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Thread: Home-made water heater

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  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    cold new york

    Default Home-made water heater

    Hello everyone on the forum,

    I want to build a home-made solar hot-water system. Something simple.

    What I have:
    A Tin Roof (400sq.ft) That is sloped towards the south. It gets super hot in the summer!

    Can anyone tell me if I can somehow run hose on this and tie it into my domestic water system?

    I would love to hear some ideas for this, any input is very much appreciated.


  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    San Diego


    You need to get some books.

    First, garden hoses are not code accepted for connection to potable water. Second, they will burst under the heat and pressure. Third, you need pressure relief and drain valves on here to protect yourself. Fourth, you need a storage tank, because the sun is out during the day, and most of your hot water usage is in the dark.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Default heater

    A coiled "hose", or anything else is a very poor heat collector. The mechanism has to be in a heat concentrator, usually a black sealed box, and the heating surface area has to be as large as possible compared to the amount of water in the pipe, which is why true solar collectors use many small tubes, and the tubes have black "fins" attached to them to increase the surface area further. Once you have accomplished that, then you need sensors to tell when the collector is hotter than the heater, otherwise the pump will send the hot water to the collector where it will radiate the heat away and cool the storage tank down. There are other control considerations also, but when you boil it down, to do the job properly you will probably spend more than if you had purchased a workable system.

  4. #4
    General Contractor, Farmer HandyAndy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Haxtun, CO


    check out this site and magazine, in one of the last articles they had one on solar hot water,

    good magazine on renewable energy and the how to to do it.
    I think you can down load the current issue, plus they have some guides you can down load.
    there beginners guide to solar hot water,

    current article on sizing a solar hot water system,

    depending on how simple you want to go, get a clean 55 gallon steel drum, preferable one that has been plastic coated for corrosion resistance, paint the out side black, build a mount or stand to put it on, and fill with water in the morning and at night you will have hot water, and let gravity feed it, (by turning the drum up side down you can use the existing bung holes to attach to, you will to put a hole in the "bottom" of the drum that is now on top to fill it). you will need a good platform to set the drum on as water weighs nearly 8 pounds per gallon.

    need more hot water put two drums in,

    No they don't work well in the winter.

    Many of this type of solar hot water heater was used as a shower houses, in the military, and on farms, and camp grounds, before running water and electricity. and propane services.
    A shower house with one still sits on my father in laws farm. Made with 4 posts and some lumber for sides with a pallet type floor, and a deck for the drum to set on, the shower head has a valve on it, coming directly out of the drum.
    (my guess is this type of heater would not go over very well with inspectors).

    do some Google searches on solar hot water there is a lot of information on some simple system,


  5. #5
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of the brave....
    Blog Entries

    Talking Water systems are a pain

    I did a solar complex in Colorado back
    in the 80s,, they used a solar panel with the water type system.....

    it was callled a drain down system that wasted lots
    of water and when it failed it could Freeze up

    it was a glorified nightmare ......

    very nice panels, they would actually boil the water and if the pump failed things got ugly...

    a stupid idea all in all.. their were too many ways it could fail .....

    i dont know where you live, or wether you have heating
    needs to think about in the winter....

    but if your area freezes up , forget about it.....

    if you live in tuscon and have no fear of freezing,
    you could simply buy a couple of 3/4 60 foot copper coils
    and run them on that roof befoer it goes into the
    heater and it would preheat the water pretty well,
    (nail it down so the mexicans dont steal the copper)

    or for that matter why not just place a storage tank on
    that hot roof and really preheat the water before it
    gets to the heater???/

    it all goes back to a decent paay back for all the trouble you are going through to do this.....

    Now, if you are in an area where you need to heat your home
    I would suggest looking into makeing some large solar panels that would let air pass through them to heat the home ...they are not hard to make

    that would be a much wiser thing to invest your time
    some sort of passive air exchanger heating the house
    either by gravity through the panels or with a small thermostatically controlled fan that would come on and push the hot air out of the panels into your home....

    and it would pay for itself in one season on your heating bill.

    i have been considering doing that
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 04-30-2007 at 08:42 PM.

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member molo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    cold new york


    Yeah Mark,

    I want to do it cheap and simple. A couple of tanks on the roof, some hose coiled on the roof, that's what I'm thinking.
    You all know how hot that water is that sat in the hose on a summer day. I'm thinking a coupld thousand feet of that on the roof might do the trick. I'll fill it up during the day, and manually turn a valve at night to drain it down into my water tank.

    Something simple like that...




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