Publication Details

Fiorentini, M., Cooper, P., Ma, Z. & Wall, J. (2015). Experimental investigation of an innovative HVAC system with integrated PVT and PCM thermal storage for a net-zero energy retrofitted house. ASHRAE Winter Conference 2015 (pp. 1-8). United States: ASHRAE.


This paper presents the experimental investigation of a novel solar assisted HVAC system developed for the Team UOW Solar Decathlon house, the overall winner of the Solar Decathlon China 2013 competition. This novel HVAC system consists of an air based photovoltaic-thermal (PVT) system and a phase change material (PCM) thermal storage unit integrated with a ducted system with a reverse-cycle heat pump. The system has been designed for operation during both winter and summer, using daytime solar radiation and night sky radiative cooling to increase the energy efficiency of the air-conditioning system. The PVT system can exchange heat with the PCM thermal storage unit, and the stored heat can be used to condition the space or precondition the air before entering the air handling unit (AHU). This system is controlled by a residential type building management and control system (BMCS). Experimental data has been collected through the BMCS system under typical working conditions. The various operational modes in which the system operates and the key controlled variables are presented. This paper focuses on the optimization and operation of the PVT working modes and the results from experimental tests are discussed. The experiments were carried out at the Innovation Campus, University of Wollongong, on the reassembled house after the Solar Decathlon competition held in Datong, China. The performance results presented represent the first experience of this system in Australia. The experiments show that the PVT system can provide a significant amount of useful heating to the house or to the PCM thermal storage unit at a considerably higher efficiency than a normal air conditioning system, with an average COP of 13.5 when heating the house and 10.7 when heating the box, in different weather conditions.