Homemade Solar Hot Water Heaters

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Homemade solar hot water heaters can reduce or completely eliminate the need for standard grid power to heat water for the home. Construction is generally simple and effective, using heat-rated pipe and wood, and should take the average home owner about two hours to complete.

Constructing the shell

  • Build the main heater body by securing four pieces of wood to a flat sheet of plywood to make a shallow "box". The box should have two holes, on opposing corners, to allow room for the pipes to reach the interior once completed.

Laying the pipe

  • Arrange a length of heat-rated plumbing pipe from one access hole to the other, bending or redirecting it to make a "radiator" pattern. Laying one section, then bending to 180 degrees, and laying the pipe to the opposite side can be repeated to create an open coil. The pipe should exit through the second access hole. Sealing the holes with silicone is optional, but will improve efficiency.

Painting the box

  • Paint the inside of the shallow box, covering all pipes and surfaces with a coat or two of dark paint. This will absorb higher concentrations of sunlight, and heat the entire panel very quickly. Allow to dry completely.

Covering the panel

  • Secure a section of clear plexiglass to the top of the box, sealing the pipes inside. This clear top will be pointed at the sun, and trap solar radiation to heat the pipes. Now, mount the box in direct sunlight, and connect the pipe to the home's water supply. The pumped water will travel through the box, having it's temperature raised as it flows into the heated radiator.

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