Transpired solar collectors are an economical and highly efficient option for applications involving the heating of ambient air. A transpired solar collector is a type of solar air heater in which outside air is continuously pulled through a perforated absorber plate and subsequently warmed. These collectors can be used for numerous applications, including crop drying, building ventilation, and desiccant regeneration. Transpired solar collectors have minimal moving parts, typically resulting in low maintenance and operation costs. In this study, absorber plates consisting of low-cost plastic sheets are characterized through outdoor testing and are fitted to a theoretical model. Different design configurations using plastic film sheets were tested at various solar fluxes (600, 800, and 1000 W/m^2) and suction velocities (0.005 to 0.045 m/s). One design configuration, comprised of 6 mil high-density polyethylene (HDPE) sheeting, achieved thermal efficiencies up to 66 ± 6 % with temperature rises as high as 28.4 ± 0.5 °C and useful heat gains per meter squared of collector area up to 576 ± 28 W/m^2. The same HDPE collector with an additional transpired glazing layer achieved efficiencies up to 79 ± 5 %, temperature rises of up to 46.8 ± 0.5 °C, and heat gains up to 746 ± 30 W/m^2. Existing studies have not evaluated the effect of a transpired glazing, especially glazing made from plastic sheets. The performance model was used in simulations to explore potential applications for this novel collector design.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Solar collectors--Design and construction; Solar collectors--Mathematical models; Plastic films--Thermal properties

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Sustainable Engineering (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Industrial and Systems Engineering (KGCOE)


Rob Stevens

Advisor/Committee Member

Brian Thorn


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes