Manual for Solar Collector

The instructions below describe a generic parabolic trough collector that can be modified for various purposes, such as generating steam for mechanical applications, or boiling a refrigerant in a refrigeration system.  The instructions were written in 1988, and we have experimented with variations since then.  There are figures at the end of this document which correspond to the instructions, and there is also a figure showing a modified collector (1992 version) that allows the tilt of the collector to be adjusted seasonall, corresponding with the height of the sun in the sky.

The text of the instructions is somewhat faint, and may not print out well, so it may be necessary to read them from a computer screen.

Uploaded July 18, 2003 by Francis Vanek.  For questions or comments, send email to us at

Text of collector instructions:



Figures for solar collector:

Accompanying step-by-step instructions above.


Modified collector with adjustment to north-sout angle of inclination