water heaters are a very effective method of using natural energy to
save you money on your energy bills. There are hundreds of designs
available to fit any budget. You can search online and find many solar
water heaters for sale in a variety of sizes and price ranges, some of
which are more effective than others. However, if you are a true do it
yourself person, you can easily build a solar water heater yourself and
save some money in the process.
How Solar Water Heaters
Solar water heaters
function by absorbing the sun’s rays and transferring them
to a water tank, thus heating the water in the tank. While this may
sound simple, these systems are a little more complicated than simply
placing a tank of water in the sun and waiting for it to warm
Solar water heaters
usually consist of a storage
tank, which is normally painted black to absorb the most
possible energy from the sun. This
water is then transferred into the house, and often into a normal hot
water heater. The water is essentially pre-heated which means that the
conventional hot water heater has to do much less work.
Click on the image to the
right to see the full-scale diagram.
Consider Your Location
Before Your Build a Solar Water Heater
first thing you should think about before building a solar water heater
is the location. The storage/heating tank must be placed in a location
where it will receive maximum sunlight. The longer your tank is exposed
to the sun, the more hot water your system will produce, so it’s
essential to place the tank is the best possible location. Therefore,
you should choose the location, and then build and install your water
heater in that location.
Solar Water Batch Heater
The most basic type of
solar water heater is the batch heater. This is
actually a very primitive system of water heating which has been used
by mankind for centuries. Batch heaters are basically based on a system
that keeps water in a black storage tank and waits for the sun’s rays
to heat the water. This system can be quite effective in all climates,
provided the water is drained from the system during periods of cold
Of course these systems
are most effective in warmer climates, but they
can still be used during the warm months in colder climates as well,
thus still reducing CO2 emissions. The batch system consists of a tank
or drum painted black, an input hose for cold water, and an output hose
where the heated water exits the system. The beauty of the batch system
is in its simplicity, as it can be built and installed quickly and
cheaply. While not the ideal choice for heating water for an entire
home, the batch system is at least a good start for those who wish to
build a solar water heating system for their home and family.
Step by Step Instructions
for Building a Solar Water Batch Heater
a solar batch heater is incredibly simple and only requires a 55 gallon
drum, flat black spray paint, two garden hoses, one hose shut-off valve
and two male-female garden hoses. Although you may also want to build a
mounting bracket to keep the drum at an angle so it will work better.
This can be done by simply bolting two by sixes together to create a
brace for holding the drum at a 45 degree angle.
1: First, you’ll need to thoroughly wash out the inside of
your drum to
ensure your water won’t be contaminated. You should never use a drum
that held any toxic substances, as it may not be possible to completely
remove all traces.
2: After you’ve cleaned your drum, you’ll need to paint
the entire tank
with black spray paint or any other flat black paint. This will ensure
that your drum soaks up the sun’s heat.
3: You’ll now want to drill two holes in the top of the
drum for each
of your hose connections. One hose should extend almost to the bottom
of the drum, while the other should only stick a few inches into the
drum. The hose which extends to the bottom will be your cold water
input, while the other hose will be where your hot water comes
heat rises, the hot water will be on the top of the tank, so you’ll
want your output hose to be as close to the top as possible. You should
attach the shut off valve to the hot water output hose, so you can turn
the flow of hot water on and off. Make sure you seal around the holes
in the lid with a non-toxic sealant such as silicon.
4: Now you should angle your drum at around 45 degrees and
fill it up
using the cold water input. The sun will then heat your water, and
after a period of time, you can turn on the hot water valve and you
should be able to draw hot water out of the tank.
should be possible by simply filling the tank with more cold water,
which will cause the hot water to drain from the tank. This system
won’t produce a huge amount of hot water except in the warmest
climates, but it’s a good place to start.
to Consider Before You Build a Solar Water Heater
a solar site survey
- Perform a solar site
- Examine your local
- DIY vs. Purchase and
- Cost Effectiveness
- Choosing the appropriate
size for your solar water heating system
If you’ve been considering
installing or building a solar water heater on your property, one of
the very first things you need to take into consideration is the amount
of sunlight on your property. For a solar water heater -
or any other
solar product, for that matter - to function correctly, the most
important factor is sunlight.
Solar water heaters use a storage tank to heat the water with the sun’s
rays, and if the tank does not receive the proper amount of sunlight,
then the whole system will not function at its maximum potential.
Therefore, it is necessary to measure the amount of sunlight in the
area where you wish to install your solar water heater. This can be
done by simply using a sunlight
calculator, which you can find at most
gardening stores. The device will measure the amount of sunlight in a
particular area for 12 hours, and any area that reads “full sunlight”
should be a suitable place for your storage tank.
The size of your water heater will also help to determine the amount of
sun you need for your system to work correctly, although it is always
best to err on the side of caution and to install your solar water
heating system wherever it receives the most sunlight.
your local regulations
While this should be a
given for any DIY project, it is necessary to
consult your local city or country regulations
to ensure that you are
not in violation of any of them before starting to construct your solar
water heater. In some places, there are strict codes for any type of
new building, as well as plumbing codes that may cover your heating
unit. If you are in doubt, it’s best to call your local building
inspector’s office to see what the particular regulations in your area
vs. Purchase and Self-Installation
For those of you
determined to build a solar water heater completely
from scratch, there are hundreds of plans
available online to suit
almost any need. However, the first question to ask before building
your own solar water heater is how effective the final product will be,
compared to the relatively cheap solar water heating systems that can
be purchased on the market today.
Many people love the idea of being completely energy
independent and running their homes using eco-friendly products that
they built themselves. The only problem is that many people do not have
the tools or knowledge required to build a long-lasting and effective
If you feel that you have
what it takes, then by all means
give it a go, but just be sure to measure the time you put into it and
how effective the end result will finally be.
the appropriate size for your solar water heating system
Another important item to
consider before you start construction is the
size of your solar storage tank. You don’t want to build too small of a
system for your needs, although if you are stuck with a limited space,
do what you can as it will still save you money and help to reduce your
environmental footprint at the same time.