This paper presents thermal performance results of an experimental and numerical simulation study of a solar domestic hot water system (SDHW) for Canadian weather conditions. The experimental test setup includes two solar panels, a solar preheat tank, and an auxiliary propane-fired storage water heater, and an air handler unit for space heating. Experiments were performed on the SDHW system during a different season of the year, over the period March through October 2011 to assess the system performance for different solar gain and water draw schedules. Sunny, partly cloudy and cloudy conditions were explored. The test results were analysed in terms of solar fraction, solar efficiency, and the effects of thermosyphoning and stratification in the solar storage tank.

Modelling and simulation of the solar thermal energy system using TRNSYS software was performed. The objective was to optimise key design parameters and to suggest an effective control strategy to maximise the heat extraction from solar collectors. The developed model was based on the experimental test setup. It was first adjusted and verified with the solar gain and water draw schedule experimental data. The results of the numerical simulations were then validated with experimental results obtained with other water draw schedule and weather conditions. Acceptable agreements between the predicted and measured values were obtained at this early stage of development. Further refinements in system and model validation are in progress in order to improve the accuracy of the predictions. Ultimately, as the final product of this investigation, this model will be used to predict the performance of solar domestic hot water and space heating systems in different Canadian locations, different operating conditions and water draw schedules.

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