The performance of a new flat plate solar heat collector with perfect combination of high efficiency and low cost is investigated experimentally. The new system described in this study uses a novel micro heat pipe array as a key component for the system. One such flat plate heat collector contains over 300 micro heat pipes per 1m2 and the hydraulic diameter of the micro heat pipes is 0.4–1.0mm. A detailed heat transfer experimental study is conducted during daylight hours over several months, focusing on the collector efficiency and overall efficiency of the system as well as total heat loss factor. The results show that the collector’s maximum instantaneous efficiency is up to 88%. Compared with conventional evacuated glass tube solar water heater, the system offers the additional benefits of high pressure resistance, low weight, good reliability and durability, easy integration into buildings and absence of freezing during winter months. Besides, compared with traditional flat-plate solar water system which is mainly sheet-and-tube concept, the system also shows many advantages: higher efficiency, much cheaper, absence of tube-bonding and freezing etc. Therefore, the system proposes a unique substitute to common solar water heating systems.

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