MD Solar panels — proposal for manufacturers and funders

This document describes the stages of development program to transform MD solar heating panels from a hand-made prototype to a product that can be industrially manufactured.

This text in PDF format: MD-PANEL-DEVELOPMENT

As the result of this process, we will develop a photo and video documentation, CAD/CAM files and text descriptions suitable for every manufacturer to start production on their own.

A side effect of this work will be creation of several working installations of MD panels in various forms, presenting capabilities of the construction. We will also create a programmable electronic system to measure and monitor online the performance of test panels.

The goal is to provide both parties with certain benefits and – at the same time – to help reindustrialisation of Greece by creating a publicly available, open-licensed, useful and simple product.

This development will be done in a partnership between FreeLab [Petros Polonos] and Manufacturer.


Manufacturer provides financial input in the amount of 1000 Euro, samples of their products needed for prototyping and a contact person to answer running questions regarding Manufacturer-specific issues.

FreeLab provides all other parts, labor and external services2 needed to complete the program.


Manufacturer will obtain all information and documentation created in the process. At the end of process, Manufacturer designated persons will also attend a seminar explaining all details of the construction.

FreeLab will retain all constructions created in the process. If the Manufacturer needs a copy of any of them, FreeLab will make one at the cost of materials needed.


All information created in the process will be published under the open licence (CC-BY-SA), attributed to FreeLab and Manufacturer equally, crediting Morris Dowey as original developer and Ανεξάρτητη Πρωτοβουλία Πολιτών Θερμαϊκού as the 1st European construction team.

Governance of this cooperation

The deadline for the program (except for the closing seminar) is 10 weeks from the moment the funding money change hands.

In this cooperation we follow traditional principles of honesty, honor and good manners, without resorting to the state-imposed legal system.

1. Laboratory and educational equipment

1.1. Electronic measurement system

The measurement system will be based upon a programmable unit from Arduino family. It will provide the following functions:

  • Temperature monitoring: external, internal, panel intake air, panel output air, panel back wall.
  • Solarisation measurement.
  • Panel air flow (speed and volume) measurement and calculation.
  • Wif-Fi connection to the local network (and the internet) to upload data to a designated server.

The server software will provide:

  • Calculation of heating power (as a function of airflow volume/hour and temperature gradient between intake and output).
  • Visualisation of data (real-time graph)
  • Storing data in a .csv file for easy retrieval and processing

All data provided online will be public.

1.2. Modular MD panel for heat absorber testing.

A special construction of panel will be made (2-3 pcs), solely to test various heat absorbing options. It will be made adjustable for various depth of the front box (heat absorber compartment), various glazing and back wall options.

1.3. MD panel site test and demonstration version

A lightweight portable version of the MD panel will be made with an integrated simple monitoring system, to be used for presentations, tests and seminars. It will also be useful for testing new sites, to decide whether the MD panel is suitable for them.

1.4. Educational desktop model

Several copies of a small desktop (non-functional) model will be made as a presentation and educational piece. They will be showing main components, internal structure and the physics powering the construction.

2. Main Production Line

2.1. Kit specifications

Two versions of TKD (totally knocked down) kits will be prepared. The simplest one, where only basic tools (for cutting and drilling) are needed and the more advanced, where there is a need to user a router or a wood mill.

We shall prepare documentation both for the kit manufacturer and for the end user – possibly in a picture form.

2.2. Industrial production specification.

We shall prepare a set of parametric CAD/CAM files needed to manufacture MD panels of any size and for any standard heat absorbing slats needed.

3. Variations of the basic MD panel

3.1. Transparent box

We shall prepare a prototype of a transparent MD panel, intended to be an equivalent of a glass wall, with regulated heat absorbing elements. The performance of that version will be also measured and tested, compared to the main-line version.

3.2. Trombe wall frame

For the places where massive walls and lack of windows make it impossible to use standard panel, we shall build a Trombe wall3 frame – simplified version of a heat absorber box, using a brick or stone wall as an absorber, while feeding hot air inside through it. We will install it in a testing (or simulated) location and run performance tests in the usual way.

3.3. Piggyback chamber

There are the locations, where there is no South-facing wall available at all. Then the only solution is to install the panel somewhere outside, on the roof, other wall or just standing alone. For this purpose we shall construct a „piggyback” chamber, made out of hardened styrofoam. It will provide additional insulation for the panel and – using a solar-powered electric fan – will circulate air through flexible air-ducts to and from the heated space.

4. Documentation standards

All constructions will be documented in English, in the following form:

  • Pictures, slideshows, animations and video recordings showing critical elements and processes of construction and manufacturing.
  • Written commentary, also recorded as a soundtrack for all dynamic presentations.
  • Bill of materials
  • Wherever relevant, CAD/CAM files in a standard industry format.

The closing seminar will be organized after the documentation transfer, allowing recipients enough time to get through the information and prepare questions and clarification requests.

The seminar will be held in the location of FreeLab.

1 MD stands for Morris Dovey, original constructor of this panel.

2 There is a number of people who provided their work and time for free, without asking for any compensation, to make the first prototype happen. Some of the funding money will go to them, this time for the services paid at their standard rates.

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