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July 2010

Inexpensive do-it-yourself 'batch' solar water heater

Batch solar water heater
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When building or remodeling, Re-think home layout so hot water usage points are clustered near water heater. Locate showers and baths next to water heater, while toilets that use no hot water can be farther away. Avoid over-sized bathtubs that require a bigger water heater.

There are many ways to capture solar energy to heat water:
A passive solar heater is a water container exposed to sun. 
Try a batch solar heater free by putting plastic water bottle in sun. 
Batch heater works on sunny days, especially in Southern states seven months of year. 

Here is one example: A bare tank is placed in plywood box that faces sun > buy old 40 gallon electric tank from plumber and remove outer shell > remove sediment, flush inside of tank with two pints diluted hydrogen peroxide , replace anode rod > tank and plywood are painted black to absorb heat; piece of clear glass is placed over box; box is insulated >> put drain hole in bottom of box to release condensation > 40 gallon tank + water + plywood weighs about 460 lbs >> put expansion tank on incoming cold water line > > do not use plastic pipe because temps are too high > electrically ground tank and copper pipes using #6 copper wire > insulate pipes > design project so cleaning and maintenance are easy.

End of sunny day, you have 40 gallons hot water > or more if you put 2-40's in series >>> the hot water cools quickly but lasts until early evening > put insulation over glass when sun goes down > 115V element put on switch could keep water warmer longer and would stop freezing in winter > a shower uses 5-9 gallons of hot water > a bath uses 12-15 gallons hot > once you start using hot water, cold water enters tank so take all baths-showers in succession > for morning hot water, put 115V 2.5 gallon or 6 gallon under sink > connect under-sink heater to light switch or timer > reducing consumption and planning are key.

Planning and reduced consumption needed to make solar into everyday money & energy saver. 

For more ideas: See long list of DIY solar water heat ideas.

High heat applications like solar require expansion tank on incoming cold water line
Other ideas:
For more ideas: See long list of DIY solar water heat ideas.

Copper tubing can be used to make water heater. Copper lasts longer than steel tank <> 320 feet of 3/4" tube = 20 gallon

Jose Alano
Jos Alano solar collector made from water bottles

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