S.T.E.P. (Solar Thermal/Electric Panel):Full-Scale Performance Data and Energy Testing

EPA Grant Number: SU832487
Title: S.T.E.P. (Solar Thermal/Electric Panel):Full-Scale Performance Data and Energy Testing
Investigators: Baur, Stuart W. , Ph.D., Robert Stone,
Current Investigators: Baur, Stuart W. , Krueger, Chris , Lamson, Joel
Institution: University of Missouri - Rolla
EPA Project Officer: Nolt-Helms, Cynthia
Phase: I
Project Period: October 1, 2005 through May 30, 2006
Project Amount: $10,000
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2005) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: P3 Challenge Area - Energy , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Awards , Sustainability


The use of solar energy acquiring devices has been slow to gain acceptance due to their lack of visual appeal to the average homeowner as well as their extra expense. The goal of this project is to construct a model of a visually appealing hybridized solar/thermal panel integrated roofing system and test the model under differing conditions. In developing this model we will show that the hybrid panel will convert more of the sun’s energy per unit area than its stand-alone counterparts. This research applies principles of thermal and electric active solar systems and will demonstrate that the hybrid panel system can make an alternative energy home more desirable than traditional housing without having the panels make the roof unattractive. Combining photovoltaic and thermal hydronic systems has been done before, although not usually encased in glass like the system to be tested, but there is no data to quantify the overall efficiency per unit area of the independent systems to the hybrid system. The basis for hybridizing the two systems is simple: since solar panels are only 10% efficient, on the average, the other 90% of the available solar energy is given off as waste heat. Why not use that waste heat to condition water. Neither the solar panel nor the thermal system will be as effective as their stand-alone counterparts since the solar panel is behind glass and the thermal system will only be starting out with the 90% waste heat. The system needs to be in a glass enclosure to amplify the trapped heat from the sun’s radiation to reach desired domestic hot water temperatures that exceed 110º F. Initial research was investigated during the fall semester of 2004. The initial research results showed that the hybrid panel was one and a half times more effective at converting the sun’s energy than its stand-alone counterparts for the same unit area. The initial experiment was on a scale of three panels covering 25 square feet. The three panels were the hybrid panel, the stand-alone photovoltaic panel and the stand-alone thermal (hot water) panel. This proposed experimental will encompass 160 square feet of just the hybrid S.T.E.P. (Solar Thermal/Electric Panel) system and acquire performance data for input to computer simulation software and to optimize the system for application to the UMR-RTI solar house that is entered into the 2005 DoE’s Solar Decathlon. The obvious benefit of implementing a S.T.E.P. type system to the planet would be the reduction in energy consumption and reducing the impact on the environment resulting with the improvement in human living conditions.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 1 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

innovative technology, renewable, engineering, modeling, monitoring, Midwest, building systems, building industry,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION, Sustainable Industry/Business, POLLUTION PREVENTION, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Sustainable Environment, Energy, Technology for Sustainable Environment, Engineering, Environmental Engineering, energy conservation, environmentally preferable products, cleaner production, sustainable development, green design, solar thermal electric panel, clean technology, green building design, alternative materials, green home building, energy technology, pollution prevention design, solar energy, alternative energy source, construction material, architecture, outreach and education, photovoltaics, environmentally conscious design

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report