Design and commissioning of a virtual image solar simulator for testing thermal collectors

Roger Moss, Stan Shire, Phillip Eames, Paul Henshall, Trevor Hyde, Farid Arya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
24 Downloads (Pure)


A solar simulator has been designed and built for testing prototype (0.5 ×0.5 m) flat plate thermal collectors. An internally reflecting light tube generates multiple virtual images of the four halogen floodlights to ensure uniform illumination. Ray-tracing simulations were used to choose the tube dimensions and maximum allowable clearance. Illumination measurements agree well with these predictions.The visible & near IR spectrum appears to follow a black body curve. In the absence of a “cold sky” IR filter there is a secondary, long wavelength IR spectral component that causes heating of the cover glass on a solar flat plate collector. The cover glass temperature can be maintained at typical outdoor levels using a cooling fan. The design would be well suited to LED illumination.Simulation of solar collector response to this spectrum shows that an efficiency based on pyranometer readings is approximately 1% higher than would be obtained with an AM1.5 spectrum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-242
JournalSolar Energy
Early online date8 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Open Access funded by EPSRC


  • Simulator
  • Spectrum
  • Collector
  • Black body


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