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The web has probably thousands of pages with instructions on how to build solar devices for heating air, water, and probably things I've never even thought of.

Wikipedia describes different types of thermal solar collectors, but really has a commercial focus.

However, when it comes to choosing an affordable design that might be useful for a DIY project at home (or for a small business), it's unclear exactly where to start looking and how to compare designs.

Are there any websites that act like a hub for this information and index or categorise the different techniques and devices?

For this question I'd like to focus, if possible, on finding a site that compares and rates different designs, as well as possibly providing instructions on building them.

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    Perhaps it will be too theoretical for you, but I just read that my alma mater is going to start a free online course on Solar Energy on EdX.org. The course description says You will learn about the advantages, limitations and challenges of different solar cell technologies.... show you how to design a complete solar system for any particular application. The course starts september 16th and anyone (with basic understanding of physics and mathematics) can follow it online. – THelper Jul 17 '13 at 7:52
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    @THelper, thanks for the link. That course is on photovoltaic technology, whereas this question is asking about specifically about thermal solar technology. Maybe though in a few years I'll be able to afford some PV panels at which point the course information will be of interest! – Highly Irregular Jul 17 '13 at 8:51
  • great question. – mart Jul 17 '13 at 9:08
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Excellent question, and I agree that much of the information is too focused on the commercial aspects. The best site I've found is http://www.builditsolar.com, which has extensive information on DIY solar thermal, along with a lot of project photos and links. The site organization may not be the best, but the content is outstanding.

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