collector collects heat by absorbing sunlight. The term “solar collector” commonly refers to solar hot water panels, but may refer to installations such as solar parabolic troughs and solar towers; or basic installations such as solar air heaters.

The most basic type of collector is the solar cooker. And the most common type of solar collector is the roof-mounted domestic hot water system.

Solar collectors are a cheap and effective means of converting sunlight into thermal heat.

Working principle of a solar collector

A solar collector works on the principle of converting solar energy into heat by taking
advantage of a process known as the greenhouse effect.

The basic idea is that the solar energy passes through a layer of glazed glass where it
is absorbed by the underlying material. The solar energy excites the molecules in the
underlying material resulting in heat.

The glazing of the glass prevents the heat from escaping, thereby effectively capturing the heat.

Once that heat is captured we can put it to good use. But in order to use it, we first need
to understand some of the basic principles of heat.

 

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