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March 31 2017


Save Money by Making Your Own Solar Water Heater

Anywhere from 14% to 45% of the energy expended in your home goes to heat water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In other words, if your utility bills average $300 per month, you could be spending as much as $135 of it for hot water. You can do something about this if you are reasonably handy with carpentry and plumbing tools and have a few hours of extra time. You can make a panel that will let the sun heat water to supplement your hot water supply. But get suggestion from a denver heating repair technician before proceeding.

You Need Only Common Tools and Inexpensive Supplies

A solar heating panel is much simpler to build and deploy than a solar electric one. You may already have many of the materials you need, and those you don’t are readily available at any hardware store. Moreover, you won’t need any tools other than those found in a typical tool shed. You can make the panel any size you want, keeping in mind that the larger the panel, the more water it will heat but the more susceptible it will be to being blown out of position by the wind.

What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2-inch plywood
  • 1-by-4-inch lumber
  • Circular saw
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Silicone caulk
  • Drop ceiling insulation
  • 1-by2-inch lumber
  • 5/8- inch drill bit
  • 1/2-inch copper tubing
  • Sheet metal
  • Tin snips
  • Flat black spray paint
  • Clear rigid plastic

Solar Water Heating Panel Instructions

  1. Make a rectangular box from1/2-inch plywood and 1-by-4-inch lumber.
  2. Seal the joints inside the box with silicone caulk to make it waterproof.
  3. Cut a piece of drop ceiling insulation to the inside dimensions of the box with a utility knife and place it in the bottom of the box. Cut pieces of 1-by-2-inch lumber to fit on all four sides of the box and screw them to the inside to hold the insulation in place and to act as a ledge for the water pipes. Push down on these pieces to compress the insulation before you screw them.
  4. Drill two 5/8-inch holes in the sides of the box for the inlet and outlet of the water pipes. These should be positioned just above the 1-by-2 ledge.
  5. Bend 1/2-inch copper tubing back and forth to make a coil that will fit in the box. Make the bends sharp enough to maximize the amount of coil you can fit in the box without kinking the copper. Insert the ends of the coil through holes you drilled in the sides of the box and set the coil on the ledge.
  6. Cut a piece of sheet metal to the inside dimensions of the box with tin snips. Paint one side of the metal flat black and then set it on top of the coil.
  7. Cut a piece of clear rigid plastic sheeting to the outside dimensions of the box with a circular saw. Spread a bead of silicone caulk around the top edge of the box and lay the plastic on it. Then screw the plastic to the box with wood screws.

Mount the Panel and Store the Water in a Tank or in Your Water Heater

You should mount the panel in a sunny, protected location as close to your hot water heater as possible. If you want to store the water in a tank, plan the location so the tank can be mounted above the panel. This will allow hot water to rise into the tank. If you live in a temperate climate, you may not even need a tank. You can connect the panel directly to your water heater and let the hot water circulate into the tank by convection. If you live in a colder climate, though, you may require a more sophisticated heat exchange mechanism.

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