Solar Thermal Electric Panel (STEP): Performance Analysis


With increased energy costs, driven by a higher demand and dwindling supplies, the search for alternative and renewable energies to compensate or even replace the current energy production technology is very necessary. A properly sized and installed solar energy collection system can be a practical alternative for acquiring all or some of your energy needs. The main goal of this research was to conduct an experimental analysis of an integrated photovoltaic and thermal system. The design and development was initialized by a group of students and advisors from both the University of Missouri-Rolla and Crowder College with the intent to use the hybrid system as part of the solar houses in the upcoming solar decathlons. Previous research studies on hybrid roof systems have shown increased performance however the differences in the systems studied vary in their setups and use of materials. In the case of this study a series of copper tubes were integrated into a metal seam roof with an amorphous silicon panel encased in low iron glass. This experiment encompassed almost 160 square feet of hybrid Solar Thermal Electric Panel (STEP) system panels and performance data acquired was used for input to computer simulation software to optimize the system for application to the UMR/RTI solar house that is entered into the 2005 DoE's Solar Decathlon. Based on experimental tests overall efficiency of the STEP system is 50% while a separate thermal and electric system is estimated to be 26% for the same roof area. An assumption for the thermal systems is that they are of similar makeup and their efficiency is based on an ambient input temperature. The glazed versus unglazed analysis yielded a glazed panel reducing the PV collection by 23% and increasing the thermal collection by 200%. In conclusion this paper will discuss additional performance based analysis on the STEP system thermal and electric outcomes.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Solar Energy; Thermal Energy

Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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© 2008 American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Sep 2008