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Rebuilding old passive hot air solar panels

Tom Gordy | Posted in GBA Pro Help on

I am trying to rebuild a passive hot air solar panel manufactured by Great Western Solar company (no longer in business under that name). The box is aluminium with lascalite fiberglass for the transparent cover. Because the cover, angle aluminum and fibeerglass sheet seems to be glued down and then riveted, for the life of me I can not get it off. So, my idea was to cut out the lascalite sheeting and install a new type of plastic cover and overlay new angle aluminium over the top of the old. The reason I am trying to get the fiberglass cover off is that the metal, probably aluminum roofing, has lost all of its paint. So, I need to repaint the surface or install a new steel absorption plate and paint it black.

My question is what high heat plastic products are available as a replacement cover (I have priced glass and it is cost prohibitive). Also, is replacing the aluminum heat absorber panel with steel a good or bad idea?

I live in a small town that is dotted with a hundred roof top passive panels identical to the one I am trying to rebuild. If I am successful in rebuilding my panel then a new source of revenue can be had by me rebuilding other peoples panels.

Thanks, Tom Gordy

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I know what a solar hot air collector is, but most of these are not passive. Most have a fan. Is this rooftop collector somehow connected to a thermosyphon loop? I can't quite visualize this type of system.

    I have a strong suspicion that this passive solar air collector loses more heat on an annual basis than it collects, and is therefore not worth repairing.

    I have never heard of "Lascalite," which you describe as a "transparent fiberglass cover." I Googled the word, but didn't discover anything. I suspect it is similar to Filon, a type of translucent fiberglass that can be purchased in sheets or corrugated.

    The Web page with the answer to your question is this one: Solar Collector Glazing Materials. This Web page is maintained by the Build It Solar site; it lists a variety of plastic glazing materials used to make home-made collectors.

    For more information on this topic, see Solar Hot Air Collectors.

    Good luck with your project.

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