An analytical and experimental investigation was undertaken to evaluate an alternative method for measuring the thermal degradation of materials used in flat-plate collectors. This test method is based on measuring the temperature of the absorber under a no-flow condition before and after prolonged exposure. The primary material properties of interest are cover transmittance, solar absorptance and infrared emittance of the absorber, and thermal conductivity of insulation. The advantages and limitations of the proposed test method are compared with those for the currently used method, which is based on measuring the energy output from collectors. Experimental results from both outdoor and indoor tests are presented. Steady-state and transient analytical models are developed to evaluate the proposed test method and interpret experimental results. While the measurements required in the proposed method are simpler than those used to measure energy output, other factors, such as nonisothermal absorbers, variations in environmental conditions, and transient response, must be reconciled.

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