A new and inexpensive open source data acquisition and controller for solar research: Application to a water-flow glazing

Highlights

A programmable controller for a water-flow window has been developed.

The system performs control and data acquisition tasks without user intervention.

The controller allows to apply classic and advanced control strategies.

Precision and reliability may be considered analogous to a commercial datalogger.

The use of open source parts ensures controller’s low cost and availability.

Abstract

A water-flow window consists of two glass panes making up a chamber in which a water layer flows in a controlled way. Such windows may be considered as Building-Integrated Solar Thermal (BIST) collectors, and could assist to incorporate renewable energy systems in buildings, improving their energy efficiency, especially when they are properly managed by a control system. Despite the need of an automatic controller for this kind of window and the advantages of microprocessor-based control for solar systems, only differential controllers have been described. A novel controller based on an inexpensive open source microcontroller board has been designed, built, programmed and installed in an experimental prototype water-flow window. The proposed data acquisition and control system, the code sequence steps, a model algorithm, and a comparison between the data collected by the system and a commercial datalogger are presented. The advantages of using an open source board for the proposed control system are analysed and the benefits of using a control system based on a microcontroller are discussed.

Graphical abstract

Keywords

  • Water-flow window;
  • Building-integrated solar thermal (BIST) systems;
  • Arduino;
  • Microcontoller;
  • Open source;
  • Smart windows

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