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FS13 - Solar-Wall systems for domestic heating: an affordable solution for fuel poverty

Written by: CIC Start Online

"Solar-Wall systems for domestic heating: an affordable solution for fuel poverty" by Heriot Watt University and Changeworks


The aim of this study was to test a number of key variables of a solar wall heating system currently under development, to maximise solar heat collection in the context of Scottish weather and heavy buildings built with solid walls (pre-1919 buildings account for 20% of the housing stock in Scotland). The study has:

  • Quantified the thermal effect of internal solid walls used as thermal storage for Solar heat in tenement flats for all-day usage;
  • Optimised the device to maximise heat exchange between the wall and hot water from the solar panel;
  • Provided a modelling tool to enable a Solar Warm Wall system to be designed to suit individual buildings (either new or retrofit).
  • Estimated costs of system implementation.
  • In addition, this study analysed solar availability, heating demand and domestic water supply for two typical dwellings based on two reliable methods: a) a purposely developed dynamic thermal model, and b) data collected in previous studies carried by Changeworks, one of our partners.

The tests were carried out using two methods: Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) and laboratory simulation. Developing the CFD model was one of the major objectives of this feasibility study. The lab tests were conducted to collect data to validate the CFD model.

The study shows that the CFD model is robust and it can be used for later studies for system design and operation optimisation. It also shows that the solar collection of current solar hot water systems can be improved upon so that, even in Scotland, more solar power can be harvested to contribute not only to domestic hot water but also domestic space heating, particularly in those 24-hour occupied buildings with heavy thermal mass. The cost analysis suggests a 16 year payback period for a such system for a tenement flat.

Key words: domestic buildings, refurbishment, renewable energy, solar hot water, energy storage


Prof. Sue Roaf, Heriot Watt University

Dr Fan Wang, Heriot Watt University

Nicholas Heath, Changeworks


Held on 6th May 2011

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