DIY Solar Water Heater
Author: Gallen Ho
Regardless of your experience level with do-it-yourself endeavors, the DIY solar water heater is a beneficial project for you to take on. Considering the kind of project you have in mind, there are varying degrees of difficulty. No matter how much experience you have, you can identify a job which will satisfy your requirements and be apropos to your knowledge level.
Various choices of DIY solar water heaters are available with the most basic being the batch water heaters. The design of these units is such that all parts required are readily obtainable from your local hardware store. Among the several choices are assorted designs which may be altered to meet your unique situation or your personal preferences.
The batch water heater employs a water tank which is positioned such that it is heated by the energy of the sun's rays. Its tank is attached to the plumbing system of the home. The idea is to make the most efficient use possible of the sun's energy, so you may have to be somewhat creative.
First, your water tank should be painted with a black matte paint. Since we know that a black color absorbs light, this will increase the ability of the tank to absorb and retain the greatest amount of solar energy. To make further accommodation you should check on whatever is useful and use your creativity. Numerous homeowners will put the batch water heaters into a simple glass box. Doing so will insulate the hot water heaters which will aid in the retention of heat.
There are those who will be more imaginative. For example, they will install adjustable mirrors in calculated positions which surround the water tank. Rays of light from the sun will be directed onto the tank, resulting in a greater area being heated. Mirror systems are the most productive systems to use since the greatest area of the tank is used, which captures the most energy from the sun.
But should you reside in a cold climate, you need to understand that the batch water heater is likely not your best choice. With extended periods of sub-freezing temperature probable, the batch system will not be a practical option. A cold environment with freezing temperature will result in breakage of the batch heaters. To protect them from the elements, batch heaters in cold climates need to be emptied throughout the winter season.
So, should you be located in a cold climate, you need to examine the other alternatives offered for a DIY solar water heater. One such substitute system is the closed loop system. In a closed loop system, the water remains in motion which keeps it from freezing and the resultant damage. A drawback to the closed loop system is that it is more technical in nature and thus needs a more expansive knowledge of plumbing and should only be tried by those with an extensive DIY background.
A major benefit of these systems is the reduction in energy costs they provide and the fact that there is an advantage for the environment in that you have a smaller carbon footprint. Many DIY solar water heaters may be built at a cost of less than $1200, which signifies a short investment recoupment period, not to mention the fun you will have constructing the system yourself.
About the Author
Bill Cashey is an engineer and author in the fields of electrical engineering. He enjoys writing about the topic and keeping up with current events and research in the area of using a solar hot water heater.