The Desert Research Institute (DRI) has developed a Renewable Energy Deployment and Display Facility (REDD) which utilizes solar and wind to create a net zero energy residence for research, education, and outreach. The facility is a demonstration of the integration of many renewable energy technologies into a residential setting such that technology developers can show proof-of-concept, students and trade workers can get hands-on experience, and public organizations can see renewable energy components implemented into a residential setting. A major technological aspect of the facility is the use of solar thermal energy to provide space heating, Domestic Hot Water (DHW), and solar cooling. Data are monitored from three separate solar thermal systems, each with their own hot water storage, to evaluate optimized utilization of solar thermal energy into residential applications.

The three solar thermal systems differ in their working fluids. System 1 uses a conventional mixture of glycol and water in 200 ft2 of ground mounted collector area, System 2 uses DHW in 210 ft2 of roof mounted collector area, and System 3 uses air in a 578 ft2 collector built into the roof. Each system is configured to be used for space heating and DHW. Systems 1 and 2 are built into the HVAC system of the 1200 ft2 house, and System 3 is built into the HVAC system of the 600 ft2 detached workshop. Data collected from each system provide the basis for year-long energy and economic simulations using TRNSYS for comparison. The results from the simulations are used to demonstrate the effectiveness of site-built solar air collectors, which have the advantage of using conventional materials, and avoid the issues of liquid collectors associated with boiling and freezing. This paper describes the experimental setup of the solar thermal systems, how the data are used as inputs to the computer simulations, and the configuration of the computer simulations.

The REDD Facility, as well as the use of TRNSYS will continue to be used by DRI researchers to investigate not only the most feasible integration of components for a solar thermal residential system, but also as a tool to properly size and implement solar thermal systems.

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