TEA Collectors -- Likeable Features



Like most good designs, the TEA design is simple and straightforward.


It is constructed from materials that are nearly all available at your local hardware/lumber store.  There is nothing that is exotic, expensive, or difficult to find.  The tools required are the same sort of simple tools needed to do home carpentry projects.


While this is not a good project to select for your first DIY project, the construction process is relatively straightforward, and should be OK for a careful and somewhat experienced DIYer.  The good plans and through instructions also help a lot in this regard.


The design can be used both in new construction and for retrofits.


The collector uses a design in which the air flows through horizontally with the supply and return manifolds on the left and right ends of the collector.  It seems to me that particularly for wall integrated collectors it will be easier to deal with vertical manifolds on the ends of the collector than horizontal manifolds across the top and bottom of the collector.  It will likely be possible to incorporate the manifolds into the stud cavities.


The air path through the collector is a straight shot from supply to return manifold -- there is no need for a complex set of baffles to control airflow.  The supply manifold distributes air evenly to the full height of the collector, and the air flows evenly through the absorber (metal siding) valleys to the other end of the collector -- this should result in good even airflow over the full surface of the absorber, and no dead airflow areas in which heat is not efficiently removed from the collector.


The way in which the collector is integrated with the roof or wall is (I believe) more aesthetically pleasing than separate collectors, and also saves a considerable amount of money and material.  The collector glazing acts as the home's siding, and the back wall of the collector acts as the sheathing -- this saves several dollars per square foot in material costs, and also reduces total labor.


A great deal of care was taken in the design and in the material selection.  Testing was done to validate the design and the materials selected.  This is unusual, and if you want a collector that will last the life of your house, its very important.


I particularly like the relative ease with which this collector can be integrated into a south facing wall.  Such a collector will look nice, cost little, be a very manageable size project, and will contribute significant heat to the home.


Gary May 25, 2009