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How to Build Your Own Solar Water Heater: Sustainable Living

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How to Build Your Own Solar Water Heater: Sustainable Living

Solar water heaters, also called solar domestic hot water systems, can be a cost-effective way to generate hot water for your home. They can be used in any climate, and the fuel they use, sunshine, is free.

There exists 4 categories of solar water heater systems:

– Direct or open loop: circulate potable water through the collectors. They are relatively cheap but offer little or no overheat protection, and they offer little or no freeze protection.

– Indirect or closed loop: use a heat exchanger that separates the potable water from the fluid, known as the “heat-transfer fluid” (HTF), that circulates through the collector. The two most common HTFs are water and an antifreeze/water mix that typically uses non-toxic propylene glycol. After being heated in the panels, the HTF travels to the heat exchanger, where its heat is transferred to the potable water. Though slightly more expensive, indirect systems offer freeze protection and typically offer overheat protection as well.

– Passive: rely on heat-driven convection or heat pipes to circulate water or heating fluid in the system. Passive solar water heating systems cost less and have extremely low or no maintenance, but the efficiency of a passive system is significantly lower than that of an active system. Overheating and freezing are major concerns.

– Active: use one or more pumps to circulate water and/or heating fluid in the system. Modern active solar water systems have electronic controllers that offer a wide range of functionality, such as the modification of settings that control the system, interaction with a backup electric or gas-driven water heater, calculation and logging of the energy saved by a SWH system, safety functions, remote access, and informative displays, such as temperature readings.

The proper installation of solar water heaters depends on many factors. These factors include solar resource, climate, local building code requirements, and safety issues; therefore, it’s best to have a qualified solar thermal systems contractor install your system.

After installation, properly maintaining your system will keep it running smoothly. Plumbing and other conventional water heating components require the same maintenance as conventional systems. Glazing may need to be cleaned in dry climates where rainwater doesn’t provide a natural rinse.

Regular maintenance on simple systems can be as infrequent as every 3–5 years, preferably by a solar contractor. Systems with electrical components usually require a replacement part or two after 10 years.

For more information on solar water heaters visit:
Solar Water Heaters: http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/solar-water-heaters
How to Build a Passive Solar Water Heater: http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-homes/build-a-passive-solar-water-heater-zmaz07onzgoe.aspx
What is a Solar Water Heater?: http://www.apricus.com/solar-water-heaters-1/#.VU-8zfl_Oko

Comments

David 0/1 says:

I see these in China, on top of most buildings – but here they are smaller than what you built. One of those panels seems to be enough to heat water for maybe 3 apartments (and in China, most apartments hold 6 people across 3 generations). Thanks for showing me how to build these ; I've been wondering

Nick DiLello says:

Nice job, simple build…very good for a cpvc project, and cost effective! Thank you for the ideas and encouragement!! 😆

butchtropic says:

Wow, that's a LOT of panels!. I don't think your average household will need this kind of capacity, but that being said this IS the correct way to do it. Many here on you-tube will build a continuous loop method, will simple to construct performance will not be anywhere neat the header design. This is why a pro-built unit uses this method.

Laticia Cull says:

You should go to inplix webpage if you want to learn how to build it yourself.

Shavian1 says:

Very nice job. What was the cost of the copper for this project?

John Canivan says:

heavy duty. they should last awhile…

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