Experimental and Modeling Comparison of Modular Photovoltaic-Thermal Solar Panels


The scope of the project included two steps. Step one was to create three prototype photovoltaic-thermal panels and test them. Step two was to model all photovoltaic-thermal panels using TRNSYS 16. The three different photovoltaic-thermal panels were tested simultaneously using the same inlet water source. The first two panels (Panel A & B) consisted of a highly conductive thermal sheeting and different sized copper tubing. The third panel (Panel C) consisted of copper tubing with an aluminum fin. Thermal images were used to verify the heat transfer across the panels and compare the amount of heat radiating off the back of the photovoltaic-thermal panels versus the standard photovoltaic panel. The purpose of this experiment was to create a modular photovoltaic-thermal panel, which would be easily implemented and maintained by the average consumer. A TRNSYS model was created for each photovoltaic-thermal panel to gather approximate year-round efficiency. The thermal efficiencies of photovoltaic-thermal panels A, B and C at 1.9 lpm (0.5 gpm) were 33.6%, 26.4% and 28.7%, respectively. Panels A, B and C at 1.9 lpm (0.5 gpm) had thermal gain plus electrical output equivalents of 394.0, 363.2 and 422.9 watts, respectively. The TRNSYS models of the prototype photovoltaic-thermal (Panels A, B and C) proved to be a poor representation of the actual texted panels.

Meeting Name

ASME 2011 5th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, ES 2011 (2011: Aug. 7-10, Washington, DC)


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Copper tubing; Electrical output; Photovoltaic panels; Solar panels; Thermal efficiency; Thermal images; Water source; Copper; Photovoltaic cells; Sustainable development; Tubing; C (programming language)

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


File Type





© 2011 American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Aug 2011