During the past few decades, a wide range of studies have been performed to improve the performance of flat plate solar collectors by either reducing the heat loss from a collector or by increasing the amount of solar radiation absorbed by the absorber plate. Examples of these studies include adding transparent honeycomb to fill the air gap between the glazing and absorber plate to reduce convective heat loss, replacing the air in the gap by other gases such as Argon, Krypton, Xenon and Carbon Dioxide, or adding a chemical coating such as Copper Oxide to increase absorbtance and reduce the emittance of the absorber plate. While these methods improve the collector’s efficiency, they focus primarily on limiting the natural convection that occurs in the collector cavity, or on improving the optical properties of the absorber or glazing. None of these studies have addressed the problem of heat loss due to forced convection to the surrounding ambient air in any detail. Yet, research has shown that forced convection will contribute significantly to the heat loss from a collector. Windbreaks have traditionally been used to direct wind to protect farmland, and to direct wind drifts and sand dunes. Windbreaks also have been shown to provide protection for homes from winter winds which result in reduced heating costs for buildings. While windbreaks have been traditionally used for large scale applications, there is reason to believe that similar benefits can be expected for scaled down applications such as adding a windbreak along side of a flat-plate solar collector. In this paper, we examine the feasibility of using a windbreak to provide a flat plate solar collector protection from the wind in order to improve its performance. A series of experiments were performed wherein the thermal performance of two flat-plate collectors — one without a windbreaker and one with a windbreaker — were measured. The results of these experiments are reported in this paper and the need for further studies to explore different windbreak configurations is discussed.

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