Last summer I scored 8 free passive solar panels, each with a 1/4" thick single pane glass that is about 7' X 3'. I don't anticipate using these as-is, rather I anticipate using only the glass and the black aluminum sheet metal that the sun's rays heated up.
I know I will need to build frames, and b/c I plan on "ganging" multiple glass panels together I wonder if I could use some metallic house studs to build the framework....don't they come in a lightweight version? I so, it would be even better if they could have holes already cut into them so that I could run the tubing easily. I would most likely use the glass for the outer panels and place some clear greenhouse polycarbonate panels below them to provide an insulated cover.
The home is approximately 30' X 30' and has a "flat roof".....although, obviously, it is gently sloped downward towards the only drain. There is one large elm tree that is on the southwestern corner of the house, but I think I'll leave it there b/c during the summer it might just provide some extra shade to keep the water from getting too hot and during the winter it will be bare of leaves and shouldn't shade the collectors too much. I would like to use the panels to provide solar heated water for a large tank in my basement, which in turn would be used to "pre-heat" the water for my home's electric HWOD unit during the times when I am at the home (it is a vacation/project home), plus I would like to be able to manage some sort of manifold that will allow me to use the tank of hot water for a radiant underfloor heating system during the winter when I am seldom there. I would simply use a recirculating pump and keep the water flowing at all times, as there would be no issue of comfort with nobody in the home. If I can find a 12-V PV cell/battery that will allow for solar power of the recirculating pump, so much the better, I could even shut the electricity off to the home while I'm gone (probably Dec. 1 through March 31).
If I were to use all 8 of the panels, that would give approximately 168 square feet of collector surface......I have no idea how much heat to expect that to produce, so you can see that I'm at the very early stages of developing the project at this time.
Any comments/suggestions/recommendations would be sincerely welcomed!
Thanks in advance!