How to Build a Solar Hot Water System How to Build a Solar Hot Water System

What You'll Need
Copper Sheeting
Union Compression Fittings
Pressure valves
Thermosyphon Arrester Valve
Tile Glue

Solar power is one of the most common methods of conserving energy through sustainable methods, and solar hot water systems are very popular among people living green lifestyles. Many people considering installing solar hot water heaters and collectors find the costs prohibitive, even with assistance from government Tax Credits. If you are looking for an alternative to buying a solar hot water heater, then one method may be to build your own using easily obtained tools.

Step 1-Make a Box

For the Solar collector, you will need to build a plywood box in which to situate the glass and aluminum. Measure the glass that you will be using for your solar hot water collector, and build a box a few mms larger than the glass. Construct the box to be deep enough so that it can hold all of the pieces of aluminum, glass and copper sheeting that you will be using to construct the solar panel.

Step 2-Fabricate the Copper Conductors

The best way to make conductors for your solar panel is to take the copper sheet, and make a series of semi-circular channels vertically down the sheet, using hardwood which has previously been pressed into this shape. Then place 1/2 inch copper pipes into the channels and solder them into place. You will need silver-solder to secure the pipes.

Step 3- Make the Collectors

Once you have made the copper conductors, cover the aluminum foil with black paint, and place above the copper tubes in the box. Then add a glass sheet over the top, and nail a series of strips of plywood over the edges of the box until the glass is kept in place.

Step 4 - Create the System

Now combine the tubes in the copper sheeting using union compression fittings, extend these outside the bottom of the box using copper pipes. These should be covered in insulation in order to ensure that they are fully protected from rain: you may also consider placing them within PVC piping to keep them safe. Plumb these into a storage tank using a thermosyphon arrestor valve. Insulate the tank using foam and either aluminum or tin enclosures. Add a pressure relief valve to your tank if it does not already have one.

Step 5 - Completing the System

Place your box on the roof and seal it to the tiles with tile glue and caulking. The collectors should be at an angle, and facing north or south, depending on your hemisphere, to get the best sun collection. Mount the tank nearby, upright if possible to make the best use of thermal flow to direct the movement of the water. Test to make sure that the water flows correctly through the copper piping. If there are any loose pieces, you will have to remove the plywood which is holding the glass in place, and check each of the soldered pipes. Once the water is flowing freely, you can check the temperature of the heated water, making sure that it is suitably hot. Keep your solar hot water system clean, and check the copper pipings once a year to ensure that it is still working properly.

Got a New Project You're Proud of?

Post it on Your Projects!