When considering solar based thermal energy input to an organic Rankine cycle (ORC), intermittent nature of the heat input does not only adversely affect the power output but also it may prevent ORC to operate under steady state conditions. In order to identify reliability and efficiency of such systems, this paper presents a simplified transient modeling approach for an ORC operating under variable heat input. The approach considers that response of the system to heat input variations is mainly dictated by the evaporator. Consequently, overall system is assembled using dynamic models for the heat exchangers (evaporator and condenser) and static models of the pump and the expander. In addition, pressure drop within heat exchangers is neglected. The model is compared to benchmark numerical and experimental data showing that the underlying assumptions are reasonable for cases where thermal input varies in time. Furthermore, the model is studied on another configuration and mass flow rates of both the working fluid and hot water and hot water's inlet temperature to the ORC unit are shown to have direct influence on the system's response. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.