Building a Solar Water Heater

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It’s entirely possible to heat your water with solar energy, while saving money on your energy bill. You can also help clean up the environment by using solar power instead of using polluting fossil fuels. And if you want, you can even build your own solar water heater.

Building a solar hot water heater is actually not that hard. Although there are many designs and systems for solar water heaters, a few of them are relatively simple. It’s the ideal do-it-yourself project, if you are so inclined.

Here is one of the simplest versions of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects for solar water heating. But don’t let the term “simple” fool you into thinking that this is not an effective way to reduce your energy bill.

The basic design of a Batch Solar Water Heater consists simply of a water tank within an insulated box with a glass top.

It is used to preheat water before it enters your conventional water heater. Thus it cuts down on the amount of conventional energy needed to heat the water up to the required temperature.

But keep in mind, on sunny days a batch solar water heater can eliminate the need for conventional heating entirely.

Even on overcast days a batch solar water heater can reduce the load on your conventional water heater.

Basic Parts of a Batch Solar Water Heater

The basic design of a Batch Solar Water Heater consists simply of a water tank within an insulated box with a glass top.

It is used to preheat water before it enters your conventional water heater. Thus it cuts down on the amount of conventional energy needed to heat the water up to the required temperature.

But keep in mind, on sunny days a batch solar water heater can eliminate the need for conventional heating entirely.

Even on overcast days a batch solar water heater can reduce the load on your conventional water heater. Basic Parts of a Batch Solar Water Heater

Lets define the basic parts you need for your batch solar water heater:

A place in the sun – this can be in the yard, garden, up against the wall, etc. It doesn’t matter where, as long as it is able to receive sunlight throughout the day.

  • You need a solar collector

    – This is simply an insulated box with a glazed top or front to let in sunlight.

  • Water tank

    – The water tank is placed inside the solar collector and serves as your water heater.

  • Some water pipes and fittings

    – You will need these in order to make the connection between your cold water supply to your conventional heating system.

How to Calculate the Size of Your Batch Solar Water Heater

If you want your solar water heater to work, you will have to calculate your sizes correctly. First of all, we are aiming to get the solar water heater to heat water to about 110°-120°F on a sunny day.

To ensure that you actually get this temperature within a reasonable amount of time you want to take to following into account:

For about every square foot of glazing on the enclosure of your batch solar water heater, you will be able to heat about 1-2 gallons of water.

Long narrow tanks are therefore most effective, as they tend to have a larger surface area, allowing for more glazing and thus more solar heating. Positioning of a Batch Solar Water Heater

Mounting tanks upright or vertically gives you the best result. This is because of stratification (layering of water with higher temperatures at the top) of the water. Making your water out connection at the top of the tank will always give you the hottest possible water if you have positioned your tank vertically. Insulating Your Solar Water Heater

Mounting tanks upright or vertically gives you the best result. This is because of stratification (layering of water with higher temperatures at the top) of the water. Making your water out connection at the top of the tank will always give you the hottest possible water if you have positioned your tank vertically. Insulating Your Solar Water Heater

One of the major factors that makes your solar heater work is proper insulation. If you do not properly insulate the enclosure of your water tank, you will lose a lot of the efficiency of your solar hot water heater.

But a well-constructed, well-insulated box with double glazing will serve adequately as your solar collector.

Painting the water tank a dull black color will also assist in heating the water.

The usual position for a batch water heater is on the ground, beside the south wall of your home (unless you live in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case you would position it beside the north wall of the house).

Take care to ensure that any pipes leading to and from the batch solar water heater are insulated, so as to avoid frost damage.

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