If you are lucky enough to live in a sunny climate, why not take a look at how you could build your own homemade solar water heater to cut those energy bills!
Below we have the basic instructions to make your own solar water heater along with some interesting videos on the subject.
The free power of the sun is one of the best alternative energy resources that you can harness to help save some of your hard earned cash.
Natural sources of water like streams, rivers and lakes all get heated up when they are continuously exposed to the sun, and we know that hot water rises and cold water falls. On a smaller scale we can apply the same principle to the water system in your home. A homemade solar water heater simply converts radiation from the sun into heat energy. It consists of several glass panes that causes the sun’s radiation to be reflected better on to a water storage tank.
If you have average DIY skills you can make your own solar water heater in one weekend for under $250. Dependant upon usage you can easily save thousands of dollars over the years by installing a home made solar water heating system to supply your hot water.
Searching on the internet we found several websites selling plans to build your own water heaters, the plans range anywhere from $20 up to $150. But they all use the same basic principles that we are about to discuss below.
Materials Needed To Make A Solar Water Heater
- An old hot water heater
- Black spray paint
- Copper piping or strong hose
- Water supply fittings
- Pressure release valve
- Assorted wood
- Reflective insulation
- Sheet of double paned glass
- Temperature valve (for hotter climates)
The Tank Prep
- The first step is to find yourself a disused hot water heater. Obtain one that is in as best possible condition without shelling out too much cash. A good place to start your search would be the local junk yard.
- Once you have a tank, go ahead and strip off the outer enclosure and the insulation to reveal the metal tank underneath, then remove any old pipe fittings that are still attached.
- Next you need to fill the tank with water so you can check for any leaks, and then rinse it out to clear any sediments.
- Now thoroughly sand your tank, then use your black paint to spray two or three coats. The spray paint is used to protect the metal from any moisture and to increase heat absorption from the suns radiation.
- Next you need to add a drain spigot somewhere on the side of the tank. Then screw your two water supply fittings (to and from the house) to the old connectors on the the top of the tank.
- Lastly add a pressure release valve along side the water supply fitting, and plug any unused tank holes.
Making A Collector Box
You need to build a Collector Box to house your tank and collect heat from the sun.
- Be sure that you don’t get your wood until you know the size of your tank.
- You need to build the box to accommodate the size of your tank on it’s side and a few inches either end.
- The top of this box needs to have a glass lid that sits at around 20 degrees to catch the best sun rays. So make sure one side of the box is shorter than the other by this angle and that the sides match.
- All seems in the collector box should be caulked and the wood needs to be primed and painted.
- You then need to insulate your box with the reflective insulation, this is key to maximising heat to the home made solar water heater. Also try to obtain double paned glass for the collectors lid, this is preferred for its superior insulating properties. It also makes sense to construct your box as air-tight as possible.
- Before you install the tank cut three lengths of 2×4′ wood to match the tank’s curve and fix them into the base of the collector box. These will act as supports to hold the water tanks weight.
How Your Homemade Solar Water Heater Works
You can now lay the prepared tank in your new collector box and attach the water supply lines from your house.
Then attach an overflow hose to the pressure release valve to carry excess pressure out of the collector box. Turn on your water and you’re all set to test the system for leaks.
As the sun shines and heats up the water in your homemade solar water heater, hot water rises to the top of the tank and cold water sits on the bottom.
When you turn taps in your house the hose leading from the top of the tank carries the hottest water into the home.
Install A Temperature Control For Safety
In hotter climates the temperatures obtained by your home made solar hot water heater can be scalding. You must install a temperature valve between the homemade solar water heater and your house.
The valve is designed to mix in some cold water to produce a consistent temperature.
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If you decide to tackle this or any other homemade project please be sure to come back and share you’re experience with us!