A low cost flat plate solar collector was developed by using polymeric components as opposed to metal and glass components of traditional flat plate solar collectors. In order to improve the thermal and optical properties of the polymer absorber of the solar collector, Carbon Nanotubes (CNT) were added as a filler. The solar collector was designed as a multi-layer construction with an emphasis on low manufacturing costs. Through the mathematical heat transfer analysis, the thermal performance of the collector and the characteristics of the design parameters were analyzed. Furthermore, the prototypes of the proposed collector were built and tested at a state-of-the-art solar simulator facility to evaluate its actual performance. The inclusion of CNT improved significantly the properties of the polymer absorber. The key design parameters and their effects on the thermal performance were identified via the heat transfer analysis. Based on the experimental and analytical results, the cost-effective polymer-CNT solar collector, which achieved a high thermal efficiency similar to that of a conventional glazed flat plate solar panel, was successfully developed.