Flat plate solar collector consists of a black coated copper known as absorber plate connected to pipes known as risers that contain energy transfer fluid. The absorber plate and risers are enclosed in an insulated metal frame with a glazed top to protect the copper plate and create an insulating air space. The flat design is mostly used for solar water heating in homes, and has been around for several decades. Generally, solar energy products are increasingly becoming popular due to green energy and environmental conservation needs.

flat panel solar collector

Flat plate solar collector

The efficiency of solar heating panels is mainly determined by material and design that make it suitable in diverse environmental conditions. The purpose of the collector is to capture sun’s heat, and convert to usable energy for water heating. A proper size of the solar panel is necessary and also installation should be done appropriately for the solar heater system to work efficiently.

solar thermal collectors

Benefits of Flat Plate Solar Collector


Basically solar thermal collectors operate efficiently when temperature of inlet fluid is or less than ambient temperature of air. When the two are equal, the flat plate solar collectors tend to operate at around 75% efficient. Flat plate solar collectors are quite suitable for areas receiving very light intensity and high freezing conditions. Some sunlight passes through the snow, absorbed by the collector and then converted into usable energy. Some of the energy radiates out and warms the glass, causing the snow to melt or slide off.

High Durability

The one thing that makes this collector very durable is the availability of strong glazing material. In addition, the glass offer protection to the copper plate (absorber), making it suitable for various regions experiencing diverse climatic conditions.

Cost Effective

Flat plate solar collectors are widely used for home water heating. This is because they are quite economical especially in Sunbelt climates. They are very enough to satisfy family demands for hot water throughout.

Basic Features Of a Good Flat Plate Collector

solar heating panels

Glazed glass top: This offer protection against corrosion to the absorber copper plate from the outside environmental conditions. Also, the glass material is transparent to allow more than 90% sunlight penetration.

Absorber: The coating is highly efficient in absorbing sunlight and converts it into usable energy. The plate is ultrasonically bonded to the riser pipes, making the system strong and long lasting.

Insulation: This is responsible for reducing heat loss to the surrounding through the conduction. The material is made up of light weight melamine foam that makes the solar collector easy to install (mount on the roof).

Back Aluminum Sheet: This is an alloy sheet that seals the solar panel at the back, adding rigidity, hence improved durability of the collector.

Header pipe and riser: The fused riser pipes and header pipe forms a heat exchanger chamber through which the heat transfer fluid circulates. The absorber sheet is bonded the pipes that transfers energy to the heat transfer fluid.

Why Choose Flat Plate Collector

For residential hot water heating applications, flat plate collectors are most cost effective, with ability to deliver viable temperatures required. However, there are several types of flat plate collectors that come in different prices. Therefore, the price of the collector should not be entirely relied when buying a solar water heater system.