An experimental rig was set up to test the thermal performance of a solar air heating system based on an unglazed transpired collector of 2.5 m2. The experiment was carried out at Harbin Institute of Technology in the city of Harbin, which is located in northeastern China, at latitude 45°41 N and longitude 126°37 E. The tests were spread over a number of days, in which the 4-day experimental data within the period were selected as the sample for analysis. Experimental results show that solar collector’s surface temperature and exit air temperature increase with increasing solar irradiation. The influence of ambient temperature on surface temperature and exit temperature is negligible. Temperature rise decreases with increasing air flow rate, while collector efficiency increases with increasing air flow rate. For an air flow rate of 100 m3/h in Test 1, the average air temperature rise and collector efficiency were 28.86°C and 72% respectively; for an air flow rate of 235 m3/h in Test 2, the average air temperature rise and collector efficiency were 11.52°C and 78% respectively. Higher airflow rate tends to operate the collector at lower surface temperature, which results in lower overall heat losses from the collector to the surroundings, therefore increasing airflow rate reduces air temperature rise and enhances the collector efficiency. The average efficiency of the experimental solar air heating system in the 4-day experiment period was 72%, 78%, 61%, and 72% respectively, which are higher than most conventional glazed flat-plate solar air collectors. With better coordination with architectural design at early stage in a project, this building-integrated solar air heating system can be both aesthetically and technically viable.

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