Vernier Software and Technology
Vernier Software & Technology

Variables Affecting Solar Collectors

Figure from experiment 25 from Renewable Energy with Vernier


Light is composed of photons or bundles of radiant energy. When photons strike matter, they are absorbed, and then one of the following happens: the energy is re-emitted, or absorbed. Re-emitted light can be reflected, scattered, or transmitted, depending on the direction of the re-emission. In the case of absorption, there are additional possibilities. For example, in photovoltaic panels, the absorbed energy is converted into electricity. In a solar water heating system, the absorbed energy is converted into thermal energy (vibration and other particle motion) in the solar collector.

The ability of a solar collector to absorb photons is affected by various factors. In this experiment, you will choose one variable and test it using the KidWind Solar Thermal Exploration Kit. You will use a temperature probe to measure the change in temperature of the water as a way of measuring the absorption of light energy by the solar collector.


  • Use a Surface Temperature Sensor to measure the change in temperature of the water in a solar collector.
  • Create a plan to test a variable that affects solar collectors.
  • Collect data and draw conclusions based on results.

Sensors and Equipment

This experiment features the following Vernier sensors and equipment.

Option 1

Option 2

Additional Requirements

You may also need an interface and software for data collection. What do I need for data collection?

Renewable Energy with Vernier

See other experiments from the lab book.

1Renewable Energy: Why is it So Important?
2What is Energy?
3Project: Energy Audit
4Voltage and Circuits
5Current and Resistors
6Mechanical Power
8Exploring Wind Turbines
9Effect of Load on Wind Turbine Output
10Blade Variables and Power Output
12Turbine Efficiency
13Power Curves
14Power and Energy
15Project: Maximum Energy Output
16Project: Build a Wind Farm
17Exploring Solar Panels
18AEffect of Load on Solar Panel Output
18BFill Factor and IV Curve of a Solar Panel
19Variables Affecting Solar Panel Output
20Effect of Temperature on Solar Panel Output
21Project: Build a Solar Charger
22Exploring Passive Solar Heating
23Variables Affecting Passive Solar Heating
24Exploring Solar Collectors
25Variables Affecting Solar Collectors
26Project: Solar Cooker

Experiment 25 from Renewable Energy with Vernier Lab Book

<i>Renewable Energy with Vernier</i> book cover

Included in the Lab Book

Vernier lab books include word-processing files of the student instructions, essential teacher information, suggested answers, sample data and graphs, and more.

Buy the Book

Go to top