Previous solar heating panel designs - every one that I'd ever seen -
began with someone asking: "What can I build on the cheap?" and the end
product was generally not worth the cost.
I took a slightly different approach by asking instead: "Just how much
heat can we get out of a panel?" and made peak performance a higher
priority than cost. I figured that once I'd figured out what it took to
get really good performance, I would know enough to be able to make good
trade-offs to control/adjust the cost.
The heat exchanger/absorber is critical to performance and I tackled the
design as a physics/radiation problem. It turned out to be a bit more
than that, but that was a good starting point. No matter how I looked at
the problem, the answer always came up "aluminum ribbon" of a particular
thickness and width, formed and arranged in a particular geometry.
There was only one way to know if that was a correct solution to the
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